Wavelink Blog

Tag: Mobile Ecosystem

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.

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.

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.

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.

For Instant Holiday Shopping Gratification you Need Logistics

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays!

Defining the Mobile Ecosystem – Our New Facebook App

Good afternoon! We’re excited to share our new Facebook App that helps customers and partners understand the mobile ecosystem, and how Wavelink solutions fit into each piece.

We invite you to check it out today!

An Ocean Away – Does Mobility Look Different Down Under?

The following comes from Simon Storey, our Australian Sales Manager:

Hello everyone! My name is Simon Storey and I’m the Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years, and over that time I’ve seen the industry from a variety of geographical locations, including EMEA, North America, and now, ANZ.

So, how does the mobile ecosystem look from down under? Well, the truth is, mobility is mobility, whatever corner of the globe you’re looking at it from. My customers and partners in Australia and New Zealand look at mobile device management needs the same way our friends back in the states do, and I think it’s safe to say that customers are much more informed about the space than they ever have been. As such, they are looking for solutions that will transform roles and have tremendous operational impact.

For instance here are just 3 examples of roles that would value taking the technical data collected and convert this into management information

  • COO’s – provide utilization and operational availability of the investment in mission critical devices
  • CFO’s – provide pro-active spend mapping for consumable and device refreshes including tangible ROI analyses for mobility projects
  • CTO’s – provide pro-active estate management with trending of issues and replacement requirements including utilizing the information to run technical trials and let the system tell them which device operates best in their environment

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What it Means to Provide for the Mobile Ecosystem

Every now and then, we have the opportunity to tell new customers and/or Partners about what it means to provide solutions for the entire mobile ecosystem, and it struck me that it might make a great topic for a blog post.

When you look at our solutions, the best way to visualize the “how do they all work together?” question is to envision an enterprise within the four walls. Let’s say that the enterprise is divided into the following “sections”, all of which come with their own needs and requirements.

In every Warehouse, applications are being run for a variety of tasks. This is where we begin our circle of mobile ecosystem solutions, via Studio and TE which allow organizations to deliver the aforementioned applications to mobile assets, such as handheld computers. From there, it’s possible that some of those applications are web-based, and therefore require an Industrial Browser or Velocity to render and properly run them. For further productivity, many companies are now looking to voice-enable these very same applications, which as you’ve seen in our Goya Foods video, our Speakeasy product  does quite well.

Let’s continue to our next “section”.

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Enterprise Mobile Security: Making sure IT professionals feel protected

Whether you feel that BYOD is here to stay or if you feel it’s a passing trend with a hot buzzword, the reality is that employees are using their own personal devices in the work place more and more. The bigger reality is that not all of those devices have been approved by corporate IT and therefore policies aren’t in place to keep critical data on those devices safe. In a survey by AirTight Networks 37% of people interviewed said that iPads, iPhones and Android devices were sanctioned technology in their environment. Of those same people surveyed 47% said their organizations supported applications that users were accessing. Not too bad. But when further interviewed a whopping 69% said they were concerned that employees were using mobile hotspots to bypass corporate policies and were concerned about the security of data being transmitted.

With the sheer proliferation of smart devices it isn’t hard to deduce that there are a great many people who have just added their company email to their iPhone quickly and easily and didn’t give it a second thought that these devices weren’t sanctioned or a cause for concern. Checking personal and work email on the go is common for the average employee (and with the iPhone for example you can conveniently get both with one tap). So where do organizations go? Can you force an employee to turn over their personal devices when they pay the bill? What if they pay half the bill and the company picks up the other half? As a corporate IT department can you mandate that job security is directly correlated to use of a smart device? The latter is of course extreme but when confidential information is being accessed on an employee’s personal device the loss of that device could significantly hurt an employer.

A “hope for the best” attitude isn’t proactive either. That “hope for the best” attitude was what 22% of those surveyed responded with – hopefully it isn’t an organization that stores medical information or defense information. So what can an organization do? Educating employees and communicating with employees seems elementary but makes sense. Depending on your business simply asking employees to password protect access to their smart phones is a pretty easy route to take and for those organizations who know sensitive information is being access by employees, a mobile device management software solution really eliminates risks. When BYOD’s are treated like the rest of your ruggedized devices and peripherals it makes BYOD a lot less scary.

Whether it’s a lasting trend or simply a blip until the next greatest invention, airing on the side of caution means either way your data is protected.

A Few, Quick BYOD Considerations

Every time you turn around someone is talking about B.Y.O.D. As the current craze, it seems like it’s all anyone in IT can talk about. 

Still in its infancy the B.Y.O.D concept has a lot of companies and influencers “land grabbing” to be the leader in providing a solution that solves the inherent risks when you allow employee devices into the work place.  As we are in the MDM market we have our opinions on some of the top things IT managers need to consider from a management perspective.

One of the things companies need to know is simply what is on each phone that could cause a threat. This can be a bigger concern with Android more than iOS because Android phones are running different versions of its OS. With iOS, if there is a threat from an app then it will likely affect all iOS devices. With Android you need to narrow it down to the phone, OS and where they got the app.

Another consideration is email provisioning and policies, because a lot of security issues come from email. A lot of employees are just connecting to their company’s exchange server, but IT managers need to be proactive and know who is connecting so they can make sure the phone can be wiped if they leave or lose the smartphone/tablet.

Finally, companies should consider creating a policy or some strict requirements for B.Y.O.D. For example, IT should consider banning phones which have been jailbroken. Those phones can introduce more vulnerability into your network, and while it is the employee’s device, it’s still your network.

What considerations would you add? Post them in the comments below, or start a new discussion about this or any mobile ecosystem topic in our LinkedIn group.