The Road to Velocity

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$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 concept is something that we also wanted to include in Velocity, and this is where a lot of the power of the platform resides today, and where a lot of the value will continue to be driven. In every release, we’re adding more and more Javascript APIs that our customers, partners or field engineers can leverage, in order to deliver a tailored solution to our end users.

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.

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Infographic: How Does Santa Deliver All Those Gifts?

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‘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!

From Chicago: Flying the “W” with Wavelink

By Joe Wilson, Wavelink Sales Director, Eastern US, Canada, and LATAM

Selfie: Joe Wilson celebrates the Chicago Cubs championship winning season at the victory parade.

Selfie: Joe Wilson celebrates the Chicago Cubs championship winning season at the victory parade.

Finally, I can say “I’m a Chicago Cubs fan” and not brace for the inevitable comment about 1908 – the last time my favorite Major League Baseball team won the World Series. It hasn’t been easy – so many times coming so close, only to have a supposed curse prevent the season from ending with the “W” flag flying and the accompanying fanfare worthy of winning a world championship. For those not familiar – when the Cubs win a game, a big flag with a letter ”W” flies at the stadium, so all of us in Chicago can know.

Watching the Cubs this season, and for every heart-pounding minute of this best-of-seven championship victory, one word kept coming to my mind: Productivity. Watching players produce – batters getting hits and homeruns, pitchers – the model of efficiency – getting strikeouts and keeping opponents from reaching base, I found it intriguing to find the word I use to describe what Wavelink does, to be the same as what makes a winning team successful: Productivity.  So, for all you out there who depend on Wavelink for productivity, here’s four ways we’re flying the “W” for you:

  • Workers: The backbone of your business, and the people Wavelink’s products are designed to empower. We aim to provide the tools that make your workers perform at their very best. Your company’s successful peak season depends on them.
  • Workflow Optimization: If your workers can perform tasks more quickly, they can accomplish more tasks per day. Wavelink works with you to understand your operations and task workflows – helping you find ways to optimize the flow, so more tasks get completed per shift.
  • Wherever: I thought about “Warehouse”, but you want to maximize productivity throughout the whole supply chain. From manufacturing plants, through warehouses and DC’s, to the retail store.
  • Winning together: As baseball is a team sport, so is our shared success. Whether you’re a Wavelink partner or a customer, we thank you for choosing Wavelink to be on your team. We celebrate your successes as our successes, as you can see among our customer case studies.

Wavelink WOne last “W” for all you readers: hopefully, you’ve read our recent news about the company name change. While the Wavelink “W” may be changing, our commitment to delivering the very best solutions for mobile productivity will continue – 25 years next year (that’s a winning streak)! More on that in the months to come. For now, as I celebrate the first championship for the Cubs in 108 years, I also celebrate you, and the productivity gains we deliver together.

Addressing Four Barriers to Android Adoption

Last month I wrote about some of the reasons driving warehouse modernization and two of the big motivations focused on the age of existing mobile computers, coupled with the end-of-support timetables for legacy mobile operating systems offered by Microsoft.  There are a significant number of good reasons to stay focused on Windows for your future mobile deployments (and some of those reasons are the exciting new devices we’ve seen recently from our device manufacturing partners). For this post, we’ll cover some barriers that you may be facing if you’re looking at Android for your next generation mobile deployment.  Among the selection criteria many businesses prioritize when looking at their next generation solution, here are four I hear about often, and how to make these successful on Android:

  • Velocity on TC8000Deploy without disruption: This has been a common requirement even without choosing a significantly different operating system. So, when faced with making a big leap such as from Windows CE to Android, the fear of disruption is understandable. This is where many get caught up in app migration, and the cost and effort that comes with it. Good news: you can move to Android and ensure business continuity by keeping the systems you already have in place.
  • “State of the Art” user experience: If you’re going to embrace a new generation of mobile hardware that offers a beautiful, bright screen and touch interface, you don’t want to give workers a text-heavy application to work with. Terminal Emulation or “green-screen” applications have been trusted for decades. To get the most out of their proven success in a new generation, modernize these existing telnet clients so your workers get an experience similar to what they get on their personal smartphones.
  • Deliver more than just “green-screen”: Terminal Emulation has certainly been the most common method for connecting mobile devices to host-based applications. But, what about all the web-based enterprise systems out there? If you’re running SAP, Oracle, Manhattan, or any of a variety of other browser apps, you’re equally in need of a solution to bring those apps to new touchscreen devices. With our Velocity platform, you can modernize the user experience for both – telnet and web apps – using a common mobile enablement solution.
  • Flexibility to make it our own: You already have established tasks that workers navigate. Now, you want to further optimize them with scripts so that workers can move through tasks faster. An example would be automating steps in the task workflow that perform a calculations. Further enhancement to your apps may include custom onscreen keyboards that present the user with only the keys appropriate for a specific data field (no need to show alphabetic characters for a quantity field, for example). Finally, modernized apps offer an opportunity to promote your brand. Whether these apps are seen only by warehouse workers, or in customer-facing environments (read: retail floor), you can add branding elements to really make your apps look your own.

Bottom line: choosing a new mobile hardware platform is a big consideration. Making that decision with a new operating system in the mix raises even more questions. Here’s an opportunity to learn more and eliminate some of the barriers to Android adoption. I’m shamelessly plugging our upcoming webinar, Mapping Mobile Solutions to Meet Warehouse Modernization Trends Presented by VDC Research. Hope to see you there, where you’ll be able to hear expert analysis on app modernization and more!

What’s in a Name: Why We’re Changing Our Name (and More) in 2017

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In the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name?”

This famous line implies that names are simply labels that don’t really matter. After all, Juliet posits, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It’s a nice sentiment, but perhaps (like Juliet) a bit naïve.

If a rose were called skunk weed, you would expect a very different experience when you smelled it. And as Romeo and Juliet’s tragic tale demonstrates, names can unite or divide us.

Names matter.

So what does this have to do with Wavelink?

We’re changing our name in 2017.

As you know, Wavelink was acquired by LANDESK a few years ago. LANDESK is a strong, stable and well-respected company in the IT industry. Our technologies are known for just working. This means being reliable, easy to integrate and use alongside other IT systems, and giving IT the ability to get the job done—whatever that job is—particularly when it comes to operational IT and remote enterprise systems management.

And in 2017, both Wavelink (and our parent company, LANDESK) will change our name. We’ll be one unified brand.

What we do, our commitment to perfect technology and our focus on our industry WILL NOT CHANGE. But we’re also a part of something bigger. LANDESK has acquired several companies over the last several years, such as:

  • IT service management (TouchPaper)
  • IT asset management (Managed Planet)
  • Patch management (Shavlik)
  • Enterprise-class, ruggedized mobile device management and application streaming (Wavelink and Naurtech)
  • Mobile email security (LetMobile)
  • Business value dashboards and reporting for IT (Xtraction)
  • User environment management for physical and virtual devices, as well as application management and privilege management (AppSense)

They’ll all change too. All these companies will have only one name in 2017. Does this change our focus and our commitment to our customer? No.

Over the next several months, you will start to notice changes in Wavelink (and LANDESK) and the other brands we’ve acquired. We are evolving. Refining our focus. Transforming in ways we never have before. And we want to bring our customers with us, continuing to help you along your organization’s journey to IT maturity.

We will still be the great company you’ve come to know and trust. We will continue to develop and maintain the world-class solutions relied upon by organizations across the globe. But we will be coming together in new ways, under a new company name, and with a new energy.

Five Reasons to Modernize your Warehouse

There is a lot of pressure on warehouse operators to improve productivity – no surprise there. With many reporting a push for annual productivity increases of 5% or more, modernization of mobile warehouse technologies is becoming more of a mandate than a wish. Common reasons to modernize come from various angles, so here are five that I’ve been hearing most often:

  • Aging mobile devices: The lifecycle of rugged mobile computers is significantly longer than consumer devices. Many companies have rugged devices in use for five, seven, even ten years, or more. However, technological advancements (everything from processing power to data capture options) in the mobile computers that have been introduced since their last hardware implementation are inspiring a new wave of device refreshes.
  • Improving mobile application experiences: With a huge push toward faster shipments, many companies are evaluating how to help workers more quickly and intuitively navigate task workflows. This means mobile applications have to be more intuitive and easy to learn – especially for businesses that employ a sizeable seasonal workforce.
  • Warehouse productivityChanging workforce demographics: A growing number of workers entering warehouse operations have never before seen a “green screen” terminal emulation client. But they grew up with tap-and-swipe user experiences on their smartphones and tablets. Giving them a familiar experience in their work applications essentially flattens their learning curve and speeds their productivity.
  • Fading support for legacy mobile operating systems: Several versions of Microsoft’s mobile operating systems will be unsupported by 2020. The choices among Android-based mobile computers are starting to reach deeper into supply chain use cases, while the first Windows 10 products are now joining this market.
  • Getting more from existing systems: Modernizing your mobile deployment should focus on exactly that: the mobile computers and mobility apps that your workers use to get their job done. You have already invested in and spent time optimizing your host application (whether your WMS, ERP, etc.). By modernizing your mobile technology, you can get more out of your existing host systems for years to come.

What forces are inspiring you to modernize supply chain mobility? Email me or share your story with me on Twitter.

Crucial Questions With VP of Worldwide Sales: What You Need to Know

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Steve Bemis has extensive experience in hardware and software sales and management with a focus on mobile environments.

Since 2008, he has been an integral part of Wavelink with his role as vice president of worldwide sales. He is responsible for driving over 30 million in sales annually.

With this kind of experience in the industry, we wanted to pick his brain regarding current topics facing today’s industry. Here are his responses:

  • Tell us a little bit about the typical Wavelink customer. What problems does Wavelink solve for them?

The typical Wavelink customer is someone from a company you might deal with regularly—Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Bed Bath & Beyond, IKEA, and Sysco Foods, just to name a few.

Some of our oldest customers are food retailers, such as Safeway and Kroger, who use our software to help their local grocer order the food that the wholesaler delivers every day.

We are all about driving efficiency. This efficiency can occur in a retail space by perhaps allowing the associate real-time access to stock status and pricing, or it can occur in the distribution facility by making sure the product is shipped on time and as efficiently as possible.

Wavelink is all about mission critical applications.

  • Android migration is a trending topic right now. What are the biggest hurdles for companies with Android?

The biggest hurdle is deciding how to move your legacy systems forward. Everyone can agree that the compelling feature Android brings is a fresh look and feel; the challenge is how to bring that while still preserving the investment in Back Office systems.

Wavelink has been an industry leader doing exactly that for years. We have seen companies looking to upgrade their systems realize this to be a 500+ million dollar undertaking. Not only is this expensive, but it carries huge risks as we are talking about touching the very systems that are deemed mission critical.

Wavelink has products that can allow for this shift in technology while still mitigating the risks and costs.

  • How are companies using Velocity and what is it?

Velocity is a revolutionary product.

As with all of our products, Velocity aligns with our strategy of evolution vs. revolution. We can leverage it to provide everyone the user experience that our customers are looking for while maintaining their back-end systems with no changes to their host applications.

This allows them to recognize huge ROI with little risk. On top of that, we can leverage our Speakeasy product and add voice as simply as another modality, without all the legacy issues that came with adding voice in the past.

Download our free white paper and find out how you can make your Android migration as painless as possible.

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The New Android World: Dealing With BIG Migration Expenses

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Your business has most likely been running Windows Mobile or Windows CE for a device generation or two. From the introduction of PocketPC in the rugged device market in 2001, Microsoft delivered a stable platform that brought mobile productivity to manufacturers, retailers, and the entire supply chain in between.

However, the last five years have really forced a reevaluation of where to look next.

What’s next?

At first, there was the discussion of consumer devices moving into the hands of workers who traditionally carried rugged mobile computers. While the lines determining where consumer-grade fits and where it fails became clearer, the operating system landscape was significantly altered.

Since its first introduction to the rugged mobile computing market in late 2011, Android has grown in both the number of rugged devices shipped and the number of device form factors for which it’s available.

Since 2015, analyst firms such as VDC Research have pointed to statistics that prove Android is reaching “critical mass” in the market.

With industry experts recognizing Android as a viable candidate for your next mobility hardware refresh, your focus may be shifting to the remaining barriers to choosing this OS. That’s good.

A major area of concern: the expense of a migration.

App migration is expensive

When the first Android-based rugged devices entered the market, the most common objection concerned the mobile apps, with questions like, What am I supposed to do with my applications? Are there equivalent apps already available for Android? Will my application vendor build me an Android version? How much will all of this cost me?

It’s a huge jump—probably not seen since the days of moving your applications away from DOS around the turn of the century. And just like then, a big benefit of making the leap is an application experience that’s significantly more user-friendly.

That’s all nice, but at what cost?

Since the first rugged Android devices, many application providers, including Wavelink, have brought their apps to Android. Vendors have faced two choices:

1. Bring the existing application, in its current form, over to Android

2. Rewrite the whole application for this new operating system

The first option was a relatively quick solution, but wouldn’t fully take advantage of all that the Android OS offered. The second option—while it could allow developers to optimize the app for Android—was a much larger development effort (read: more expensive to create).

Terminal Emulation

Wavelink brought Terminal Emulation (TE) to the Android operating system in late 2011, just in time for the first rugged Android devices.

With TE, early adopters of Android devices could stay with their trusted mobility client and begin to roll out new devices. TE has been a proven platform for decades, and the ability to adopt new hardware without the risk of new software at the same time has been a relief for many customers. However, with its “green screen interface,” TE left something to be desired by those looking for a more Android experience.

Android—and fellow consumer operating system, iOS from Apple—really changed the mobile experience. Finger-tapping, swiping, pinching and panning are all new ways to navigate on a smartphone.

Aside from the way we interface with apps, the devices offer bright, beautiful screens. Display technology advanced with incredible clarity. How does one take advantage of all of this—the full Android experience?

In the same way that application vendors were reluctant to fully rewrite their apps for Android, companies around the globe discovered the same pains of cost, risk, and effort to migrate from their existing applications to new alternatives on Android.

To solve this, Wavelink created the Velocity platform.

Velocity

Velocity takes your existing telnet client or web application and modernizes it for a touchscreen experience. What does that mean? Your existing, trusted “green screen” client becomes an Android app—complete with screen-tapping navigation; a clean, intuitive user experience; and the ability to offer full color and graphics so workers can easily read and interpret task workflows.

You don’t need to migrate to a new application when you can modernize with Velocity. Underneath that elegant interface is the tried-and-trusted telnet client performance you’ve relied on for years. You can continue to depend on your Android application with confidence.

Only now, the user experience for your workers is much more intuitive and familiar, and it replaces multiple keypresses with single screen-taps.

Learn more by downloading our free white paper below!

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Voice Enablement Speaks to Problems Solved

Making an investment in technology isn’t about developing or buying a product, but a problem that the technology solves. Here at Wavelink, our investment in voice enablement has been focused on solving the problems our customers face: What problems with their current workflows can be addressed with voice? What problems with traditional voice applications can be solved with a fresh approach via voice enablement?

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Infographic: Top problems solved with voice technology

The answer varies by business, and you can see some of the more common challenges driving voice adoption in the accompanying infographic. It is always interesting to hear a personal story from a decision maker explaining why they chose Speakeasy.  Just as impressive are the metrics by which they measure the ROI on their voice enablement implementation – which can range from dollars and cents, to the less obvious employee morale, etc.  All these show why voice adoption is projected to grow significantly over the next several years.

The goals all yield some commonality in the problems solved: Improvements – whether measured by accuracy, safety, training, and others, all tie back to making sure the optimal amount of product moves to the next stage in the supply chain. That’s productivity!

Speaking of productivity, are you planning to attend Oracle OpenWorld next month?  Wavelink will be there to talk mobile productivity. Stop by and get a demo of Speakeasy in booth #3537.

The Unparalleled Success of Speakeasy ROI Speaks for Itself

‘Tis the season for shouting. The U.S. presidential candidates are wielding their high-decibel voices in a cry for votes come November’s election.

Personally, I tune out every time there’s shouting and yelling. I gravitate towards the solid stalwarts of the world whose good deeds speak for themselves. I’m much more easily swayed by the power of one’s example than by the chest-thumping examples of one’s power.

A shout-out to the quiet power of Wavelink Speakeasy

While it’s tempting to shout from the rooftops the good deeds of Wavelink Speakeasy, customers of the solution make the best spokespersons.

One such example is the Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility supplies Toshiba repair teams across the country with parts and products, and prides itself on fast service.

Distribution director Daniel Sanders wanted to streamline the picking process, make it easier for pickers to fill orders, and eliminate the quality control step.

“When we researched the voice solutions on the market today, we saw that much had changed,” said Sanders. “After checking out Speakeasy and several other products, we chose Speakeasy.” The solution was deployed on top of the Wavelink Terminal Emulation client, which provides the interface back to Toshiba’s Warehouse Management System (WMS). The complete deployment is managed by Avalanche, the trusted Wavelink Enterprise Mobility Management solution.

ROI in three months and annual savings of $549,548

The quality control step that Sanders wanted to eliminate now takes place simultaneously with the picking.

“Immediately after an item is picked, Speakeasy uses a check digit in conjunction with the host to confirm that the correct items and quantities are in the order. Removing that second quality control step alone increases productivity up to 25 percent, without affecting our high accuracy rate of 99.8 percent. Overall productivity was further improved because we were able to assign the quality-control employees to more valuable roles that add to our bottom line.”

One unexpected benefit is that Speakeasy passed the company’s Lean Six Sigma, a methodology that relies on a team effort to improve performance by routinely removing waste. “Passing Lean Six Sigma says a lot about the solution’s quality,” said Sanders. “And our executives back at headquarters noticed. In fact, they had me shoot a short video of Speakeasy in use at the center so they could learn more about it. We originally planned to use the solution in only two places—the parts-pick and supply-pick areas. But now, because we can easily justify the return on investment, in the future we plan to use Speakeasy in other work areas, too. With Speakeasy, we’re seeing a projected annual savings of $549,548 in productivity, training, and audit costs alone. The solution paid for itself in fewer than three months. Speakeasy delivered everything it promised, and more.”

Independent research aligned with Toshiba’s success

Studies by VDC Research revealed that organizations employing voice-based technology have consistently cited gains of more than 20 percent in both picking accuracy and worker productivity. Approximately 40 percent of warehouse labor costs are related to order preparation. “This heightens the need to reduce warehousing errors, and picking errors in particular, as organizations strive to optimize the perfect order,” reported VDC’s Kathryn Nassberg and David Krebs. “Cost of freight, labor, and lost customers are the three factors that have the greatest financial impact when errors are made.”

And as product marketing manager Rob DeStefano explains in “The Android Expectation” white paper that you can download below, Speakeasy runs completely on the mobile device, meaning that everything that takes the spoken phrases and turns them into text for fields within your application is handled within the mobile device.

“As far as your host application is concerned, there’s no difference between data entered via voice and data scanned from a barcode, or keyed in by the user,” DeStefano said. “You’ve made a significant investment in your host applications. There’s no need to compromise that investment to get the latest mobile tech for your workers.”

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