Category: Mobile Application Management
Posted by Wavelink
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.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
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.
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).
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 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!
Posted by Brent Bluth
‘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.”
Posted by Brent Bluth
Picture warehouse worker Peter Piper picking a peck of pickled peppers.
Let’s say Peter works for Goya Foods, America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company that distributes more than 2,000 Latin American products worldwide.
Did Peter perfectly pick the proper SKU of Goya pickled peppers? Were they the green Jalapeño? The Aji Picante? Were they sliced or whole? Did he pick them quickly? And what the heck is a peck, anyway?
Here’s the dill… I mean deal.
Warehouse operations are under pressure from customers who demand orders faster, and from high-error costs and labor costs. More SKUs drive the need for increased inventory visibility, accuracy, and efficiency.
As Kathryn Nassberg and David Krebs of VDC Research explain, ensuring greater speed and accuracy in warehousing, especially where individual picking is concerned, can reduce the cost of errors and boost worker productivity.
“As long as the human element continues to play a central role in warehousing,” say Nassberg and Krebs, “any technology that optimizes workflows and improves accuracy will add tremendous value.”
Voice-based technology improves picking accuracy and worker productivity
Research conducted by VDC revealed that organizations employing voice-based technology have consistently cited gains of more than 20 percent in both picking accuracy and worker productivity.
Around 87 percent of organizations surveyed experienced at least a ten percent improvement in picking accuracy, and 89 percent of organizations experienced at least a ten percent increase in worker productivity.
The pressure for warehousing to boost productivity and cut costs will only continue to grow.
VDC Research says 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. The 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, the Android rugged mobile computing platform is reaching critical mass in the market. Industry experts recognize Android as a viable candidate for your next mobility hardware refresh. But such a refresh brings with it three areas of concern:
- Implications for your mobile apps
- Workers and the Android user experience
- Android and your Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems
Specifically addressing the first area of concern, the implications for your mobile apps, choosing an Android device—and modernizing your telnet or web application with Wavelink Velocity—means you can make the leap to Android without having to touch your host apps.
Velocity modernizes the mobility clients you’ve installed that are already working with your host.
And even if you choose to voice-enable your Velocity-based applications with the Wavelink Speakeasy solution, the same promise holds true.
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.
Speakeasy redefines voice enablement
As Rob DeStefano explains, Speakeasy isn’t a traditional voice application.
“It’s a whole lot easier—enabling voice on an app you’ve already have deployed. But it’s fully operational and fully functional. Don’t mistake easier for less than full function. It’s full-featured voice, without the complexity. It’s not the legacy voice application of old.”
And what about Peter Piper and that peck of pickled peppers at Goya Foods? The company implemented Manhattan Associates’ Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Speakeasy concurrently.
With support from a Wavelink engineer for implementation, Goya developed the pick flow, supporting screens, and error messages for Speakeasy. With just an hour or two of training, and with quick-reference guides in hand, pickers began pulling items.
With voice commands, pickers and forklift operators move from point to point more safely. The Prince George, Virginia plant, which is the testing site for the system that is being rolled out to other Goya sites, hasn’t logged a single accident since implementing Speakeasy.
Additionally, the Prince George site notes big boosts in picking accuracy. For any errors caught at bay doors, someone would manually have to go re-pick and pack those items. “We would have from 40 to 60 mis-picks a night,” said Luis Ramos, General Manager. “Now that has gone down considerably to be almost non-existent, which translates to efficiency.”
Learn more about Speakeasy and Velocity from Wavelink. Download the white paper.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
Perhaps the greatest concern when doing any sort of upgrade or tech refresh is summed up in this question: “What will this do to the systems I’ve already invested in and have optimized?”
Your supply chain management systems—whether your WMS, ERP, etc.—are serious investments, and the resources (dollars, man-hours, and more) spent perfecting them make you hesitant to touch them unless you absolutely must.
The problem with third-party vendors
It’s even worse when you must allow a third-party vendor to get in and touch those systems. You worry about what they’re touching, and then you worry about how much it will cost you in the long run.
A third party making changes to your system means multiple expenses (and risks).
The first concern is about what their initial changes will do. Next (and often a larger expense) is the cost to bring the vendor back in to retest its software every time you want to make a change to your system. Even if your changes are for a completely unrelated reason, you’re paying that vendor to come back and retest, just to be sure.
We’ve witnessed this type of business model from many vendors over the years. It can be painful.
Choose an Android device and modernize your telnet or web application with Velocity
Choosing an Android device—and modernizing your telnet or web application with Velocity—means you can make the leap to Android without having to touch your host apps. Velocity modernizes the mobility clients you already have installed and that are already working with your host.
Even if you choose to voice-enable your Velocity-based applications with the Wavelink Speakeasy solution, the same promise holds true.
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.
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.
The next generation platform
Palm OS, and PocketPC/WindowsCE/Windows Mobile—right through today’s leading operating systems. The touchscreen experience is bringing mobility into its next generation.
With the mass-market accessibility of smartphones, your workers are more ready than ever to willingly (and possibly, thankfully) adopt a new mobility platform. Best of all, when you choose Velocity as your platform for Android applications, you can make the transition easy while preserving the investments you’ve already made.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
As you consider the implications of introducing Android devices to your supply chain workers, you’ll see two camps emerge that represent the majority of your team.
One group has been using your telnet clients and is very familiar with how it works. The other group is generally your younger workers and new hires—many of whom have never seen a “green screen” app in their lives and have no idea how to use one.
How Android benefits younger/less experienced workers
The more obvious group who will benefit is the younger crowd who doesn’t have to learn how to use a telnet application. This will save countless hours on its own.
Remember, these workers (mostly late Gen X’ers through millennials) have grown up during rapid changes in technology and don’t fear diving into something new. For them, the only new thing will be the workflow.
They’ve grown up with Android over the last several years and will tend to embrace your modernized application because it works just like the smartphone they carry.
How Android benefits more experienced workers
As for the more experienced camp of users, they will also embrace your Velocity modernized app on an Android mobile device, but for very different reasons.
First off, while they’re very familiar and comfortable with their telnet client app, they’re not unfamiliar with the Android user experience. While change can be scary, delivering their familiar workflow in a modernized application is actually what this crowd has been hoping for.
They look at the smartphones in their pockets and have recognized opportunity. They want to be able to work faster.
While they know your current telnet-based workflow with their eyes closed, giving them the Android experience is a win for personal productivity. These are your more mature workers who realize that the current devices and apps may be limiting all they can accomplish before their shift ends.
In both cases, the user experience offered through a modernized app is an opportunity to increase productivity for all your workers. It’s an unusual opportunity wherein the question isn’t who will resist, but rather which group will embrace the experience faster.
But wait! There’s more…
Beyond the familiarity of the experience, as well as the productivity that Android can unlock, there is more you can do to influence the intuitiveness of your workflow directly.
The Velocity administrative console gives you control over how those modernized screens are presented to the user.
Color-coded visual cues
One common practice that companies are embracing is color-coded visual cues. Users of a text-based client like telnet would key in a “Y” for “yes” and key in an “N” for “no”.
Now, however, these two responses are tap-able responses on the application screen. To help address speed and even language challenges, color coding responses such as these (the “yes” box is green, the “no” box is red) can make it even easier for workers to accurately choose their response.
Others have taken to color-coding entire task navigation—making each type of task workflow a different color. In this scenario, all the screens in your Picking workflow may have a green background, while Receiving screens would be presented on a blue background.
Adding elements such as color-coding make at-a-glance navigation even faster for workers, which can accelerate the training of new workers, among other things.
One additional customization element that can improve worker productivity significantly is custom keyboards.
Many Android rugged devices, like their consumer-grade cousins, are designed with few physical buttons or keys. While standard keypads for QWERTY and numeric data entry are useful, you can create custom keyboards that present users with only the on-screen keys they would need for a specific data field. This reduces the potential for typographical errors that can impact data accuracy.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
I’m a fan of auto racing. Stock cars, specifically. I’ve always been fascinated by the adjustments teams make over the course of a single race that can make the difference between a car that is capable of running mid-pack, and one that can be a top-10 car or race leader. Dialing in everything from tire air pressure, to adjustments that can loosen or tighten up handling in the corners, a driver can start a race with a car that feels one way, and by the final few laps, have a car that’s handling a completely different way.
Drivers can adjust the way they drive, but only so much. When the throttle is on the floor, but the car just won’t hold the bottom line coming out of the corners, there’s data that can tell the crew what adjustments need to be made – and that data doesn’t just show up as the team’s position on the track. It comes in the form of telemetry: RPM from the car’s tachometer, fuel consumption stats, driver commentary. Then there’s data that comes from outside the car: air temperature, weather changes (cloud cover alone can impact how a car is handling), oil on the race track, etc. That data comes from a variety of sources, but, when put together, allows pit crews to make intelligent, data-driven decisions that improve the chances of winning the race.
It’s very similar to how dashboards help you make decisions that can improve business processes. You want to be sure your workers are as productive as possible. This information comes from a number of data sources across your business (some from your WMS, more from your IT service desk, sprinkle in some from your mobile device population, etc.). When you pull the information you need from across these sources and look at them together, you get the important data you need to make decisions that optimize your business workflows.
Two more similarities: First, speed. You need to be able to access and interpret the data quickly, so powerful visualizations are important so that you can spot trends and make adjustments quickly – just like a crew chief having the data so that he can instruct the pit crew on what adjustments to make to the race car before it arrives on pit road. Second: shared use. Different team members – on the track, and in your business, need different reports from a common mix of data sources to be able to do their job at their very best.
Want to win the race for productivity gains in your business? Take our Xtraction data reporting solution for a test drive. With so many available data connectors, you’ll soon have all the visibility you need to take the lead!