(There must be) 100 Ways to Manage iPhones

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The following comes from Robert DeStefano, Product Marketing Manager for Wavelink/LANDesk:

In-house estimates suggest that roughly 140 companies claim to offer Mobile Device Management (MDM). Most of them lead their messaging by waving the iOS flag and images of Andy the Android to highlight their ability to support consumer operating systems in the face of BYOD initiatives.  What’s interesting is that when it comes to mobile device management, drawing attention to the iOS and Android platforms makes most MDM solutions indistinguishable from one another.  Apple, for example, doesn’t allow MDM clients to take control over the device remotely.  Therefore, all these MDM solutions have the same limitation.  Give or take a few specification bullet points, 140 solutions provide about the same capabilities when it comes to managing a smartphone. stockxpertcom_id858210_jpg_09a185e593d94fa570c653bd96bdb622

According to Gartner, 65% of enterprises will adopt an MDM solution for corporate-liable users over the next four years, and 90% of enterprises will be supporting two or more mobile operating systems in their environment.  With so much attention drawn to the BYOD-specific needs (not to suggest these aren’t important) of a Mobile Device Management solution, there is something even larger that enterprises should be taking into consideration: Managing productivity throughout the enterprise.

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RBTE Preview: What we’re looking forward to at RBTE

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The following comes from Willem Beets, Director of Sales EMEA for Wavelink

The Retail Business Technology Expo kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12 at Earl’s Court in London. This is our third year (visit us at Stand 342) at the event and each year it continues to expand and showcases the constant innovation retailers and retail solution providers are making. We really enjoy the time we spend talking to existing customers and meeting new people and hearing about their areas of concerns and of course areas of success.

Something that continues to be on everyone’s minds is BYOD. It isn’t going anywhere and there are no shortage of opinions of where it is going and the potential headaches Retailers face when bringing it into their environment. In a recent study by Retail Systems Research they found that “In three years’ time, retailers expect mobile and digital payments to catapult from almost nothing to a major piece of their payments environment.”

While we don’t see this as necessarily “new” news, after all BYOD is on everyone’s minds, what continues to be a concern is the prevailing message of uncertainty BYOD brings and in this specific case the format payments will take in the future. For example, as Retailers work towards bringing these consumerized devices on to the shop floor as part of their payment system they need to also need to account for securing them. While we all love shiny and new technology, implementing it throughout the retail environment can feel overwhelming especially on tight budgets. How do you keep ahead? We are excited to share our views on BYOD and areas where simplification is possible.

Also front and center on our mind is Voice and how not only can higher productivity easily be achieved with Voice solutions, such as Wavelink Speakeasy, but how it can be achieved simply and with immediate ROI. Adding voice to your existing applications such as WMS, ERP and/or CRM can be achieved in as little as 30-days and without the need to purchase new rugged mobile devices, servers or even modification or replacement of the host application. Stop by Stand 342 and watch a demonstration on just how easy it is to add voice to your retail strategy. You can even enter your name for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD.

See you in London!

Addressing the Increasing Adoption of Consumer Devices in the Warehouse

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The following comes from Mike Temple, Product Manager for Wavelink.

We recently introduced our latest mobile device and wireless infrastructure management solution, designed to solve the challenges associated with managing today’s wireless ecosystem. While this newest solution, Avalanche 5.4, performs the vital functions that we’ll mention later in this blog post, we believe it’s important to call out some trends and industry movement we’ve noticed and our customers have reiterated in discussions with them about their current needs and pain points. In fact, these customer discussions and industry movements were inspiration behind the new features available with Avalanche 5.4.

  • Integration of iPads and other consumer devices on factory or retail floors: You might have noticed while you were doing your holiday shopping a couple months back that there was a noticeably greater amount of iPads ringing you up, in place of the traditional POS systems or cash registers. Organizations are looking to reap the productivity and employee satisfaction benefits associated with mobility. While many field tasks still require special ruggedized devices, some companies are choosing tablets that their employees might be more familiar with. For this reason and because of the conversations we’ve had with customers beginning iPad or Android-based device deployments in 2013, we knew it was important to optimize the support for iOS6 and Android platforms for the new version of Avalanche. (more…)

Securing the First Responders: With today’s critical infrastructure threats, how can you ensure your city’s response team’s rugged devices are secure?

In an emergency first responders need to be focused on their number one priority – be it saving lives, protecting citizens and preventing crimes. Worrying about the security of the technology they have with them shouldn’t be of concern. In fact keeping onboardPolice Car laptops and smartdevices that are the make-up of numerous fleet vehicles, such as police and fire vehicles secure shouldn’t even be a secondary thought. It should be simple and should just run in the background. With technology changing rapidly it is vital to ensure information that is sent to public servants, law enforcement officials and military personnel is secure. But while technology is changing rapidly it doesn’t mean that budgets are increasing to account for all these new devices or the changing climate of new threats.

Simple to use, simple to manage device management that protects the infrastructure of every city’s government is possible and in most cases requires very little in way of investment.

What should a city or government entity look for in a mobile device solution?

  1. 802.11 provisioning with industry standard encryption and authentication protocols
  2. Access Point (AP) detection and reporting with various IDS-oriented enhancements to assist with identification, alerting, monitoring and reporting of potential threats and a holistic view into the state of the agency’s security
  3. Ability to remotely manage configurations and updates of all Access Points across a city from one location
  4. Encryption of all communication channels and database encryption
  5. Device location mapping; enabling the lock down and wiping of devices when needed
  6. Push down all device software updates over the air without the need to physically bring in critical devices that are needed 24/7. Industrial laptops are powerful tools but they can be rendered virtually useless in an emergency if they are not kept up-to-date. Push down a security patch from a central location and save critical time and money
  7. Device management that doesn’t take up valuable bandwidth. Send out a software package in seconds without it hindering GPRS that is being used not only to update software applications but basic data communications with officers and firefighters out in the field
  8. Security for all wireless data transmissions that includes a seamless handoff between the various wireless network infrastructures in operation

Remember you don’t need to buy the latest and greatest device with the pretense that because it’s newer it’s going to be more secure. By making simple IT infrastructure changes using existing devices it is more than possible to stick to the budget without sacrificing security. A simple to use centralized mobile device management solution that plans, deploys, secures, monitors and maintains enhances the reliability and security of the tools first responders need to use.

The IT-ization of the End User: Coping with Self-Helping Users

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The consumerization of IT gets a lot of attention these days. BYOD is being seen as a headache by that virtually every IT department is struggling with it, and it the problem is quickly escalating. Users are doing more than bringing in their own devices; they’re downloading applications and using services – some free, some not – without IT’s permission, or even knowledge.

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What has gotten much less attention but is equally important is the reverse trend: the IT-ization of the consumer. Employees may be bringing their own phones and laptops onto the network, but they’re also doing more to address issues they would have taken to be addressed by IT in the past. Gen Y is blasting into entering the workforce with a vengeance. They grew up with computers, and many prefer to fix their issues themselves. And they’re not the only ones. The pervasiveness of smartphones and other tech has made everyone from baby Johnny to Grandma Sally more familiar and comfortable with technology.

There are upsides and downsides to this, but the bottom line is that these two trends – consumerization and IT-ization – are presenting IT with a golden opportunity to transform their value to the organization and move from a firefighter role to a business enabler that provides value to the bottom line.

The primary downside that keeps many organizations from embracing the IT-ization trend is the loss of control. When users are in charge of fixing their own problems, finding their own applications and installing their own solutions, who knows what they’ll end up installing? However, empowering your end users doesn’t have to mean totally giving up control. There are solutions on the market that will enable you to provide easy and pre-approved solutions to your end users, ensuring that workers they find the tech they need without resorting to potentially insecure software. LANDesk is one provider of such solutions, with their shopping cart feature.

On the other hand, the upside for IT is big. By empowering the end user through IT-ization, IT folks free up much of their own time. Instead of focusing on closing tickets or fighting fires, IT can is able to work more closely with the business units to determine where there are inefficiencies, redundancies and opportunities areas for improvement.  IT can use that “extra” time to develop custom applications to solve fulfill the unique problems of your organization.

IT is on the cusp of a major change. Even though many fear that BYOD, consumerization and the increased self-reliance of IT-ized end users may eventually cost them their jobs, the exact opposite is true. Now is the time for IT to make itself an indispensable business partner by giving workers access to what they need when they need it.

Customer Spotlight – Cofares Increases Efficiency in the Distribution Center

The Cofares Group supply products ranging from medicine to health and beauty products to 13,000 pharmacies in Spain from nearly 30 distribution centers. Often they deliver orders that range from one to 20 items to each pharmacy three or four times a day. They need to be able to make these deliveries quickly and accurately.

“Our customers evaluate us based on our ability to deliver complete and accurate orders,” said Abelardo Vaquerizo, duty manager of Cofares Group. “It is a hectic environment where we need to fill orders quickly, but it doesn’t matter how fast we are if we get an order wrong.”

Distribution centers process a large number of orders on a daily basis and Cofares is no different. Most of the medicines are filled by automated machines, but health and beauty items are picked by hand from the warehouse and loaded into delivery trucks. It is a logistical challenge to ensure that the right items get in the right order on the right trucks every time in the most accurate and efficient way possible.

CASE STUDY-COFARES_Final_Page_1With the number of orders being processed every day, it is a logistical challenge to ensure the right items get in the right order on the right trucks every time. Cofares, through its technology partner, Felguera TI, an affiliate company of Duro Felguera, selected the Speakeasy voice solution from Wavelink to add text-to-speech and speech-to-text functionality to their warehouse applications. The ability for Speakeasy to combine voice with other types of data entry, such as bar code scanning, provides a further crosscheck to ensure that tasks are accurately completed.

“We have initially implemented Speakeasy in two of our larger distribution centers in Madrid,” says Vaquerizo. “Workers are able to speak into their device the item they need to pick and have it speak back to them with a bin location. Once there, they can scan the barcode on the bin, select the items and verbally confirm the item and quantity. This gives us even greater accuracy while also helping them complete the task faster.”

In locations where Speakeasy is being used, Cofares handles approximately 1,200 orders per day. Prior to Speakeasy, there was an average of 20 to 30 errors in those orders, which was still a 97.5 percent accuracy rate. However, with each incorrect order, there was the cost of returning the product and a loss of the sale as well as the negative impression it left with the customer. With Speakeasy, Cofares has virtually eliminated errors with an average of zero to two errors per 1,200 orders.

Cofares were also able to benefit from an intuitive user interface, which allows any employee to pick up a device and use it immediately without needing to create a voice profile. Vaquerizo adds, “Our employees have been very happy with the ease with which they can use Speakeasy. We have experienced very short training times, where we have been able to quickly get a new worker using the system. This was a big cost benefit in terms of our ability to be immediately productive.”

Since Speakeasy is a client-side solution that does not require the addition of voice servers or modification to the host applications, the implementation of the voice solution went smoothly and was completed in just a matter of days. Adding voice to streamline your operations should be simple, straightforward and effective, in today’s non-stop supply chain environment it just has to be.

Employee versus Employer-owned Devices – Weighing Both Sides

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Consumers adopt new technology much faster than businesses. For instance, many are in line at the Apple store the day the latest iOS-based device is available. Imagining a similar scenario for the IT department is almost laughable. Not only would the IT team have to buy hundreds to thousands of those devices (depending on the size of their enterprise), but they would then have to spend hours upon hours individually setting up each device to be secure, compliant and easily manageable. Then, there’s the actual expense of such an endeavor.

It’s no wonder that the majority of end-users feel they have better computing technology at home than they do in the workplace. And because they have become so accustomed to using newer, more advanced devices at home, they are requesting this same technology in the office. And who can blame them? These devices are often faster, easier to operate and they are what the user feels most comfortable with.Smart Devices

That said, as mentioned above, many IT departments do not have the budget or resources to supply end-users with the smart devices they have become accustomed to in their personal lives. Thus, IT faces the issue of pooling its often strained resources to provide end-users with these devices or in letting them engage in BYOD behavior.

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Finding Your Voice

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices

The human voice is a powerful thing. Sure, the spoken word is our most common means of communication, but these days it’s giving us a bit more. Think about your daily routine, and the tasks you ask of others in straightforward, clear commands (we politely call them “requests”). Now think about how we speak with the technology that surrounds us. That’s right. How do you speak with technology?

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices. For me, the most common experience sounds like this:

Me: “Dial by number.”

Car: “Say the number.”

Me: “631-555-1212.”

Car: “631-555-1212.”

Me: “Dial.”

Car: “Dialing.”

I couldn’t wait to finally get a car that could connect with my phone so I could get high-quality, hands-free voice. I had been the route of using my phone in speakerphone mode and then tried the Bluetooth speakerphone, but neither delivered what I had hoped. Finally, when I was selecting a new car, I not only was able to use voice commands to place the call, but to configure the system. It took me a few steps to get through the hurdles of an evolving technology, but it eventually became easy to use, inexpensive to implement, and high quality.

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Will Voice Be My Valentine?

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While my wife might find this post a bit concerning, I think that more people should fall in love with voice. After all, voice enabled applications are known to make everyones lives much easier. They are know to save you money. They make you more accurate. And they are known to increase safety in the warehouse. What’s not to love!?

Well, did you also know that you can fall in love with voice in 30 days or less? That’s right, in as little as 30 days your SAP, Oracle, Manhattan, Red Prairie or any other WMS, can be talking back to you with voice enabled data and direction. Sign-in to the webinar we hosted yesterday and see for yourself.

On behalf of the Wavelink team, we wish you and your special voice-enabled application a wonderful Valentines Day!

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Why Small Businesses Should Still Care About MDM

It started with a simple $5 wristband in November 2011; Let’s Create Jobs for USA was founded with a $5 million contribution from Starbucks and a promise to create jobs for the American people. I vividly remember purchasing my wristband when they went on sale (ironically I was in the company’s hometown of Seattle). As someone who lives in a state that’s seen substantial unemployment, I was eager to play a small part in launching the movement.

As part of my weekly Starbucks visits (I won’t admit to a daily addiction), I recently noticed that they’ve taken this movement one step further by assisting small businesses on the technology payment front through a payment processing option called Square Mobile Card Readers.

Available in every company operated Starbucks store in the United States, “Square’s Mobile Card Reader with the free app, Square Register, enables anyone to easily accept credit cards so individuals and business can connect with customersSquare Card Reader anywhere their business takes them.” This simple tech attaches to an iOS or Android device and enables any size business to accept credit and debit cards. According to Starbucks roughly two-thirds of the 27 million small businesses in the United States do not currently accept credit or debit payment due to expensive processing fees and extensive applications. Think of the potential this small mobile card reader can bring to a small business and talk about a low investment – these card readers cost only $10 and come with a $10 rebate!

Say what you will about fancy and expensive coffees, but this is a highly effective tool that allows small businesses to generate new ways for income. Having said that, I won’t lie that my second thought was PCI compliance and keeping those devices secure. Any mobile device, be it rugged or consumer, has the capability to suffer a security breach. Add additional devices to your network and you further increase the importance of keeping them not only secure but maintaining peak performance. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution therefore still provides substantial value to any business whether you have two or three devices or two or three thousand devices.

For small business owners, a MDM solution that you manage in the Cloud is a perfect way to ensure devices are not only secure, but configured and managed from an easy-to-use console and without the need to purchase servers or an entire IT department. With MDM you also get the capability to lock down these consumer devices if they go missing and immediately protect them by securing and wiping confidential data. You even have the power to detect foreign devices entering your network and define specific parameters that your device(s) can be utilized in.

In closing, while we look at new ways to add jobs let’s not forget the critical nature of protecting the devices that come with them.