How Hazardous Area Mobile Computing Boosts Productivity

How Hazardous Area Mobile Computing Boosts Productivity

A guest blog by Mike Davies UK Marketing Manager at ecom instruments.

How Hazardous Area Mobile Computing Boosts Productivity

Recent innovations in the field of hazardous area mobile computing technology has enabled mobile workers to automate a much wider range of tasks than ever previously possible. In sectors such as oil and gas, biochemical, pharmaceutical manufacturing and other process industries using mobile computing to improve the productivity of workers is key.

How can you boost productivity by taking advantage of this new technology?

The ability to record data on a portable device has made paper-based inspections obsolete, allowing for a greater degree of accuracy efficiency and productivity. Using of an intrinsically safe ATEX Zone 1 certified i.roc Ci70-Ex, workers can remain fully connected while in the field. Built in imaging functionality can help record data and immediately upload it into specific mobile line of business apps and integrate with host systems such as Maximo or SAP.

Rather than waiting until the end of the day to find out the status of key assets mobile workers can also use this technology to communicate data with colleagues in an instant over Wi-Fi or WWAN thus improving the visibility of results around repairs or adjustments. Workers can also communicate with each other using VoIP to stay in touch with each other throughout the day on large sites.

The development of hazardous area mobile computing technology has given mobile workers the ability to focus on the task-in-hand at all times and not have to spend time manually uploading data at the end of each day thereby offering a significant boost in productivity.

How Hazardous Area Mobile Computing Can Boost Productivity

With hazardous area mobile computing devices, you can significantly boost the productivity of your workforce and allow them to complete a much wider range of tasks while on the move.

 

Panasonic FZ-G1 Serves Up An Ace At Wimbledon

Panasonic FZ-G1 Serves Up An Ace At Wimbledon

Panasonic FZ-G1 Serves Up An Ace At Wimbledon
Picture: BBC TV

Great to see Andy Murray going into the second week of Wimbledon.  We spotted the Panasonic Fz-G1 being used for in game scoring on the Umpires chair.  This is a nice choice for such an installation as the bright 10″ outdoor readable screen will perform well in the varying lighting conditions of an English Summer and the IP65 rating will be able to cope with the occasional downpour of rain.

Panasonic FZ-G1 Serves Up An Ace At Wimbledon

FZ-G1 uses an Intel i5 Chipset running Windows 8 along with 4G WWAN GPS Wi-Fi Bluetooth and batteries good enough for 8 hours continuous use.

Using Mobility at sports events is nothing new. Intemec have supplied the PGA Golf Tour with handhelds for some years for on course scoring. MobileDemand have worked with teams in NASCAR and F1 for tyre management.

Panasonic FZ-G1 Serves Up An Ace At WimbledonWhat other sporting events have you been to where mobility is being used to automate a former paper process?

 

 

Zebra to Acquire Motorola Solutions

Zebra to Acquire Motorola Solutions

News emerged last night that indicated that Zebra was to acquire Motorola Solutions in a deal with a reported value of $3.4 billion.

Zebra to Acquire Motorola Solutions
Zebra to Acquire Motorola Solutions

 

The news led to Zebra’s shares falling @10% on the news. Some clearly concerned that financing the deal with debt was risky. Zebra had sales of around $1 billion in FY 2013 so this acquition of Motorola Solutions who had sales of around $2.5 billion will take some digesting.

Motorola Solutions includes most of the old Symbol Technologies Enterprise Mobility and scanning business that Motorola acquired in 2007, for $3.7 billion. This leaves whats left of Motorola to deal with the public safety and government markets.

 

 

These companies have worked together for many years although not many industry wonks would have bet on the acquisition being this way round. With Honeywell acquiring Intermec last year this is another example of industry consolidation.

So is this a game changer? Well it could be but it seems like a huge gamble by Zebra management. As Intermec proved over many years having a portfolio of printers and sector specific hand held devices is not a guarantee of securing both even in major corporate managed accounts. How Zebra will mange the erosion of value from the traditional rugged hand held value proposition v smartphone collision will be a huge challenge.

The street price of a rugged Android smartphone is only heading in one direction so maybe having printers media RFID and a handle on the “internet of things” will give new Zebra the secret sauce it needs to compete in a device market that is becoming more fragmented.

In the short term shoving together the two sales organisations will give management the opportunity to revise the major account and channel structure for the future.

Zebra to Acquire Motorola Solutions

Get in touch to discuss your enterprise mobility project design business processes and how we integrate with your legacy systems.

MobileWorxs at Facilities Management 2014

MobileWorxs at Facilities Management 2014

MobileWorxs at Facilities Management 2014

 

MobileWorxs will be exhibiting at Facilities Management 2014 which is taking place next month at the NEC in Birmingham.

Our stand F16B is adjacent to the BPCA Pavilion where we will be showcasing our latest Enterprise Mobility solutions and products from 11th to the 13th March.

We are focused on reducing the reliance on paper based business processes and increasing the visibility of in field operations. This allows our customers to monitor productivity and promote efficiency across their organisations.

Come along to the stand and take a look at solutions such as PestWorxs – the mobile app for Pest Control Technicians, which allows pest control teams to log calls at the office, issue jobs to field technicians and receive back up-to-date information.

FMWorxs & AssetWorxs are both field service and reporting apps specifically targeted at users in the FM building inspection and maintenance environments.

Safety and compliance have become hot topics for anyone with a fleet of vehicles. So we will be showcasing the world premier of “VisWorxs” our unique user-configurable vehicle inspection and defect reporting solution which helps ensure vehicles are roadworthy when they leave your depot.

All our systems are built on enterprise grade IT architecture, allowing you to deploy manage and integrate them into your CRM ERP or decision management systems.

Mobile solutions do need to run on something. So we will also be showcasing rugged Tablet and hand held devices utilising Windows and Android operating systems from leading manufacturers such as Panasonic MobileDemand and Intermec. As well as software from SOTI which is widely regarded as the world’s most trusted provider of Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.

MobileWorxs at Facilities Management 2014Our goal is to help you scope define and finance your project in such a way that you improve your business processes and generate a meaningful return on your investment. See you at the show.

Seven Key Enterprise Mobility IT Trends for 2014

Seven Key Enterprise Mobility IT Trends for 2014

Seven Key Enterprise Mobility IT Trends for 2014

Its the time of the year when we take a look into our crystal ball and consider what will be the seven key enterprise mobility IT trends for 2014.

How many of these that we identified for 2013 did you see during the year?

We are looking for trends that are likely to prove key in helping you figure out if you can generate a return on investment for your Enterprise Mobility projects.

 1. Shorter Replacement Cycles

Traditional sales pitch for an enterprise grade rugged device involves a replacement cycle of 3- 5 years based on the premise of a superior TCO and being able to repair the unit long term.

This proposition will start to become outmoded for many buyers who are used to 24 month re-fresh and a faster moving product life. Out of contract cost of repair is not dropping as traditional device manufactures try and make up margin by selling repair services.

2. Tablets and iPads.

If you just landed on Earth you would be forgiven for thinking that Apple invented tablet computing in 2010. In fact whilst the iPad has shipped in the millions rugged enterprise grade tablets had been around for years before that. Apple continues to lose market share but is happy being the premium product especially for C Level types. Is the iPad a tablet or some sort of entertainment portal – who cares. Devices have become lighter and more manageable meaning that users in organisations of all sizes are now just as comfortable with 7″ to 10″ screen formats than with a handheld or PDA form factor. In the UK IDC estimates that 25% of tablets shipped between July and September were under £120 ($190) and it expects this part of the market to grow over the next few years.

Expect to see more people looking to use more larger format tablets and more apps more often for enterprise tasks whatever the brand or OS.

3. R.I.P. Windows Mobile

Is this the year more enterprise mobility deployments go out on Android rather than Windows Mobile? Android is attacking the space from all angles and according to IDC accounts for 81% of all Smartphone shipments. That is quite a wave for Enterprise Mobility to dodge even though Apple alone accounts for 56% of the profit in the sector.

Watch out for more Android and innovative products like the Intermec CN51 which can be “upgraded” to Android in the future.

4. Rugged Android Device Battles

It’s over before it started. More rugged enterprise mobile Android units will enter the market . At the moment they seem to be happy slugging it out on price. Clearly this cannot last and for some vendors this could be a quickly deflating bubble.

New players may well start to be become dominant amid the beginning of a shake out in traditional vendors as only the fittest and most innovative will survive this.

5. Bring Your Own Device

Yawn… I hear you think not another mention about BYOD.  Whatever the hype more companies have been organising their HR and security policies to suit a deployment. Perhaps they are spurred on by Gartner predicting that 38% of surveyed CIOs will cease to provide personal IT devices to their employees by 2016.  But is it worth it? Perhaps not, one piece of research by Nucleus explained how BYOD would actually increase costs without providng any tangible benefits.

No matter what the cost many will find the approach compelling enough to fudge the numbers to fit their scenario. More companies will be doing BYOD trials and one will surely try it to impose it on blue collar workers.  After all its far too hip to go away.

6. Even More Wi-Fi

An IDC report describes how in spite of its relative maturity the enterprise WLAN market continues to go up with revenues growing at a 20% rate in recent years. Reports indicate Cisco having a solid @55% market share primary loser seems to be Motorola Solutions.

Two factors continue to drive growth in WLAN deployments. The added oomph given by all those BYOD users hooking on to corporate Wi-Fi with their iPad’s and Android devices. Also cellular operators will be looking to add more enterprise grade Wi-Fi provision to their networks and value added offerings.

7. Secure Mobile File Sharing

By giving white collar users mobile access to secure collaboration and file sharing, enterprises can boost business productivity and organizational agility. However, IT departments need to ensure that mobile file sharing never puts at risk the security of an organisation’s data.

As Keith Hall of Accellion comments,  “While “anytime, anywhere” might sound like a pipe dream that can never truly be fulfilled, we really mean it. Users have to be able to securely access any enterprise content they need, whenever needed from any type of device. And then edit the data, share it, save it – whatever is required for the task at hand. That’s mobile productivity at its finest and secure file sharing solutions will be at the center of this trend to watch”.

The Wildcards

How could we leave out Near Field Communication – NFC? Does it have a future in the mainstream? With more Android based devices being used in Enterprise Mobility expect to see more of this in a number of apps starting with proof of delivery.

Optical Character Recognition – OCR. Reading text is a great alternative to reading barcodes or RFID tags. There are plenty of human readable applications that could benefit from this approach.

Seven Key Enterprise Mobility IT Trends for 2014

We can bring our crystal ball to your office to discuss the seven key enterprise mobility IT trends for 2014 that may impact your project.

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Why Not All The Rugged Android Devices Will Survive

Why Not All The Rugged Android Devices Will Survive

Why Not All The Rugged Android Devices Will Survive
Rugged Android Devices – Spot the Difference

Looking at the plethora of me too rugged Android devices launched in 2014 reminds me of the early days of the PC industry.

For you younger readers this was a time when a company called IBM invented a device called a personal computer with some help from a chap called Bill Gates.

 

 

In the early days IBM was the only manufacturer but they were soon joined by Compaq Dell and others who created a clone market of product that was literally described as “IBM compatible”

Then came a deluge of “manufacturers” joining the fray. In the UK companies like Apricot Tiny Time Evesham Packard Bell and a very long list of others were all very active. They focused on shifting product in an attempt to grow very quickly whilst stealing market share from the major players.

They discovered that using price as the major differentiator meant that profitable growth was elusive. This was not a great place to be especially when trying to sell to a fickle public through the medium of retail.

Over a period of time these companies consolidated tried to re-invent themselves or disappeared altogether.

Lessons for Enterprise Mobility?

Traditionally our niche handheld market has been dominated by hardware and apps optimised to run on one operating platform – Windows Mobile.

What has surprised many is the speed at which smartphone users have abandoned previously held truths. The demise of Backberry and Nokia has serious lessons for the box shifters in the enterprise space. We have seen huge movement over the last 18 months from users asking for systems to be deployed on Android or iOS.  Motivations include being able to access a different buying economic a much broader range of product and to open the door for BYOD. The killer being once people stop developing on your platform look out.

Many buyers are now used to the norm of a 24 month contract and replacement cycle for mobile devices. So a traditional high initial price with 5 year TCO and multi year repair cycle just does not suit them.

Innovate and Keep up or its Curtains

Tim Cook Apple CEO said earlier this year that he did not see the market for high end smartphones becoming saturated any time soon. That makes sense for him as Apple is the aspirational brand. So like BMW Dyson and John Lewis it does not need to compete just on price.

The same is broadly true in the Enterprise sector where super size major clients having a relationship with a scale vendor makes a lot of sense. But in these cases the manufacturer will only stay competitive by continuing to eliminate channel content and reducing margin to compete with all the alternatives.

So for manufacturers with a history in Enterprise Mobility introducing rugged Android devices is a great idea, right? ….

….sort of, Recent history would lead us to conclude that not all these vendors brands and products will prove innovative enough to survive the onslaught of low cost brands from China. Trying to remain profitable in their current form may lead to another flurry of reorganization and M&A.

Why this is different

Once all the rugged Android clones and new entrants have beaten each other up on price for long enough we are likely to end up with a small number of main players. The others will struggle and find they lack the fire power to survive at the high end whilst carrying costs that are too high to re-cast themselves as a a low cost vendor.

The twist may well be that over a period of 2-4 years the dominant vendors may not be the companies or brands we are used to being on top of the Enterprise Mobility sector. They are likely to include brands we currently think of as “consumer” or do not even know yet.

The advent of Android as the OS of choice and the changing nature of procurement and app design are real game changers which may well leave some our largest well known plaqyers scrambling to adapt.

Why Not All The Rugged Android Devices Will Survive

Get in touch to book a webinar or visit to see how we can help you make the most of your enterprise mobility project on Android.

 

 

Intermec Bought for $10 a Share

Intermec Bought for $10 a Share

This month Intermec agreed to be acquired by Honeywell thus joining a long list of businesses in the Auto ID and mobile computing sector who have fallen victim to industry consolidation and ended up being absorbed into other organisations. Companies such as Telxon Hand Held Products Metrologic PSC Symbol and Psion Teklogix have all gone the same way as the industry that for many years was considered a backwater of IT finally gets shaken out.

What we know as Intermec Technologies had been in business since 1966 and was originally known as  “Interface Mechanisms”. The company had a long history of innovation inventing Code 39 in 1974 and numerous innovative hardware devices. It was also unique amongst it competitors in maintaining a broad line of products. Later the large portfolio would prove to be tough to maintain and manage.

 

Intermec’s early market was  identifying goods in manufacturing and warehousing by using those new fangled barcodes. Typical applications included inventory warehousing and work in process tracking. Although the public viewed bar code as an instrument of retail, Intermec ploughed a deep furrow in Industrial applications and with the defense industry in the US. Company president during the early 90’s was Tim Koogle who left Intermec in 1995 to become pre IPO and first CEO of start-up Yahoo!

Intermec museum of early products.

 

In the mid 90’s the company introduced the Janus rugged “mobile computer” which had a non propriety DOS OS and spread spectrum radio. This was to become the first in a long line of highly regarded rugged handhelds based on Windows Mobile.

In the same period it was clear that the company was getting left behind by three competitors. Symbol dominant in handhelds and POS scanning the number two handheld vendor Telxon  and Zebra who were number one in thermal printing. Symbol would acquire Telxon in 2000 to consolidate it’s number 1 spot  in what had become the largest volume market for enterprise handhelds and scanning after all – retail.

Zebra would continue with it’s focus on desktop and increasingly mobile printing.

Being number 2 is tough so in 1997 Intermec acquired Norand who had focused on hand held computers primarily for the Direct Store Delivery market. As well as UBI a Swedish company who developed and sold a range of thermal printers and bar code scanners. Former employees might remember the initial integration was bedevilled by a simple problem…what to call the company? It was eventually decided to use the name “Intermec” but it took a while to figure out and the temporary handle “Stronger Together” stuck around as shorthand for the new entity.

Even today the woes of the business can be traced back to this “merger” of different cultures and business focuses. On paper the mix was sure to  have been a winning formula of products and channels to market. The prospect of one company capable of performing end to end all manner of Auto ID and mobile computing tasks in just about any industry should have been very appealing especially to larger customers.

Unfortunately the company never really figured itself out, was it a mobile company with a thermal printing division or an Auto ID business that dabbled in mobile? The strong and stable management it needed post merger to execute a clear vision ended in stalemate as factions from the merged businesses took turns running the show in the image of their former company – not a new one.

As one wag commented at a company event “it’s a bit like the EU but without the consensus”

The killer market or product strategy never emerged despite numerous re-shuffles and initiatives to partner with industry leaders latch on to RFID or leverage distribution to conjur up some growth. Although the company was selling “solutions” the sales time horizon shifted from next year to this quarter.

 

Even the magnificent office the company built in the early 90’s ended up being too big for the business. 

 

 

A treatise about Intermec would fill a book – this being an excellent summary.  But speak to anyone who worked there and most say the same thing – “what a great group of people” .  For many years the company had a real feeling of teamwork and community amongst the rank and file staff that marked it out against it’s competitors.  A secret sauce that really did help it punch above it’s weight on many occasions.