The 2017 edition of the National Retail Federation convention and expo brought some familiar technology back to the forefront. Walking among a number of cool new experiences – virtual reality among them, NRF2017 showed some of the best of what has been and what can be for the retail industry! From a mobile productivity perspective, here are a few observations I found noteworthy:
Not since the days of the 2004 mandate have I noticed so much buzz around this form of data capture. Unlike the industry chatter of last decade, RFID seemed to make a strong comeback driven by really compelling use cases. I’ve written about the consumer-side of retail productivity in the past, and some of the use cases leading RFID vendors were touting seemed to be experiences that boost customer satisfaction, accelerating the connection between shoppers and the products they want to buy – in the right sizes, colors, and more.
Screens of all sizes
From mobile devices and tablets to digital signage that can present shoppers with unique, targeted ads, to kiosks and more, there were a number of new ways to engage shoppers in the store! The touch-enabled interaction is really booming, and with more use cases for customers to interact with store info – from gift registries, to inventory checks and more, the user experience in these apps is so important for customer satisfaction.
Lots of IoT buzz
As expected, the talk around supply chain IoT amplified even more this year. Close to home, it was exciting to hear about Honeywell and Intel making announcements to further IoT throughout the supply chain. It will be exciting to see the creative solutions this technology continues to bring to the supply chain. We have been hearing some exciting ideas from customers and partners, and announcements like these will undoubtedly fuel more interest!
For our part, we had great conversations about Velocity app modernization across the growing number of Android mobile devices (and vendors) retailers are evaluating. Booth visitors liked the progression that Velocity offers – they can migrate to a new Android device, using Velocity in a green-screen/native mode, optimize their workflows on the Velocity platform, and then “flip the switch” to the modernized UI when they are ready. Several indicated this “step-by-step” approach further minimized risk to their business, while building confidence in their ability to upgrade their hardware without application re-writes. Want to read more? Among the earliest, great NRF 2017 recaps was this from Retail Info Systems News.
It’s just about here! For supply chain-oriented businesses, the new year really kicks off with the National Retail Federation’s annual convention and expo in New York City. With the peak retail season just wrapped up (and most of the returns handled), NRF is a great opportunity to check out what’s new and exciting, while exploring solutions that will make next December even more successful. As we get ready to exhibit, I’m also looking forward to having an opportunity to walk the floor to check out these evolving solutions:
Payment: Like many, I’ve been watching this one for the last while as EMV has been rolled out here in the US. Though still not rolled out everywhere, I’m curious to see the latest systems, and also see how providers are continuously optimizing security. Self-checkout is always interesting too, so it will be interesting to see some of the solutions that speed shoppers through the process.
Customer Experience: Here, I’m interested in the customer sat that comes with various purchasing experiences. Even as Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) has been around for a good ten years, I’m still finding issues with this experience at some retailers – as recently as this holiday season (more on that in a future blog post). Solutions that make this experience more perfected, seamless, and ultimately more satisfying as a consumer, are on my list.
Mobility (of course): What credibility would I have if I didn’t suggest I’m interested in what new devices are announced at this show? Our device manufacturer partners always have great new mobile technology to show at NRF, and it is exciting for us, because we have the productivity-powering software that runs on these devices and operating systems.
With over 500 exhibitors, there will undoubtedly be much to see. Stop by and see us. Wavelink is exhibiting in booth #1322. We love to hear what retail and supply chain challenges you’re looking to solve, and you’ll find our whole team is excited to chat mobile productivity, and more! You can also follow Wavelink (@Wavelink) and me (@rob_destefano) on Twitter, where we will be live tweeting from the show floor. See you on Sunday in New York City!
This series of enterprise-focused blogs has been created to raise your awareness of the things to look for to insure the core product selections you make can impact your ability to meet operational needs and expectations. Wrapping up this series, let us explore how Wavelink TE and Velocity is created to meet the mission critical expectations of customer operations teams.
Previous blogs we have covered how Wavelink is standards based, using TCP as our guaranteed message delivery methodology. Others have chosen to rely on a proprietary connectionless protocol to support guaranteed delivery. Unfortunately, the proprietary protocol creates a ripple effect through your enterprise support teams that make problems even worse when they do occur.
Networking tools become ineffective when proprietary protocols come into play. UDP cannot be routed, so Network Admins need to get involved to set up and secure tunnels between subnets. TCP based traffic systems require very little, if any, involvement from IT and Networking teams.
Do you plan to grow the operation where TE and mobile are employed? If so, Wavelink supports standards based load balancing, allowing you to expand without adding new infrastructure to support your TE apps. If the product you choose cannot do that, you may be creating a problem when your company grows.
If you are ever considering moving your host to the cloud or using a cloud based solution, Wavelink TE and Velocity support that today, as well as use over Public Wireless Data Networks, like LTE networks operated by telephone carriers. Server based TE products prevent you from considering cloud based solutions.
Across the LANDESK business (of which Wavelink is a part), we offer several other products that should be considered to support your enterprise operations. Our database dashboarding product Xtraction is a great example. Build your own real-time reports with an easy to use interface, using data from any of your database systems. Analyze how your business is working without leaving your desk. Allow Wavelink to review your operations today to see if there are other optimizations and benefits we can deliver.
Wavelink is a global operation with support teams around the world. Support is available 24 X 7 X 365 in a number of languages. Not everyone in the market can make that claim. Our on-line community includes users from small to mid-sized, and large companies, and multinational enterprises. In the community, you can communicate with peers on their thoughts on fixes and best practices.
Over thirty thousand companies rely on Wavelink products in their mission critical operations around the world. Consider the benefits of working with Wavelink: an experienced, global, and enterprise-focused company with products to meet your mobility needs. Do not be misled by small players overplaying their hand. Rely on Wavelink and our proven, 25-year track record around the world.
In our first post of this series, we covered the things that make Wavelink Velocity TE and Web enterprise-ready. This segment will continue on the enterprise mission critical theme in the areas of enterprise supportability and security. We will focus on standard network protocols, encryption, system reliability and sustainability methods, all of which are important to IT departments and network administrators.
Legacy versus modern networking
Over 20 years ago, proprietary protocols and server/gateway based methods were frequently used to address challenges that arose from the use of wireless technologies. Over the years, as technologies have evolved and matured, those are disappearing as methods to support mobility improve and mature. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was common to expect to install a network controller or server in order to provide basic mobile services like wireless terminal emulation to workers.
Each of these products employed proprietary protocols and had a tendency to lump all their functions on the one part of the enterprise they could control – their required, network-based server. No real architecture was involved. It was all stored on the server. Unfortunately, this created a single point of failure situation. That has not changed today for server-based telnet systems.
At the turn of the 21st century, network equipment providers became much more mobile-aware and offered much more stability and better wireless connectivity to mobile workers. Most of the proprietary or highly customized products have disappeared from the market as the functions they specialized in are now included in the devices, or are built into the network components.
Devices are now much better suited to operate on standards-based wireless and mobile networks using only standard protocols. Our Velocity and Terminal Emulation can support multiple sessions with multiple types of hosts, allowing you to create a backup and failover plan to meet your needs. Wavelink’s installed base of over 10 million devices with many, many more over the last three decades is proof that our solution is up to the task.
The importance of industry standards
The beauty of the Wavelink TE architecture is that it is plug and play. It does not require an additional server application installation, additional open TCP or UDP ports, additional host resources to accommodate a server application or access to a host systems engineer.
Our system can typically be managed with minimal or no interaction with the host systems engineers, network administrators, or IT department in general. Devices can be provisioned in minutes requiring only a wireless IP connection, host IP address and emulation type while still providing the flexibility of a feature rich environment.
Wavelink TE leverages only TCP/IP whereas other solutions may use a combination of UDP/IP and TCP/IP, which create the need to use antiquated networking techniques like tunneling. The use of multiple and proprietary protocols add complexity to the system.
To accommodate those that may need session persistence, Connect Pro has been offered for over a decade as a value add option involving an intermediary server. It may be optionally added to the Wavelink TE environment if there are issues in a customer’s operational environment. Poor wireless coverage, improperly set inactivity timers, and mobile devices that suspend while in session due to inactivity make Connect Pro a viable solution. We have found session persistence to be required in less than 10% of our installed base. It is offered in flavors for Windows, Linux, and for the AS/400.
In conclusion, security, supportability and availability should all be considered when making mission critical product decisions. Any one of the areas discussed here should make you pause to consider only solutions that are really ready to meet the demands of your enterprise.
We are all familiar with products that come in consumer and contractor versions. The assumption is that the contractor versions are better built and you should expect to get more from them, and they should last longer. We believe in this concept – that some products are better suited for the tough jobs, while others are simply not designed to meet those demands, despite their overhyped claims.
Wavelink proves this concept to mobility software in the form of enterprise-ready, mission critical mobility software that’s proven to meet the demands of the toughest jobs. This is the first of a series of blog entries that will help you understand how Wavelink develops mobility software to work in your most critical operations – the Wavelink Difference.
“Enterprise-ready” means different things to different people so I’ll explain Wavelink’s approach using our Velocity, Terminal Emulation, and browser mobility products as the example.
Wavelink is a global company with offices on five continents and distributors and partners on every continent except Antarctica. Our products are internationalized in local languages for businesses to use around the world. The products are built with the ability to support multi-national corporations in mind.
Our worldwide sales force works with local resellers and distribution partners offering global product distribution and expertise. Our products are also available for instant delivery via our online webstore. We also make our licenses easy to distribute, offering tools to pass licenses to devices, hands free.
Like our sales and partner network, our technical support organization is available around the world. Our customers can count on 24 x 7 x 365 support for their Wavelink deployments, in a number of languages. Our online community made up of users – big and small, is a place where customers can trade notes on best practices in “real life” implementations, and supplements our support organization.
Our Velocity, Terminal Emulation and Industrial Browsers are horizontal products that work across many markets and applications. Some are used casually, but others are used in operations where downtime is measured in millions of dollars per hour. Most of these operations have goals to increase productivity by 5% or more each year.
The ability to provide reliable, always available products to connect workers to host applications is mission critical. Wavelink is battle hardened with three decades of experience in this “must work to support my business” client based terminal emulation. Over 30,000 companies around the world are running over 10 million Wavelink TE licenses and millions of our other applications to run their operations every single day.
Designed for Business Continuity
In the same fashion, our products are created to be flexible, allowing you to operate as you need to use them, not how we force for you to deploy and use them. In addition, we offer all the value added accessory system parts you may ever need, but again, you only need to use the things you need, when you need them.
Knowing full well there are IT and Network Administration staffs in enterprises, we don’t dictate your architecture; we work in the enterprise as you define it. For example: We don’t require servers to be on the subnets where your devices operate. Nor do we use nonstandard technologies, protocols, or methods like network tunneling that tie your hands. Finally, we don’t throw everything on one single server in your network and call it an “architecture” (that’s really more like a “single point of failure”).
To wrap up this segment, Wavelink works – in whatever language client or computer operating system you need it – reliably, all the time. With support near whatever location you are implementing. And when something in your network or application doesn’t work we offer you the ability to create a backup and fall back plan to continue operations. Mission critical enterprise strength is a serious commitment. We take your business seriously.
I am a remote control freak, that is.
A lot of you will have seen the recent announcement regarding our agreement with Splashtop to provide smart device remote control. We are extremely excited by the opportunity to partner with a company who is truly an industry leader in this space.
If you’ve never heard of Splashtop, they have been a leader in the remote control space for a long time and have a number of different consumer solutions available in the app/play store.
Remote control capabilities are an important part of the toolbox of an enterprise support team. The buildings that our customers work in are massive—really massive. The mission critical nature of our customers’ businesses means that any lost productivity can have a direct impact on the bottom line.
This is why being able to connect to a device deployed on the floor—and see what the user is seeing—can save time, money, and the need for someone to take a very long walk to see the problem in person.
Smart Device Remote Control
Wavelink has had remote control for older devices for years and is an important part of our Avalanche enterprise mobility management solution. This new product, Smart Device Remote Control, provides a remote control solution for customers with Android based devices and will soon be extended to other smart device operating systems.
How do we do it?
So, how are we able to provide this capability when so many others can’t?
Part of the answer is because of our very long relationships with all of the device manufacturers that make up this market. Remote control clients require elevated rights on Android devices; there’s no standard APIs that give a vendor access to the screen. This means that each vendor needs to trust us enough to sign our remote control client and give us extra rights into their device.
We went to market with support for the Zebra and Honeywell portfolio of Android devices, and we’re currently working on Panasonic and Datalogic support.
In addition to these, we also have support for Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10, so, whilst we are aimed at the rugged device market you will also be able to control most enterprise desktop machines, as well as any vehicle mount device or POS based on big windows. If the need arises you can also remote control Mac OSX machines.
If you are considering a move to Android or have needs to control one of the other operating systems that I just mentioned, then and see how we can help you get set up and ready to be control freaks yourselves.
We could all use a year of perfect order after the unexpected happenings in 2016. “Surprises” don’t seem to describe 2016, and no one likely made all these predictions one year ago. Around the world: political upheaval has been rampant, global economies have been on a rollercoaster ride, Chicago, Cleveland, Leicester were among the unusual winners of sports championships. Closer to our industry, shipping saw a rising tide, though at least one major firm sank into bankruptcy. Supply chain technology continued its march forward, evidenced most recently with Amazon’s first commercial drone delivery.
As we say farewell to what has been an exhausting year in so many ways, here are a few mobile productivity-related expectations for 2017:
Reset the productivity clock: Yes, it happens again. You achieved your operational productivity metrics this past year. Now, it’s time to set your sights on achieving this year’s target. But there is good news: 2016 brought a number of exciting advances in mobile productivity – both in the form of new mobile devices running “smart” operating systems, and the expansion of mobile app modernization (yes, that’s a shameless plug for our Velocity platform). As we roll into 2017, Velocity is available on a number of devices from Datalogic, Honeywell, Panasonic and Zebra, to name a few).
Plan now for future efficiency: Many economies are running hotter, especially now that some of 2016’s political questions have been answered. Now is the time to plan for the unknowns that lay ahead as these expectations meet with reality in 2017. Businesses should be preparing now for the potential of leaner times ahead by making sure their workers equipped to be as productive as possible.
Supply chain IoT becomes real: The Internet of Things has been explored throughout the supply chain. We’ve seen robotic shelving concepts and more over the past few years. This year, prepare for use cases to extend into areas of business not previously on your radar. This will be a fun and interesting area of innovation our markets, so stay tuned.
Every year is bound to bring us plenty of unexpected surprises, and 2017 delivers its share, we’re excited to explore them with you! What expectations do you have for mobile productivity in 2017? Email me with your predictions and we’ll track them throughout the year.
From all of us at Wavelink, we thank you for partnering with us for your mobile productivity needs. We wish you the best for perfect order during the holidays and many perfect orders fulfilled in the year ahead!
Downtime is wasted time. No debate there, right? So, as you’re considering your next generation mobile deployments, one obvious expectation is to be able to ensure you can troubleshoot these new, smart devices, minimizing delays whenever possible. Whether caused by mobile device settings or software, the ability to remote in, check out the issue, and resolve it quickly, is powerful – and imperative to maximizing worker productivity.
Last week, we announced our partnership with Splashtop, and the release of our Smart Device Remote Control. It’s a big deal for us, and very timely for businesses throughout the supply chain. More and more firms are starting hardware refreshes to mobile computers running Smart OSes like Android or planning for Windows 10.
One of the most relatable benefits of remote control – from customer stories using our long-proven Remote Control for Windows CE and Windows Mobile, is the ability to avoid “No Fault Found” service responses. For these companies, Remote Control addressed the scenario of a device having a problem in the field, and being sent to a service depot somewhere, only to be returned without any resolution – because, at the service center, all appeared to be in good working order. “Good working order” is good news, but the pain for these customers was explained in a couple of points:
Workers leaving the point of activity
When the device started acting up, the worker had to leave their task, walk to the closest person on-site who can help them, then walk back to their task location. Productivity losses really begin to mount the moment that worker walks away from their task location, and continue bleeding until they are physically back at their task location and able to resume their task. It may not sound like much, but consider the worker at the far end of a 250,000 square-foot warehouse (or larger in many cases), who has to walk all the way across the floor to swap out their device.
Once reaching an on-site contact, that worker is standing idle for whatever time it takes to stage a replacement device from the spares pool – more downtime. Are spares pool devices usually sitting charged, in a docking station, loaded with the latest versions of mission critical apps, ready to go? The answer should be “yes”, but many admit to a less-ready state for spare devices.
Shipping out the “broken” device
Consider the costs of sending a device out for service, unnecessarily. It’s all wasted time, and money. Even if you’re not paying shipping under a service agreement, you’re cost is built into your spares pool of devices. When that device comes back with a note reading “No Fault Found”, you haven’t really gotten any benefit for the downtime you have incurred.
Smart Device Remote Control is a powerful tool for preserving mobile productivity. Used in conjunction with Avalanche for enterprise mobility management, companies not only gain more control by keeping devices and apps up to date. They gain the ability to troubleshoot and resolve issues on the floor, as they happen, so workers can get back to work as quickly as possible.
$500 million. That’s a whole lot of money. It could buy you any super yacht on the market today, or a whole lot of tacos on Taco Tuesday.
That’s also what some of our customers told us it would cost if they decided to move from a telnet interface to a more modern touch-enabled interface on their Android devices. Let that sink in for a second. $500 million. For an HTML UI.
These large project costs stem from the fact that these customers were faced with migrating their mission critical host applications, including having to employ legions of developers (and all of the other costs that entails), having to maintain and enhance their code, having to manage a massive project, and so forth. All for an HTML UI.
Clearly, if the only benefit is a more modern interface, then half a billion dollars is a hard sell to the board.
The vision of Velocity
Wavelink has a rich history of allowing our customers to change the user experience dramatically, while at the same time minimizing the risk and cost of this type of project. It’s this rich history, coupled with this new Android opportunity, that led us to the vision of Velocity.
As we sat and brainstormed about the problem our customers faced, we saw that we could help them modernize the device experience and also maintain their back end host applications.
No risky data or server migrations involved, no legions of developers to employ, no massive projects to manage, and most importantly, more money left over for Taco Tuesday.
The initial goal of the project was to allow a customer to install the client on an Android device and connect to their existing telnet host application, whereby the user would see a modern, HTML, touch-enabled UI on the device instead of the green screen application they had before. All of this had to be achieved without a single change to the host application.
At the same time, we wanted to provide a toolset that would allow the customer to change the UI to meet their specific needs.
A modernized user experience
Velocity is a constantly evolving platform that allows our customers to move to an Android device and modernize the user experience at their own pace. Some customers will choose to maintain the green screen experience, while others may choose to only reformat a few screens or a single process. Some users will want a soup to nuts modern UI. All of these are possible with Velocity.
You may have also noticed that I’m calling Velocity a platform. This is because we do a lot more than just connect to telnet servers. Customers who have web-based host applications can connect to those using Velocity.
Additionally, retailers who use Oracle Retail Store Inventory Management (Oracle SIM) will be using Velocity as their mobile client. Shortly, we’ll also be releasing our Speakeasy product on top of Velocity to provide a voice-enablement solution for our customers. For those keeping count, that’s three different types of host applications that can be connected to, and a layer of voice on top.
During this time, LANDESK also acquired Naurtech. This was an interesting acquisition for our group, because Naurtech had a rich-scripting engine in their client that allowed a customer to have a lot of very powerful capabilities and customization possibilities at their fingertips.
This also highlights the benefit of the platform, because many of these APIs are equally applicable to telnet, web and SIM. Furthermore, the fact that all of this is supported through a single client and console means that, as we add support for more and more device, all of those devices can be used with any protocol.
Velocity has been an exciting project to work on these last couple of years and, as a product manager, it’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to take a product from the drawing board all the way through a number of releases. We have a lot more exciting stuff coming that we can’t wait to show you.
‘Tis the season for warm coats, hot drinks, and holiday shopping. Children everywhere are penning their wishlists for Santa, requesting everything from Barbies to Hot Wheels to a new baby brother or sister (good luck with that one, parents!).
And while Santa is known for being efficient—especially in one hot cocoa-fueled night on a magical sleigh—even the youngest kids know that what he does is a bit… well, impossible.
But he doesn’t do it alone.
Here are some of the ways in which Santa pulls off his once-a-year gift giving extravaganza.
He hires extra help (elves)
According to both the Wall Street Journal and Time, some of the biggest retailers are hiring workers in the thousands to help with the demands of the season. Amazon leads the pack with upwards of 120,000 holiday workers. Macy’s comes in at 83,000, Target at 70,000, Kohl’s at 69,000, FedEx at 50,000, JCPenney at 40,000, and Toys R Us at 10,900.
People want doorstep delivery as opposed to chimney delivery
You have two options: Wake up early and drive to a packed store with a bunch of other shoppers all vying for the same coveted item; or sleep in, pull out your laptop and add something to a virtual shopping cart. Which do you choose?
The convenience of online shopping keeps many people on their computers at home—slippers and all—rather than facing the crowds in person.
Amazon Prime users now outnumber regular Amazon users with a total of 63 million. You can even get same-day delivery!
Total online sales are projected to reach 94.71 billion this holiday season, increasing 17.2 percent from last year.
So whether you’re shopping online or braving the crowds in person this year, we want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!