Author: Brandon Hill
Voice has gotten a lot more attention in the last few years. Between Apple’s introduction of Siri to the rapidly growing popularity of applications like Dragon Dictation, voice is more than what crazy people hear in their heads. It’s a valuable tool for productivity, efficiency and even safety. Let’s rundown some of the benefits:
- Improve safety in your warehouse. Distracted driving is a big problem on our roadways. Slogans like “talk, text, crash,” and commercials about the “last text he read before he died” send a powerful message about avoiding distracted driving. There may not be cars in the warehouse, but there are trucks, forklifts and other motorized vehicles that can be just as dangerous. Distracted driving isn’t just a problem on the road, it’s a problem in the warehouse too. About 100 workers are killed and 95,000 are injured in forklift accidents every year, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Voice solutions remove the need for drivers to look down at their devices while driving. Instead, a voice in their headset tells them where to go and what to do when they get there.
- Increase efficiency. You can read all about this in an earlier blog post from my colleague, Gemma Randazzo, which details the ways voice can improve efficiency. The bottom line is that adding voice can improve accuracy by reducing mis-picks. With a 99.9 percent accuracy rate, voice decreases the time spent correcting errors and time lost on inaccuracies.
- Drive productivity. While the seconds saved looking down at a device, then up at a product, then down at a device may not seem impactful, if you reduce or eliminate those seconds, it adds up fast. Voice is also typically accompanied by hands-free devices, which have a well-documented 15-20 percent gain in productivity associated with them.
- Versatility. Voice isn’t just for picking. It can also help with processes outside the warehouse, including mobile inspections, field services and yard management. It offers the same benefits – productivity, efficiency, etc. – to those processes outside the warehouse as it does to picking inside.
- Speedy implementation. One of the best parts of voice is that it can be implemented very quickly. Unlike with many other applications, which require a system overhaul, device upgrades, or other time-consuming changes, voice can be added quickly and easily, so the benefits can also be realized quickly and easily. To see what we mean, check out this video where Goya Foods talks about their experience with voice:
Posted by Brandon Hill
Can deploying mobile outside the warehouse can save you time and money?
Having a great deal of visibility within your warehouse has obvious benefits. With better insight into when your inventory needs to be replenished or by using a system that can tell you where to store new product, greater visibility can reduce costs associated with lost or wasted product and can also decrease time spent manually picking or putting away.
While mobile systems are often used in today’s warehouses to reap the efficiency and cost rewards of having greater visibility, it is also important to mobilize processes outside the four walls to strengthen the productivity and profitability of your entire supply chain. By employing a mobile unit in the field, connectivity and additional visibility gains can help your organization realize even greater cost and time savings.
The single greatest opportunity for making money with mobile outside the warehouse is with your field sales teams. With mobile systems in place, you can make it easy for your reps to take orders and send them in via smart device. This instant processing can allow your salesperson to turn product back over to customers quickly, as well as easily look up order histories or statuses. Having this instant access to customer purchasing history also provides your field sales with opportunities to upsell or cross-sell new products, based on that customer’s buying patterns. Without having to manually log orders in or tread to and from the warehouse, this allows your reps to meet with many more customers each day and reduce transport costs.
Another way to improve your organization’s efficiency outside the four walls and increase overall supply chain profitability is with your service teams. With real-time response capabilities, your team can respond quickly to job requests and address more service calls without having to drop in and out of the warehouse for updates. Making your service operations more productive also produces increased satisfaction among your customer base, as customers can get real-time updates on the status of their requests and teams are better able to expedite delivery.
Deploying mobile not only limits your field teams’ need to return to the warehouse or office, but you’ll also see that through mobilizing operations your organization will start cutting back on paperwork. Additionally, your overall customer experience – from sales to service – will drastically improve and become more efficient and profitable.
History Channel’s latest reality TV creation, Big Rig Bounty Hunters, has brought a little-known underground industry into the limelight. This industry involves hired contractors working to track down missing cargo or 18-wheelers that have simply vanished off the map altogether. The show follows a number of colorful characters, the “bounty hunters,” as they attempt to find these trucks and/or retrieve their cargo so that trucking companies aren’t out heaps of money. And the hunters make a pretty penny in the process too.
As an employee of a transportation and logistics solutions provider, this show got me thinking, how is it even possible for a truck or its cargo to go missing in today’s modern era of transportation logistics and fleet management technology? I did some research and it turns out the current era isn’t as modern as one might think…
According to Kimberly Knickle, practice director at IDC Manufacturing Insights, just 26 percent of respondents in IDC’s supply chain mobility survey reported using smartphones and media tablets for logistics. Dwight Klappich, a research vice president at Gartner didn’t fare much better in his industry analysis. Klappich recently asked an audience of carriers and private fleet operators how many of them had mobile-enabled fleets. About half of the audience responded that they did so. Klappich then asked how many of the vehicles were equipped with GPS systems and the response was significantly lower. “So, basically they’re driving around in $300,000 units, but still using paper to track their activities,” he told Logistics Management. So according to industry experts, many trucking companies are keeping track of their expensive rigs (and cargo to boot) with a paper trail – kept by the trucker – inside the truck? The premise of this show is starting to make a lot more sense.
But the industry is slowly changing, says Klappich. As drivers are using more technology in their personal lives, they want to move away from antiquated techniques, such as paper logs, while on the job. Due to a current driver shortage and an increased incentive to comply with driver requests, along with reduced costs, trucking companies are taking note and rolling out mobile solutions to their fleets. And with good reason; the benefits of mobile technology on big rigs are many: drivers can capture signatures as proof-of-delivery, communicate with their company, receive permits, reconcile fuel taxes, photograph damage to deliveries and navigate where they are going. In addition, tablets and other mobile devices enable two-way communication between the driver and dispatcher.
While it may be some time before tablets are widely used across the trucking industry, one technology that is much more commonplace is the use of a “black box” or electronic on-board recorder device that not only enables the driver to log his miles, but also allows the distributor or trucking company to keep tabs on the driver’s routes and track his status in real-time. Leveraging this kind of technology is a no-brainer according to Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Farro states that most companies that switch to electronic logs do so “very effectively and very profitably.” She also states that those who leverage this technology are “finding it’s a very, very efficient mechanism for tracking on-duty status.” According to Commercial Carrier Journal, electronic logging technology is not just a beneficial service for drivers and their respective owners but it may soon be the law. Farro predicts that a rule mandating the use of electronic onboard records will be proposed by September 2013.
Until tablets become widely adopted across the industry, or electronic on-board recorders are federally mandated, it seems the big rig bounty hunters can keep their day jobs.
Posted by Brandon Hill
The following comes from Robert DeStefano, Product Marketing Manager for Wavelink/LANDesk:
In-house estimates suggest that roughly 140 companies claim to offer Mobile Device Management (MDM). Most of them lead their messaging by waving the iOS flag and images of Andy the Android to highlight their ability to support consumer operating systems in the face of BYOD initiatives. What’s interesting is that when it comes to mobile device management, drawing attention to the iOS and Android platforms makes most MDM solutions indistinguishable from one another. Apple, for example, doesn’t allow MDM clients to take control over the device remotely. Therefore, all these MDM solutions have the same limitation. Give or take a few specification bullet points, 140 solutions provide about the same capabilities when it comes to managing a smartphone.
According to Gartner, 65% of enterprises will adopt an MDM solution for corporate-liable users over the next four years, and 90% of enterprises will be supporting two or more mobile operating systems in their environment. With so much attention drawn to the BYOD-specific needs (not to suggest these aren’t important) of a Mobile Device Management solution, there is something even larger that enterprises should be taking into consideration: Managing productivity throughout the enterprise.
Posted by Brandon Hill
The following comes from Mike Temple, Product Manager for Wavelink.
We recently introduced our latest mobile device and wireless infrastructure management solution, designed to solve the challenges associated with managing today’s wireless ecosystem. While this newest solution, Avalanche 5.4, performs the vital functions that we’ll mention later in this blog post, we believe it’s important to call out some trends and industry movement we’ve noticed and our customers have reiterated in discussions with them about their current needs and pain points. In fact, these customer discussions and industry movements were inspiration behind the new features available with Avalanche 5.4.
- Integration of iPads and other consumer devices on factory or retail floors: You might have noticed while you were doing your holiday shopping a couple months back that there was a noticeably greater amount of iPads ringing you up, in place of the traditional POS systems or cash registers. Organizations are looking to reap the productivity and employee satisfaction benefits associated with mobility. While many field tasks still require special ruggedized devices, some companies are choosing tablets that their employees might be more familiar with. For this reason and because of the conversations we’ve had with customers beginning iPad or Android-based device deployments in 2013, we knew it was important to optimize the support for iOS6 and Android platforms for the new version of Avalanche. (more…)
Posted by Brandon Hill
Consumers adopt new technology much faster than businesses. For instance, many are in line at the Apple store the day the latest iOS-based device is available. Imagining a similar scenario for the IT department is almost laughable. Not only would the IT team have to buy hundreds to thousands of those devices (depending on the size of their enterprise), but they would then have to spend hours upon hours individually setting up each device to be secure, compliant and easily manageable. Then, there’s the actual expense of such an endeavor.
It’s no wonder that the majority of end-users feel they have better computing technology at home than they do in the workplace. And because they have become so accustomed to using newer, more advanced devices at home, they are requesting this same technology in the office. And who can blame them? These devices are often faster, easier to operate and they are what the user feels most comfortable with.
That said, as mentioned above, many IT departments do not have the budget or resources to supply end-users with the smart devices they have become accustomed to in their personal lives. Thus, IT faces the issue of pooling its often strained resources to provide end-users with these devices or in letting them engage in BYOD behavior.
The human voice is a powerful thing. Sure, the spoken word is our most common means of communication, but these days it’s giving us a bit more. Think about your daily routine, and the tasks you ask of others in straightforward, clear commands (we politely call them “requests”). Now think about how we speak with the technology that surrounds us. That’s right. How do you speak with technology?
We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices. For me, the most common experience sounds like this:
Me: “Dial by number.”
Car: “Say the number.”
I couldn’t wait to finally get a car that could connect with my phone so I could get high-quality, hands-free voice. I had been the route of using my phone in speakerphone mode and then tried the Bluetooth speakerphone, but neither delivered what I had hoped. Finally, when I was selecting a new car, I not only was able to use voice commands to place the call, but to configure the system. It took me a few steps to get through the hurdles of an evolving technology, but it eventually became easy to use, inexpensive to implement, and high quality.
While my wife might find this post a bit concerning, I think that more people should fall in love with voice. After all, voice enabled applications are known to make everyones lives much easier. They are know to save you money. They make you more accurate. And they are known to increase safety in the warehouse. What’s not to love!?
Well, did you also know that you can fall in love with voice in 30 days or less? That’s right, in as little as 30 days your SAP, Oracle, Manhattan, Red Prairie or any other WMS, can be talking back to you with voice enabled data and direction. Sign-in to the webinar we hosted yesterday and see for yourself.
On behalf of the Wavelink team, we wish you and your special voice-enabled application a wonderful Valentines Day!
Posted by Brandon Hill
With plenty of 2013 predictions focusing on the continued rise of mobile, we imagine that many IT organizations will be revisiting their MDM “wish lists” and redefining their focus areas to address the new set of challenges anticipated for the year. To help prepare you for 2013’s challenges, we’ve highlighted a few MDM resolutions to consider for your IT and overall business success in the coming year.
Plan for BYOA (whether or not your company allows BYOD)
Even if the mobile devices your employees are using are company-owned, and personal devices aren’t sanctioned for business use, your IT department will likely recognize (if yours hasn’t already) a need for an application management strategy. Not only are consumers accustomed to using the same mobile devices they use for work to play Angry Birds, but the increasingly self-reliant workforce is comfortable finding their own external programs and applications to help with job productivity. These apps could include programs that put sensitive company data at risk of being lost or compromised. Address the issue of potentially harmful apps by implementing a management strategy that grants access to previously-blessed programs or prohibits access to those that may be risky. Enterprise app stores that work in tandem with your MDM solution can help align BYOA plans with the overall management of the device.
Keep Considering Consumerization
Basic mobile device management begins with support of popular operating systems and consumer-like capabilities. Embracing this reality helps create a working environment that delivers an optimal employee user experience, increased productivity,
and an overall familiarity in approach that employees will appreciate. Recently, Gartner reported that IT departments have increasingly
shaped their enterprise device offerings with consumer preferences in mind. Gartner points out that the presence of Android and iOS will only increase in the enterprise. With more and more companies switching from traditional ruggedized devices to iPads and other consumer devices to accomplish tasks like product tracking, this year could mean potential hardware changes for your company. Consider accommodating the popularity of consumer options by choosing solutions that provide an optimized ability to manage popular operating systems.
Strengthen Mobile Security
While mobile is growing exponentially, you can expect that security risks to your mobile devices will grow along with it. Some mobile devices are even expecting new forms of cyber attacks that lock the user out of the device. The ubiquity of mobile computing has already caused and will continue to cause the increased targeting of mobile devices. Safeguard your corporate devices (and devices used for business purposes) by planning for these types of attacks. Make sure you have the ability to locate any lost devices, remotely wipe, lock or reset as well as manage what can be downloaded to them.
What do you think of those resolutions? Would you add or remove some?