ROI of the Mobile Worker

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.LXE Mobile Devices

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: robert.destefano@wavelink.com

Happy Holidays from All of Us at Wavelink

From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year. 

A Big Difference Between Avalanche MDM and AirWatch

A recent text mining experiment using AirWatch’s “Solutions Overview” document demonstrated an excellent answer to the question, “What is [one of] the difference(s) between Wavelink Avalanche and AirWatch”?

In one word; Email.

The wordcloud below shows the highlights of the text analysis of AirWatch’s Solutions Overview document.

As you can plainly see, one of the most used words is “email”.  “So what?,” you say?

Supply chain operations managers and other supply chain device users don’t use email on their devices. They use their devices to run their operations, move product, and make money. Email is for front-office staff and is a “nice to have” versus, “must have” for supply chain operations.

Email is a front-office, IT oriented operation, focused on providing communications to mobile workers.  Avalanche provides a complete solution for managing that function for those workers as well. However, Avalanche’s primary reason for existence has always been providing device management for mission critical, supply chain focused mobile computers.

If your mobile users can’t get to their email due to an unexpected outage, that’s a bummer. But if your supply chain operations go down because your managed devices stop working, you’re out of business.

And that, in another phrase, is the difference between Avalanche and AirWatch. Avalanche is “mission-critical”. Airwatch is “nice to have”.

 

Comments or opinions expressed on the blog are those of their respective contributors only. The views expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the views of LANDesk Software, its business units, its management or employees. LANDesk Software is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by contributors to the blog.

 

 

2014 Predictions for IT in Ruggedized Environments

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.

In and Out: The Pros and Cons of Self-Checkout

Retailers, breathe a sigh of relief. Black Friday is over and Cyber Monday orders have all been placed. The initial rush is over. But the holiday shopping season is just beginning. There’s another three weeks’ worth of time for shopping (or procrastination of shopping) before the season ends.  During those three weeks, more shoppers than ever will make their purchases on non-traditional POS systems. These systems will range from self-checkout kiosks to “scan as you go” services to mobile-based systems carried throughout the store by employees for a “check out anywhere” experience. There are pros and cons to each of these systems (and to traditional POS systems as well), but let’s start with a look at self-checkout services.

Self-checkout services are becoming increasingly common. Hardware retailer (and popular store for Dad gifts) Home Depot was one of the first stores to implement self-Self_checkout_using_NCR_Fastlane_machinesservice checkout kiosks, but other retailers have followed, including grocery store giants Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Others have implemented self-checkout and then scraped it, including Costco, Albertsons and Ikea. It’s definitely not right for every retailer, but can have big benefits.

Cutting Costs

One of the major arguments for self-checkout is that it reduces overhead costs. Instead of having four cashiers manning four checkout lanes, one cashier can monitor four checkout lanes. Alternatively, the cashier can be cut out entirely. Either way, costs are reduced.

However, there’s a pretty big “but” with this. Self-checkout can cut down costs, but can also increase theft. Earlier this year, a Florida woman was caught trying to leave the store with $350 worth of products, for which she had paid $40. There’s no denying that self-checkout can create opportunities for thieves, but with careful monitoring by employees, the threat can be reduced. The benefit in costs savings may not be enough for some retailers, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of cutting down overhead vs. preventing theft.

People Like It. Some of Them, Anyway

A recent Cisco survey found that 52 percent of people prefer self-checkout. That also means that 48 percent of people don’t like self-checkout. While some shoppers prefer the DIY aspect of self-checkout, combined with the appeal of avoiding talking to other people, other shoppers enjoy the interpersonal interaction that comes with a traditional POS system or find the kiosks frustrating or difficult to use. Before implementing a self-checkout system, it’s important to determine where your customer base falls. If you determine that your customers are primarily in the “pro” camp, it’s equally important to ensure that the system you choose is easy to use, practical for your business model and won’t frustrate your customers. Even the staunchest of pro-self-checkout consumers will avoid a bad system.

It’s a “Gateway” Change

Still other retailers see self-checkout as the gateway to further change – a precursor of sorts to the days when you’ll be able to scan objects with your phone as you shop and then pay using a mobile wallet. The change to self-checkout could get consumers acclimated to the self-service idea quickly and easily.

Of course, it’s also an expensive proposition to install self-service kiosks at check out. And it’s even more expensive to move away from the system in favor of another one after just a few years. Before implementing this sort of system, consider carefully what you think is the future of checkout for retailers. Cutting edge is good, but cutting unnecessary changes is better.

MDM is dead. Long live MDM

A Look at the Difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management

“Mobile Device Management (MDM) enables businesses to address challenges associated with mobility by providing a simplified, efficient way to view and manage all devices from the central admin console.” That’s all you need, right?  This is how one vendor describes it – right from their website.  At first glance, one might expect that if I can manage the mobile device, that’s what I need.

But then again. What about the applications residing on those mobile devices, which also need to be managed?  Well, sure, typical Mobile Device Management products can cover most of that.  Surely they can push applications, maybe blacklist some apps not appropriate for use at work, and remotely lock a lost or stolen mobile device to maintain a level of corporate data security.

One of the challenges when looking at MDM vendors is that there isn’t a whole lot of differentiation among the capabilities, for example, they all face the same restrictions when managing iOS devices.  Similarly, many vendors predominantly hype their iOS and Android device management capabilities.  And everyone talks about BYOD.

There’s a big difference between Mobile Device Management and Mobile Deployment Management.  Managing enterprise mobility deployments is about more than just the device.  Consider all the aspects of deploying mobility in the enterprise.

  • Users: Who are the users, and how will they be using mobility?
  • Hardware: What kind of mobile devices are best – rugged, barcode scanner-enabled or smart devices?
  • Connectivity: What kind of connectivity will be needed – Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi and Cellular? Connectivity to peripheral devices such as printers?
  • Mobile Applications: What types of applications will the user need?  Are they leveraging application streaming of data located on a host server?  Through terminal emulation? Using a browser? Native apps?

Unlike Mobile Device Management, Mobile Deployment Management refers to managing this complete set of consideration, ultimately with the goal of maximizing the productivity of the user of this mobility solution.  With the Wavelink Mobile Enterprise Productivity Suite, a mission-critical mobility deployment can be unified under a single vendor and completely managed through Avalanche.

Go ask MDM vendors if they can check all the boxes for the mobility deployment considerations above. They can’t. Managing mobile devices – ‘everyone’ can do that.

The Last Days for Point Products

Mobility has been a part of the enterprise for three decades now. However, the ubiquity of mobile use for workers from the warehouse to the corporate office has never been more dynamic. Many companies are not implementing first-time deployments, but replacing older solutions with new, and expanding mobility to a wider range of tasks.

As this wave of mobility refreshes occurs, enterprises are looking for simplicity in their deployments. Hardware options are vast and dynamic. It is hardly feasible to have a single mobile computing platform for all enterprise users. On the software side, point products for a specific task are no longer the most desirable option. Instead, IT teams across businesses demand fewer vendors with more unified solutions that scale across mission-critical applications.connections

Mission-critical mobility is all about productivity—getting things done in the most efficient way possible. This can be visible in such ways as streamlining current worker tasks, or accelerating decision making. As these examples suggest, enterprise mobility is not about which device is best or how that device in managed. It’s not about the content a user can access or a specific software application used on a device. Instead, enterprise mobility is about implementing all these components to deliver maximized user productivity.

Mobility solutions are becoming strategic for businesses. A reactive, “quick fix” for a narrow, specific task is no longer proving to be beneficial for long-term business performance. Point products and their disconnected support are proving to be too costly and are not designed for the entire enterprise.  Instead, a unified mobility strategy is desired; offering a faster, easily quantifiable ROI, seamless implementation, and a long-term strategic solution for mission-critical enterprise mobility.

I invite you to sign up for one of our webinars, where you can learn more.

Faster ROI with Voice – Our New Video with Motorola

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 1.58.36 PM

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!

Myths about Voice ROI

considerations

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.considerations

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.

Mobile POS Systems: The Value of Consumer Devices

If you’ve gone shopping anywhere in the last year or so, you may have noticed the iPads, iPhones and even a few Androids that are increasingly being used as cash registers. While the trend is perhaps most noticeable in mom-and-pop stores (if you’ve been any non-Starbucks coffee shop in the last six months, you know what I mean), it’s certainly not limited to that. Department stores and major retailers are making the switch as well.

In fact, research group IHL recently released a study examining the projected growth of mobile POS systems. The firm found that by 2017, over 3.6 million tablets will have been shipped to retail and hospitality companies in North America alone, projecting that these shipments will result in some fundamental changes in many of these companies. The group also projects that shipments of non-rugged small format handhelds for mobile POS systems will increase 380% from 2013 to 2017. At the same time, overall POS shipments will be reduced by 12% in 2016, and in some segments, may be reduced by as much as 20% from previously forecast volumes. Those are some pretty striking numbers and it’s easy to see that mobile POS systems will have a large and far-reaching impact on the service industry.

For a start-up company, the appeal is easy to see. They can skip the investment of a traditional cash register and POS system and can instead purchase or repurpose an iPhone or iPad and use a cost-effective system like Square.

But what about for an established company? They’ve already invested in cash registers, credit card machines, and all the other bells and whistles that come with a traditional POS system. What’s the appeal?

Well, for one thing, it means your workforce is more mobile. Workers are no longer tied to the cash register. They are free to move around the store helping customers, restocking inventory and tidying the store floor. And while they do these things, each employee is a walking sales opportunity. Since each employee working effectively becomes a cash register, check out times are no longer limited by the number of cash registers available, but by the number of employees. This can speed up check out times for customers. And of course, it does give your company a bit of sleek modernity to be able to check out customers from anywhere in the store at the drop of a hat.

One cautionary note, however, is security. Most of these systems have security features built into them to ensure consumer PII and credit card information isn’t stored locally. Be sure you’re careful reviewing those features. It also wouldn’t go amiss to look into MDM software. Chances are, if you use ruggedized mobile devices in your back room or warehouse, your organization is already using MDM. While we tend to think of it as closely related to BYOD, mobile device management policies and technology protect corporate-owned devices as well.