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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
The 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.
Over the past several months, I’ve been listening to the way customers describe their return on mobility investments. The answers are impressive. Answers range from increases in worker speed of task completion, to task accuracy, to month to recognize complete return on dollar investments, reductions in man-hours for cyclical process completions, reductions in seasonal headcounts, reductions in worker training time, and more. The measurements of return on mobility investment are impressive percentages and yield significant dollar-value savings to each of the companies I’ve heard from.
What is really interesting is how companies can measure their return on investment in such vast and different ways. In some cases, the measure is dollars saved by reducing errors. In others, it is increased shipments that yield additional dollars per package shipped. In still others, the savings is recognized by a reduction in seasonal labor, or less worker hours dedicated to completing a specific task. Whatever the measurement, there are two things that remain true: Every measurement ties to a dollar-value savings that can prove a mathematical return on investment for the dollars spent enabling mobility. Even more importantly, the measurement each company used to describe their ROI told far more about the problem each was attempting to solve.
Enterprises deploy mobility to achieve a higher level of productivity, but it is not done just for the sake of using mobile technology. There is an underlying pain that the company is trying to address – some way of improving a process to gain efficiency, or to recognize a cost savings. There is a problem to be solved by deploying mobility – and one recommended approach to begin defining the best mobility solution is to start with an operations audit that can help find the weaknesses and inefficiencies in current processes. By adding automation and voice-enablement, Wavelink Speakeasy has consistently shown productivity gains for mobile supply chain workers of over 35%. That’s like getting an extra day of productivity from every worker – for every three days worked. Now that’s a fast ROI!
What problems are you aiming to solve with mobility in your enterprise? What measurements are you tracking to determine ROI? Email me with your objectives at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Robert DeStefano
It’s always fun to look back at what the past year has meant to our industry, and (in a tip of the hat to William Shakespeare) if “what’s past is prologue”, then what is to come in the next year? Indeed, 2013 has seen a few significant themes take shape. Mobile device management has become significantly commoditized – as customers have begun to look past the common device-oriented features to larger, unified mobility solutions. A handful of new, mission-critical mobile devices have come to market – in some unique and interesting forms. Legacy voice vendors have struggled to get away from their Cold-war era technologies. Consumer smartphones and tablets have entered the enterprise through every door, window and loading dock available.
Yes, 2013 has met our expectations of continued evolution in enterprise mobility! 2014 has even more fun in store (and in the warehouse):
- The limits of the consumer device will become clear. Enterprises will see a more precise delineation between where BYOD or consumer smartphones/tablets can be used, and where rugged mobile computers will continue to be deployed.
- Voice-enablement will expand beyond stock picking. With full voice functionality, faster deployment, and at a lower cost, even companies that have deployed legacy voice for warehouse picking will be giving Speakeasy a fresh look for expending multi-modal data capture across supply chain tasks.
- There will be a reduction in point-product mobility providers. As more enterprises began doing in 2013, even more will seek out mobility solution providers that can offer more than just a single product. Unified mobility solutions – those that are designed together and, when deployed together, offer even greater value to the business, will be at the top of enterprise mobility wish-lists.
As these and other events unfold for IT in rugged environments, Wavelink is here to help you navigate. What are your enterprise mobility predictions for 2014? Please post your predictions in the comments section below.
We talk a lot about voice applications around these parts, and as you know, we recently announced that Speakeasy achieved Motorola Solutions Validation. This summer, we spent some time with our friends at Motorola in the Motorola Innovation Center. Below is a video that explains why this partnership is so valuable, and explains some of the benefits with working with us. Enjoy!
Posted by Robert DeStefano
Remember that song that you can’t stand to hear, but you know the words by heart? Even though you sing it through gritted teeth, you know the song, and it becomes an “earworm” stuck in your head and it just won’t go away. Frustrating isn’t it? For companies considering adding voice to their mission-critical mobile applications, the stories from traditional voice vendors are just like that old song: implementation takes several months, and if an ROI can be justified at all, it can only be proven for a single task. Mythology is best kept for classic literature and not for voice technology.
For customers who have voice applications from traditional voice vendors, implementation can seem like an Odyssey – complete with months of continuous project costs resulting in a start to finish ranging from 6 months to 2 years in some cases. Traditional voice providers have established the myth that voice is very specialized technology – difficult to implement and costly to modify. Their myths also suggest that once you’ve selected a voice provider, it is even more expensive to switch or use another system for a different task.
Voice-enablement can be a very beneficial part of a mission-critical mobility solution, providing task workers with a heads-up and hands-free option for data capture when using a keyboard or holding a barcode scanner is inconvenient or otherwise sub-optimal (many task workers benefit from a solution that uses all these methods where each makes sense). However, voice-enabled mobile applications are being deployed in 30 days or less – thanks to Wavelink Speakeasy.
For real customers around the world, Speakeasy is breaking down the myths, and proving to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to voice-enable mobile applications. These customers are witnessing how Wavelink is re-defining voice. There’s no compromise in the capabilities of Speakeasy – it’s 21st Century voice technology, leveraging the capabilities of enterprise mobile devices while reducing the complexity of implementation. Speakeasy is proof that voice-enabled mobile applications that are fully features, easily deployed, and financially viable with quantifiable ROI are not myths.
If your company in considering voice-enabling mobile applications to increase the productivity of task workers, even if you’ve already deployed traditional voice for specific applications, contact Wavelink – you’ll get facts, not myths.
Here at Wavelink, we’ve always had a special place in our hearts for speech recognition. It’s hardly surprising. We know first-hand the many benefits of voice recognition in the warehouse – improved productivity, efficiency and warehouse safety. Since the introduction of Speakeasy six years ago, we’ve watched the rise of applications like Siri and Google Voice, which bring voice recognition to the masses. We thought it would be interesting to take a look back in time at some of the history of voice recognition and how it’s evolved over time.
Before Siri, there was Audrey. Audrey was a speech recognition system developed by Bell Laboratories in the early 1950s. It was a pretty basic system and could only recognize the numbers one through nine. It also forced the speaker to pause between words, making it a bit cumbersome to actually use.
In the early 1960s, IBM made some improvements with their “Shoebox” device, which could understand 16 entire words: 10 digits and 6 arithmetical commands. Both Audrey and Shoebox, needless to say, were not very portable, making them highly impractical by today’s standards. Considering the low levels of computing power at the time, these were pretty significant gains. (more…)
It’s obvious that companies only implement technology when it will benefit the business in some way. Most often, it is the hope that technology yields some financial benefit – perhaps in the form of increased productivity and efficiency. However, every technology vendor also recognizes this and therefore makes their sales pitch around the promise of some great savings. But talk is cheap – so how best to separate the promises made in words, and those that are based on factual evidence?
Selling technology has been tied to an ROI for decades, and today, nearly every company has an ROI calculator with which they can show how your investment in their product will put your business in the green. What’s more credible? Consider reference companies that already use the solution and explain the return on investment in their own terms. Just as the reasons a business will choose to invest in technology may vary, so do the primary components of their own ROI calculations. (more…)
Posted by Brandon Hill
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.
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…)
Posted by Brandon Hill
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.
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.