About the Author

Rob DeStefano | Product Marketing Manager

2014 Prediction Series: Mobility

2013 is nearing its end and what a ride it has been!  What will the ride be like in 2014?  Well, you can expect your travel bag to get even lighter, as enterprise mobility makes it easier to get more work done while away from the office.  In 2013, we’ve seen the BYOD story rise to the top of mind for many IT administrators. Devices have entered corporate networks at a feverish pace as more and more employees across business roles are arming themselves with smartphones and tablets.

From a hardware perspective, the leading manufacturers of smartphones – especially on sparkling_2014_lightsthe Android OS, have become clear; with Samsung leading the way.  Apple released two new versions of iOS, and new generations of the iPhone (5s and 5c) and iPad (Air). Microsoft acquired Nokia, a signal that the company is drawing a parallel path to both Google and Apple – adding an understanding of mobility hardware into their mobile OS strategy.

So what can we expect from mobility in 2014?  Good news for enterprises everywhere: your employees will be able to do more, with less:

  • Less weight:  More corporate employees will take their tablet on the road – leaving even their laptops at the office.  One reason: tablets are getting even lighter to carry everywhere. Apple’s latest iPad, iPad Air, weighs 20% less than the generation it succeeds, and nearly 30% less than the original version.  At 16oz (US), this tablet, and notable Android equivalents, easily displaces more laptops in travel bags.
  • Fewer systems:  Mobile Device Management (MDM) becomes broadly viewed as a commodity.  The perspective that MDM is an ingredient in a larger IT management suite will continue to gain in popularity among companies. Enterprises everywhere will look for closer integration between management of mobile IT and other endpoints.
  • More mobile productivity: Couple the increased ease of carrying mobile devices with more integrated IT management of mobile users and companies can expect to see productivity continue to increase.  As mobile workers experience a more seamless experience when they leave the office, they can accomplish more on the road.

As these and other events unfold in 2014, LANDesk is here to help you get the most out of your enterprise mobile deployments – and all your IT management needs.  What are your mobility predictions for 2014?  Please post your predictions in the comments section below.

I invite you to also read my Wavelink blog post 2014 Predictions for IT in Ruggedized Environments for a look into the future of mission-critical mobility.

 

The Generational Shift: Technology in the Workplace

What’s in your attaché case? I mean… your brief case? Or… your backpack? The tools that people have carried to their jobs over the years are as different as is the technology they use to get the job done. If you joined the workforce in the 1980’s, your attaché case was likely filled with what can now be found in the office supply cabinet: notebooks, trade magazines, writing implements, and maybe a shiny, gold, 4-function calculator. If you started out in the 1990’s, your brief case got a bit lighter, since you were increasingly likely to have a desktop PC – eliminating the need for all those paper notebooks and pens, which were likely consolidated into a nice, neat day-planner. As the 20th century came to a close, that new laptop bag had enough space to carry not The evolution of the Attacheonly your new laptop computer, but the Palm Pilot that replaced your day-planner, and maybe the one notebook you would carry to take meeting notes and action items. And those trade magazines you might have carried in the past? You read them online.

Flash forward to today; do you bring that work laptop home? For the most part unless your work has you out in the field most of the time, you probably don’t bring it home. With broadband internet at home, your personal laptop is an acceptable alternative if you need to finish up a few intense things from home. I’ll define ‘intense’ as the kind of work you can’t do (or is awkward to do) on you smartphone or tablet. Your tablet of course, is always with you and you habitually check work email on at night and over the weekend.

The backpack you wear to the office every day, like your work technology, is a mix of personal and work items: business cards, headphones for listening to music at your desk (and/or at the gym), workout clothes, charging cables, etc. What’s happened to what the late 20th-century junior associate used to carry? Notes are taken on your tablet (or at worst, your laptop). Trade magazines, even your newspaper, are now read on your tablet or smartphone. Your calendar is your smartphone. Calculator? Yeah, there are apps for that.

The evolution of technology used in today’s workplace emphasize not only benefits but very real concerns that didn’t exist 30, 20 or even 10 years ago when employers only had to focus on managing PCs that were not mobile. Today’s trends show us that:

  • Companies can recognize a reduction in costs because they need to provide less technology hardware to employees – thank you BYOD. Thanks to mobility and the reality of the home office, companies can even cut real estate costs by creating shared workspaces for associates who periodically need to work at corporate offices.
  • Increased use of mixed-purpose technology, such as the personal smartphone that is also used for work, or that corporate laptop that resides in an employee’s home office. These items, however, need to be managed more securely than ever before. Many employees have multiple mixed-purpose devices, so corporate IT teams need to be able to easily manage all the endpoints an employee carries.

The technology evolution is on a trajectory that is only going to increase gaining momentum. The lines (and technology) between personal and work are going to only become more blurred. While BYOD, BYOC, and any other acronym you can think of may at times feel like the latest piece of sensationalism or buzz word, and therefore a tool to continue making headlines. The truth is that these headlines are very real and employees will continue driving these trends. Are you ready to deal with the trends? Reach into your messenger bag – if you use LANDesk Software, you’re covered.

The Last Days of Point Products

Mobility has been a part of the enterprise for three decades. 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 one, and expanding mobility to a wider range of tasks.

As this wave of mobility refreshes occur, 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. Nor is it 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; one that offers fast, easily quantifiable ROI, seamless implementation, and a long-term strategic solution for mission-critical enterprise mobility.

Myths about Voice ROI

For customers who have voice applications from traditional voice vendors, implementation can seem like an odyssey – complete with months of continuous project costs resulting in a start to finish ranging from six months to two years in some cases. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Remember that song that you can’t stand to hear, but you know the words by heart?  Even though you sing it through gritted teeth, you know the song, and it becomes stuck in your head and it just won’t go away.  Frustrating isn’t it?  For companies considering adding voice to their mission-critical mobile applications, the stories from traditional voice vendors are just like that old song: implementation takes several months, and if an ROI can be justified at all, it can only be proven for a single task.  Mythology is best kept for classic literature and not for voice technology.

For customers who have voice applications from traditional voice vendors, implementation can seem like an odyssey – complete with months of continuous project costs resulting in a start to finish ranging from six months to two years in some cases.  Traditional voice providers have established the myth that voice is very specialized technology – difficult to implement and costly to modify.  Their myths also suggest that once you’ve selected a voice provider, it is even more expensive to switch or use another system for a different task.

Voice-enablement can be a very beneficial part of a mission-critical mobility solution, providing task workers with a heads-up and hands-free option for data capture when using a keyboard or holding a barcode scanner is inconvenient or otherwise sub-optimal (many task workers benefit from a solution that uses all these methods where each makes sense).  However, voice-enabled mobile applications are being deployed in 30 days or less – thanks to Wavelink Speakeasy.

For real customers around the world, Speakeasy is breaking down the myths, and proving to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to voice-enable mobile applications.  These customers are witnessing how Wavelink is re-defining voice.  There’s no compromise in the capabilities of Speakeasy – it’s twenty-first Century voice technology, leveraging the capabilities of enterprise mobile devices while reducing the complexity of implementation.  Speakeasy is proof that voice-enabled mobile applications that are fully features, easily deployed, and financially viable with quantifiable ROI are not myths.

If your company in considering voice-enabling mobile applications to increase the productivity of task workers, even if you’ve already deployed traditional voice for specific applications, contact Wavelink – you’ll get facts, not myths.

User-Oriented IT in the Great Beyond

Mobility users want to be sure that whether it’s skimming email or checking the ERP system, the process of connecting and using the tools is not going to impede the speed with which they want to access that information.

Mobility users want to be sure that whether it’s skimming email or checking the ERP system, the process of connecting and using the tools is not going to impede the speed with which they want to access that information.

How well are your field-based employees connected to your business systems?  In a whole where the technology these road warriors are carrying is capable of providing boundless productivity, they had better be able to connect to every tool and all the content they need.

When connectivity and access are simple, the use of mobile technology is proving to augment productivity.  Collaboration doesn’t end at 5:00 p.m., nor does it cease for the weekend—unless it’s a chore to stay connected.  With smartphones and tablets so widely used as productivity tools for employees throughout corporations, why not make it easy for these users of IT to access their work whenever is convenient for them?  That’s one of the keys to a User-Oriented IT strategy: Make IT easy for the user, and they’re empowered to be more productive.

Mobility users want to be sure that whether it’s skimming email or checking the ERP system, the process of connecting and using the tools is not going to impede the speed with which they want to access that information.  If it’s easy, it doesn’t feel like work, and the result will be more frequent and expanded use of the tools.

Delivering and managing this productivity-enhancing experience also provides benefits to IT administrators.  Data containerization and other “sandboxing” capabilities allow for policies that protect corporate data, while encouraging the mobile associate to feel comfortable using their own smartphone for both personal and professional activities.

Check out all the ways LANDesk Mobility Manager delivers User-Oriented IT, including support for all the leading mobile operating systems. It can be what helps your organization collaborate and keep things going no matter where they are or what time of day it is.

Mobile, Mobile, Everywhere!

Enterprise mobility deployed at this airport terminal gate.  Photo by Robert DeStefano

Enterprise mobility deployed at this airport terminal gate. Photo by Robert DeStefano

Like you, I check email on my mobile phone.  I also have my tablet set up to access my work email.  I also frequently watch the way technology is used around me.  I can’t resist the urge to note the brand of barcode scanner being used by the retail clerk, or the payment terminal where I swipe my credit card for payment.  I notice the rugged mobile computers carried by the postal courier and the one used by my heating oil service technician.  Yes, I acknowledge my enterprise mobility geekdom.

The activities I’ve noted are all obvious points where mission critical enterprise mobility happens.  A transaction is occurring between a business and a customer.  A supply chain workflow is completed.  What is less obvious are the ways that mobility is enabling enterprise productivity in places and ways that aren’t so obvious.

Earlier this month I was flying to Asia, but had a nearly five-hour stopover at a US international airport.  When I arrived at my gate, I saw a twenty-first century airport waiting area – equipped with Wi-Fi access (free if I completed a brief survey conducted by the provider).  There was bar and table seating throughout the gate area, and each seat was within reach of both AC and USB charging connections.  What was most exciting, was that at virtually every seat was an iPad tablet secured to a stand and free to use.  Using the iPad to browse the internet and check my email would certainly help me pass the hours between flights.

However, something even more productive happened: on the iPad was a dining app for the restaurant located at the gate.  I easily navigated the app and ordered breakfast—complete with cappuccino.  Once I made my selections, I swiped my credit card at the card reader located next to the iPad on the counter, signed for my payment on the iPad screen, and provided my email address within the app so that I could receive a copy of my receipt.  Within 10 minutes, I was enjoying my breakfast.

Think about this scenario for a moment: Over 100 tablets at a single gate (meaning thousands around this airport terminal), with a mission-critical enterprise application pre-loaded on each one.  Each tablet is touched by tens of people each day.  This is a prime example of the expanding reach of enterprise mobility.  Enterprise mobility is no longer limited to mobile computers in the hands of company employees.  This solution replaced the point-of-sale restaurant ordering system and checkout machine with a familiar device, allowing the customer to perform these tasks for the company.

Take a look around at the technology next time you’re out and about—enterprise mobility is happening everywhere.  Every time you scan a QR barcode in an advertisement, use your smartphone to present your airline boarding pass, or make a restaurant reservation from your mobile device, enterprise mobility is happening.  Each experience is a chance for businesses to interact with you, their customer, and a chance to conduct a mission-critical transaction.

Is your company taking advantage of this incredible opportunity?

Terminal Emulation: Productivity Never Goes Out of Style

Terminal Emulation remains a prime example of software evolution as the hardware on which it operates has morphed so dramatically.

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:

  1. Terminal Emulation works.  Over two decades of market use prove its stability.
  2. It’s widely adopted.  Internal estimates suggest roughly 68% of rugged mobile computers run Wavelink TE.
  3. 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.
  4. Terminal Emulation enables productivity. Task workers are familiar and can easily work with it.
  5. 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?

(There must be) 100 Ways to Manage iPhones

Don’t be blinded by the hype that an MDM solution supports iOS or can address BYOD concerns—at least 139 other companies can make similar claims. Mobility management includes a variety of components and it’s important to identify and focus on those solutions that are the most comprehensive for the business.

In-house estimates suggest that roughly 140 companies claim to offer Mobile Device Management (MDM). Most of them lead their messaging by waving the iOS flag and images of Andy the Android to highlight their ability to support consumer operating systems in the face of BYOD initiatives.  What’s interesting is that when it comes to mobile device management, drawing attention to the iOS and Android platforms makes most MDM solutions indistinguishable from one another.   Apple, for example, doesn’t allow MDM clients to take control over the device remotely.  Therefore, all these MDM solutions have the same limitation.  Give or take a few specification bullet points, 140 solutions provide about the same capabilities when it comes to managing a smartphone.

According to Gartner, 65% of enterprises will adopt an MDM solution for corporate-liable users over the next four years, and 90% of enterprises will be supporting two or more mobile operating systems in their environment.  With so much attention drawn to the BYOD-specific needs (not to suggest these aren’t important) of a Mobile Device Management solution, there is something even larger that enterprises should be taking into consideration: Managing productivity throughout the enterprise.

Mobile Device Management should be an ingredient of a greater objective: managing the productivity of mobile employees.  When you’re looking at a MDM solutions some question you should ask include the following:

  • How does your company intend to manage the software applications that are installed on mobile devices?
  • How are you going to manage the wireless infrastructure upon which data flows to and from these mobile devices?
  • What are the parameters of the mobile device?
  • Are you looking to manage just smartphones or is there a need to manage the mobile computers that are used for scanning inventory, entering patient data, or managing shipping and receiving, and other tasks?

When you look at the bigger picture, it’s usually more than managing smartphones or finding a basic just a BYOD solution.  It’s about ensuring that a mobile worker is able to utilize the productivity tools that surround them to execute their job with attention to efficiency, security, and information access.

The bottom line: Don’t be blinded by the hype that an MDM solution supports iOS or can address BYOD concerns—at least 139 other companies can make similar claims.  Supporting the popular consumer OSs is undoubtedly important.  However, there are the overarching mobile productivity needs that must be addressed.  Mobility includes a variety of components and it’s important to identify and focus on those solutions that are the most comprehensive for the business.

If you’re struggling to mesh your BYOD strategy with the rest of your mobility needs, take a look at Wavelink Avalanche.  It’s more than just a mobile device management solution; it can manage mobile enterprise applications such as terminal emulation, web-based apps, and voice-enabled apps.  It can also manage hardware ranging from Smartphones (yes, including the leading consumer operating systems), to rugged mobile computers, to mobile printers and network infrastructure.

How many of the 139 other MDM solutions out there do you think are that comprehensive?

Finding Your Voice

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices

The human voice is a powerful thing.  Sure, the spoken word is our most common means of communication, but these days it’s giving us a bit more.  Think about your daily routine, and the tasks you ask of others – straightforward, clear commands (we politely call them “requests”).  Now think about how we speak with the technology that surrounds us.  That’s right. How do you speak with technology?

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades.  However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices.  For me, the most common experience sounds like this:

Me: “Dial by number.”

Car: “Say the number.”

Me:  “631-555-1212.”

Car: “631-555-1212.”

Me: “Dial.”

Car: “Dialing.”

I couldn’t wait to finally get a car that could connect with my phone so I could get high-quality, hands-free voice.  I had been the route of using my phone in speakerphone mode and then tried the Bluetooth speakerphone, but neither delivered what I had hoped.  Finally, when I was selecting a new car, I not only was able to use voice commands to place the call, but to configure the system.  It took me a few steps to get through the hurdles of an evolving technology, but it eventually became easy to use, inexpensive to implement, and high quality.

In the consumer world, voice is showing up in more ways – especially in our mobile phones.  What have you asked Siri to do?  Apple’s well-marketed voice command utility for the iPhone demonstrates some of the potential.  Even beyond Siri, voice solutions abound on the device.  My preference is to use the microphone button on the iPhone’s keyboard to dictate my responses to the texts I receive.  This gets me out of trying to thumb type and is a quick, convenient way to respond.  It’s speech to text in a basic, consumer application.

In the enterprise, voice is enabling employees in a mission-critical work environment to expedite data capture while ensuring both worker safety and information accuracy.  Just like my quest for an optimal hands-free system in my car, businesses have had to work through the evolutionary stages of voice solutions.  There was the early stage where voice recognition engines weren’t very robust and often struggled with various accents.  That phase was replaced by a longer period where voice recognition engines began to improve, but deploying a voice solution required expensive, proprietary hardware and middleware integration.

During this phase of the evolution, voice system providers were forced into the role of application developer.  Their middleware was so intertwined with the operation of the overall application (WMS, etc.) that whenever the business needed to change their operations process or make any other changes to their application, they’d need the involvement of their voice solution provider.  According to a study by the Aberdeen Group released in early 2012, having to engage the voice provider in these modifications would cause delays in the implementation of changes.  A combined 79% of Aberdeen’s voice user respondents indicated that they would either delay changes until a sizable batch could be implemented at once to justify the ROI (42%), or they would ultimately decide not to make any changes because the cost to have the vendor make the changes was too high (37%).  To summarize, these businesses were either delaying or outright declining improvements to day-to-day operations because of a single provider in their solution.  Each day, they were losing efficiency because their voice solution was inflexible.  Clearly, there has to be further evolution in this market.

Incorporating voice technology into mission-critical applications is becoming easier.  Thirty-five percent of the respondents in Aberdeen’s study expressed their desire to get away from expensive, proprietary voice devices.  Voice is entering the next generation, where it can simply sit atop of an existing application – disengaging the voice provider from application changes.  No longer is expensive middleware and proprietary hardware required.  Businesses can now adopt voice the way they imagined:

  • Simple to use
  • Easy to deploy
  • Great performance
  • Available on a wide variety of mobile computing devices

Like the voice commands I can use to setup and dial my phone from my car, voice-enabling mission-critical business application has finally become a satisfying experience.   If your company is ready to get out of a proprietary voice solution, or if you’ve looked at voice in the past and found it to be too expensive, we encourage you to look again.  Our Wavelink Speakeasy voice technology is all about removing the complexity from voice applications.  Best of all, many customers are able to have their Speakeasy systems up and running in 30-days.

Learn more about Speakeasy technology and learn how voice technology can benefit your organization.