The Impact of Multi-access Technologies on Consumer Electronic Auctions


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Analysis of five consumer electronic auctions in the Netherlands

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The Impact of Multi-access Technologies on Consumer Electronic Auctions

  1. 1. European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, 2004 Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Printed in Great Britain doi:10.1016/j.emj.2004.06.010 0263-2373 $30.00 The Impact of Multi-access Technologies on Consumer Electronic Auctions STEPHAN DE RUITER, Erasmus University, Rotterdam ERIC VAN HECK, Erasmus University, Rotterdam This article addresses the pervasive impact of Introduction advanced multi-access technologies––such as Inter- net, wireless data, Interactive TV, and wired & Two developments in modern economies are inter- wireless voice––on the processes and stakeholders esting to analyze. The first one is the rapid emer- involved in consumer electronic auctions in The gence of new technologies and access devices. Netherlands. Electronic web-based auctions are a The second interesting development is the rapid popular mechanism to trade among sellers and growth of online auctions in the past few years. buyers. Little attention has been given to how Amongst others, Klemperer (1999) and Strobel ¨ new access technologies affect or could affect the (2000) argue that a huge volume of economic trans- functioning and outcome of these type of auctions. actions is already conducted through these auc- In this article different exchange processes in elec- tions. Klein and O’Keefe (1999) argue that the tronic auctions are classified and analyzed. The proliferation of the World Wide Web, declining impact on the stakeholders of e-auctions has been communication costs and the increased visibility examined by using buyer-seller relationship litera- of online offerings have accelerated the diffusion ture. The focus in this article was on five consumer of electronic auctions. Furthermore, Lucking-Reiley electronic auctions. In these auctions consumers (2000) adds that auctions will be used for an in- buy and sell all kinds of products by using sales creased number of transactions over time. Until auctions. The investigated auctions are:, now, some research has been done on Web auc- Qoop,, Start-End, and Wannabid. Our tions. However, there has been little attention on paper suggests that new technologies could provide how new access technologies (e.g. GSM, GPRS, more value-generating business processes and UMTS, interactive TV) affect or could affect elec- more interactivity between the stakeholders of tronic auctions. Therefore, this paper analyzes electronic auctions and therefore will further how different access technologies influence the increase the trade in electronic auctions. However, business processes and the stakeholders of e-auc- the impact differs per technology, since each tions. Note that this research focuses only on con- technology has different characteristics and sumer Web auctions in The Netherlands. capabilities. Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. The research questions are: Keywords: Electronic auctions, Impact, Multi- 1. How do multi-access technologies influence the access technologies, Business processes, business processes of electronic auctions? Stakeholders 2. How do multi-access technologies influence the stakeholders of electronic auctions? 3. What is the impact of multi-access technologies on the success of electronic auctions? European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 377
  2. 2. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS This paper has been divided into three main parts: a v Wireless data: this category purely focuses on the literature review, a conceptual framework, and an data characteristics of devices. Wireless data can empirical analysis. First, literature on e-auctions will be transmitted over three types of networks: be discussed. Second, a conceptual framework will GSM (circuit-switched), GPRS (packet-switched), be formulated, complemented with four proposi- and UMTS (packet-switched). tions. Third, an empirical analysis of five consumer v Wired & wireless voice: this category purely e-auctions in The Netherlands will be performed. focuses on the voice characteristics of devices. As a result, the most fundamental characteristic of this category is that voice response between E-auctions & Access Technologies sender and receiver is possible. Voice technology commonly uses circuit-switched networks, such In this section, the terms ‘‘electronic auctions’’ and as PSTN and GSM. In the near future, voice ‘‘multi-access technologies’’ will be specified to nar- responses can be sent over packet-switched row the scope of this research. networks. v Interactive TV: is television with interactive con- tent and enhancements. Interactive TV provides richer entertainment, interaction and more infor- Electronic Auctions mation pertaining to the shows and people Lee (1996) stated that auction markets provide cen- involved in its creation. In a sense, it combines tralized procedures for the exposure of purchase traditional television viewing with the interactiv- and sale orders to all market participants simultane- ity enjoyed by those communicating through a ously. McAfee and McMillan (1987) defined auctions network, such as the Internet. as market institutions with an explicit set of rules determining resource allocation and prices on the ba- Based on Hoffman and Novak (1996), this categoriza- sis of bids from the market participants. Addition- tion of access technologies can be placed in a typol- ally, an electronic auction (also called e-auction, ogy as shown in Table 1. online auction or Web auction) is an auction based on telecommunications networks. This typology differentiates impersonal (or rather According to Timmers (1998), e-auctions offer an machine-interaction) from personal (or rather per- electronic implementation of the bidding mechanism son-interaction) access technologies, and dynamic also known from traditional auctions. This can be (i.e. audio, video) from static (i.e. text, image) access accompanied by a multimedia presentation of the technologies. Machine-interaction refers to interac- goods. Usually they are not restricted to this single tion with an access device, and thus, it can be charac- function. They may also offer integration of the bid- terized as ‘‘impersonal’’. The categories ‘‘Internet’’ ding process with contracting, payments and deliv- and ‘‘wireless data’’ are impersonal, since users com- ery. Benefits for suppliers and buyers are increased municate with these technologies. In contrast, person- efficiency, time-savings, and no need for physical interaction refers to interaction through an access transport until the deal has been established. Because device, and thus, it can be characterized as ‘‘per- of the lower costs, it also becomes feasible to sell sonal’’. The category ‘‘wired & wireless voice’’ is per- small quantities of low value goods. Disadvantages sonal, since users communicate through this of e-auctions are the inability to physically see and technology, rather than with this technology. Finally, touch the merchandise, and concerns about security iTV is both impersonal (e.g. instant messaging) and and privacy. However, Wang et al. (2002) argued that personal (e.g. videophone). Finally, an important such disadvantages may be alleviated through new note is that access technologies are still developing, technology development, application design, and im- and as a result they acquire more capabilities. An proved policies and procedures. increasing amount of capabilities, possibly leads to a fading difference between impersonal and personal access technologies. Multi-access Technologies In this paper, four different groups of access technol- ogies will be discussed: Internet, wireless data, wired & wireless voice, and interactive television. (See also Vesa and van Heck (2003).) These four categories will Table 1 Typology of Multi-access Technologies be explained below: Static Dynamic v Internet: is a worldwide system of computer net- Impersonal (Mass media) Internet works. Technically, what distinguishes the Inter- Wireless data net is its use of a set of protocols called TCP/IP. Interactive TV Internet can be accessed through the use of nar- Personal (Fax) Wired & wireless voice rowband or broadband. 378 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  3. 3. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS Literature Review Kambil and Van Heck (2002) proposed a model of key exchange processes. They discerned two types This section discusses electronic markets theory, auc- of processes: basic trade processes (search, pricing, tion theory, and buyer-seller relationship theory. logistics, payment & settlement, authentication) and These theories appear to be useful in the context of trade context processes (product representation, regula- this paper. tion, risk management, influence structures, dispute resolution). The basic trade processes exist within a wider context of support processes that implement dispute resolution and other mechanisms to ensure Electronic Markets Theory that the parties involved in the trading process will meet their obligations. In addition, the ‘‘communica- E-marketplaces have been evolved for a number of tions and computing’’ process underlies and binds reasons. According to Coase (1937), transactions will all trading processes. New communications capabili- typically be executed at the lowest cost. These costs, ties in terms of richer media, faster transfer speeds, or more specifically transaction costs, give insight on improved ease of use, and lower infrastructure costs, the reason why transactions are performed through transform coordination capabilities within and across marketplaces instead of hierarchies. Additionally, trade processes. Williamson (1975) proposed that the choice between marketplaces and hierarchies depends on three dimensions of transactions: asset specificity, uncer- Auction Theory tainty/complexity, and frequency. Transactions with low levels of these dimensions are likely to be exe- E-auctions are a special case of e-markets on the one cuted across marketplaces. Furthermore, Malone side, and of automated negotiations on the other. This et al. (1987) explained that the essence of transac- statement suggests that an e-auction is a specific form tions involves communicating and processing infor- of an e-market. Strobel (2000) has added that the char- ¨ mation, and that therefore the use of IT seems likely acteristics of e-markets are relevant to e-auctions. As a to decrease the transaction costs. According to Mal- result, it could be proposed that e-markets and e-auc- one et al. (1987), the electronic communication, bro- tions cannot be seen separately from each other. kerage, and integration effect will lead to an overall shift toward proportionately more use of Kambil and Van Heck (2002) have explained that ex- marketplaces. change processes apply to any market that is involved in trading goods and/or services. As a result, it can be Additionally, Bakos (1998) discussed that e-market- suggested that the processes not only apply to e-mar- places have many advantages compared to tradi- kets, but also to auctions markets. Furthermore, Sch- tional markets, such as personalization and mid and Lindemann (1998) also have discerned customization possibilities, (dis)aggregation of prod- several processes in auctions. They referred to these uct offerings, lowered buyers’ search costs, lowered processes as ‘‘transaction phases’’. These transaction sellers’ communication costs, lowered logistics costs, phases are rather similar to the exchange processes possibility of new types of price discovery, and an from Kambil and Van Heck (2002). Therefore, these improvement of sharing information between buyers exchange processes are also applicable to auctions. and sellers. Amit and Zott (2001) added that e-mar- kets could create value as a result of efficiency, com- Thus, it has been implicitly stated that the exchange plementarities, lock-in, and novelty. processes (Kambil and Van Heck, 2002) and the transaction phases (Schmid and Lindemann, 1998) Of course, e-marketplaces also have disadvantages are equal to the ‘‘business processes’’ as mentioned compared to traditional marketplaces, such as lack in the first research question. of inspection of goods, lack of trust, etc. However, it could be argued that these disadvantages could be It could be suggested that the importance of e-auc- overcome by the advantages that e-markets provide. tions is likely to increase, as a result of the growing Ha (2002) and Dowling and Staelin (1994) support this popularity of online auctions (Strobel, 2000; Bapna ¨ statement by arguing that this is possible when mar- et al., 2001b; Rafaeli and Noy, 2002). This is in accord- ketplaces cooperate with trustworthy companies, im- ance with Fiore (2001, 147–148), who argued, based prove the relationship with their customers, and on the outcomes of Forrester Research, that an foster customer satisfaction programs. Besides, Bar- increasing number of people are purchasing at online wise et al. (2002) suggested that, when good measures auctions. The reason for this development probably are taken, such as implementing new technologies is that e-auctions have several important advantages and procedures to protect information, the serious- compared to off-line auctions, such as increased effi- ness of the disadvantages can be reduced. Wang ciency, effectiveness, and convenience (Lucking-Rei- et al. (2002) added that disadvantages of Web retailing ley, 2000; Fogelgren-Pedersen et al., 2002). may be alleviated through new technology develop- ment, application design, and improved policies and Of course, e-auctions also have disadvantages com- procedures. pared to their traditional counterparts, such as lack European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 379
  4. 4. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS of inspection of goods, lack of trust, and fraud possi- e-auctions is performed by means of communica- bilities (Lucking-Reiley, 2000; Wang et al., 2002). Nat- tions technology. Therefore, communication be- urally, these disadvantages are severe. However, tween buyers and sellers in e-auctions requires online intermediaries are trying to reduce the seri- ICT instead of the direct, face-to-face communica- ousness of the disadvantages by providing alterna- tion (without the interference of ICT) between buy- tives and better solutions. An example is that some ers and sellers in traditional auctions. Thus, the online auctioneers are already working together with development of communications technology (e.g. trusted third parties, which could possibly result in electronic access media) is important in analyzing an increased level of trust from the stakeholders. An- the changing relationship between buyers and sell- other example is that some online intermediaries are ers in auctions. trying to better secure transactions with technologies such as public key cryptography. As a result, we pro- Second, Jap (2000) argued that the relationship con- pose that the advantages could overcome the disad- text should be a strategic consideration to make vantages. This is in accordance with Ha (2002), who investments in new technologies. The firm’s choice argued that, similarly to the findings of Dowling of technology impacts or fundamentally changes and Staelin, ‘‘when the perceived benefits are high how buyers and suppliers coordinate their activities relative to the perceived risks, it may be that the ben- and interactions. By understanding the interface be- efits completely dominate the risks’’. However, they tween the relationship and emerging technologies, added that e-auctions have to make an effort to re- buyers and suppliers can improve their competitive duce the risks perceived by consumers. This can be position and better exploit the opportunities that realized by cooperating with trustworthy companies, these technologies offer. Jap proposed a framework, by improving the relationship with their customers, which stressed the interdependence between rela- and by fostering customer satisfaction programs. tionships and emerging technologies. Consequently, it can be expected that the advantages will help to boost the proliferation of e-auctions. Third, Day (2000) argued that there are different types of relationships in exchanges, varying from tra- Furthermore, it could be mentioned that an addi- ditional to collaborative. We think that the relation- tional important advantage of e-auctions compared ship between buyers and sellers in traditional to off-line auctions is that an increasing number of auctions can be characterized as ‘transactional’. This people are able to access and use e-auctions, due to is the result of the fact that buyers in traditional auc- the use of ICT. Stro¨bel (2000) referred in this context tions have little influence on the exchange process. to the ‘‘size’’ of markets. The reach of e-auctions is For example, in traditional auctions, buyers can only larger than of traditional auctions, because these tra- influence the bidding process by making a bid. ditional auctions have temporal and geographical Therefore, the (potential) buyers can commonly af- constraints. It could be argued that the removal of fect only one aspect (i.e. the price of the good) of these constraints, caused by ICT, favors the develop- the auctions. In these kinds of auctions, buyers are ment of e-auctions. not given the opportunity to ask questions during the auction. Thus, there is no conversation possible Additionally, it is important to notice that e-auctions with the selling party. Furthermore, in a purely could be more transparent than conventional auc- transactional setting, sellers try to earn as much tions, because with the help of shopbots or auction- money as possible, while buyers are trying to save bots (or rather ICT) it is possible to compare as much money as possible. Strobel (2000) character- ¨ different products and/or services in a short period ized this relationship as ‘win-lose’. of time. Transparency could benefit buyers, because they can compare products and/or services, result- In contrast, the relationship between buyers and sell- ing in valuable information based on which they ers in e-auctions can be described as ‘value-adding’. can make bids. In other words, with the help of higher When looking at the same types of auctions, as de- transparency, buyers can try to constrain the costs scribed in the example above, the electronic variants that they have to make. However, transparency is of- of these auctions could offer buyers the possibility to ten not favorable for sellers and/or auctioneers, be- ask questions to sellers. Furthermore, we think that cause they benefit most when selling prices are the participants in e-auctions are more willing to in- high. In this context, Klein et al. (2002) argued that vest in relationships than in traditional auctions. As a these parties can use the Web to deliberately de- result, it could be proposed that e-auctions add more crease the price transparency, because it is more fav- value to the buyers than traditional off-line auctions, orable in their perception. because these auctions are trying to create a win-win- win situation for all the stakeholders that are in- volved (Kambil and Van Heck, 2002). Rafaeli and Buyer-seller Relationship Theory Noy (2002) support this statement by arguing that ‘‘with the advent of online communication technolo- First, it can be argued that the most fundamental gies, participants in online auctions are more likely to difference between traditional and e-auctions is that be affected by the proximity and availability of oth- the communication between buyers and sellers in ers. In other words, the social aspects of auctions 380 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  5. 5. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS are likely to be brought to the fore’’. Furthermore, Jap Conceptual Framework (2000, 2001) argued that suppliers are more willing to make investments toward the buyers in online auc- In this section the conceptual framework and four re- tions, regardless of the auction type. lated propositions will be formulated. The following constructs have been identified to analyze the impact Fourth, Sally McMillan (2002) distinguished two key of multi-access technologies on e-auctions, and, more dimensions (i.e. direction of communication and le- specifically, on the expected success (or failure) of vel of receiver control) that resulted in a four-part these e-auctions. see Figure 1. model of cyber-interactivity. When combining this model with the literature presented in the previous paragraph, it can be concluded that traditional auc- Sophistication Level of Technologies tions can be characterized as ‘feedback’. Since, tradi- tional auctions consist primarily of one-way Based on the four categories of access technologies communication and the level of receiver control is that have been discerned (i.e. Internet, wireless data, limited. Buyers (or rather the ‘‘receivers’’ in the mod- wired & wireless voice, and interactive TV) it is pos- el of McMillan) can only react by making a bid. On sible to propose a ‘‘sophistication level model of mul- the contrary, current e-auctions can best be described ti-access technologies’’. Kambil and Van Heck (2002) as a ‘responsive dialogue’. However, we would like argued that e-markets should be as rich, complex, to propose that e-auctions could be turned into a and complete as traditional markets. The categoriza- ‘mutual discourse’ as a result of multi-access technol- tion of the sophistication levels has been based on ogies, since new technologies could enable two-way this statement. More specifically, the different access or even multiple-way communication and a high le- technologies have been categorized based on the vel of receiver control. This could result in an im- capabilities that can be added to ‘‘conventional’’ e- proved position for buyers, or in other words, in auctions. Four levels of sophistication have been the empowerment of buyers. These findings are proposed: rather similar to the conclusion presented above. v Level 0: refers to the Internet. The Internet is con- Fifth, Kim and Sawhney (2002) stated that media sidered as the foundation of modern e-auctions, technologies have historically been structured along since, every e-auction nowadays has a Website a one-way transmission model. As a result of the on which buyers and sellers can trade their prod- convergence of computer and telecommunications ucts and services. More specifically, in this paper technologies, electronic media are now allowed to only auctions will be discussed, which have such perform a two-way or multiple-way communication a website. Therefore, the Internet has been between buyers and sellers. This corresponds with described as an access technology with a sophis- the conclusion above that argues that e-auctions, tication level of 0. Consequently, the Internet is which make use of electronic media, improve the the minimum requirement for an e-auction. relationships between buyers and sellers, compared v Level 1: refers to the Internet combined with wire- to traditional auctions. less data technology. This kind of access technol- ogy has several capabilities that ‘‘normal’’ Based on the statements above, we would like to e-auctions do not have. For instance, as a result suggest that ICT leads to more interactive commu- of the ‘‘wireless’’ character of the devices that nication between buyers and sellers. As a result, are related to this access technology, it is possible ICT has changed the relationship between buyers for buyers and sellers to access e-auctions almost and sellers in the exchange processes. In the fol- anywhere and at anytime, also called ‘‘ubiquity’’. lowing section, this statement will be further ana- Besides, wireless data technologies could pro- lyzed, by looking at the empirical analysis vide so-called ‘‘real-time m-auctions’’, making concerning the impact of multi-access technologies it possible for the stakeholders to make bids on e-auctions. and to communicate in real-time by using their Figure 1 Conceptual Framework European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 381
  6. 6. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS mobile devices. Although this aspect can be seen of the stakeholders at conventional auctions, they as an improvement of conventional e-auctions, it know what their ‘‘role’’ is, and how they are related will probably not lead to such richness, complex- to other parties that are involved. In conventional ity, and completeness as can be found in tradi- auctions, communication between the stakeholders tional auctions, since this technology is still is not constrained by using ICT. machine-interactive like the Internet. v Level 2: refers to the Internet combined with However, with the arrival of e-auctions, face-to-face wired & wireless voice technology. This categori- communication has been replaced by ‘‘virtual’’ com- zation allows the e-auction to support voice capa- munication, resulting in more uncertainty about the bilities, such as interactive voice response. other participants. Another negative aspect of e-auc- Besides, it could be suggested that voice technol- tions is that fraud is more likely to occur, compared ogy could also allow voice recognition appli- to off-line. These disadvantages have resulted in a cations in the near future. As a result, the lowered level of trust of the stakeholders in e-auc- e-auctions could become more personal (or rather tions, compared to traditional auctions. These prob- person-interactive). Thus, this technology could lems could possibly be averted by enabling more provide a higher level of richness, complexity, interactive communication between the different and completeness. Voice technology has a higher stakeholders. level of sophistication than wireless data technol- ogy because voice technology offers more ‘‘per- It can be stated that there are four dimensions of sonal’’ communication between the stakeholders. communication flows: communication (1) between v Level 3: refers to the Internet combined with buyers and sellers, (2) sellers and the auctioneer, Interactive television (iTV). This combination (3) buyers and the auctioneer, and (4) buyers and offers probably more capabilities than the previ- (other) buyers. Note that these dimensions are espe- ous two sophistication levels, because they pro- cially meaningful for C2C e-auctions. vide high quality text, image, video, and audio capabilities. Besides, iTV allows applications As argued above, multi-access technologies could such as home shopping, speech, instant messag- possibly make the communication between the stake- ing, e-mail, and videophone. As a result, it could holders more interactive. In this context, Wang et al. be argued that iTV could make e-auctions more (2002) proposed that new technologies could lead to person-interactive, rather than machine- an information-pull, rather than information-push, interactive. favoring the position (or rather empowerment) of the consumers. This is in accordance with Kambil and Van Heck (2002), who argued that new technol- Maturity Level of Business Processes ogies must leverage customers to co-create value. In the literature review, the exchange processes model As a result, the communication roles become more by Kambil and Van Heck (2002) has been discussed. interchangeable. More specifically, interactive com- Paarlberg (2001) has used this specific model to de- munication usually implies more equality of the par- velop an audit model to analyze consumer e-auc- ticipants and a greater symmetry of communicative tions. This model measures the ‘‘maturity level’’ of power (Schultz, 2000: 210). New applications (e.g. in- the business processes of e-auctions. A higher matu- stant messaging, phone helpdesk, videophone, etc), rity level of a specific business process indicates that based on access technologies, could reduce the prob- there are more abilities to perform this process. The lems that currently exist in e-auctions. Furthermore, measurement tool is very useful in examining interactive communication could make e-auctions whether multi-access technologies have an effect on more ‘‘rich’’ and ‘‘complete’’, compared to current the maturity level of the business processes of e-auc- e-auctions that do not use multi-access technologies. tions. Based on this construct, a positive correlation is expected between the sophistication level of multi- It could be anticipated that there exists a positive access technologies, and the maturity level of the relationship between the ‘‘sophistication level of business processes of e-auctions. This results in the multi-access technologies’’, and ‘‘interactive commu- first proposition (P1): nication between the stakeholders’’. Thus, the second proposition (P2) can be expressed as follows: ‘‘The use of more sophisticated multi-access technologies in electronic auctions will lead to a higher maturity level ‘‘The use of more sophisticated multi-access technologies of the business processes’’. in electronic auctions will lead to more interactive commu- nication between the stakeholders’’. Communication between Stakeholders Expected Success The relationships between the stakeholders are very ‘‘evident’’ in traditional auctions. As a result of Based on the previous two paragraphs, it could be face-to-face communication and physical presence suggested that several advantages and disadvan- 382 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  7. 7. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS tages for stakeholders, resulting from more mature plain what success is in the context of e-auctions, but business processes and more interactive communica- it still does not explain how such success can be real- tion between the stakeholders, could influence the ized. In other words, it is not clear how the condi- expected success of e-auctions. Furthermore, it could tions for success can be met. be stated that e-auctions could only be (more) suc- cessful when they create advantages that benefit all In our opinion, it is not simple to give a completely stakeholders that are involved. Thus, creating a satisfying answer to this question. However, we win-win-win situation for buyers, sellers, and the will try to give as comprehensive an answer as auctioneer. possible. This is in accordance with Kambil and Van Heck Kambil and Van Heck (2002) argued that in order to (2002). They argued that ‘‘for an e-market to succeed, succeed, market makers must create rules, processes, it must create value for all the participants’’. Thus, if and infrastructure. Furthermore, they argued that an online auction wants to succeed, then the ex- market makers must search for more and more value. pected impact, resulting from more mature processes The question, of course, is how to create value for the and more interactive communication, must be posi- participants. Amit and Zott (2001) argued that value tive for all the stakeholders that are involved. If this can be delivered as a result of novelty, complementari- is not the case, one or more of the multi-access tech- ties, lock-in, and efficiency. The next, logical question, nologies, which indirectly could affect the success of then, is how these value-generating aspects could be e-auctions, will probably not be successful. Imple- realized. At this point, in our opinion, we reach the ba- mentation of those multi-access technologies is there- sic building blocks of electronic auctions: the business fore not likely to occur. processes. Thus, by improving the business processes, based on new technologies, it could be possible to cre- Possible (dis)advantages resulting from more mature ate value for the participating stakeholders. Wang et al. processes are: costs, convenience, security, trust, (2002) referred to this type of value-creation as ‘‘tech- product presentation, personalization & customiza- nology-driven value enhancement’’. Important is to tion, and early mover advantages. This results in note that, according to Kambil and Van Heck (2002), the third proposition (P3): value should be created for all participants. ‘‘More mature business processes will lead to an increased In this paper, we argue that value (or rather advan- expected success of electronic auctions’’. tages) could be created for the stakeholders due to more mature business processes and due to more Possible (dis)advantages resulting from more inter- interactive communication possibilities. active communication are: quantity and quality of information exchange, frequency of communication, response time, customer bonding, fun and experi- ence, traffic on auction platform, and information about customer preferences. Based on this statement, Data from Online Audit and Interviews the fourth and final proposition (P4) can be formu- lated as follows: This section elaborates the research methods and techniques that have been used. Based on these ‘‘More interactive communication between the stakehold- methods and techniques, the empirical data of five ers will lead to an increased expected success of electronic e-auctions will be described. auctions’’. Conclusion Research Methods and Techniques Gupta and Bapna (2001) argued that a positive net- Logically, first of all, it is necessary to discuss how work externality and a first mover advantage are the sophistication level of multi-access technologies necessary and sufficient conditions for success in e- could be measured. It is mainly interesting to look auctions. Furthermore, Klein et al. (2002) posited that at how the sophistication levels could be observed drawing the attention of the masses, leveraging econ- or measured in electronic auctions. Internet forms omies of scale, and creating positive network exter- the foundation of modern e-auctions. Therefore, in nalities lead to the success of e-auctions. We think this paper, auctions will be discussed, which have that reaching a critical mass is especially important such an (online) Web auction. The assumption is that for having success in e-auctions. Based on these all other access technologies could be added to the al- statements, we would like to state that an e-auction ready existing Web auctions. Sophisticated technolo- is successful, in our perspective, when consumers gies could be added ‘‘on top of’’ Web-based perform transactions with the help of the auction technologies, such as the Internet. It is important to platform on such a scale that the platform will be analyze which access technologies are already being profitable (in the long term). This could possibly ex- used for each Web auction. Of course, if an auction European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 383
  8. 8. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS has already implemented several access technolo- P2. Data have been gathered through interviews with gies, this enables more detailed statements. The anal- managers of the selected e-auctions. ysis of the sophistication levels of the e-auctions could be performed by observing the different Web There are many ways to describe the success of auctions through the use of an online audit. As a re- e-auctions. Paarlberg (2001), for instance, measured sult, a table could be constructed, in which for each the level of success of online auctions by looking Web auction is shown what their sophistication level at the transaction volume of these auctions. How- is, varying from level 0 to level 3. As stated earlier, a ever, the success will not be measured by looking higher level of sophistication represents a higher at the transaction volume, but rather it could be sug- richness, complexity, and completeness of the gested that the success of e-auctions is dependent on e-auction. many different variables. In the context of this paper, it is argued that the success of e-auctions depends on Paarlberg (2001) has proposed the concept ‘‘maturity the expected (dis)advantages that multi-access tech- level of business processes’’ in the context of Web nologies could indirectly create for its stakeholders. auctions. Since, in that paper, Web auctions are also More specifically, it is expected that multi-access the object of empirical analysis, this concept could technologies result in (1) a higher maturity level of be seen as valuable. Paarlberg (2001) measured the the business processes of e-auctions, and (2) more ‘‘maturity level’’ of the business processes through interactive communication between the stakeholders a scorecard method. The basic trade, and trade con- of e-auctions. In turn, a higher maturity level of the text processes have all been split into five successive business processes and more interactive communica- steps. The auctions receive one point for each step. tion could lead to an increased expected success of e- The first step stands for no possibility to perform a auctions. The expected success is dependent on specific process. The fifth step stands for the full ex- (dis)advantages for the stakeholders due to more ma- tent to which a business process can be performed. ture processes, and due to more interactive commu- Each step stands for more abilities to perform a cer- nication. As stated earlier, one of the main issues is tain process. Note that the auctions can only score that the adoption of new technologies in e-auctions on successive steps. Thus, if in an auction a certain could only be realized and sustained, when the business process can be performed on step 1, 2, adoption results in changes that benefit all partici- and 4 but not on step 3, the auction receives 2 points. pants. Therefore, if all participants benefit from the If an auction scores five points for a process, then, it implementation of a multi-access technology, it could means that this specific process can be performed to be expected that the auction becomes more success- the full extent (Paarlberg, 2001: 32). Note that the ful. To measure whether the changes benefit the par- measurement tool has been changed and elaborated, ticipants, interviews have been carried out with which have been initially developed by Paarlberg managers of the selected e-auctions. (2001). This adaptation has been partly realized in cooperation with Jarkko Vesa, who is an MBA stu- For a more thorough explanation of the research dent from the Helsinki School of Economics. See methods and techniques used, we refer to De Ruiter Vesa and van Heck (2003). (2003). The concept ‘‘interactive communication between the stakeholders’’ has already been introduced. This con- Selection of Electronic Auctions cept could be analyzed through four different varia- bles: communication (1) between buyers and sellers, Before presenting the empirical data based on five e- (2) between sellers and the auctioneer, (3) between auctions, it will be argued how these electronic auc- buyers and the auctioneer, and finally, (4) between tions have been selected for this paper. The selection buyers and (other) buyers. As a result, it can be ana- of the e-auctions has been based on several criteria. lyzed whether the communication between the stake- The first criterion is that the auctions have to be lo- holders is changed due to access technologies. Note cated in The Netherlands. The second criterion is that that there are three possibilities: deterioration of the the e-auctions should have a Website, because, as sta- interactive communication between the stakeholders, ted earlier, the Internet forms the foundation of e- no change, and, finally, an improvement of the interac- auctions. Consequently, this paper will analyze if tive communication between the stakeholders. Be- and how other access technologies (i.e. ‘‘wireless cause it is very difficult to measure the changes, a data’’, ‘‘wired & wireless voice’’, and ‘‘iTV’’) could qualitative research method has been used. It could contribute to these e-auctions. The third criterion is be argued that it is mainly interesting in this phase that the e-auctions, which are to be selected, are con- of the research to analyze whether more sophisti- sumer auctions. In other words, the selected auctions cated access technologies result in changes in the should be B2C and/or C2C auctions. The reason for interactive communication between the stakeholders. this is that it could be considered that multi-access Based on this research method, it can be analyzed, technologies could have a vast impact on consumer for each combination of variable and multi-access markets. As a result, it is interesting to focus purely technology, whether there are (or could be) changes on consumer auctions. The fourth criterion is that compared to the Internet. This is useful to answer the selected e-auctions are either independent 384 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  9. 9. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS exchanges or private exchanges, meaning that the many-to-many auction. Furthermore, Qoop also pro- owner of the auctions are respectively a third party, vides a B2C trading. Businesses can sell products to or a ‘‘private’’ seller (or rather business). Consortia consumers. Besides, Qoop also provide their auction exchanges are not part of this research. functionality to other businesses. Subsequently, it can be argued that Qoop is an auc- Presentation of Selected-auctions tion that is owned and maintained by a third party. In this section, a presentation of the empirical data, More specifically, the auction is a privatized plat- gathered from the selected e-auctions, will be given. form. Qoop has a revenue model, which consists of More specifically, the selected e-auctions are (in revenues resulting from banner revenues and from alphabetical order):, Qoop,, Start- listing upgrade fees. The latter refers to a price that End, and Wannabid. sellers have to pay to make their auction more ‘‘vis- ible’’ compared to others (e.g. by improving the posi- tion of their auction, by making the typeface bold, etc). eBay was founded in 1995 in the US as an online auc- tion company. Since then eBay has spread over the world. At the end of 2001 eBay took over the iBazar Group. This resulted in the Dutch eBay (http:// ( was begun as an Note that only will be dis- art auction called ‘‘’’, founded in 1998 in cussed in this paper and not other eBay sites/compa- The Netherlands. This auction platform has run for nies. All eBay companies are owned by a neutral about 1.5 years. Since this art auction needed financ- third party that mediates in the trading process be- ing, it was bought by Ricardo from Germany. Not tween buyers and sellers. Furthermore, it can be ar- long after this purchase, Ricardo merged with QXL, gued that is mainly a C2C online auction, which is an online auction company from England. and, for a small part, also a B2C online auction. At this moment, QXL is the most important party in the merger with Thus, in other words, The revenue model from has been composed is owned by a ‘‘third party’’ that facilitates as follows: listing fees (price that has to be paid to the online auctions. Note that in this paper attention will auctioneer for having a specific item listed on the auc- only be given to and not to other compa- tion platform; this does not necessarily means that the nies within QXL and Ricardo. product will be sold), transaction fees (price that has to be paid to the auctioneer when an item is actually Furthermore, it can be argued that Ricar- sold through the auction platform), and listing up- do’s revenue model is based on listing fees, transac- grade fees (price that has to be paid to the auctioneer tions fees, and listing upgrade fees. when a user wants to have a better location for its item on the auction platform to attract more attention). is a Web-based many-to-many auction that focuses primarily on the C2C auction market in The Netherlands. However, they also enable B2C Qoop auctions. Qoop ( is a consumer Web auc- tion in The Netherlands, originally founded in 1997. Start-End First, a Website called, which is a plat- form for collectors of a wide variety of collectibles, Start-End ( place) was launched. In 1997 they wanted to provide some was founded in 2001 and is a marketplace for com- extra service to the users of this Website and imple- pany assets. More specifically, this Website auctions mented an auction platform to trade collectibles assets from companies, because they have gone among the different collectors. Furthermore, after bankrupt or because they want to sell some of their some time this auction functionality was separated assets (due to reorganization, etc). The assets sold from and was formed into an auction by Start-End vary enormously, because each bank- that was purely focused on trading products. Besides ruptcy and reorganization results in different prod- collectibles other products could be sold and bought. ucts. Furthermore, Start-End also provide services This auction was called ViaVeiling. Subsequently to companies that search a new owner, while they this auction platform was turned into the current have gone bankrupt or while the current owners just auction site of Qoop. However, the specialty of Qoop want to sell the company. Start-End’s revenue model has remained trading collectibles. consists of banners and transaction fees (10 to 20 per- cent of the price of the sold products). In other Qoop is especially focused on the C2C market. Con- words, they offer a ‘‘no cure, no pay’’ solution to sumers can sell and buy products from other con- their clients. Start-End is owned by a ‘‘third party’’ sumers. In other words, Qoop is a Web-based that mediates between business and other business/ European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 385
  10. 10. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS consumers. In other words, Start-End is a B2B as well from the auction platform. This means that the e-auc- as a B2C auction. tion could have gathered some experience concern- ing this access technology. As a result, even if a technology has been removed, the correlating sophis- Wannabid tication level will still be placed by the e-auction. Wannabid ( is a rather Furthermore, it could be proposed that the higher the new online auction from The Netherlands, founded sophistication level of an e-auction, the more reliable in 2003. This auction has been set up to offer users the answers from this specific e-auction probably are. a substitute for large online auctions, because sellers The reason for this is that a higher sophistication le- often have to pay money to sell products on their vel suggests that the e-auction’s statements are auction platform. Wannabid, however, is a so-called backed by actual experience and knowledge. If an ‘‘free auction’’ where people can generally trade e-auction does not score on a specific sophistication products for free. The revenue model of Wannabid level, this actually means that the answers from this consists of listing upgrade fees and revenues from e-auction are expectations of how multi-access tech- affiliates (by linking to other sites). Listing upgrade nologies could influence its auction platform. fees refers to the costs that sellers have to make when they want to attract more attention to their prod- Finally, it could be stated that and uct(s). However, these costs are optional, because are both part of a larger multinational e-auction com- sellers do not have to use this facility. pany. As a result, they can benefit from the knowl- edge of other countries where there has already Furthermore, Wannabid has a C2C and a B2C auc- been experiments with these new technologies. So, tion format. Companies can sell overstocked prod- the actual sophistication level of and Ricar- ucts on the site of Wannabid. However, the focus could be higher than presented in Table 2. of Wannabid is on the C2C market. Additionally, it can be argued that the auction plat- Impact of Technologies on Business Processes form is owned by an independent third party. Research question 1, which has been proposed as: ‘‘how do multi-access technologies influence the business processes of electronic auctions?’’, will Analysis of Empirical Data now be discussed. In this section, an empirical analysis of the gathered Tables 3 and 4 show the average maturity levels of all data will be performed. First, the data resulting from business processes and how much the maturity lev- the empirical data will be summarized. As a result, it els have been changed compared to the Internet. is possible to make a preliminary comparison be- Based on the latter table, it is relatively easy to make tween the different e-auctions. Next, it will be ana- statements about which technology has the largest lyzed how multi-access (could) affect the business impact of all the business processes. processes of electronic auctions, how multi-access technologies (could) influence the stakeholders of iTV has realized the highest increase of the maturity electronic auctions, and how technologies could af- levels with an average of 31.9%. Next, UMTS with fect the success of electronic auctions. 30.8%, GPRS with 27.2%, GSM with 14.7%, and, final- ly, voice with 4.9%. These outcomes are in line with the sophistication levels described in paragraph 4.1, Summarized Data with the exception of voice technology. Although in this paper it has been proposed that voice technology Table 2 shows which sophistication levels the differ- has a higher sophistication level than wireless data ent e-auctions have. technologies and the Internet, it seems that voice technology actually results in the lowest increase of Note that the numbers between the brackets mean the maturity levels. As a result, it could be stated that that the related access technology has been removed the e-auctions that have provided empirical data for this paper expect that voice technology will not be able to bring many improvements for the business Table 2 Sophistication Levels of E-auctions processes of the auction platform. E-auction Sophistication level(s) Based on the empirical research, it could be argued 0 that some processes are not influenced at all (or only Qoop 0 (1) a little bit) by multi-access technologies. More specif- 0 (1) 2 ically, referred to here the processes are: authentica- Start-End 0 2 tion, regulation, influence structures, and dispute Wannabid 0 1 resolution. 386 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  11. 11. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS Table 3 Overall Scores for the Maturity Levels of all Business Processes Internet Wireless data Wired & wireless voice Interactive TV GSM GPRS UMTS 3.5 3.9 4.0 4.1 3.5 4.2 Qoop 2.6 3.2 3.6 3.6 2.8 3.6 3.3 3.6 4.2 4.2 3.6 4.3 Start-End 2.8 3.1 3.4 3.6 2.8 3.6 Wannabid 2.6 3.1 3.5 3.7 2.8 3.7 Average 3.0 3.4 3.7 3.8 3.1 3.9 Table 4 Changes (in %) of Scores for all Processes compared to Internet Internet Wireless data Wired & wireless voice Interactive TV GSM GPRS UMTS 0.0 +11.4 +14.3 +17.1 0.0 +20.0 Qoop 0.0 +23.1 +38.5 +38.5 +7.7 +38.5 0.0 +9.1 +27.3 +27.3 +9.1 +30.3 Start-End 0.0 +10.7 +21.4 +28.6 0.0 +28.6 Wannabid 0.0 +19.2 +34.6 +42.3 +7.7 +42.3 Average 0.0 +14.7 +27.2 +30.8 +4.9 +31.9 Instead, the processes of search, pricing, logistical of the processes are not part of the core business of settlement, payment & settlement, product represen- the e-auctions. More specifically, the auctioneer tation, and risk management are or could be affected could cooperate with logistical providers, payment quite substantially by multi-access technologies. providers, mobile operators, and (i)TV broadcasting How these processes are influenced, varies per proc- stations. These service providers could enable and ess and per technology. In general, it could be argued stimulate advances of the business processes, based that, by implementing multi-access technologies, on multi-access technologies. For instance, coopera- new possibilities could be created for the stakehold- tion with logistical providers could result in a better ers of the auction platform. Besides, some multi-ac- handling of the items sold through the auction, and, cess technologies could make the processes more furthermore, in track & trace applications (or other efficient and cost-saving for all participants. An location-based services) that could send information example is that auctioneers do not have to send let- to the stakeholders about the location of shipped ters anymore to sellers by post to verify their per- items to generate more trust. Another example is a sonal information. Instead, they can use new partnership with mobile payment providers, such applications (such as SMS, etc) to verify the user as banks, credit card companies, etc. These providers information (based on mobile operator identifica- could allow participants of e-auctions to pay each tion). In such a way, all participants save costs and other with their mobile devices, resulting in a more time. Another example is that one of the selected e- developed and secure payment & settlement process. auctions formerly had special ‘‘inspection days’’ to Furthermore, the auctioneer could also cooperate enable potential buyers to inspect the items that were with mobile operators to make the mobile identifica- to be sold. After having implemented an improved tion of users possible, resulting in a better risk man- product presentation on the auction site, such special agement process. days could be abolished, resulting in a cost reduction for all parties. This product presentation process Concluding, it could be stated that multi-access tech- could be improved even more with multi-access nologies influence the e-auction in such a way that technologies. the auctioneer not only has to focus on ‘‘simple’’ processes (e.g. search and pricing), but also focus Subsequently, it could be argued that multi-access on more complex processes (e.g. payment & settle- technologies lead to more efficient business processes ment, risk management, etc). So, by implementing (due to higher speed, fewer costs, etc) and to more multi-access technologies, the auctioneer could offer capabilities for the stakeholders. In other words, an e-auction platform with more mature business more service could be offered and more value could processes to its stakeholders. be generated for the participants. Finally, it could be mentioned that one has not Besides, to realize some of these (service) enhance- performed a statistical analysis in this section, be- ments it is probably necessary for the auctioneer to cause the number of e-auctions is too small to make cooperate with other third parties, since some aspects statements about the significance of the outcomes. European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 387
  12. 12. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS Furthermore, it is not the objective of this research to trust between the stakeholders, benefiting the auc- make statements that could be generalized across all tion platform in general. consumer e-auctions. However, this research is meant to provide input for further research on this matter, which could be used for a statistical analysis. Impact of Technologies on Expected Success In this paragraph, an answer will be given to re- Impact of Technologies on Stakeholders search question 3, which has been proposed as: ‘‘what is the impact of multi-access technologies on Cherry (1977) argued that the impact of a new tech- the success of electronic auctions?’’. nology depends on whether the new invention ‘‘has offered people new liberties of action, whether First, it could be argued that statements can only be old constraints have been removed (. . .), and whether made about the expected success and not the real people can act in new ways’’. In the case of interac- success of e-auctions. Second, in this paper it has tive media, obviously a new liberty of action for the been argued that multi-access technologies result users is ‘interactivity’ or ‘interactive communication’. in more mature processes and in more interactive Thus, they empower users in ways that are hardly communication. In turn, these ‘‘more mature proc- imaginable in traditional broadcasting and other esses’’ and ‘‘more interactive communication’’ result mass media. More specifically, in the context of this in an increased expected success of e-auctions. As a empirical analysis, it could be argued that e-auctions result, it could be stated that the effects of multi-ac- can only exist due to the communication between the cess technologies on the expected success are stakeholders. Without communication, transactions indirect. could not be performed on the auction platform. In other words, communication is an absolute necessity Concerning the more mature processes, it is argu- for trading goods. Stakeholders can express their able that they could lead to lowered costs, more needs and wants by using communication. This com- convenience, more security, more trust, improved munication could be influenced by new multi-access product presentation, more personalization & cust- technologies, as has been shown in this section. Be- omization, and early mover advantages for most of fore answering research question 2, it has to be men- the stakeholders. Furthermore, it has been sug- tioned that the impact differs per multi-access gested these advantages result in an increased ex- technology, since each technology has different char- pected success of e-auctions, because they lead to acteristics and capabilities. In other words, based on a higher level of use and in more transactions per- Cherry (1977), each access technology offers other formed on the auction platform. However, not all ‘‘liberties of action’’ and each technology enables of the advantages apply to all stakeholders. Kambil users to change the content and form of the commu- and Van Heck (2002) suggested that the advantages nication differently. have to benefit all stakeholders. Aspects such as lowered costs and more convenience do not appear More specifically, multi-access technologies influ- to apply to the auctioneers (on short term anyway). ence the (communication of the) stakeholders slightly However, this does not have to be a problem when differently, compared to the impact of multi-access the increase of costs and lack of convenience for technologies on business processes. In the case of the auctioneers will be compensated for a (substan- the business processes, voice technology had the tial) increase of revenues. Since, buyers and sellers least impact. However, in the case of the communica- will benefit from most of the advantages, it is ex- tion between the stakeholders, it could be argued pected that the auction platform will be used more that GSM (and especially WAP) has the lowest ex- intensively, resulting in more transactions. As a re- pected impact. Furthermore, in general, it could be sult, it is proposed that the auctioneer will benefit stated that the more ‘‘personal’’ the access technol- from more revenues. One can conclude that more ogy, the more impact the access technology has on mature processes result in an increased expected the (communication between the) stakeholders. More success. specifically, iTV is expected to have the greatest ef- fect on the stakeholders, followed by voice technol- Concerning more interactive communication, it can ogy, UMTS, GPRS, and finally, GSM with the be stated that it could lead to a higher level of infor- lowest impact. This could be explained by the fact mation sharing, more qualitative information, more that iTV offers the most ‘‘personal’’ communication, frequent communication, lower response times, more and GSM offers the most ‘‘impersonal’’ communica- bonding, more fun, more traffic on auction platform, tion of the access technologies presented in this pa- and more information gathering about customer per. In other words, more interactive (electronic) preferences. More specifically, it is expected that communication resembles the ‘‘rich’’ and ‘‘spontane- these advantages apply to all stakeholders. As a re- ous’’ face-to-face communication. Furthermore, it sult, there should be generated more value for all could be added that the more personal a technology the participants. Besides, it has been suggested that is, the less anonymous the participants can be. So, these advantages result in an increased expected suc- more personal communication could result in more cess of e-auctions, because these advantages lead to a 388 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004
  13. 13. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS higher level of use and in more transactions per- H1: ‘‘The use of more sophisticated, data-oriented multi- formed on the auction platform. So, based on these access technologies in electronic auctions will lead to a findings, it is stated that more interactive communi- higher maturity level of the business processes’’. cation results in an increased expected success of the selected e-auctions. Next, attention will be given to the second proposi- tion, which has been formulated as: ‘‘The use of more sophisticated multi-access technologies in electronic auc- Lessons Learned tions will lead to more interactive communication between the stakeholders’’. This proposition can be validated by The first proposition has been formulated as: ‘‘The looking at paragraph 6.3. In paragraph 6.3, it has use of more sophisticated multi-access technologies in been argued that multi-access technologies can pro- electronic auctions will lead to a higher maturity level vide more interactivity between all stakeholders of of the business processes’’. This proposition can be an- the selected e-auctions. More specifically, more swered, based on the outcomes of paragraph 6.2. In sophisticated multi-access technologies can lead to paragraph 6.2, there have been noted two important more interactive communication between the stake- aspects that are relevant in this context. First, that holders of the selected e-auctions. These outcomes not all business processes are (or could be) affected are in accordance with the sophistication level mod- by multi-access technologies, and, second, that voice el. The reason for this is that more sophisticated mul- technology is an exception to this proposition, look- ti-access technologies could result in more personal ing at the sophistication level model, since it has a and spontaneous communication between the partic- lower overall score than the other multi-access tech- ipants. Based on these outcomes, it is suggested that nologies. The sophistication level model suggests the second proposition is accepted. In other words, that Internet has the lowest sophistication level, fol- there probably exists a positive relationship between lowed in sequence by, wireless data, wired & wire- the sophistication level of multi-access technologies less voice, and finally, iTV. Based on this model, it is and the level of interactive communication between argued that the overall score for the maturity levels the stakeholders. As a result, the relationship, as pre- due to voice technology has to be higher than the sented in the conceptual framework, appears to be categories Internet and wireless data. Based on these positive. Based on these statements, the proposal of statements, the first proposition will be rejected. The the second hypothesis (H2) is as follows: main complication of the first proposition is that it suggests that the higher the sophistication level of H2: ‘‘The use of more sophisticated multi-access technolo- the multi-access technologies, the higher will be gies in electronic auctions will lead to more interactive the (overall) maturity level of the business proc- communication between the stakeholders’’. esses. However, as stated above, it is argued that voice technology is an exception to this statement. The third proposition has been formulated as: ‘‘More Possibly, this is caused by the fact that the business mature business processes will lead to an increased ex- processes could be improved due to data-oriented pected success of electronic auctions’’. Based on para- (or rather machine-interaction) applications rather graph 6.4, it can be stated that more mature than due to voice-oriented (or rather person-interac- processes result in a number of advantages for the tion) applications. Considering the fact that voice stakeholders of the selected e-auctions. Besides, there technology can not provide benefits for the basic are also some disadvantages for the auctioneer (i.e. trade processes, it suggests that voice technology increase of expected costs, less convenience on short does not improve how transactions are realized term). However, these disadvantages are expected to and settled (or rather the actual trading of the be overcome by a higher level of usage of the auction goods). So, voice technology could mainly be inter- platform and a higher generated transaction volume, esting for a ‘‘helpdesk function’’ or rather a ‘‘sup- which results in more income for the auctioneer. port process’’ on the auction platform. However, This, in turn, benefits the expected success of the se- this process has not been explicitly proposed in lected e-auctions. As a result, it can be argued that the exchange processes model from Kambil and the third proposition is accepted. So, the relationship, Van Heck (2002). as presented in the conceptual framework, between the maturity of the business processes and the ex- As a result, it could be argued that the business proc- pected success of the selected e-auctions, appears to esses of the selected e-auctions could be improved be positive. As a result, the third hypothesis (H3) is more due to data-oriented technologies than due to proposed as: voice-oriented technologies. So, by omitting the voice technology from this analysis, the results are valid, H3: ‘‘More mature business processes will lead to an in- since Internet (3.0) has the lowest level of sophistica- creased expected success of electronic auctions’’. tion, followed by GSM (3.4), GPRS (3.7), UMTS (3.8), and iTV (3.9) with the highest level of sophistication. The fourth proposition has been formulated as: Note that these overall scores, as shown between the ‘‘More interactive communication between the stakehold- brackets, have been adapted from Table 3. As a re- ers will lead to an increased expected success of elec- sult, the first hypothesis (H1) could be proposed as: tronic auctions’’. Based on paragraph 6.4, it could be European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004 389
  14. 14. THE IMPACT OF MULTI-ACCESS TECHNOLOGIES ON CONSUMER ELECTRONIC AUCTIONS mentioned that more interactive communication be- ogies on the stakeholders that are involved in elec- tween the participants leads to advantages for all tronic auctions. participants. In this paper, it has been proposed that these advantages, in turn, result in a higher expected First, the impact of multi-access technologies on the success of the selected e-auctions. So, the relationship business processes of e-auctions is described as fol- between the interactivity of the communication and lows. First, it should be mentioned that most of the expected success of the selected e-auctions ap- the access technologies offer an increase of the pears to be positive. As a result, the fourth proposi- maturity level of the business processes. More spe- tion is accepted and the fourth hypothesis could be cifically, iTV offers the largest increase of the capa- formulated as follows: bilities of the business processes, followed by UMTS, GPRS, GSM, and finally, voice technology. H4: ‘‘More interactive communication between the stake- By using these technologies, the auctioneer can pro- holders will lead to an increased expected success of elec- vide more efficient and cost-saving processes to its tronic auctions’’. stakeholders. Furthermore, these technologies can also result in other advantages for the stakeholders Especially based on the outcomes of paragraph 6.2, it (e.g. more convenience, more trust, more personal- is argued that the maturity level of the business proc- ized services, etc) that can lead to a higher expected esses is not only be increased due to more sophisti- success of the e-auction platform. Note that some cated multi-access technologies, but also due to the new technology-enabled services can only be pro- cooperation with other service providers. The reason vided when the auction platform cooperates with for this is that certain services, enabled by multi-ac- other third parties. cess technologies, are only be performed with the help of third parties that are specialized in providing Second, the impact of multi-access technologies on such services. Consider, for example, mobile user the stakeholders of e-auctions will be described be- identification. Such a service is only performed in low. More sophisticated multi-access technologies cooperation with a mobile operator. In other words, can result in more interactivity (or rather interactive technologies could provide the possibilities of a high- communication) between all stakeholders. More spe- er service level, however, the execution is only possi- cifically, GSM offers the lowest increase of interactiv- ble by cooperating with other parties. So, the ity, followed by GPRS, UMTS, voice technology, and relationship between cooperation and maturity of finally, iTV with the highest increase of interactivity. the business processes could be added to the concep- As a result, the stakeholders of the selected e-auc- tual framework. As a result, a fifth hypothesis (H5) tions should be able to communicate in other ways has been proposed: than were previously possible. Furthermore, by using new technologies, the stakeholders are increas- H5: ‘‘More cooperation with external service providers ingly more able to change the content and form of the will lead to a higher maturity level of the business proc- communication. Additionally, due to more sophisti- esses of the electronic auction’’. cated technologies, the auctioneer can provide advantages for buyers and sellers, such as more (qualitative) communication, more bonding, more fun, and more personalized and customized services. Conclusions Besides, new multi-access technologies should result in the redefinition of the role of the participants in e- Research Problem auctions, since they should result in a more active role of the participants, because new technologies The research objective of this paper has been to gain enable an information-pull rather than an informa- insight on the impact that multi-access technologies tion-push. have on the business processes and on the stakehold- ers of electronic auctions. This objective has been met Based on these conclusions, it can be stated that mul- by having provided a theoretical framework, and by ti-access technologies can allow a reduction of the having formulated four propositions, which, in turn, problems of current e-auctions (such as reducing have been tested. Based on these outcomes, the re- fraud and other risks by improving security, improv- search questions have been answered. ing trust, etc). Furthermore, these technologies not only resolve several of the current limitations and Taking into consideration the presented results, it is problems of e-auctions, but they also offer real added argued that the impact of multi-access technologies value by providing more services for the stakehold- on the business processes and on the stakeholders ers. Furthermore, by using these multi-access differs per technology. This is explained by the fact technologies, e-auctions offer a platform to its stake- that each technology has different characteristics holders that resembles the richness, complexity and and capabilities. First, attention will be given to the completeness of traditional auctions (Kambil and impact of multi-access technologies on the business Van Heck, 2002: 3-4). As a result, we can speak of processes of electronic auctions, and second, there ‘‘technology-driven value enhancement’’ (Wang will be a focus on the impact of multi-access technol- et al., 2002). 390 European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 377–392, August 2004