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.
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.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
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.
Over the past several months, I’ve been listening to the way customers describe their return on mobility investments. The answers are impressive. Answers range from increases in worker speed of task completion, to task accuracy, to month to recognize complete return on dollar investments, reductions in man-hours for cyclical process completions, reductions in seasonal headcounts, reductions in worker training time, and more. The measurements of return on mobility investment are impressive percentages and yield significant dollar-value savings to each of the companies I’ve heard from.
What is really interesting is how companies can measure their return on investment in such vast and different ways. In some cases, the measure is dollars saved by reducing errors. In others, it is increased shipments that yield additional dollars per package shipped. In still others, the savings is recognized by a reduction in seasonal labor, or less worker hours dedicated to completing a specific task. Whatever the measurement, there are two things that remain true: Every measurement ties to a dollar-value savings that can prove a mathematical return on investment for the dollars spent enabling mobility. Even more importantly, the measurement each company used to describe their ROI told far more about the problem each was attempting to solve.
Enterprises deploy mobility to achieve a higher level of productivity, but it is not done just for the sake of using mobile technology. There is an underlying pain that the company is trying to address – some way of improving a process to gain efficiency, or to recognize a cost savings. There is a problem to be solved by deploying mobility – and one recommended approach to begin defining the best mobility solution is to start with an operations audit that can help find the weaknesses and inefficiencies in current processes. By adding automation and voice-enablement, Wavelink Speakeasy has consistently shown productivity gains for mobile supply chain workers of over 35%. That’s like getting an extra day of productivity from every worker – for every three days worked. Now that’s a fast ROI!
What problems are you aiming to solve with mobility in your enterprise? What measurements are you tracking to determine ROI? Email me with your objectives at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Posted by Robert DeStefano
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.
Posted by Gemma Randazzo
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.
Posted by Brandon Hill
The following comes from Jason Mitchell, Director of Engineering at LANDesk.
This blog has an ambitious title, but I think it is accurate. Let me explain why. The recent definition of Mobile Application Management (MAM) focuses on delivering and securing native apps on mobile devices. These features typically include app wrapping and app distribution. While that’s as extensive as many smart device operation systems allow, Wavelink has a far more comprehensive and compelling feature set.
For more than 20 years, Wavelink has developed products and technologies that have enabled companies to deliver their operational applications to the ever-evolving set of mobile devices that are optimally designed for the task at hand. Let me give an example.
For high transaction processes like picking or sorting in a supply chain logistics operations, companies have host-based applications that need to be displayed on a variety of mobile devices. They do not want to have to add custom logic to the application to handle the different form factors or device drivers needed to access peripherals such as bar code scanners, radios, or printers. This is the market where Wavelink application management solutions exist. The solutions are built for telnet based applications, web applications, and native console applications executing on the server. They take these applications and expose them on any mobile device taking into account form factors, driver integration, security, session persistence, latency, unstable wireless networks, and a variety of others issues the application developer doesn’t want to know about and certainty doesn’t want to handle differently for each device. Wavelink solutions are designed to handle these problems without modifying the original application. This enabling of applications across the mobile devices is unique to the MAM solution Wavelink provides.
In summary, a comprehensive Mobile Application Management solution needs to deliver, secure, and enable applications across any mobile device platform or form factor without modifying the original application. This is why Wavelink is the world’s foremost Mobile Application Management Company.
Posted by Gemma Randazzo
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.”
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.
Today Mobile Enterprise reminded us that on April 3, 2013, the cell phone celebrated its 40th birthday. It’s gone through many cosmetic facelifts since the first day the Vice President of Communications Systems at Motorola walked “down the streets of New York City, talking on a large, clunky yet portable phone,” that weighed almost three pounds, operated on radio frequencies and had about twenty minutes before the battery died.
It would be another ten years before the Motorola DynaTAC was commercially available and would bring with it a new era of the way we define business and success. If you saw someone back in the late 80s or early 90s on the street with a cell phone you knew they had to be someone important just because of the level of status the cell phone had achieved at that point. The Motorola DynaTAC was a game changer and as other manufacturers entered the mix, organizations began to see the potential cell phones would have in the business world. With a cell phone you could be anywhere in the country assisting a customer or meeting a potential customer and immediately report back to headquarters with an update. That single ability to call as soon as you walked out of building changed the course of business.
Back in 1973 Motorola knew that cell phones would change the way we lived and did business. Whether they could have predicted the exact way in which they have changed our lives is anyone’s guess (we also thought we would be driving cars in the sky by now). Through the addition of the Internet it further created a new generation of cell phone technology. This later addition cemented cell phones (smart phones) as critical components of our daily life. You think about all the ways you use your cell phone from staying on top of work, to checking in on friends and loved ones, to ordering pizza. Even how we are able to relay information in an emergency has changed just in 15-years. They are not just convenient tools in our daily lives but they changed the way we respond to emergency even as something as relatively minor as your car breaking down. 20 to 15-years ago unless you were fortunate enough to have one of the first generation car phones, you would have to hike to the nearest house, hope someone was home and call a tow service.
Cell phones changed and continue to change the course of business. By our growing consumer need to use cell phones/smart devices we are single-handedly dictating how we then do business. BYOD isn’t a phenomenon. It has become very much a real business changer. Consumers want to be able to use their cell phones at work in multiple ways, dictating then that an Enterprise really has to take a closer look at how they secure and manage these devices. Given the potential productivity gains from consumer devices it makes sense to consider integrating them in a DC, in government, transportation, healthcare and on the retail floor. According to the Yankee Group “half of all companies find it very difficult to manage software upgrades on mobile handsets and to manage the costs associated with mobile devices. Almost the same proportion finds distributing mobile applications to devices very difficult.” In just 40-years cell phones have become business changers, strategy changers and productivity changers. Happy 40th birthday to the cell phone.
Posted by Brandon Hill
Can deploying mobile outside the warehouse can save you time and money?
Having a great deal of visibility within your warehouse has obvious benefits. With better insight into when your inventory needs to be replenished or by using a system that can tell you where to store new product, greater visibility can reduce costs associated with lost or wasted product and can also decrease time spent manually picking or putting away.
While mobile systems are often used in today’s warehouses to reap the efficiency and cost rewards of having greater visibility, it is also important to mobilize processes outside the four walls to strengthen the productivity and profitability of your entire supply chain. By employing a mobile unit in the field, connectivity and additional visibility gains can help your organization realize even greater cost and time savings.
The single greatest opportunity for making money with mobile outside the warehouse is with your field sales teams. With mobile systems in place, you can make it easy for your reps to take orders and send them in via smart device. This instant processing can allow your salesperson to turn product back over to customers quickly, as well as easily look up order histories or statuses. Having this instant access to customer purchasing history also provides your field sales with opportunities to upsell or cross-sell new products, based on that customer’s buying patterns. Without having to manually log orders in or tread to and from the warehouse, this allows your reps to meet with many more customers each day and reduce transport costs.
Another way to improve your organization’s efficiency outside the four walls and increase overall supply chain profitability is with your service teams. With real-time response capabilities, your team can respond quickly to job requests and address more service calls without having to drop in and out of the warehouse for updates. Making your service operations more productive also produces increased satisfaction among your customer base, as customers can get real-time updates on the status of their requests and teams are better able to expedite delivery.
Deploying mobile not only limits your field teams’ need to return to the warehouse or office, but you’ll also see that through mobilizing operations your organization will start cutting back on paperwork. Additionally, your overall customer experience – from sales to service – will drastically improve and become more efficient and profitable.