Wavelink Blog

Category: Mobile Enterprise Application Platform

How Wavelink Speakeasy Helps Complete Your Starbucks Order

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Step into any Starbucks and you’re enveloped in a cozy yet bustling atmosphere of rich aromas, sights, and sounds. You want to linger in line, but decisions must be made, and they must be made quickly.

Will you order a cappuccino, a latte, an Americano, or a mocha? A fresh-brewed coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, or smoothie?

On top of all the standard drink choices, you can also specify a certain type of milk, syrup flavor, number of espresso shots, and more. Your options are endless!

Starbucks’ long list of menu items and ingredients explains why more than 800 locations in the UK and Ireland rely on supply-chain specialists, Gist Limited.

For Starbucks, Gist manages logistics operations for dairy, ambient non-food, fresh chilled, and pastry products. A key component of Gist’s business is warehouse stock picking.

Warehouse operations are under pressure

According to Kathryn Nassberg and David Krebs of VDC Research, warehouse operations face pressure from customers who demand orders faster. More SKUs drive the need for increased inventory visibility, accuracy, and efficiency.

“Greater speed and accuracy in warehousing, especially where individual picking is concerned, can reduce the cost of errors and boost worker productivity,” say Nassberg and Krebs. “As long as the human element continues to play a central role in warehousing, any technology that optimizes workflows and improves accuracy will add tremendous value.”

Voice-enabled picking boosts efficiencies

“We’re always looking for ways to pick stock faster, which is hard to do when you’re holding a device in one hand,” says Martin Withers, Warehouse Manager at Gist.

“For a customer like Starbucks with small quantities of multiple items for multiple destinations daily, you really want both hands free for maximum speed. And for pickers in cold storage and wearing gloves, it was especially awkward keying numbers into a device.”

Gist chose to deploy Wavelink Speakeasy.

It’s a full-featured voice-enablement solution that doesn’t require major changes to infrastructure. You can learn more about this advantage by reading the Rob DeStefano-authored white paper “The Android Expectation” that you can download below.

Speakeasy enables pickers to work without interruption, by simply saying ‘next’ to confirm their picks and then receiving voice instructions for the next item.

“One of our IT suppliers, M-Netics, proposed Wavelink Speakeasy to us and we immediately saw that it was a much better fit for us than the previous tool,” says Marcus Jeffery, Business IM Manager, Major Accounts, at Gist. “A big selling point was that there was no requirement to buy and run a costly voice server; we just needed the devices themselves.”

“Another plus was the low cost and risk of implementation,” Jeffery says. “Wavelink Speakeasy just sits on top of the telnet client that is installed on all of our devices to connect to our warehouse management system, so we didn’t need to change anything.”

The pressure will continue to grow

According to VDC Research, the pressure for warehousing to boost productivity and cut costs will only continue to grow.

Nassberg and Krebs say 40 percent of warehouse labor costs are related to order preparation, which “heightens the need to reduce warehousing errors, and picking errors in particular, as organizations strive to optimize the perfect order. Organizations employing voice-based technology have consistently cited gains of more than 20 percent in both picking accuracy and worker productivity.”

Want more information? Download our FREE white paper below!

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Speakeasy Makes It Easy to Improve Picking Accuracy and Productivity

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:

  1. Implications for your mobile apps
  2. Workers and the Android user experience
  3. 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.

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An Insider’s Perspective: Android Migration, Velocity, and More

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Robert DeStefano is an enterprise mobility evangelist with 17 years of experience in the mobile productivity space.

For nearly four years, he has been responsible for all mobility-related messaging across the LANDESK brands, and in particular, Wavelink’s industrial mobility products.

We recently sat down with Robert to gain deeper insights into some current topics facing the industry today. Here’s what he had to say.

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

Wavelink customers are continuously under pressure to work faster.

The whole supply chain is being pushed to move product more quickly—with virtually perfect accuracy—and an end goal of meeting delivery requirements down-chain, all the way to the end consumer.

Often, our customers are chasing an annual metric of getting five percent more productivity out of their operations every single year.

Wavelink helps them get there with proven solutions that keep mobile workers moving through their tasks at optimal speed.

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

Aside from determining the best device form factor for their workers, businesses considering moving to Android believe they’re staring at millions of dollars of application migration costs.

They don’t want to spend that huge amount of money, obviously, and they don’t want to risk disrupting the backend host applications that they already have invested heavily in optimizing.

But this doesn’t have to be the case as I explained in my recent post, How You Can Use Android Without Messing With Your Host Apps,

  • What is Velocity and how are companies using it?

Velocity puts a modern veneer on existing telnet and web applications. It takes these apps from a key-based interface into a touchscreen-friendly UX.

This is great for partners and end customers alike because partners can modernize their existing apps for new customer deployments.

Customers can offer a more familiar user experience to a workforce that, especially in younger generation workers, have never even seen a “green screen” terminal emulation client.

Velocity puts a modern UI on top of that proven, stable terminal emulation client, so it’s a fresh look without changing pieces that were already working.

Download our free white paper and find out how your Android migration can be as seamless as possible.

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How You Can Use Android Without Messing With Your Host Apps

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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.

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Andy Android speaks Mobile Productivity

We’re really excited by the news that Speakeasy is coming to the Android platform! That’s right! Later this summer, mobile computers running the Android platform can add voice to Velocity-based applications.  Voice adds yet another boost to worker productivity, complementing the touch-driven user experience Velocity offers.

Speakeasy Android

Businesses throughout the supply chain have already been recognizing the benefits of voice enablement – from fast implementation to efficiency gains of 50% and more.  As device manufacturers are bringing Android devices to market in a variety of form factors, companies now have a good selection of devices for workers driving forklifts, performing warehouse tasks, and all the way to the retail floor.  Now, as organizations consider these devices, they can bring their apps to Android via Velocity, and also add the power of voice!

If you’re considering devices running Android for your next generation mobile deployment, or to simply expand your use of mobility, here are some considerations for making the leap.  There is significant opportunity to help your workers be more productive with these new devices and the familiarity that this operating system offers them.  From Android’s first rugged embodiment as a tablet, the expansion into more scanning-intensive form factors opens a number of new use cases.  Who thought Andy would find his way onto the manufacturing floor, or into the aisles of your warehouse?  With our announcement, Wavelink is excited to be here, ready when you are, to put the power of voice into your Android mobile deployment!

“We can only tell you that your part is on a truck”

The title statement is a customer satisfaction nightmare. An order visibility nightmare I just lived during a recent home renovation project. If you ever had to convey this message to a customer, or want to be sure you never have to do so, read on…

Picture the scene: a completely gutted master bathroom – right down to the subfloor and wall studs. The new plumbing had just been roughed in and it was determined that before the mud base could be poured into my soon-to-be beautiful tile shower, a drain extender needed to be installed. Details aren’t important, but here’s the bottom line: I needed a $30 piece of cast iron to be installed before the bathroom could proceed.

Order visibility is critical to customer satisfaction.

Order visibility is critical to customer satisfaction.

This project began on January 31st of this year.  The exposed studs and plywood floor remained exposed until late April. Several weeks in between went by without progress, simply because this stock part, which was supposedly located in a distribution facility within 200 miles of my house, couldn’t be delivered.  The supplier couldn’t tell me an ETA. No tracking information could be offered.  Right up to the night before it arrived, all I could get from the supplier was the statement “We can only tell you that your part is on a truck”.

Supply chain visibility is more important than ever, and my experience is one every one of us can appreciate – both from our work in the industry, and as consumers. We never want to be without this visibility. Whether your customers are consumers or businesses, you never want to deliver the message I received in this experience. You want as close to real-time information as you can get – and that’s when mobility pays a big role. When your workers can instantly share order-picking info to your supply chain management systems, you know exactly where each order stands.

Wavelink offers a number of mobile applications that can deliver that instant visibility from data captured by your workers, and work with your existing supply chain management system.  With that kind of operational visibility, you’ll be able to ensure your customers get appropriate delivery information, improve worker productivity, and ensure your customer service team members never have to speak the vague, frustrating words “We can only tell you that your part is on a truck”.

What’s this Android Browser all about?

At Wavelink, we’re all excited about our most recent release of our Velocity platform.  In case you missed it, with version 1.2, we have extended our Android modernization experience beyond telnet to also include web applications.  But, you may ask, what does this really mean?

Are Android mobile computers on your short-list?

Are Android mobile computers on your short-list?

Think of it this way: If you have been running a web-based application on your Windows Mobile/Windows CE mobile devices, and are considering refreshing your devices, you might be considering new mobile devices that run Android. Then, you have to think about the compatibility of those web applications with a different operating system, browser, and the change from stylus/pen entry to touchscreen navigation.  There’s a huge leap from Windows CE/Mobile 6 to Android, and you only take advantage of the intuitive user experience if your apps are designed for that touchscreen experience.

Just as Velocity helps terminal emulation users avoid the costs, risks and effort of application migration, the platform now offers similar advantages for companies that use web-based apps.  A couple of cool things that make Velocity a great next-generation solution for your mobile web apps:

  • Modernize without changing your host application: Velocity does its magic to bring your mobile web apps to the Android platform, without messing with your host application.
  • Keep workers on task: Just as Wavelink’s Industrial Browser and VelocityCE products have done for the Windows Mobile platform, the Velocity Android Browser gives you the ability to lock down the browser so workers aren’t tempted to exit the app/task their supposed to be using.
  • A path forward for Windows browsers: Whether you’re existing web apps are running through Wavelink’s industrial browsers or Naurtech CETerm, the Velocity platform is designed as the path forward – bringing these web apps to the latest mobile operating systems. This is especially important for users of SAP’s ITSMobile application, where Naurtech CETerm had been the SAP-recommended browser.

We’ve got a lot of cool things going on with Velocity, with even more exciting features on the way. Are you ready to help your workers do more?

NRF 2016: Modernization and More!

NRF2016The 2016 edition of the National Retail Federation show was my 17th consecutive, and like the previous experiences, this year’s exhibits showcased a number of exciting trends in the retail market! We were really excited about the response to the mobility modernization theme, as evidenced by the string of new mobile devices introduced by our device manufacturing partners. Zebra’s TC8000 was especially close to home here, as modernization was echoed in the device’s software – All-Touch TE, powered by Wavelink.

There seemed to be a significant number of attendees who were entering the mobile technology refresh cycle. Interestingly, some admitted they were waiting for the market to settle on which operating systems would be safe bets. It seems more evident this year that Android is gaining trust, and similarly, new Windows-based devices were proving there is a credible future for Microsoft’s platform in the enterprise mobility arena.

Among the many great show recaps I’ve read, a couple of great recaps came from industry journal Consumer Goods Technology, and research firm VDC Research. These, along with many others, offer great perspectives on the trends noted across the show. For Wavelink, we’re looking forward to further conversations with the great folks we had the opportunity to meet in New York, and will be watching how this year’s trends play out over the course of the year.

What were your thoughts on NRF 2016? Email me or tweet @rob_destefano

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!

How to save millions and get years of project cycles back with Velocity

VelocityScreenshot(1)I thought that title might get your attention, but we’ve literally had conversations with companies over the past few months that have done just that!

As businesses look to refresh some of their mobile technology, they’re faced with the challenge of putting far more advanced mobile devices (rugged or consumer) in the hands of workers, but then taking some of the benefit of these devices away by placing previous generation mobile clients on these devices. Though proven technology, these text-heavy mobile clients are not designed for these new mobile computers.

We’ve been speaking to a number of businesses about this over the last few years, and a common situation seems to repeat itself. I’ll summarize one example below:

A 3rd-party logistics provider was acquiring a new generation of mobile devices, replacing legacy Windows CE-based mobile computers (typical for many). They had been running Telnet, but were looking at an app re-write that would update the experience and bring some consistency to their WMS and other supply chain management systems’ mobile interface. However, as they got through scoping their application re-writes, they came to the realization that it would be five years before all the systems would be updated, and well north of $15 million.

App migration is a serious challenge. It’s loaded with risk – you’re modifying or replacing systems that are essentially the backbone of your business. Migration also takes huge amounts of effort, and significant investments (as summarized in the situation above). In many cases, your existing host applications work quite well and it’s only an improved mobile interface you’ll need to get the most out of today’s powerful mobile devices.

That’s exactly the challenge Velocity was designed to solve. Your goal is to maximize the user productivity on the latest mobile hardware. You’re aiming for faster app navigation, an intuitive user interface – a modernized experience through which workers can accomplish tasks. You’re providing workers with a mobile application that improves data accuracy. Best of all, you can deliver this modernized experience without modifying the host applications you’ve made significant investments to optimize.

If you’re heading to NRF2016 in January, stop by our booth #1310 for a Velocity demonstration. I’ll be there, and will be happy to discuss enterprise mobility with you! You’ll also find Velocity in the Zebra Technologies booth #1603 under their All-Touch TE brand.