NRF 2013 Wrap

NRFBooth2013v2

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.

NRFBooth2013v2

 

2013 MDM Resolutions for Success

iPhone

With plenty of 2013 predictions focusing on the continued rise of mobile, we imagine that many IT organizations will be revisiting their MDM “wish lists” and redefining their focus areas to address the new set of challenges anticipated for the year.  To help prepare you for 2013’s challenges, we’ve highlighted a few MDM resolutions to consider for your IT and overall business success in the coming year.

Plan for BYOA (whether or not your company allows BYOD)

Even if the mobile devices your employees are using are company-owned, and personal devices aren’t sanctioned for business use, your IT department will likely recognize (if yours hasn’t already) a need for an application management strategy. Not only are consumers accustomed to using the same mobile devices they use for work to play Angry Birds, but the increasingly self-reliant workforce is comfortable finding their own external programs and applications to help with job productivity. These apps could include programs that put sensitive company data at risk of being lost or compromised. Address the issue of potentially harmful apps by implementing a management strategy that grants access to previously-blessed programs or prohibits access to those that may be risky. Enterprise app stores that work in tandem with your MDM solution can help align BYOA plans with the overall management of the device.

Keep Considering Consumerization

Basic mobile device management begins with support of popular operating systems and consumer-like capabilities. Embracing this reality helps create a working environment that delivers an optimal employee user experience, increased productivity,

and an overall familiarity in approach that employees will appreciate.  Recently, Gartner reported that IT departments have increasingly

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shaped their enterprise device offerings with consumer preferences in mind.  Gartner points out that the presence of Android and iOS will only increase in the enterprise. With more and more companies switching from traditional ruggedized devices to iPads and other consumer devices to accomplish tasks like product tracking, this year could mean potential hardware changes for your company. Consider accommodating the popularity of consumer options by choosing solutions that provide an optimized ability to manage popular operating systems.

Strengthen Mobile Security

While mobile is growing exponentially, you can expect that security risks to your mobile devices will grow along with it. Some mobile devices are even expecting new forms of cyber attacks that lock the user out of the device. The ubiquity of mobile computing has already caused and will continue to cause the increased targeting of mobile devices.  Safeguard your corporate devices (and devices used for business purposes) by planning for these types of attacks. Make sure you have the ability to locate any lost devices, remotely wipe, lock or reset as well as manage what can be downloaded to them.

What do you think of those resolutions? Would you add or remove some?

How Voice-Enabled Applications Can Help Your Business

Picking

With the rise of speech recognition technology such as Siri for the iPhone, Dragon for PCs and OnStar in vehicles, it seems voice-enabled technology is becoming ever more prevalent for consumers. In fact, Melanie Pinola of PCWorld states “It isn’t hard to imagine a near future when we’ll be commanding our coffee makers, talking to our printers, and telling the lights to turn themselves off.”

As with the BYOD trend, once consumers become accustomed to using specific technology in their personal lives – they expect the same functionality in the workplace. We see this as many bring smartphones and tablets into the corporate space and we can expect that voice functionality will follow the same path.

But does voice technology even make sense for businesses? Absolutely. This is especially true in a back-office environment, such as a warehouse. Adding voice capabilities has been proven to deliver 99 percent accuracy, as well as a 10 percent improvement in productivity to warehouse applications such as data-entry, picking and processing. Voice also dramatically improves safety by allowing workers to work in a hands and eyes-free environment.

While the benefits for voice-enabled technology are many, both consumers and corporations alike are sometimes fearful that there may be negative implications as well. Slate Magazine recently reported that the country of Ecuador has successfully completed installation of “the world’s first biometric identification platform, at a nation-wide level, that combines voice and face identification capabilities.” While the technology behind such a massive project is impressive, many are worried about the issue of privacy for Ecuadorian citizens. In addition, Sherry Tufts, a professor at MIT, recently told the New York Times “I’m not saying voice recognition is bad. I’m saying it’s part of a package of attachments to objects where we should tread carefully because we are pushing a lot of Darwinian buttons in our psychology.” Tufts believes that by speaking with inanimate objects, humans behave differently than they would if they were simple typing or clicking a mouse. “Humans are wired for speech and tend to respond to talking devices as if they were kindred spirits,” she told the Times.

healthcaretabletBut don’t the positive outcomes outweigh any potential negatives? In my opinion they do, especially when it comes to applications where typing or manually inputting data into a machine can be detrimental or even hazardous. This applies to a number of types of jobs – from a warehouse worker taking inventory from a tall ladder to a doctor recording patient vital signs.

I believe that the applications for voice-enabled technology are limitless and will skyrocket in the coming years. As consumers interact with this technology more and more in their personal lives, they will expect it in the workplace too. I think we’ll see speech recognition move beyond the few business applications where it currently resides, such as supply chain, healthcare and field services, to the desk of nearly every end-user in the corporate enterprise. They’ll be commanding their computers, phones and other objects with their voices and fingertips. And the keyboard may just become obsolete. So, tell me, do you think voice-recognition technology makes sense for your business? Leave a comment below and explain why or why not.

For Instant Holiday Shopping Gratification you Need Logistics

I recently read that logistics are as essential to the “holiday season as the Christmas tree and the Menorah.” I don’t think I need to do too much convincing at this time of the year for you to appreciate just how true that is. Just open your inbox and you are immediately reminded that if you want your holiday packages delivered before the festivities you better get a move on. As I write this an array of “final hours” emails bombard my inbox.

According to eMarketer “online shoppers in the United States will spend $54.47 billion this holiday season, up 16.8% from $46.63 billion last year.” That is a staggering number and only accounts for one country. It is easy to see why companies like Amazon are expanding fulfillment centers and opening a new 1-million square foot facility (yes, 1 million square feet) in Washington State. With the trend of online shopping only growing, fulfillment centers around the globe will continue to see their business models change to reflect that of the online consumer. Today’s online consumer appreciates the diverse number of stores they can purchase from without leaving home and driving several miles, but it also means that the instant in-store gratification is no longer there. Just because it isn’t there doesn’t mean consumers don’t still want it and for instant gratification you need logistics.

Transportation and logistics companies get items where they need to be as quickly as possible. To minimize hiccups a vital part of this process is managing the hand-held devices that get the packages to your doorstep. From the warehouse where the items are picked, packaged and shipping labels are then printed, to the logistics company picking up the package, scanning the label and then flying and/or driving it to where it nePackages being loadededs to go. The whole time this package is tracked using a hand-held device so you can monitor its progress. If a device goes down or experiences a malfunction you aren’t going to care because you just want your package. But to businesses managing these devices is a critical component of their job after all customer satisfaction is number one. A total mobile device management effectively keeps these devices secure and up and running from anywhere in the world. In any given day there are many different “fires” for businesses to put out and with a reliable device management solution, managing and tracking all their hand-held devices is one less “fire” they need to worry about.

And with that I must go – someone changed their mind on which of the latest video games they wanted and to avoid rush-shipping charges I need to hit purchase.

Happy holidays!

Get to Know Wavelink

Quick post today, but we wanted to share a video that helps tell you a little bit about who and what we are. Check it out and feel free to share.

Has BYOD Been Naughty or Nice?

As IT organizations everywhere are restructuring their budgets for 2013, figuring out where their company should be spending and how much, it’s no secret that one of the areas that will require some careful consideration is BYOD. While there is certainly not a “one size fits all” approach, with clear-cut benefits to guide your organization’s decision on whether or not to support personal devices, there are certainly many aspects and even myths to mull over.

In the spirit of the holiday season (and finalizing IT spending for next year), I’ve made a naughty and nice list, which takes a quick look at a few pain points and things to look forward to, as you work toward implementing or fine-tuning a BYOD policy within your organization.

Naughty

Hidden Costs: On the surface, BYOD comes across as a cost cutter, with the $70-ish per month required to operate the device falling to the end user. What organizations need to remember is that increased personal devices translates to increased mobile device management, which means you’ll need to invest in a reliable toolset to power and manage your BYOD environment – whether that means hiring additional manpower, or deploying an MDM solution that will help you safely and efficiently roll out your BYOD program.

Security Scares: As personal devices will consistently come and go, in and out of the corporate network, BYOD reasonably presents some concerning potential scenarios, such as external exposure of confidential emails, contact lists or sensitive company financial information. While IT can certainly take steps to safeguard information once the device is known to be lost, many employees don’t set up a password to secure their device (in a recent survey, only 29 percent of users reported they set passwords to keep their devices locked), and several minutes or hours can pass before he or she knows the device is lost. Employees holding out hope that their device will be found may even wait days before reporting the device missing to IT.

Too Many Toys to Track: Shiny new devices are popping up all the time, especially around the holidays. This can be especially problematic as it seems employees are walking in with new tablets right after IT has made a buying decision on which operating systems they’ll support with their MDM solution. IT has a tough decision to make: “should I focus on keeping up with the latest and greatest to satisfy all of my end users personal preferences, or only support a select number of systems and hope my end users don’t attempt to connect unsecured devices to corporate resources?”

 

Nice

Hidden Savings: After carefully considering the total cost of ownership of mobile assets, some companies have actually managed to capitalize on their decision to allow BYOD, such as Cisco, which recently told InformationWeek they’ve been able to reduce costs per user by 30 percent, despite a 98-percent increase in device count.

Controlled Productivity: While there are certainly risks associated with granting employees access to company info while on the

go, mobile device management has also come a long way in enabling IT to govern when, where and who can access the files needed to get the work done. Most MDM solutions now come with policy-setting features that allow IT to grant or disable access to specific applications or files. With devices that enter the enterprise without IT knowledge or consent, there are also default policies that can be applied to give the unknown device basic access to company Wi-Fi but maybe not email or enterprise apps.

You Can Satisfy the Majority: While some organizations may deem it more productive to support each employee’s individual device preference, most companies run a successful BYOD program by managing the most popular operating systems – such as iOS, Android and Windows. A quick survey of your employees’ device OS “wish lists” should help you identify the majority rule for your company.

 

As you can see, there are opportunities and concerns associated with several, if not all aspects of BYOD. The key to rolling out your BYOD plan for 2013 is in evaluating how your company could potentially benefit versus how much you’d need to invest to maintain the benefits and safeguard against the potential pain points. Are the benefits really “nice,” or could they end up turning “naughty?”

 

 

What Are the Costs of Unsecured Data?

I came across an interesting read from Forbes that was posted over the summer about the growing threat of mobile device security. It has some fascinating figures on mobile device usage and the inherent risks associated with our growing demand on mobile technologies. It’s becoming such an issue, that the White House and other leaders are entering the discussion. 

Some of the more interesting (and/or frightening) highlights include that “six out of every 10 cyber-security breaches occur as a result of a mobile device.” Why is that an issue? Well, consider the following that the author, Kevin Johnson points out:

We’ve reached an inflection point where the lightning-fast adoption of powerful, smart devices is outpacing our ability to secure our mobile lives. In a world of 7 billion people, there are now 5.9 billion mobile-phone subscribers. Here in the U.S., we have more mobile-phone subscriptions than people. The mobile Internet that we’ve come to rely on ― for everything from financial transactions to business operations to emergency-response procedures ― is increasingly vulnerable.

Think about that. In the US, we have more mobile-phone subscriptions than people. Take into account that many, if not most, are accessing some combination of personal and corporately-liable informations, and you can see why the issue is being trust onto center stage. Take a look at the article and let us know what strikes you the most about it. It’s a good read.

All I Want for Christmas is… Voice?

Picking2

Okay, it may be a stretch to say that this holiday season you want voice technology wrapped in a red bow but it isn’t a stretch to say from your professional point of view, “let’s make my life easier”. We can’t wrap it up in a pretty little bow with a nice shiny car but we can give you five good reasons why voice technology can improve efficiency in your operation.

  1. Go Multi-Modal: The ability to accept voice in addition to barcode scanning, RFID and keyboard entry expands the flexibility of application design by providing a cross-check to error-proof data. It also gives you the freedom to select the type of data input that will improve workflow that maximizes productivity. For example, the input of longer identifiers, such as serial numbers, is accomplished more efficiently with barcode scanning. When you can quickly use a variety of methods to check on the accuracy of an order it improves customer service and retention levels while eliminating costly mistakes.
  2. Increase productivity: With a well known 15 – 20% (or more) gain in productivity, hands-free operation allows for simultaneous action that increases productivity, such as the handling of product while receiving and/or providing information to and from the application in voice form. The voice entry is confirmed by the system, eliminating the need to look at the screen to verify data, further reducing cycle times and improving worker efficiency. (more…)

Mobile Mayhem – How to Manage All of Your Mobile Assets

The following comes from Mike Temple, Product Manager for LANDesk and Wavelink. You can check out some of his other posts at the LANDesk Blog, located here.

“As you may have noticed if you’ve been to the grocery store lately – or anywhere with music playing on the overhead speakers – the holiday season is here. While it officially kicks off with Black Friday later this week, if retail music choices are anything to go by, it’s already here. 

With Nordstrom’s, JC Penney and Apple leading the charge, consumers will be seeing a lot more sales staff using mobile devices to ring up their holiday purchases this year. Consumers aren’t the only ones who are seeing more of mobile devices. IT departments, who have managed mobile devices in the warehouse for many years, are now being asked to support devices in both their corporate offices and on the retail floor.

For those asked to manage the rapidly expanding number of devices, finding the right solution can be daunting. There are a lot of places to look for information, including the NRF’s Mobile Initiative and the Enterprise Mobility Forum. We also invite folks to check out our mobile ecosystem LinkedIn Group.

Before you leap into the mobile device management fray, it’s good to start with a framework of issues to consider:

– What does your mobile ecosystem look like? Wavelink’s interactive Facebook app can help define your mobile ecosystem and some of the management concerns associated with the different types of mobility. Don’t forget to take into account your wireless infrastructure as you’re defining your ecosystem.

– How are those mobile devices being used and what systems do they need access to? Mobile devices in the warehouse will need different programs and levels of access than those used on the retail floor or those used in corporate offices. Make sure the solution you decide on can accommodate these different levels of policy needs.

– What types of devices are being used? While it’s obvious that the ruggedized devices used in the warehouse will be different from the devices used in the corporate office, there will still be a few different types of devices and operating systems being used in each part of the mobile ecosystem. The solution you decide on should be able to support these different systems.

– Are there plans for expansion? If your company is planning to expand retail operations (more devices on the floor and in any additional warehouses) or add additional corporate offices, how will the solution you choose adjust to your expanding number of devices?

– And of course, cost. What is your budget for a management solution? Remember that you can often save a bit of money by purchasing solutions that cover a suite of IT issues and doing away with some of the point tools being used. This can also lead to a more efficient and effective IT department.

Remember, mobility isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it can cause your organization serious problems if it isn’t managed, such as lost productivity, increased costs or security breaches. These devices are here to stay, whether IT is prepared or not. Proactive consideration of a management solution can save you a lot of headaches later on.”

What’s in a UI? Relating Reformatting Screens to Better Productivity

There are a lot of terminal emulation products on the market and all of them basically fulfill the same need, and for many companies they don’t think about terminal emulation as tool that can also provide an additional boost to their productivity. It’s a tool to manage, access and maintain connections and bring back-office automation to the mobile worker, but where else can it streamline my business operations?

Sometimes it is just the little things that increase productivity. Traditionally, on a ruggedized mobile device you have your black screen with green text communicating actions or information to the end-user. These screens can be very difficult to read and often times have lots of information that isn’t necessarily relevant to all end-users. By adding a simple WYSIWYG screen editor called a Screen Reformatter to your emulation tool, administrators are able to capture emulation screens and then reformat the screens to optimize the user’s experience. You can personalize the end-users experience based on the ruggedized hand-held device and work environment.

With a Screen Reformatter an administrator can change the background color on the device to something different, like the color white for example, and change the font color to, say, black making it easier for the end-user to see what they are doing. Administrators can even remove unnecessary fields and/or screens that users have to cycle through to get to the information they need. Likewise, with functions, administrators can remove certain functions that show-up on the device that isn’t relevant for a particular group of workers or individuals. Maybe they just need to go to a certain bin and pick a quantity but on the device they don’t need it to say “pick quantity” they just care about the actual quantity. By removing unnecessary information it frees up the limited screen space enabling administrators to increase the text size of more relevant information making it easier for end-users to do their job.

Through the use of a Screen Reformatter you can provide an improved user experience, therefore making it easier for someone to do their job that much quicker. Through increased productivity you’ll see gains that help you meet your businesses goals.