Wavelink Blog

Category: Mobile Device Management

What will Mobile Productivity Deliver in 2016?

Drone(own)Drones, M&A activity, a crash in oil prices – these topics and more helped shape 2015 for all of us who work throughout the supply chain. There are always unexpected events that force change in our markets, and certainly the past year hasn’t disappointed. So, as we bid adieu to 2015, it’s time to set our sights on what we might expect in 2016.

  • Device manufacturers set the stage for an Android/Windows decision: Several manufacturers of rugged mobile computers are introducing devices with some skus that run Windows and others that run Android. Android’s share has been growing in our space. The question is: whether a Windows 10 release will slow the momentum, and make some who have been waiting to upgrade, feel confident doing so.
  • Wider deployment of mobility in consumer-facing use cases: It’s been discussed for years, but the choice of larger-screen mobile devices available for store associates to carry on the showroom floor has reached critical mass. Now is the time when retailers will be looking at apps like guided selling and mobile POS to provide an enhanced customer experience.
  • The Internet of Things will get more vertical: Both literally and figuratively. We’ve seen a few examples of IoT in our world – things like robotic warehouse shelving, but as the hype continues, we’ll see some interesting concepts introduced in the coming year. Drones will be part of this. Whether or not you agree, they are part of the IoT. The concepts and use cases for these devices are getting attention.

There are also the numerous surprises that will come during 2016, and we’re looking forward to evaluating these alongside you! What predictions do you have for the mobile productivity space in 2016? Email me with your thoughts and/or wish list for the upcoming year.

Finally, all of us at Wavelink that you for trusting us as your partner for mobile productivity. We wish you all the best for a healthy, happy, and productive 2016!

Before wearables were “cool”

Wearable tech is all the fashion these days. Apple Watches, Google Glass, as well as Fitbits and other health trackers, – are all new interpretations of technology that’s been with us for the last few decades. Like so many technologies that came before – internet, email, cellular communication systems—they all started in vertical use cases before broadening into the consumer market.

What’s great about this process is that it forces technologies to mature in environments that are even more demanding than consumer use cases. If a concept fails in intense markets like military, aerospace or logistics, they aren’t ready for “prime time” consumer use.  Likewise, once a technology is proven in these markets, it’s more than ready for you and me.

Take for example the wearable scanning system. If you’re in the logistics field, you might recognize this term and the mobile computers bearing this name (if not, this image of the Symbol WSS1040 might trigger memories).WSS-1040

Consider the parallels: this is basically a computer strapped to your wrist that can capture and present data, and can wirelessly synchronize to software located elsewhere. Sound familiar? This product (ca. 1997) looks hokey by today’s consumer wearables standards and rightfully so. It was purpose-built for hands-free barcode scanning and data entry, not as a fashion statement. However, the extensive research done for devices like this – to determine ergonomic balance (how comfortable can it be?), user fatigue (how heavy can it be?), display readability, operating system and host software interactions, and more, all contributed to the knowledge base that helped design today’s wearable consumer tech (not to mention several generations of product evolution on the wearable scanner you see here).

Another fun fact: as you think about the role today’s wearables will play in tomorrow’s supply chain, only Wavelink has been managing these wearables since way before wearables were “cool.”  Yes, we offered enterprise mobility management for this device with Avalanche.

There are a lot of ideas out there for how wearable computing will enter the enterprise. The good news is, if it drives workforce productivity, you can bet we’ll be ready for it! Where do you hope to see more wearable computing in your business? Comment below or email me your use case ideas: robert.destefano@wavelink.com

Tips for Deploying Enterprise Mobility Management – SaaS or On-Premise

Enterprises of all sizes and across industries require different levels of onsite control of their enterprise mobility deployments. Couple this with the unique restrictions that corporations place on mobile internet access and there’s a compelling need for choice among the deployment options when considering an enterprise mobility management solution.

The benefits of a cloud-based deployment are Retail Associate Consumer Devicecentered on simplicity. Selecting a cloud-based (or SaaS) deployment method frees up internal IT staff to focus on other initiatives.  Server components are managed externally by product experts, making a cloud deployment simple and fast. This is in addition to the most obvious benefit of a SaaS deployment – immediate access to software updates.

However, there are enterprises around the world that require, or simply prefer, to have the greatest amount of control over their enterprise mobility management system. An On-Premise deployment method provides this, in a more traditional, shrink-wrapped installation. Companies choose this model often because they like the security of having the entire deployment completely within their corporate intranet. It also provides IT teams with complete control of scheduling updates and patches.

Which option is best? Start by determining the security compliance and control requirements your organization has in place. Next, determine the level of IT staff that will be working with the enterprise mobility management console, and the time they have to handle maintenance to it. Follow that with some considerations related to control. Does the company prefer the accelerated access to software updates and enhancements? Or, does it benefit the business to have IT control the timing of updates to fit in between peaks in the operations cycle?

With both SaaS-based and On-Premise options, Avalanche 6.0 provides businesses with the ability to select the method of deployment that fits each business best. Whether mixed device deployments or BYOD, operational task workers, customer-facing workers, there is no need to compromise. When you’re deploying enterprise mobility, manage those deployments with the enterprise mobility management solution that has been trusted by corporations for decades, ready to be deployed in the method that fits your business.

The Enterprise Mobility Mix – Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices

The Mix of Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices in the Enterprise

Has your experience at retail stores been different lately?  Or perhaps you’ve had a different experience at a medical facility?  Maybe your own work has changed recently.  A significant change across industries has been in the number and types of mobile devices being used by all sorts of workers.  Whether you’ve completed a sales transaction by signing on a smartphone, or checked in at your doctor’s office using a tablet, there is no denying that mobile devices are proliferating in enterprise use cases.

In most mission-critical mobility deployments, enterprises have deployed rugged mobile computers.  Consider the devices carried by parcel couriers, stockroom workers and others.  There’s an obvious need for durability, so that these mobile computers can withstand frequent drops, extreme temperatures, and in some situations, hazardous environments (think oil rigs).  Technologies that help these workers accomplish their tasks include advanced data capture capabilities, such as barcode scanning, RFID, and perhaps payment transaction capabilities.

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

As consumers, we don’t often interact with these workers as they complete their tasks.  The use cases are not typically consumer-facing.  However, there is an increasing contingent of enterprises that are placing more mobility into the hands of workers who are visible, and directly interacting with consumers.  These workers are still performing mission-critical activities – particularly in revenue generating roles, for the enterprise.

Over the past few years, companies have explored the evolving smartphone and tablet options for these workers.  In some cases, the benefits of these consumer-grade devices have proven not to be the best fit for the business, due to fragility, theft, or other limitations.  These enterprises have generally opted to revert to the familiar – the rugged mobile computers that are likely being used in traditional task-based use cases.  By contrast, there are enterprises across industries that have chosen and successfully deployed consumer smartphones and tablets into consumer-facing use cases.

There is no denying the selection of enterprise mobility hardware has expanded significantly over the last five years.  Whether going with traditional, rugged mobile computers, or consumer-grade devices, it is exciting to see the accelerated adoption of mobility across enterprises – especially as it gets into the hands of the workers with whom we, as consumers, interact.  However, this also creates a new IT challenge: Some workers are carrying rugged mobile computers, others have consumer devices.  There is overlap in applications and content access as well.  For all these users, there is a bottom line benefit to their mobile productivity.  Fortunately, Wavelink Avalanche is there to be able to ensure all these users – task-oriented and customer-facing, are optimally productive.

How to Score a Winning Touchdown for your BYOD Policy

It’s a final nod to American football references from me (at least until the draft in May), but consider the requirements of an enterprise mobility policy: there are a lot of parts that need to be considered to make a deployment successful, similar to a championship winning team. When the strategy is thorough and the numerous “what-if” scenarios are played out, success is far more likely than for a team that doesn’t plan.

BYOD, like any other component of an enterprise IT strategy, needs to be strategically implemented for the best results. Just as no individual player on a team is greater than the team, BYOD should not be viewed individually; so as not to exclude other mobility initiatives across the enterprise.

To continue the “BYOD as an athlete” analogy, BYOD needs to be a versatile, balanced policy. This means that it needs to support all the leading mobile operating systems equally (or at least as equally as Google, Apple, and Microsoft allow). It needs to enable the mobile worker to be optimally productive – regardless of their hardware selection.

However, as a component of a larger enterprise mobility strategy, BYOD needs to be deployed in a manner that unifies it with the requirements of complementary mobility components – like teammates. For example, managing BYOD should be unified with the solution for managing other mobility hardware deployed within the company – such as rugged mobile devices used at the loading dock, in the warehouse, etc. Why would an enterprise want a different console for managing BYOD? A separate management system specific to BYOD creates the kind of friction synonymous with a self-interested player on the football team – disruption, confusion, and complexity, as IT administrators need to toggle screens and systems just for BYOD users.

The big play that scores points with IT administrators and mobile users is to deploy BYOD policies in a common enterprise mobility management solution like Wavelink Avalanche.  Doing so enables enterprises to unify the management of all their mobile deployments. It enables BYOD support without compromising the support that mission critical mobility users need. Want to throw the winning touchdown? Using Wavelink Avalanche also allows for management of the entire enterprise deployment – all enterprise mobile devices (BYOD, rugged mobile computers, etc.), mobile applications and content access, network infrastructure, and printers. That’s a game plan that will enable maximum worker productivity, and maybe earn you a ride on the shoulders of your fellow IT administrators and mobility users.

ROI of the Mobile Worker

Over the past several months, I’ve been listening to the way customers describe their return on mobility investments.  The answers are impressive.  Answers range from increases in worker speed of task completion, to task accuracy, to month to recognize complete return on dollar investments, reductions in man-hours for cyclical process completions, reductions in seasonal headcounts, reductions in worker training time, and more.  The measurements of return on mobility investment are impressive percentages and yield significant dollar-value savings to each of the companies I’ve heard from.LXE Mobile Devices

What is really interesting is how companies can measure their return on investment in such vast and different ways. In some cases, the measure is dollars saved by reducing errors.  In others, it is increased shipments that yield additional dollars per package shipped.  In still others, the savings is recognized by a reduction in seasonal labor, or less worker hours dedicated to completing a specific task.  Whatever the measurement, there are two things that remain true: Every measurement ties to a dollar-value savings that can prove a mathematical return on investment for the dollars spent enabling mobility.  Even more importantly, the measurement each company used to describe their ROI told far more about the problem each was attempting to solve.

Enterprises deploy mobility to achieve a higher level of productivity, but it is not done just for the sake of using mobile technology. There is an underlying pain that the company is trying to address – some way of improving a process to gain efficiency, or to recognize a cost savings.  There is a problem to be solved by deploying mobility – and one recommended approach to begin defining the best mobility solution is to start with an operations audit that can help find the weaknesses and inefficiencies in current processes.  By adding automation and voice-enablement, Wavelink Speakeasy has consistently shown productivity gains for mobile supply chain workers of over 35%. That’s like getting an extra day of productivity from every worker – for every three days worked. Now that’s a fast ROI!

What problems are you aiming to solve with mobility in your enterprise? What measurements are you tracking to determine ROI?  Email me with your objectives at: robert.destefano@wavelink.com

A Big Difference Between Avalanche MDM and AirWatch

A recent text mining experiment using AirWatch’s “Solutions Overview” document demonstrated an excellent answer to the question, “What is [one of] the difference(s) between Wavelink Avalanche and AirWatch”?

In one word; Email.

The wordcloud below shows the highlights of the text analysis of AirWatch’s Solutions Overview document.

As you can plainly see, one of the most used words is “email”.  “So what?,” you say?

Supply chain operations managers and other supply chain device users don’t use email on their devices. They use their devices to run their operations, move product, and make money. Email is for front-office staff and is a “nice to have” versus, “must have” for supply chain operations.

Email is a front-office, IT oriented operation, focused on providing communications to mobile workers.  Avalanche provides a complete solution for managing that function for those workers as well. However, Avalanche’s primary reason for existence has always been providing device management for mission critical, supply chain focused mobile computers.

If your mobile users can’t get to their email due to an unexpected outage, that’s a bummer. But if your supply chain operations go down because your managed devices stop working, you’re out of business.

And that, in another phrase, is the difference between Avalanche and AirWatch. Avalanche is “mission-critical”. Airwatch is “nice to have”.

 

Comments or opinions expressed on the blog are those of their respective contributors only. The views expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the views of LANDesk Software, its business units, its management or employees. LANDesk Software is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by contributors to the blog.

 

 

2014 Predictions for IT in Ruggedized Environments

It’s always fun to look back at what the past year has meant to our industry, and (in a tip of the hat to William Shakespeare) if “what’s past is prologue”, then what is to come in the next year?  Indeed, 2013 has seen a few significant themes take shape.  Mobile device management has become significantly commoditized – as customers have begun to look past the common device-oriented features to larger, unified mobility solutions.  A handful of new, mission-critical mobile devices have come to market – in some unique and interesting forms.  Legacy voice vendors have struggled to get away from their Cold-war era technologies.  Consumer smartphones and tablets have entered the enterprise through every door, window and loading dock available.

Yes, 2013 has met our expectations of continued evolution in enterprise mobility!  2014 has even more fun in store (and in the warehouse):

  • The limits of the consumer device will become clear.  Enterprises will see a more precise delineation between where BYOD or consumer smartphones/tablets can be used, and where rugged mobile computers will continue to be deployed.
  • Voice-enablement will expand beyond stock picking.  With full voice functionality, faster deployment, and at a lower cost, even companies that have deployed legacy voice for warehouse picking will be giving Speakeasy a fresh look for expending multi-modal data capture across supply chain tasks.
  • There will be a reduction in point-product mobility providers.  As more enterprises began doing in 2013, even more will seek out mobility solution providers that can offer more than just a single product.  Unified mobility solutions – those that are designed together and, when deployed together, offer even greater value to the business, will be at the top of enterprise mobility wish-lists.

As these and other events unfold for IT in rugged environments, Wavelink is here to help you navigate.  What are your enterprise mobility predictions for 2014?  Please post your predictions in the comments section below.

MDM is dead. Long live MDM

A Look at the Difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management

“Mobile Device Management (MDM) enables businesses to address challenges associated with mobility by providing a simplified, efficient way to view and manage all devices from the central admin console.” That’s all you need, right?  This is how one vendor describes it – right from their website.  At first glance, one might expect that if I can manage the mobile device, that’s what I need.

But then again. What about the applications residing on those mobile devices, which also need to be managed?  Well, sure, typical Mobile Device Management products can cover most of that.  Surely they can push applications, maybe blacklist some apps not appropriate for use at work, and remotely lock a lost or stolen mobile device to maintain a level of corporate data security.

One of the challenges when looking at MDM vendors is that there isn’t a whole lot of differentiation among the capabilities, for example, they all face the same restrictions when managing iOS devices.  Similarly, many vendors predominantly hype their iOS and Android device management capabilities.  And everyone talks about BYOD.

There’s a big difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management.  Managing enterprise mobility deployments is about more than just the device.  Consider all the aspects of deploying mobility in the enterprise.

  • Users: Who are the users, and how will they be using mobility?
  • Hardware: What kind of mobile devices are best – rugged, barcode scanner-enabled or smart devices?
  • Connectivity: What kind of connectivity will be needed – Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi and Cellular? Connectivity to peripheral devices such as printers?
  • Mobile Applications: What types of applications will the user need?  Are they leveraging application streaming of data located on a host server?  Through terminal emulation? Using a browser? Native apps?

Unlike Mobile Device Management, Mobile Deployment Management refers to managing this complete set of consideration, ultimately with the goal of maximizing the productivity of the user of this mobility solution.  With the Wavelink Mobile Enterprise Productivity Suite, a mission-critical mobility deployment can be unified under a single vendor and completely managed through Avalanche.

Go ask MDM vendors if they can check all the boxes for the mobility deployment considerations above. They can’t. Managing mobile devices – ‘everyone’ can do that.

The Last Days for Point Products

Mobility has been a part of the enterprise for three decades now. However, the ubiquity of mobile use for workers from the warehouse to the corporate office has never been more dynamic. Many companies are not implementing first-time deployments, but replacing older solutions with new, and expanding mobility to a wider range of tasks.

As this wave of mobility refreshes occurs, enterprises are looking for simplicity in their deployments. Hardware options are vast and dynamic. It is hardly feasible to have a single mobile computing platform for all enterprise users. On the software side, point products for a specific task are no longer the most desirable option. Instead, IT teams across businesses demand fewer vendors with more unified solutions that scale across mission-critical applications.connections

Mission-critical mobility is all about productivity—getting things done in the most efficient way possible. This can be visible in such ways as streamlining current worker tasks, or accelerating decision making. As these examples suggest, enterprise mobility is not about which device is best or how that device in managed. It’s not about the content a user can access or a specific software application used on a device. Instead, enterprise mobility is about implementing all these components to deliver maximized user productivity.

Mobility solutions are becoming strategic for businesses. A reactive, “quick fix” for a narrow, specific task is no longer proving to be beneficial for long-term business performance. Point products and their disconnected support are proving to be too costly and are not designed for the entire enterprise.  Instead, a unified mobility strategy is desired; offering a faster, easily quantifiable ROI, seamless implementation, and a long-term strategic solution for mission-critical enterprise mobility.

I invite you to sign up for one of our webinars, where you can learn more.