Jobs gold mine in channels

The emergence of alternative sales channels such as interactive TV and mobile commerce represent an opportunity for IT...

The emergence of alternative sales channels such as interactive TV and mobile commerce represent an opportunity for IT professionals, analysts said last week.

Despite some initial scepticism, companies are beginning to invest in interactive TV and mobile commerce and analyst firm GartnerG2 estimates that, by 2005, 17% of online shopping will be conducted through digital TV and 10% via mobile devices.

To take advantage of this growing trend, IT professionals need to ensure they have the relevant skills, said Gill Mander, an analyst at G2.

"Customers demand convenient sales channels as and when they want to use them and these technologies are here to stay," said Mander. "Companies are beginning to implement multi-channel strategies and they will need people with the technical know-how."

Developers focusing on mobile will know their way around short message services (SMS), Wap and general packet radio services (GPRS) but will soon need to turn their attention to third-generation mobile services.

Hutchinson 3G, holder of the UK's largest third-generation licence, is promising the first 3G services in the second half of this year, and analysts expect 3G to make m-commerce a more attractive proposition to retailers.

Developing iTV services has proved to be more complex, tying together as it does the separate strands of TV broadcasting and Internet technology.

However, help is at hand. The University of Brighton last year became the first college to launch a MSc dedicated to DTV and iTV services. It also provides one or three-day DTV courses.

Course leader Richard Griffiths said people generally have either Web design skills or a broadcast TV background, but not both.

"They need to understand all aspects of iTV," he said.

daniel.thomas@rbi.co.uk

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