Posted by Robert DeStefano
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.
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.
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Here at Wavelink, we’ve always had a special place in our hearts for speech recognition. It’s hardly surprising. We know first-hand the many benefits of voice recognition in the warehouse – improved productivity, efficiency and warehouse safety. Since the introduction of Speakeasy six years ago, we’ve watched the rise of applications like Siri and Google Voice, which bring voice recognition to the masses. We thought it would be interesting to take a look back in time at some of the history of voice recognition and how it’s evolved over time.
Before Siri, there was Audrey. Audrey was a speech recognition system developed by Bell Laboratories in the early 1950s. It was a pretty basic system and could only recognize the numbers one through nine. It also forced the speaker to pause between words, making it a bit cumbersome to actually use.
In the early 1960s, IBM made some improvements with their “Shoebox” device, which could understand 16 entire words: 10 digits and 6 arithmetical commands. Both Audrey and Shoebox, needless to say, were not very portable, making them highly impractical by today’s standards. Considering the low levels of computing power at the time, these were pretty significant gains. (more…)
Posted by Brandon Hill
The supply chain of most companies is long and complex. It’s often difficult to get a complete picture of your company’s supply chain, which involves not only direct suppliers, but also the suppliers that supply your suppliers. And so on down the chain.
But even though this lack of knowledge is common and, in many cases, unavoidable, it’s still cause for concern. Many companies share sensitive corporate data with those in the supply chain, such as intellectual property information, customer data or employee info. This information, some of it crucial for business to move forward, some of it not, is often shared without any regard for the information security practices of the company receiving the info.
It’s a risky move. On the one hand, the vendor you’re sharing info with and everyone they’re sharing info with might have great security in place. Their systems might be as tight as a drum. On the other hand, just because your systems are secure doesn’t mean those of the companies you work with are equally secure, and data might be leaking from your organization like a sieve. (more…)
Posted by Brandon Hill
The Android platform is rapidly growing. According to recent estimates from analyst firm IDC, Android had 75 percent market share in Q1 of 2013, shipping more than 163 million smartphones during that time. While IDC doesn’t break down how many of those were shipped to consumers vs. enterprises, it wouldn’t surprise us to learn that a big portion of those devices are being used in ruggedized environments.
After all, the Android platform is a good fit for specialized environments like the warehouse. David Johnson of analyst firm Forrester recently told Network World that Android devices were now being considered for a whole host of non-consumer applications, “from movie ticket scanning at the theater front door, to electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) for truckers.” The Android platform is flexible enough to support specialty devices and applications, unlike iOS devices, which only run on Apple products. It can also be difficult to create new applications for iOS, because of the closed nature of the system. Android, on the other hand, offers more flexibility in designing and publishing new applications and has worked hard to improve the security features of the platform to make it more suitable for business users.
There are also plenty of ruggedized devices that run Android, including devices made by Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung, Honeywell and more. In fact, just last week, Samsung announced their newest ruggedized Android: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Samsung is the leading provider of Android devices, owning 41.1 percent of the market, according to IDC. Though much of the marketing for the ruggedized Galaxy S4 Active has targeted those who lead an active lifestyle (hence the name), its ruggedized features make it a good fit for the warehouse. The Galaxy S4 is sealed against both dust and water and can be operated while wearing gloves.
All this combines to make Android a great option for ruggedized environments – or even the not-so-rugged, such as the retail floor or mobile POS system. As it continues to grow in popularity among consumers, it might spur a stronger push for BYOD in the warehouse, which has not traditionally been a BYOD environment. However, according to Forrester, 37 percent of smartphones used in the enterprise run Android. Eventually, that may push into the warehouse as well.
Posted by Brandon Hill
Let’s say you work in a 500,000-square foot warehouse. You’re picking from one side of the four walls and replenishing in another, and you’re constantly moving about a building that might be 250 times the size of your home. It’s not hard to see where mobile can come in handy in terms of making your trips to opposite ends of the warehouse more worthwhile, but you’ll need a better business case than that if you’re hoping for handhelds instead of laptops.
First, the overall benefits:
- Improved TCO – Adopting mobile can reduce the money spent on the device itself and its management. Those laptops will probably have life in your warehouse for a few years, tops, depending on the environment. While there is plenty of hardware out there to withstand harsh conditions, exposure to water, dust, harmful particles, etc., will play a factor in your systems’ life expectancy. While mobile devices have similar life expectancies, they are usually much cheaper and in many cases, even easier and less costly to manage.
- Productivity gains: While productivity might be harder to measure than device costs, thiscould save you hundreds of thousands. If your organization is able to save 30 minutes per shift with quicker access to important data, that could amount to a one-year productivity gain of half a million dollars (of course, this depends on the size of your organization). Another productivity value add for deploying mobile rather than refreshing your current laptop supply is an easy, clean interface from which your employees can use custom-built applications and have quick access to important documents such as manuals, reports, equipment specs, etc.
The everyday tasks mobile will improve:
With these overall benefits in mind, there are specific tasks that mobile will help you streamline to get there, helping you realize the improved productivity and TCO. Using mobile in tandem with warehouse management software (especially voice-enabled) will earn you better accuracy, efficiency and even safety. A good management system will also give you better insight into your inventory and what you might need to refresh, put away or verify. With business-enabling applications and easy scanning capabilities, you can also capture new inventory as soon as you get it. This makes your products sellable, faster.
If you’re still using laptops in your warehouse, or you’re still looking to mobilize certain parts, a better knowledge of where your product is or even what the product is will give you more to work with – more time, more sellable product and ultimately, more money.
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.
We talk a lot about the needs for MDM around here, especially when it comes to smart devices and their proliferation into the enterprise. But one of the aspects of MDM which we don’t spend a lot of time on is managing the wireless printers common in warehouse environments. Sure, their hand held computer counterparts get all the love and attention, but remember that there is huge value in managing these printers.
As we’ve seen with smart devices, there are common features, or value propositions, that translate across the device form factors when it comes to MDM. Remote configuration, device health statistics, usage, and so on, are all things you want from your MDM solution. This is relevant whether we are talking wireless printers, smart devices, and/or hand held computers.
So next time you’re out looking at the latest and greatest MDM features, remember to think about our friend, the wireless printer. There is tremendous cost savings in bringing these assets into the fold of your MDM solution!
Posted by Brandon Hill
When LANDesk and Wavelink came together in 2012, Steve Daly, the CEO of LANDesk Software, talked about the goals on the horizon for the newly unified team. In the announcement he established the groundwork for the new endeavor. “Together, we will redefine mobility management and provide the market with unrivaled end-to-end mobile management solutions. From the boardroom to the back office, we will enable mobility for people with a job to do.” This has been our directive since the day of the acquisition and we have been working together to provide our customers with MDM solutions that encompass both use cases. As one can imagine, there are a few differences between the boardroom and the back office but when it comes to mobility there are not as many as you may think. Let’s examine MDM from both perspectives.
Unique and Common Mobility Needs
- Mobility Growth: Both the boardroom set and the line of business team are experiencing an explosion of mobile device demands. On the boardroom side theses devices fall into both the BYOD device realm as well as assigned devices. They both share a need to keep up with the expanding wireless ecosystem with effective and powerful mobile device and wireless infrastructure management. As the expectations of users begin to mirror their experiences as consumers, the pressure will be on IT to deliver a seamless user experience for both groups of users.
- Remote Service: “Allow me to take over your computer please.” This is something users are hearing more and more from the IT team on both sides of the enterprise. While this used to be an in network exercise, it has expanded to include mobile devices wherever they may be. How do you compare the mobile service demands of an executive on a business trip to Germany with a delivery driver that needs service on a line of business device? In the end, you would not want either one to be without remote service. On the line of business side, Avalanche Remote Control, a mobile help desk solution, provides administrators with an exact replica of what end-users are experiencing. Remote Control allows administrators to support device users in the field remotely, without actually having to be in the field with the physical device. (more…)
The following comes from Rob DeStefano, Product Marketing Manager:
Most people fondly remember their first Windows PC. If yours was like mine, it had a floppy disk drive for expandable memory. We laugh at the portable phone Michael Douglas used in the movie “Wall Street.” Remember the original Nintendo gaming console? A big evolution to the Wii series currently connected to your television.
There is a common theme here among these items: The hardware has evolved, but the use cases and core functionalities have remained the same. When technology works and is widely adopted, its demise is predicted for many years but what usually happens is that users prefer to see it evolve rather than disappear.
Windows has come a long way since my first exposure to Windows 3.1. My iPhone, a far more advanced (and thankfully, pocket-able) cell phone than those from the 1980’s; and my Wii is most commonly used to play the games from the old systems that kept me busy for way too many hours as a kid. The hardware has changed, but the change in my user experience has been gradual, and still very familiar at its core.
The same is true for task workers using enterprise applications. Mobile computers, including the devices used in warehouses, on retail floors and throughout the supply chain, have changed significantly over the past two decades. Today, the term “mobile computer” includes consumer devices like tablets and smartphones in certain use cases. However, as the hardware has changed, core software applications have progressively evolved to keep the user experience familiar and comfortable – ensuring optimal productivity.
Terminal Emulation remains a prime example of software evolution as the hardware on which it operates has morphed so dramatically. What is it that keeps Terminal Emulation around and growing? It is still the most efficient and cost effective method for high volume, enterprise-grade data input. Despite the “green screen” user interface, there are 5 reasons TE remains so widely used:
- Terminal Emulation works. Over two decades of market use prove its stability.
- It’s widely adopted. Internal estimates suggest roughly 68% of rugged mobile computers run Wavelink TE.
- It has evolved. Terminal Emulation ran on DOS, Palm OS, Windows PocketPC. Today it runs on today’s Windows Mobile and Android operating systems. It has also evolved with leading back-end software.
- Terminal Emulation enables productivity. Task workers are familiar and can easily work with it.
- Terminal Emulation remains innovative. Wavelink continues to invest in new features that increase its accessibility, including Speakeasy, which voice-enables existing Terminal Emulation applications.
Terminal Emulation remains the platform of choice for many enterprise applications in part because it has been with us for so long that it is the standard-bearer against which any potential alternative would have to measure – in terms of cost and productivity. Wavelink TE is used by 25 of the top 30 retailers in North America and by eight of the top 10 retailers in the world, according to internal statistics.
Like our other tech examples, the display may change, but the reliability and dependability never goes out of style. Who thought they’d still play Super Mario Brothers on a flat screen television, using a wireless, motion-detecting controller?
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.