Wavelink Blog

Category: Terminal Emulation

Terminal Emulation 2.0 Translating Productivity – 5 ways to enable mobility around the world

No matter how you say it, productivity gains are the objective of mission-critical mobility deployments all around the globe. From New York to Beijing, and Frankfurt to Seoul, enterprises all over are looking for ways to help workers be more productive. These gains can’t be realized only in pockets of the world economy, but must be accessible everywhere. How can companies accelerate the realization of the benefits of enterprise mobility?

  1. Speak the worker’s language: provide mobility solutions that are easy for workers to understand. This starts with presenting mobility software clients in their local language. (more…)

Wavelink on the Road – What Have We Learned About Voice?

A warm welcome to the first day of April! While this post will contain no April Fool’s Day jokes, it will wrap up some of the key findings and observations that we, the Wavelink team, have found during our busy first quarter of 2014.

As you should know, we have been out and about spreading the word about Wavelink, at our numerous 2014 activities. Being at so many different places over the past few months, I’ve noticed a few key trends, and I think they are indicative of industry demand, rather than us advocating them. But, more so than any other trend, the “voice” trend is going s-t-r-o-n-g.

Two years ago, when we explained what it meant to “voice-enable” applications versus buying a voice “system”, few could articulate the difference. After speaking with hundreds upon hundreds of folks – whether it be at NRF in NYC, to one of our Speakeasy Roadshows, or MODEX a couple weeks ago in Atlanta – people understand the difference between what it means to voice enable, versus buying a legacy solution. Primarily, they’ve researched legacy voice solutions, and understand the dozens of barriers inherent with them: costly, lengthy implementations, etc., etc.

Now, when we explain the concept of taking their existing telnet or web applications, and simply voice-enabling them, you can see the lightbulb go off. After all these years of knowing what they don’t want, people have a firm grip on what their organization needs. It’s a great time to be in the industry and part of the “voice movement”. As a conclusion, here are some photo’s we took along the way from various shows. Enjoy!

Chances are Good you Already have a Voice-ready App in Production but Didn’t know it! – Part 2

This is the second blog in a two part series on the benefits, and the quick and easy install, of Wavelink Speakeasy.

After all of the updates have been made to your system, it is time to demonstrate Speakeasy in your environment.

We recommend bringing up two workers initially; first someone who is a capable worker at the enabled function should be introduced to the system. Since we are using your software, they won’t need a lot of training, and will be familiar with the terminology, methodologies, and work steps used in the system. These first workers typically show a 25-35% improvement after the first couple days of using the system.

The second worker should be someone who is a marginal worker, someone who can barely make work standards. Once enabled and onto the production floor, we have found these workers to gain a 60-75% increase in productivity while reducing errors to <1%, and improving safety. Since their eyes are off the display of their device and are on where they are going or the items they are working with, their incidents of crashes and accidents drop off dramatically.

Wavelink has discovered that reduced training time of new workers is a huge side benefit, often reducing training times for new employees from days or weeks down to hours or even a single day.

Most customers that install Speakeasy roll out quickly, and add in other voice functions soon after their initial installation. Since changes and updates can be made in minutes moving to other facilities can follow the same 30 day or less process as the original facility and be receiving their return on investment before competitive systems can even get a test client out for basic validation.

The differentiators our customers and partners see in Speakeasy systems from traditional solutions include:

  1. All of the voice function is on the mobile computer device, and the speech function is speaker independent. That means no new servers or WLAN infrastructure is required to support Speakeasy voice.
  2. Customers can use their choice of mobile computer devices, not proprietary hardware required by the speech vendor, reducing their acquisition cost and ongoing maintenance costs and fees.
  3. Speakeasy allows for multimodal data entry, which means workers can input using voice, scanning, key presses, or even screen taps, however you choose. Any single method or combination you specify can be supported by Speakeasy. Adding or deleting a method is easier than you can imagine.
  4. There is no corporate system integration or middleware required. Speakeasy eliminates the complexity of system implementation. In fact if you monitor the traffic between your mobile computer and host systems, there will be NO CHANGE when you add Speakeasy to your corporate data systems.
  5. You more than likely already have productivity measurement systems in place to monitor and manage your mobile workers. NO CHANGES are required to continue to use those systems. Why would you pay someone for ANOTHER new monitoring system when either you have one in place, or your WMS or ERP provider offer one specifically for their system.
  6. Since Speakeasy is confined to the mobile device, it won’t run up huge data bills on public networks. Your web app can easily adapt to Speakeasy and allow your field mobility workers speech applications using the same application you have employed today.

In closing, one of the biggest problems Wavelink has to overcome is that Speakeasy voice systems sound too good to be true. I challenge anyone who wants to make their workforce more productive, more accurate, and safer to contact their Wavelink rep today!

Chances are Good you Already have a Voice-ready App in Production but Didn’t know it! – Part 1

This is the first in a two part series on the benefits, and the quick and easy install, of Wavelink Speakeasy. 

Everyone involved in warehousing or distribution center operations knows there is a clear, sharp focus on increasing productivity and accuracy. The market is full of companies that offer optimizing solutions, but most want you to throw away most of what you have and start over. The Wavelink solution, Speakeasy, is a lot of fun to bring to the market because it is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, allowing you to capitalize on the system you have spent so much time optimizing and training your employees to use.

It may come as a surprise to you, but chances are good that if you are in warehousing, distribution, or even manufacturing that your system is already a voice solution. If your systems offer a terminal emulation (telnet) or web interface Wavelink can show you that you already own a voice solution. It will lead to increased productivity, improved accuracy, and a safer work environment to save you in many ways.

Wavelink’s promotion of Speakeasy says that you can have a speech solution in place in 30-days or less. For most in the industry that sounds too good to be true because traditional systems require a lot of analysis, coding, integration with host based systems, testing and validation, and then training for users and systems support staffers.

With traditional voice systems, IT typically has to be deeply involved to install the required servers, verify the WLAN can carry the extra new traffic the voice systems create, and then resolve all of the extra new issues with feeds to corporate IT systems. Things like the productivity measurement systems you use today will likely go out the door to be replaced by something new from your voice provider.

If a spec is slightly off mark or a process changes between the time of spec and implementation the process grows longer and most of these steps need to be repeated. Some traditional voice implementations can drag on for years before customers can either add more functions or move to additional facilities even though they run the same corporate IT systems.

The Wavelink Speakeasy voice implementation method starts the same way, but the end is very different and in a very good way.

Speakeasy in ActionThe initial engagement is a study of your current programs and methods used in your operations. An analyst will perform an interview over a day or two to learn about the methods you use, and how your workers work in your systems. They will seek to learn the standard methods, and identify the exceptions of what happens when things go wrong or off the standard track.

Your application screens, workflow, and error messages will be captured with Wavelink tools. Each step of your process is captured to help integrate voice into your application to optimize the voice enablement.

Depending on the complexity of your systems, this interview and the analysis can take a week to 2 weeks. The result is a WebEx type meeting where the captured processes are walked through. The processes are verified, solutions are proposed and demonstrated, and the voice enablement of your current system is displayed before your eyes and ears. You have freedom to modify anything being discussed with a goal of locking down your application flow.

The changes you discuss are reviewed and a follow up meeting is set with a goal for one more WebEx discussion, and then the initial validation in your facilities on your systems in 2-3 weeks.

Once the updates are made to your satisfaction and the dates are set, it is time to demonstrate the system in your environment. Since we use your system, there is no huge cutover to a new system, we can test and validate with one worker in your current production environment. All of the work is done on the device, so your systems won’t even know a worker is using voice.

Visit us on Friday, February 28th for the second part in this series – How employees are brought on board and all the additional benefits, including reduced training, Speakeasy brings in 30-days or less. 

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.

Terminal Emulation: Productivity Never Goes Out of Style

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The following comes from Rob DeStefano, Product Marketing Manager:

Most people fondly remember their first Windows PC. If yours was like mine, it had a floppy disk drive for expandable memory.  We laugh at the portable phone Michael Douglas used in the movie “Wall Street.”  Remember the original Nintendo gaming console? A big evolution to the Wii series currently connected to your television.

There is a common theme here among these items: The hardware has evolved, but the use cases and core functionalities have remained the same.  When technology works and is widely adopted, its demise is predicted for many years but what usually happens is that users prefer to see it evolve rather than disappear.

Windows has come a long way since my first exposure to Windows 3.1.  My iPhone, a far more advanced (and thankfully, pocket-able) cell phone than those from the 1980’s; and my Wii is most commonly used to play the games from the old systems that kept me busy for way too many hours as a kid.  The hardware has changed, but the change in my user experience has been gradual, and still very familiar at its core.

The same is true for task workers using enterprise applications.  Mobile computers, including the devices used in warehouses, on retail floors and throughout the supply chain, have changed significantly over the past two decades.  Today, the term “mobile computer” includes consumer devices like tablets and smartphones in certain use cases.  However, as the hardware has changed, core software applications have progressively evolved to keep the user experience familiar and comfortable – ensuring optimal productivity.

Terminal Emulation remains a prime example of software evolution as the hardware on which it operates has morphed so dramatically.  What is it that keeps Terminal Emulation around and growing?  It is still the most efficient and cost effective method for high volume, enterprise-grade data input. Despite the “green screen” user interface, there are 5 reasons TE remains so widely used:

  1. Terminal Emulation works.  Over two decades of market use prove its stability.
  2. It’s widely adopted.  Internal estimates suggest roughly 68% of rugged mobile computers run Wavelink TE.
  3. It has evolved. Terminal Emulation ran on DOS, Palm OS, Windows PocketPC. Today it runs on today’s Windows Mobile and Android operating systems. It has also evolved with leading back-end software.
  4. Terminal Emulation enables productivity. Task workers are familiar and can easily work with it.
  5. Terminal Emulation remains innovative.  Wavelink continues to invest in new features that increase its accessibility, including Speakeasy, which voice-enables existing Terminal Emulation applications.

Terminal Emulation remains the platform of choice for many enterprise applications in part because it has been with us for so long that it is the standard-bearer against which any potential alternative would have to measure – in terms of cost and productivity.  Wavelink TE is used by 25 of the top 30 retailers in North America and by eight of the top 10 retailers in the world, according to internal statistics.

Like our other tech examples, the display may change, but the reliability and dependability never goes out of style.  Who thought they’d still play Super Mario Brothers on a flat screen television, using a wireless, motion-detecting controller?

NRF 2013 Wrap

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We just returned from NRF 2013 and I think it’s safe to say that traffic was much higher on the show floor this year. Retailers are prepared to invest in existing and emerging technologies to further their productivity and streamline their processes.

For most retailers, our TE product has been a staple of their business for many, many years now. We spoke with many of these same folks while in New York. But, one of the things that came from our discussions was the need for a unified solution to bring all of the applications/devices/workflows/etc together. It was fun to talk with different customers and partners about the fact that our Avalanche solution is the only solution available to do this. It really is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to bringing your wireless ecosystem together.

I’d love to hear your stories from NRF and what you came away with. In the meantime, enjoy a cool photo that Kelly Ungs took our our booth during the opening hours Monday morning.

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