Wavelink Blog

Tag: enterprise mobility

For best results, don’t look down

Last month I had the opportunity to tour a facility where  Speakeasy has been in use for quite some time.  It’s always an awesome experience to see and hear why people are happy with our products, and the reasons always vary.  I’ve written before about how ROI is defined differently by different organizations, but this time I got the visual demonstration of how productivity is defined.

I listened to a general manager at the company give a history of the company’s search for enterprise mobility – dating to rugged mobile computers chosen ten years ago, and how they continued to seek ways to extract more productivity from mobility deployments in the years that followed.  One of the really compelling things he said was how he studied the behaviors of his warehouse workers and noticed one very simple productivity inhibitor: while barcode scanning was delivering productivity gains and was easy and intuitive, workers would still look down at the mobile device screen to read instructions in their workflows, and every time they looked down the worker’s feet would stop moving. 

How much time could a worker lose by stopping and looking down at a device screen?  It may be a second or two…or three or four.  The bottom line was – if there was a way to address that delay, it could significantly improve productivity. How could a second or two really make such a difference?  We were watching the activity in a regional warehouse, where pickers scan roughly 400 items per hour, each (the general manager suggested this was actually a low estimate).  Lose a second on each scan because the user has to stop to read the location/quantity information for the product and that’s 400 seconds (nearly 7 minutes) every hour.  Over an 8-hour shift, that worker spends nearly a full hour (53:20, to be exact) looking at the device screen.  Now, multiply that by the number of workers on the floor, and you have the number of man-hours spent looking at the device screen in a day.  Multiply that by how many shifts in a year, and you have a significant productivity gain by adding voice.

Sure, one of the promises of voice-enablement is the ability to have hands-free and eyes-forward safety for workers and productivity gains for their business.  However, consider that Speakeasy can be implemented in 30-days.  Traditional voice application vendors require 12 weeks or more, and some actually require 12 months or more.  Your ROI with Speakeasy could be realized before a traditional voice application might even be deployed!

Watching the speed with which workers in this warehouse were completing their tasks, and how they were able to navigate their carts and forklifts was impressive.  Knowing that Wavelink was helping them get their job done more safely and more quickly was awesome.  Understanding, as I watched the activity that was happening all around, how important this solution was to the success of this warehouse operation, was an amazing experience.

Tips for Deploying Enterprise Mobility Management – SaaS or On-Premise

Enterprises of all sizes and across industries require different levels of onsite control of their enterprise mobility deployments. Couple this with the unique restrictions that corporations place on mobile internet access and there’s a compelling need for choice among the deployment options when considering an enterprise mobility management solution.

The benefits of a cloud-based deployment are Retail Associate Consumer Devicecentered on simplicity. Selecting a cloud-based (or SaaS) deployment method frees up internal IT staff to focus on other initiatives.  Server components are managed externally by product experts, making a cloud deployment simple and fast. This is in addition to the most obvious benefit of a SaaS deployment – immediate access to software updates.

However, there are enterprises around the world that require, or simply prefer, to have the greatest amount of control over their enterprise mobility management system. An On-Premise deployment method provides this, in a more traditional, shrink-wrapped installation. Companies choose this model often because they like the security of having the entire deployment completely within their corporate intranet. It also provides IT teams with complete control of scheduling updates and patches.

Which option is best? Start by determining the security compliance and control requirements your organization has in place. Next, determine the level of IT staff that will be working with the enterprise mobility management console, and the time they have to handle maintenance to it. Follow that with some considerations related to control. Does the company prefer the accelerated access to software updates and enhancements? Or, does it benefit the business to have IT control the timing of updates to fit in between peaks in the operations cycle?

With both SaaS-based and On-Premise options, Avalanche 6.0 provides businesses with the ability to select the method of deployment that fits each business best. Whether mixed device deployments or BYOD, operational task workers, customer-facing workers, there is no need to compromise. When you’re deploying enterprise mobility, manage those deployments with the enterprise mobility management solution that has been trusted by corporations for decades, ready to be deployed in the method that fits your business.

The Enterprise Mobility Mix – Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices

The Mix of Consumer and Rugged Mobile Devices in the Enterprise

Has your experience at retail stores been different lately?  Or perhaps you’ve had a different experience at a medical facility?  Maybe your own work has changed recently.  A significant change across industries has been in the number and types of mobile devices being used by all sorts of workers.  Whether you’ve completed a sales transaction by signing on a smartphone, or checked in at your doctor’s office using a tablet, there is no denying that mobile devices are proliferating in enterprise use cases.

In most mission-critical mobility deployments, enterprises have deployed rugged mobile computers.  Consider the devices carried by parcel couriers, stockroom workers and others.  There’s an obvious need for durability, so that these mobile computers can withstand frequent drops, extreme temperatures, and in some situations, hazardous environments (think oil rigs).  Technologies that help these workers accomplish their tasks include advanced data capture capabilities, such as barcode scanning, RFID, and perhaps payment transaction capabilities.

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

A retail associate uses a mobile device to check out a consumer

As consumers, we don’t often interact with these workers as they complete their tasks.  The use cases are not typically consumer-facing.  However, there is an increasing contingent of enterprises that are placing more mobility into the hands of workers who are visible, and directly interacting with consumers.  These workers are still performing mission-critical activities – particularly in revenue generating roles, for the enterprise.

Over the past few years, companies have explored the evolving smartphone and tablet options for these workers.  In some cases, the benefits of these consumer-grade devices have proven not to be the best fit for the business, due to fragility, theft, or other limitations.  These enterprises have generally opted to revert to the familiar – the rugged mobile computers that are likely being used in traditional task-based use cases.  By contrast, there are enterprises across industries that have chosen and successfully deployed consumer smartphones and tablets into consumer-facing use cases.

There is no denying the selection of enterprise mobility hardware has expanded significantly over the last five years.  Whether going with traditional, rugged mobile computers, or consumer-grade devices, it is exciting to see the accelerated adoption of mobility across enterprises – especially as it gets into the hands of the workers with whom we, as consumers, interact.  However, this also creates a new IT challenge: Some workers are carrying rugged mobile computers, others have consumer devices.  There is overlap in applications and content access as well.  For all these users, there is a bottom line benefit to their mobile productivity.  Fortunately, Wavelink Avalanche is there to be able to ensure all these users – task-oriented and customer-facing, are optimally productive.

How to Score a Winning Touchdown for your BYOD Policy

It’s a final nod to American football references from me (at least until the draft in May), but consider the requirements of an enterprise mobility policy: there are a lot of parts that need to be considered to make a deployment successful, similar to a championship winning team. When the strategy is thorough and the numerous “what-if” scenarios are played out, success is far more likely than for a team that doesn’t plan.

BYOD, like any other component of an enterprise IT strategy, needs to be strategically implemented for the best results. Just as no individual player on a team is greater than the team, BYOD should not be viewed individually; so as not to exclude other mobility initiatives across the enterprise.

To continue the “BYOD as an athlete” analogy, BYOD needs to be a versatile, balanced policy. This means that it needs to support all the leading mobile operating systems equally (or at least as equally as Google, Apple, and Microsoft allow). It needs to enable the mobile worker to be optimally productive – regardless of their hardware selection.

However, as a component of a larger enterprise mobility strategy, BYOD needs to be deployed in a manner that unifies it with the requirements of complementary mobility components – like teammates. For example, managing BYOD should be unified with the solution for managing other mobility hardware deployed within the company – such as rugged mobile devices used at the loading dock, in the warehouse, etc. Why would an enterprise want a different console for managing BYOD? A separate management system specific to BYOD creates the kind of friction synonymous with a self-interested player on the football team – disruption, confusion, and complexity, as IT administrators need to toggle screens and systems just for BYOD users.

The big play that scores points with IT administrators and mobile users is to deploy BYOD policies in a common enterprise mobility management solution like Wavelink Avalanche.  Doing so enables enterprises to unify the management of all their mobile deployments. It enables BYOD support without compromising the support that mission critical mobility users need. Want to throw the winning touchdown? Using Wavelink Avalanche also allows for management of the entire enterprise deployment – all enterprise mobile devices (BYOD, rugged mobile computers, etc.), mobile applications and content access, network infrastructure, and printers. That’s a game plan that will enable maximum worker productivity, and maybe earn you a ride on the shoulders of your fellow IT administrators and mobility users.

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.

Keeping the Supply Chain Agile

In the most recent edition of Inbound Logistics, writer Marty Weil takes a closer look at how mobile communication tools are keeping supply chains on the go connected. “Mobile solutions are at work in every part of the supply chain. They are a key part of many warehouse environments, especially in directed picking applications. In transportation, mobile technology has been particularly significant for expedited parcel carriers that use it to improve customer service and continually optimize operations. Private fleets and motor carriers also use mobile devices for tracking shipments and collecting driver performance data.”021_6789_01

In our line of business we see a lot of enterprises who need to manage their operations in real time without impacting their bottom line from an efficiency and cost perspective. Through mobile technology solutions like Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Productivity Platforms (MPP) it really is easy to take advantage of technology that starts streamlining your supply chain operations immediately. As part of the article, Marty spoke with Wavelink customer Goya Foods, who are using Wavelink’s MDM solution, Avalanche and Wavelink’s MPP voice-directed solution, Speakeasy along with ruggedized mobile devices to improve efficiency in and outside the four-walls. Through mobile solutions they keep the goods moving without worrying about making adjustments on the fly.

For supply chain agility, Marty recommends that enterprises look towards four goals as outlined by consulting firm PwC –

1. Integrating the supply chain with other business functions. Companies that acknowledge the supply chain as a strategic asset achieve 70 percent higher performance. Taking steps to connect supply chain operations to functions such as marketing and sales can help strengthen the entire business.

2. Facilitating supplier partnerships and collaboration. Potential supply chain disruptions make it more critical than ever for companies to share data
and strengthen relationships with key suppliers.

3. Enabling companies to adjust quickly to changes. The better the information companies have at hand, the more responsive their supply chains can be. Without mobile devices, supply chain information can be slow to reach managers.

4. Measuring and managing supply chain data. Companies can use mobile tools to collect supply chain data that informs strategic decisions.

Through the use of mobile solutions supply chain operations can be agile, resulting in increased productivity, visibility and efficiency in moving product, saving money and meeting the growing demands of the customer. To read Marty’s article in its entirety click here. Want to take a closer look at how MDM and MPP tools like Wavelink Avalanche and Wavelink Speakeasy can add agility to your supply chain operations? Contact the Wavelink Sales Team.

Addressing the Increasing Adoption of Consumer Devices in the Warehouse

Smart Devices

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.

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.