E-COMMERCE: A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF TECHNOLOGY
Business idea: CAR POOL stay cool, a innovative and totally a new concept.
What is CAR POOL? It is an e-commerce technology that facilitates car sharing between car owners. The mission is to help car owners to save money on congestion charge who have to travel to congestion charge zone between 7.00 am and 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday frequently by offering a service which encourages sharing their car hence sharing the congestion charge between the members.
Evaluation:Evaluation can be defined as Assessment of effectiveness of an ongoing program in achieving its objectives . Critical evaluation of a business plan identifies the area of success factor as well as failure factor or possibilities. Once identified, success factor can be appraised and failure factor can be reduced or restructured before investing time and money.
Success factor :Business plan such as CAR POOL upon implementation has huge potential to become success in London. In my view following factors are the main reason for the business to be successful
1. Market size
2. Lack of competition
3. Breaking the monopoly of the business
4. Social advantage
5. Current inflated congestion charge
6. Traffic speed
7. Greener initiative
1. Market size :One of the reasons the business is foretasted to be success is because of the market size.
The main targeted customer are Approximately 110,000 motorists a day who pay the charge  out of whom employees, students, teachers, motorists with marginal value trip and residents in border area of congestion charge zone are more likely to join the scheme.
2. Lack of competition:As this is totally a new concept at the moment there are no direct competitors, so being the first in the market it has great opportunity to become market leader.However car pool business plan have indirect competitor such as car sharing service and car clubs are. The reason car poll business can overtake them is that they are providing the service for bigger area of market like whole of the England where as car pool business, at the moment, focuses on particular area London and surrounding area and also particular segment of population.
3. Breaking the monopoly of the business :As population in London is growing everyday traffic congestion is getting bad to worst. Travellers rely on either public transport or private vehicles for travelling around London. At this moment a business like car pooling which gives the comfort of car yet with sharing initiatives with a member of public sounds very realistic and appealing. The concern of traffic congestion can be reduced to large extent by breaking the monopoly of the business by introducing car poll service.
4. Social advantage:Once again confidence can be embedded into the society as this service indirectly introduces members to each other and gives an opportunity to have a wider social circle.
5. Current inflated congestion charge:A study of 334 firms by the London Chamber of Commerce in November 2003 found 79 per cent of shops reported fall in takings and 42 per cent said the congestion charge was to blame. By January 2005, the same survey found 84 per cent of shops reported a fall in takings, with 62 per cent attributing this to the congestion charge. . Above statistics shows that businesses are suffering from the high rate of congestion charge. Fall in takings indicates that people donâ€™t want to pay high congestion charge to go to shops which if can be shared among each other through service like carpool it can have positive impact on those businesses.
6. Traffic speed:Most congestion occurs during the â€˜rush hourâ€™ it makes sense to look at trying to increase the average car occupancy for commuters. This is currently 1.2 people per car or for every 10 commuting cars on the road 2 cars has 2 people in them (20%).Travel surveys show that typically 50% of commuters would share if they could find good service. If this we put into practice, average occupancy would jump to 1.5 people per car. That means for every 10 commuting cars on the road 5 would have 2 people in them. (25% as increase in 20%) A 25% increase in car occupancy would result in a reduction of approximately 21% of the number of commuting cars on the road . Above statistic indicates that motorists are likely to join services like car pool if offered to them which can have dramatic effect in increasing traffic speed.
7. Greener initiative :Again from above statistic, number of car use can be reduced if people participate in scheme like car pool which can reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (co2) which can reduce pollution. Global Warming is a big issue therefore extending car pool to other cities and countries such as India and China and other part of the world can have significant effect to reduce pollution. A person who is conscious about global warming can play a part by being a member of service like car pool.
8. Technology:One of the critical success factor and unique selling point for the success of car pool can be the GPS technology that can be used with car pool service. A GPS receiver’s job is to locate four or more satellites, figure out the distance to each, and use this information to deduce its own location. This operation is based on a simple mathematical principle called trilateration.
How the system works
After registration with carpool web service , members simply register their journey in the bulletin board using the ID number and the system automatically lists all potential matches. The matches are displayed in the bulletin board, allowing the member to easily find the most suitable people.
Having found a match the user simply sends an email or text message using ID number to communicate with and arrange to travel together. User can send a text message or email to locate the nearest car available and the system tracks the nearest car with GPS technology and send email or text message back to user giving the location of the car available.
Why the technology is unique selling point or critical success factor?
â€¢ GPS technology has been used by Norwich union insurance company which is a success story of the implementation of GPS tracking system.
â€¢ GPS can track any GPS embedded vehicle anywhere in the world so the technology can be implemented in any part of the world.
â€¢ With GPS real time tracking system is possible through which members can track each others whereabouts in real time.
The ethical issues should not be overlooked.
â€¢ Use of user name and password for access to website
â€¢ Restriction for underage category
â€¢ Terms and condition to be agreed before registration
Social issue:One of the main concerns is the issue of safety in that how a person who he claims to be is genuine.
Before travelling, members can ensure the identity by checking passport, driving licence etc. If in doubt or in case of difficult situation, member can call or send text message to our 24 hour help line.
Technology issue: The atmospheric change can affect the speed of GPS signal.
â€¢ Surrounding building , and hard ground may cause inaccuracy in GPS tracking
â€¢ Navigation error between 0 meters and 100 are likely to happen.
Future development of GPS system
WAAS (wide area augmentation system) is being used to improve the accuracy of GPS system to 99%.
CAR POOL stay COOL, a business to customer based e-commerce technology is likely to break the monopoly of use of car in traffic congested area. Although the primary idea of the business is to create car users community to share the cost of congestion charge by sharing car between members, it can have much bigger impact on environment by reducing pollution. Car pool can increase traffic speed and save parking space for business and government.
From the critical evaluation of CAR POOL I am confident that this e-commerce technology has lots of positives to offer to Londoner hence forecasted to be a huge success.