Wavelink Blog

Category: Mobile Device Management

Mobile POS Systems: The Value of Consumer Devices

If you’ve gone shopping anywhere in the last year or so, you may have noticed the iPads, iPhones and even a few Androids that are increasingly being used as cash registers. While the trend is perhaps most noticeable in mom-and-pop stores (if you’ve been any non-Starbucks coffee shop in the last six months, you know what I mean), it’s certainly not limited to that. Department stores and major retailers are making the switch as well.

In fact, research group IHL recently released a study examining the projected growth of mobile POS systems. The firm found that by 2017, over 3.6 million tablets will have been shipped to retail and hospitality companies in North America alone, projecting that these shipments will result in some fundamental changes in many of these companies. The group also projects that shipments of non-rugged small format handhelds for mobile POS systems will increase 380% from 2013 to 2017. At the same time, overall POS shipments will be reduced by 12% in 2016, and in some segments, may be reduced by as much as 20% from previously forecast volumes. Those are some pretty striking numbers and it’s easy to see that mobile POS systems will have a large and far-reaching impact on the service industry.

For a start-up company, the appeal is easy to see. They can skip the investment of a traditional cash register and POS system and can instead purchase or repurpose an iPhone or iPad and use a cost-effective system like Square.

But what about for an established company? They’ve already invested in cash registers, credit card machines, and all the other bells and whistles that come with a traditional POS system. What’s the appeal?

Well, for one thing, it means your workforce is more mobile. Workers are no longer tied to the cash register. They are free to move around the store helping customers, restocking inventory and tidying the store floor. And while they do these things, each employee is a walking sales opportunity. Since each employee working effectively becomes a cash register, check out times are no longer limited by the number of cash registers available, but by the number of employees. This can speed up check out times for customers. And of course, it does give your company a bit of sleek modernity to be able to check out customers from anywhere in the store at the drop of a hat.

One cautionary note, however, is security. Most of these systems have security features built into them to ensure consumer PII and credit card information isn’t stored locally. Be sure you’re careful reviewing those features. It also wouldn’t go amiss to look into MDM software. Chances are, if you use ruggedized mobile devices in your back room or warehouse, your organization is already using MDM. While we tend to think of it as closely related to BYOD, mobile device management policies and technology protect corporate-owned devices as well.

Securing the Supply Chain: Is Your Supply Chain a Hack Waiting to Happen?

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The supply chain of most companies is long and complex. It’s often difficult to get a complete picture of your company’s supply chain, which involves not only direct suppliers, but also the suppliers that supply your suppliers. And so on down the chain.Packages being loaded

But even though this lack of knowledge is common and, in many cases, unavoidable, it’s still cause for concern. Many companies share sensitive corporate data with those in the supply chain, such as intellectual property information, customer data or employee info. This information, some of it crucial for business to move forward, some of it not, is often shared without any regard for the information security practices of the company receiving the info.

It’s a risky move. On the one hand, the vendor you’re sharing info with and everyone they’re sharing info with might have great security in place. Their systems might be as tight as a drum. On the other hand, just because your systems are secure doesn’t mean those of the companies you work with are equally secure, and data might be leaking from your organization like a sieve. (more…)

Android in the Warehouse

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The Android platform is rapidly growing. According to recent estimates from analyst firm IDC, Android had 75 percent market share in Q1 of 2013, shipping more than 163 million smartphones during that time. While IDC doesn’t break down how many of those were shipped to consumers vs. enterprises, it wouldn’t surprise us to learn that a big portion of those devices are being used in ruggedized environments.

After all, the Android platform is a good fit for specialized environments like the warehouse. David Johnson of analyst firm Forrester recently told Network World that Android devices were now being considered for a whole host of non-consumer applications, “from movie ticket scanning at the theater front door, to electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) for truckers.”  The Android platform is flexible enough to support specialty devices and applications, unlike iOS devices, which only run on Apple products. It can also be difficult to create new applications for iOS, because of the closed nature of the system. Android, on the other hand, offers more flexibility in designing and publishing new applications and has worked hard to improve the security features of the platform to make it more suitable for business users.

There are also plenty of ruggedized devices that run Android, including devices made by Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung, Honeywell and more. In fact, just last week, Samsung announced their newest ruggedized Android: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Samsung is the leading provider of Android devices, owning 41.1 percent of the market, according to IDC. Though much of the marketing for the ruggedized Galaxy S4 Active has targeted those who lead an active lifestyle (hence the name), its ruggedized features make it a good fit for the warehouse. The Galaxy S4 is sealed against both dust and water and can be operated while wearing gloves.

All this combines to make Android a great option for ruggedized environments – or even the not-so-rugged, such as the retail floor or mobile POS system. As it continues to grow in popularity among consumers, it might spur a stronger push for BYOD in the warehouse, which has not traditionally been a BYOD environment. However, according to Forrester, 37 percent of smartphones used in the enterprise run Android. Eventually, that may push into the warehouse as well.

Mobilizing the Warehouse – Where You Can Expect to Save

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Let’s say you work in a 500,000-square foot warehouse. You’re picking from one side of the four walls and replenishing in another, and you’re constantly moving about a building that might be 250 times the size of your home. It’s not hard to see where mobile can come in handy in terms of making your trips to opposite ends of the warehouse more worthwhile, but you’ll need a better business case than that if you’re hoping for handhelds instead of laptops.federatedphoto

First, the overall benefits:

  • Improved TCO – Adopting mobile can reduce the money spent on the device itself and its management. Those laptops will probably have life in your warehouse for a few years, tops, depending on the environment. While there is plenty of hardware out there to withstand harsh conditions, exposure to water, dust, harmful particles, etc., will play a factor in your systems’ life expectancy.  While mobile devices have similar life expectancies, they are usually much cheaper and in many cases, even easier and less costly to manage.
  • Productivity gains: While productivity might be harder to measure than device costs, thiscould save you hundreds of thousands. If your organization is able to save 30 minutes per shift with quicker access to important data, that could amount to a one-year productivity gain of half a million dollars (of course, this depends on the size of your organization).  Another productivity value add for deploying mobile rather than refreshing your current laptop supply is an easy, clean interface from which your employees can use custom-built applications and have quick access to important documents such as manuals, reports, equipment specs, etc.

The everyday tasks mobile will improve:

With these overall benefits in mind, there are specific tasks that mobile will help you streamline to get there, helping you realize the improved productivity and TCO. Using mobile in tandem with warehouse management software (especially voice-enabled) will earn you better accuracy, efficiency and even safety. A good management system will also give you better insight into your inventory and what you might need to refresh, put away or verify. With business-enabling applications and easy scanning capabilities, you can also capture new inventory as soon as you get it. This makes your products sellable, faster.

If you’re still using laptops in your warehouse, or you’re still looking to mobilize certain parts, a better knowledge of where your product is or even what the product is will give you more to work with – more time, more sellable product and ultimately, more money.

The World’s Foremost Mobile Application Management Company

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The following comes from Jason Mitchell, Director of Engineering at LANDesk.

This blog has an ambitious title, but I think it is accurate. Let me explain why. The recent definition of Mobile Application Management (MAM) focuses on delivering and securing native apps on mobile devices. These features typically include app wrapping and app distribution. While that’s as extensive as many smart device operation systems allow, Wavelink has a far more comprehensive and compelling feature set.

For more than 20 years, Wavelink has developed products and technologies that have enabled companies to deliver their operational applications to the ever-evolving set of mobile devices that are optimally designed for the task at hand. Let me give an example.

For high transaction processes like picking or sorting in a supply chain logistics operations, companies have host-based applications that need to be displayed on a variety of mobile devices. They do not want to have to add custom logic to the application to handle the different form factors or device drivers needed to access peripherals such as bar code scanners, radios, or printers. This is the market where Wavelink application management solutions exist. The solutions are built for telnet based applications, web applications, and native console applications executing on the server. They take these applications and expose them on any mobile device taking into account form factors, driver integration, security, session persistence, latency, unstable wireless networks, and a variety of others issues the application developer doesn’t want to know about and certainty doesn’t want to handle differently for each device. Wavelink solutions are designed to handle these problems without modifying the original application. This enabling of applications across the mobile devices is unique to the MAM solution Wavelink provides.

In summary, a comprehensive Mobile Application Management solution needs to deliver, secure, and enable applications across any mobile device platform or form factor without modifying the original application. This is why Wavelink is the world’s foremost Mobile Application Management Company.

Don’t Forget Our Old Friend The Wireless Printer

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We talk a lot about the needs for MDM around here, especially when it comes to smart devices and their proliferation into the enterprise. But one of the aspects of MDM which we don’t spend a lot of time on is managing the wireless printers common in warehouse environments. Sure, their hand held computer counterparts get all the love and attention, but remember that there is huge value in managing these printers. zebraprinter

As we’ve seen with smart devices, there are common features, or value propositions, that translate across the device form factors when it comes to MDM. Remote configuration, device health statistics, usage, and so on, are all things you want from your MDM solution. This is relevant whether we are talking wireless printers, smart devices, and/or hand held computers.

So next time you’re out looking at the latest and greatest MDM features, remember to think about our friend, the wireless printer. There is tremendous cost savings in bringing these assets into the fold of your MDM solution!

MDM from the Boardroom to the Back Office and Beyond

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When LANDesk and Wavelink came together in 2012, Steve Daly, the CEO of LANDesk Software, talked about the goals on the horizon for the newly unified team.  In the announcement he established the groundwork for the new endeavor. “Together, we will redefine mobility management and provide the market with unrivaled end-to-end mobile management solutions.  From the boardroom to the back office, we will enable mobility for people with a job to do.” This has been our directive since the day of the acquisition and we have been working together to provide our customers with MDM solutions that encompass both use cases.  As one can imagine, there are a few differences between the boardroom and the back office but when it comes to mobility there are not as many as you may think.  Let’s examine MDM from both perspectives.

Unique and Common Mobility Needs

  • Mobility Growth: Both the boardroom set and the line of business team are experiencing an explosion of mobile device demands.  On the boardroom side theses devices fall into both the BYOD device realm as well as assigned devices. They both share a need to keep up with the expanding wireless ecosystem with effective and powerful mobile device and wireless infrastructure management.  As the expectations of users begin to mirror their experiences as consumers, the pressure will be on IT to deliver a seamless user experience for both groups of users.stockxpertcom_id858210_jpg_09a185e593d94fa570c653bd96bdb622
  • Remote Service: “Allow me to take over your computer please.” This is something users are hearing more and more from the IT team on both sides of the enterprise.  While this used to be an in network exercise, it has expanded to include mobile devices wherever they may be. How do you compare the mobile service demands of an executive on a business trip to Germany with a delivery driver that needs service on a line of business device? In the end, you would not want either one to be without remote service. On the line of business side, Avalanche Remote Control, a mobile help desk solution, provides administrators with an exact replica of what end-users are experiencing. Remote Control allows administrators to support device users in the field remotely, without actually having to be in the field with the physical device. (more…)

Keeping the Supply Chain Agile

In the most recent edition of Inbound Logistics, writer Marty Weil takes a closer look at how mobile communication tools are keeping supply chains on the go connected. “Mobile solutions are at work in every part of the supply chain. They are a key part of many warehouse environments, especially in directed picking applications. In transportation, mobile technology has been particularly significant for expedited parcel carriers that use it to improve customer service and continually optimize operations. Private fleets and motor carriers also use mobile devices for tracking shipments and collecting driver performance data.”021_6789_01

In our line of business we see a lot of enterprises who need to manage their operations in real time without impacting their bottom line from an efficiency and cost perspective. Through mobile technology solutions like Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Productivity Platforms (MPP) it really is easy to take advantage of technology that starts streamlining your supply chain operations immediately. As part of the article, Marty spoke with Wavelink customer Goya Foods, who are using Wavelink’s MDM solution, Avalanche and Wavelink’s MPP voice-directed solution, Speakeasy along with ruggedized mobile devices to improve efficiency in and outside the four-walls. Through mobile solutions they keep the goods moving without worrying about making adjustments on the fly.

For supply chain agility, Marty recommends that enterprises look towards four goals as outlined by consulting firm PwC –

1. Integrating the supply chain with other business functions. Companies that acknowledge the supply chain as a strategic asset achieve 70 percent higher performance. Taking steps to connect supply chain operations to functions such as marketing and sales can help strengthen the entire business.

2. Facilitating supplier partnerships and collaboration. Potential supply chain disruptions make it more critical than ever for companies to share data
and strengthen relationships with key suppliers.

3. Enabling companies to adjust quickly to changes. The better the information companies have at hand, the more responsive their supply chains can be. Without mobile devices, supply chain information can be slow to reach managers.

4. Measuring and managing supply chain data. Companies can use mobile tools to collect supply chain data that informs strategic decisions.

Through the use of mobile solutions supply chain operations can be agile, resulting in increased productivity, visibility and efficiency in moving product, saving money and meeting the growing demands of the customer. To read Marty’s article in its entirety click here. Want to take a closer look at how MDM and MPP tools like Wavelink Avalanche and Wavelink Speakeasy can add agility to your supply chain operations? Contact the Wavelink Sales Team.

It’s been 40-years and what a 40-years: The DynaTAC, the beginning of a game changer cell phone

Today Mobile Enterprise reminded us that on April 3, 2013, the cell phone celebrated its 40th birthday. It’s gone through many cosmetic facelifts since the first day the Vice President of Communications Systems at Motorola walked “down the streets of New York City, talking on a large, clunky yet portable phone,” that weighed almost three pounds, operated on radio frequencies and had about twenty minutes before the battery died.

It would be another ten years before the Motorola DynaTAC was commercially available and would bring with it a new era of the way we define business and success. If you The Motorola DynaTACsaw someone back in the late 80s or early 90s on the street with a cell phone you knew they had to be someone important just because of the level of status the cell phone had achieved at that point. The Motorola DynaTAC was a game changer and as other manufacturers entered the mix, organizations began to see the potential cell phones would have in the business world. With a cell phone you could be anywhere in the country assisting a customer or meeting a potential customer and immediately report back to headquarters with an update. That single ability to call as soon as you walked out of building changed the course of business.

Back in 1973 Motorola knew that cell phones would change the way we lived and did business. Whether they could have predicted the exact way in which they have changed our lives is anyone’s guess (we also thought we would be driving cars in the sky by now). Through the addition of the Internet it further created a new generation of cell phone technology. This later addition cemented cell phones (smart phones) as critical components of our daily life. You think about all the ways you use your cell phone from staying on top of work, to checking in on friends and loved ones, to ordering pizza. Even how we are able to relay information in an emergency has changed just in 15-years. They are not just convenient tools in our daily lives but they changed the way we respond to emergency even as something as relatively minor as your car breaking down. 20 to 15-years ago unless you were fortunate enough to have one of the first generation car phones, you would have to hike to the nearest house, hope someone was home and call a tow service.

Cell phones changed and continue to change the course of business. By our growing consumer need to use cell phones/smart devices we are single-handedly dictating how we then do business. BYOD isn’t a phenomenon. It has become very much a real business changer. Consumers want to be able to use their cell phones at work in multiple ways, dictating then that an Enterprise really has to take a closer look at how they secure and manage these devices. Given the potential productivity gains from consumer devices it makes sense to consider integrating them in a DC, in government, transportation, healthcare and on the retail floor. According to the Yankee Group “half of all companies find it very difficult to manage software upgrades on mobile handsets and to manage the costs associated with mobile devices. Almost the same proportion finds distributing mobile applications to devices very difficult.” In just 40-years cell phones have become business changers, strategy changers and productivity changers. Happy 40th birthday to the cell phone.

Making Money off Mobile Outside the Four Walls

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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.iphonebusinessuser

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.