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Mobility Challenges and Opportunities December 10, 2012

Posted by bkrugman in Mobility.
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Application: Intranet Bidding System

Looking at the topic of Mobility Challenges and Opportunities I can think of many different areas and applications that can fall under that umbrella. Health care applications, Smart Cars, and other internet-related applications rely on a mobile device communicating with a server that is at an unknown location on the web.  What I decided to focus on was a system that leverages mobility to achieve its goals, but does so in a very secure and short range.  The application that I built the concept for is one that I could see being beneficial to organizations that do not have a large amount of spendable capital, but would like to maximize fund-raising auctions at an organized event.

Abstract

This Mobile Bidding System will provide a way to facilitate accepting bids for items that are being auctioned at a live auction. The system will allow anyone who has the mobile application or has been provided a mobile device that is configured for the application to monitor and place bids on items at the same time as the participants who are in attendance of the live auction.

Opportunities

  • Local secure auction management
  • Low cost setup and management
  • Stronger management of fund-raising auctions (ensuring minimal bids are met)
  • Ability to expand potential bidder base to attendees that might be moving around the event
  • Potential increase in bids and item prices through increased bidder base
  • More data to help make decisions for auction items in the future
  • Deployment to mobile devices
  • Authenticating users and devices
  • Management of devices
  • Syncing and receiving bids
  • Management of live auction attendees and online attendees
  • Software
    • Internet Information Services
    • Web services
    • Hardware
      • Personal computer (run as local web server)
      • Mobile devices
        • Android compatible tablets
        • Windows 8 tablets
        • Windows 7 tablets
  • Wireless router

Challenges

Technology Available

The opportunities that I have listed above have come from attending a numerous live auction fund-raising events.  While I was attending those events there were two main issues that I noticed.  The first was that even though the organization had a minimum bid set, the auctioneer did not always notice it and would sell an item for under what the organization needed.  This required the organization to pick up the difference between the auction price and minimum price needed.  So rather than the organization making money they would actually lose money.  A second issue that I noticed was that there were a lot of attendees who were not always able to make it to the live auction. Exhibitors needed to stay at their booth, and some attendees would be negotiating a deal at a booth.  With these potential bidders unable to attend, the price of the item might end up going lower than what it could have, because there were fewer people bidding on it.  I have seen a couple of instances where someone who was working at a booth offered to buy an auction item from the winner after the live auction because they wanted it and are willing to pay more than what the item sold for.  This is another example of how the organization is losing potential funds.  All of the opportunities above provide the organization a reason to implement and use a system that increases the potential revenue with a minimal up-front cost.

When you think about the challenges that a system like this presents, there are two main issues that I see, which need to be resolved.  The first issue is the application distribution and/or the mobile device management.  This is a large issue, because it can increase the cost to the organization to implement, if they want to create a locked down system.  Or, it can create additional user management issues, because an organization would only want people who are approved to bid on items placing bids.  Placing bids and receiving the updates is the second main challenge that I see.  With an auction being conducted live and online at the same time there needs to be a way to provide the live updates as well as inform the auction attendees if the price increases.  I think that from a network perspective this issue is easier to resolve.  By ensuring that all of the mobile devices and the auctioneer are synced into a Local Area Network that is running the auction software, the different users can be presented with real-time updates.  The diagram below shows the type of network that would be created to handle this.  By running a local network the organization can ensure that there are no lengthy round trips between the web service and the mobile devices.

Network Image

The network that is described can be created for a low cost because it is able to leverage different hardware that most organizations already own.  Also, to help keep the hardware cost down, with some operational cost increase, the organization could have the attendees leverage mobile devices that they might bring.  This could provide to be very beneficial since more and more people are using smart phones or different tablet devices.

Conclusion

By looking at the system that I have discussed above I have provided a different way to think about mobile computing and how to leverage it.  Rather than focusing on how mobile computing can be leveraged in large organizations that have built complex infrastructure.  I have provided an example of how an organization can achieve positive results using mobile computing on a small localized scale.

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