Wavelink Blog

Category: Mobile Enterprise Productivity Suite

The Wavelink Difference: Enterprise Strong (Pt. 3 of 3)

The container terminal at dusk

This series of enterprise-focused blogs has been created to raise your awareness of the things to look for to insure the core product selections you make can impact your ability to meet operational needs and expectations. Wrapping up this series, let us explore how Wavelink TE and Velocity is created to meet the mission critical expectations of customer operations teams.

Enterprise-Class Capabilities

Previous blogs we have covered how Wavelink is standards based, using TCP as our guaranteed message delivery methodology. Others have chosen to rely on a proprietary connectionless protocol to support guaranteed delivery. Unfortunately, the proprietary protocol creates a ripple effect through your enterprise support teams that make problems even worse when they do occur.

Networking tools become ineffective when proprietary protocols come into play. UDP cannot be routed, so Network Admins need to get involved to set up and secure tunnels between subnets. TCP based traffic systems require very little, if any, involvement from IT and Networking teams.

Future-ready mobility

Do you plan to grow the operation where TE and mobile are employed? If so, Wavelink supports standards based load balancing, allowing you to expand without adding new infrastructure to support your TE apps. If the product you choose cannot do that, you may be creating a problem when your company grows.

If you are ever considering moving your host to the cloud or using a cloud based solution, Wavelink TE and Velocity support that today, as well as use over Public Wireless Data Networks, like LTE networks operated by telephone carriers. Server based TE products prevent you from considering cloud based solutions.

Extensive Toolkit

Across the LANDESK business (of which Wavelink is a part), we offer several other products that should be considered to support your enterprise operations. Our database dashboarding product Xtraction is a great example. Build your own real-time reports with an easy to use interface, using data from any of your database systems. Analyze how your business is working without leaving your desk. Allow Wavelink to review your operations today to see if there are other optimizations and benefits we can deliver.

Global Support

Wavelink is a global operation with support teams around the world. Support is available 24 X 7 X 365 in a number of languages. Not everyone in the market can make that claim. Our on-line community includes users from small to mid-sized, and large companies, and multinational enterprises. In the community, you can communicate with peers on their thoughts on fixes and best practices.

Over thirty thousand companies rely on Wavelink products in their mission critical operations around the world. Consider the benefits of working with Wavelink: an experienced, global, and enterprise-focused company with products to meet your mobility needs. Do not be misled by small players overplaying their hand. Rely on Wavelink and our proven, 25-year track record around the world.

The Wavelink Difference: Enterprise Secure and Supportable Mission Critical Mobility and Modernization (Pt. 2 of 3)

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In our first post of this series, we covered the things that make Wavelink Velocity TE and Web enterprise-ready. This segment will continue on the enterprise mission critical theme in the areas of enterprise supportability and security. We will focus on standard network protocols, encryption, system reliability and sustainability methods, all of which are important to IT departments and network administrators.

Legacy versus modern networking

Over 20 years ago, proprietary protocols and server/gateway based methods were frequently used to address challenges that arose from the use of wireless technologies. Over the years, as technologies have evolved and matured, those are disappearing as methods to support mobility improve and mature. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was common to expect to install a network controller or server in order to provide basic mobile services like wireless terminal emulation to workers.

Each of these products employed proprietary protocols and had a tendency to lump all their functions on the one part of the enterprise they could control – their required, network-based server. No real architecture was involved. It was all stored on the server. Unfortunately, this created a single point of failure situation. That has not changed today for server-based telnet systems.

At the turn of the 21st century, network equipment providers became much more mobile-aware and offered much more stability and better wireless connectivity to mobile workers. Most of the proprietary or highly customized products have disappeared from the market as the functions they specialized in are now included in the devices, or are built into the network components.

Devices are now much better suited to operate on standards-based wireless and mobile networks using only standard protocols. Our Velocity and Terminal Emulation can support multiple sessions with multiple types of hosts, allowing you to create a backup and failover plan to meet your needs. Wavelink’s installed base of over 10 million devices with many, many more over the last three decades is proof that our solution is up to the task.

The importance of industry standards

The beauty of the Wavelink TE architecture is that it is plug and play. It does not require an additional server application installation, additional open TCP or UDP ports, additional host resources to accommodate a server application or access to a host systems engineer.

Our system can typically be managed with minimal or no interaction with the host systems engineers, network administrators, or IT department in general. Devices can be provisioned in minutes requiring only a wireless IP connection, host IP address and emulation type while still providing the flexibility of a feature rich environment.

Wavelink TE leverages only TCP/IP whereas other solutions may use a combination of UDP/IP and TCP/IP, which create the need to use antiquated networking techniques like tunneling. The use of multiple and proprietary protocols add complexity to the system.

Enterprise-grade connectivity

To accommodate those that may need session persistence, Connect Pro has been offered for over a decade as a value add option involving an intermediary server. It may be optionally added to the Wavelink TE environment if there are issues in a customer’s operational environment. Poor wireless coverage, improperly set inactivity timers, and mobile devices that suspend while in session due to inactivity make Connect Pro a viable solution. We have found session persistence to be required in less than 10% of our installed base. It is offered in flavors for Windows, Linux, and for the AS/400.

In conclusion, security, supportability and availability should all be considered when making mission critical product decisions. Any one of the areas discussed here should make you pause to consider only solutions that are really ready to meet the demands of your enterprise.

I Am a Control Freak and Here’s Why

Technology in the hands

I am a remote control freak, that is.

A lot of you will have seen the recent announcement regarding our agreement with Splashtop to provide smart device remote control. We are extremely excited by the opportunity to partner with a company who is truly an industry leader in this space.

Splashtop

If you’ve never heard of Splashtop, they have been a leader in the remote control space for a long time and have a number of different consumer solutions available in the app/play store.

Remote control capabilities are an important part of the toolbox of an enterprise support team. The buildings that our customers work in are massive—really massive. The mission critical nature of our customers’ businesses means that any lost productivity can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

This is why being able to connect to a device deployed on the floor—and see what the user is seeing—can save time, money, and the need for someone to take a very long walk to see the problem in person.

Smart Device Remote Control

Wavelink has had remote control for older devices for years and is an important part of our Avalanche enterprise mobility management solution. This new product, Smart Device Remote Control, provides a remote control solution for customers with Android based devices and will soon be extended to other smart device operating systems.

How do we do it?

So, how are we able to provide this capability when so many others can’t?

Part of the answer is because of our very long relationships with all of the device manufacturers that make up this market. Remote control clients require elevated rights on Android devices; there’s no standard APIs that give a vendor access to the screen. This means that each vendor needs to trust us enough to sign our remote control client and give us extra rights into their device.

We went to market with support for the Zebra and Honeywell portfolio of Android devices, and we’re currently working on Panasonic and Datalogic support.

In addition to these, we also have support for Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10, so, whilst we are aimed at the rugged device market you will also be able to control most enterprise desktop machines, as well as any vehicle mount device or POS based on big windows. If the need arises you can also remote control Mac OSX machines.

If you are considering a move to Android or have needs to control one of the other operating systems that I just mentioned, then and see how we can help you get set up and ready to be control freaks yourselves.

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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Adding Android: A Few of the Biggest Benefits

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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.

Choosing Android mobile devices for your next mobility deployment—and modernizing your mobility clients with Velocity—will help you boost productivity in both of these groups.

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.

Custom keyboards

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.

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Three easy ways to tell if Speakeasy can help you optimize worker productivity in your warehouse

In this brief, I am going to tell you three signs that you can easily spot that will tell you if you can optimize your warehouse or distribution center operations. I am going to make an assumption here that you are already using a terminal emulation or browser based materials management system. I don’t care which one, just that it is based on Telnet (TE) or a browser. Wavelink can easily and quickly enable voice for almost any of those in the market today. It can be a WMS, ERP, CRM, or any other system that drives your workers and allows them to feed work information into as they do their job.

  1. First, watch your workers. If they are frequently stopping to read their paper or the display on their mobile computer/scanning device, then you can likely reduce the amount of time it takes for them to do their job. The more they stop, the more you can easily improve it. The device display is still critical because it can contain so much information vital to competing the task or be used in configuring and troubleshooting, but if workers are often stopping to read we can help. Tasks assignment and reminders can be spoken to the worker allowing them to continue moving toward their goal as they listen.
  2. Next, does it take a long time to bring people on board in your operation? Is most of the time spent trying to explain what all the parts and exceptions are, and Speakeasy in Actionare those already in your IT systems you use to collect data as they work? If the answer is yes to either of those, then Speakeasy can likely help you improve productivity. It has the ability to break the task down to small explainable parts. Workers can ask the system to repeat commands, locations, and data sent to them by the host that is required to do their job. Workers who formerly went through three-day training sessions now are frequently productive workers in less than a half day of job training. The end time depends on your processes and automation but we almost always can reduce this time.
  3. Finally, are your workers more productive when they have both hands free to work? Headsets and ring scanners attached to mobile computers allow workers to dive in with both hands and optimizes worker productivity. As a benefit this reduces lost and broken devices as workers are not setting them down to do the work before recording and updating systems with their work in process or completed tasks.

Don’t take my word for it, watch the customer Goya Foods and Coleman Cable testimonial videos on www.wavelink.com/voice.