5 Musts to Starting a Mobile Project

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On October - 16 - 2014

Include users from all areas of the business

More often than we like to admit the key decision markers for many mobile projects are limited to the business heads and IT.  However, experience has taught us that the most successful implementations include users from all business functions including field workers.  Including a wide range of user groups helps to ensure that all of the business requirements are captured and also goes a long way towards achieving buy in and support for the project.

 

Prioritize requirements

As with most things, our desires outweigh our resources.  This is often the case with mobile computing solutions as well.  However, this is not a reason for discouragement.  The key is prioritizing the requirements relative to the business needs.  Once you have a prioritized list a development plan will become clear.

 

Define phases

Local grouping the prioritized items enables the project team to create development and rollout intervals.  Creating phases allows projects to be broken down into smaller more manageable pieces and significantly reduces project risk.

 

Set mile stones

Mobile projects do not happen over night or without a goal.  Setting project miles stones enables the project team to continue monitor their progress against the plan and make adjustments if required

 

Lean forward

The only way to get to the finish line is to start the race.  Waiting for a PERFECT project definition or perfect rollout schedule will only delay your project start and ability to leverage the process and customer benefits that mobility can provide.  Even talking small steps is better than standing still.

What Will 2020 Look Like?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On September - 23 - 2014

The year 2020 is less than 6 years away and the only thing I can say is that based on the last 6 years the next six years are sure to present an entirely new set of gadgets, technologies and services.  Let’s take a guess at what three common products today will look like in 2020.  The smartphone has exploded in sales over the last six years, out selling the number of people on the planet and applications numbering in the 100’s of thousands.  While today’s applications are largely entertainment in nature in 2020 the smartphone will be the console to your world.  We will use it to start our cars, lock our homes and it will be our single financial instrument for trade.  Due largely to the efforts of Tesla Motors, the electric car is coming of age.  In 2020, every auto manufacture will have one or more offerings and charging stations will be common place at your most frequent destinations (grocery stores, shopping malls and even Starbucks).  Lastly, I am constantly amazed at the service industries that continue to evolve as our society seeks to improve our life style.  While cleaning and landscaping service providers have existed for more than 100 years their growth continues to increase.  In additional to these traditional services we see newer services such as mobile mechanics and grocery delivery on a mass scale.  Convenience is in our DNA and technology will enable an entirely new set of services going forward.  What do you think 2020 will look like?

Getting to the root of who you are.

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On September - 17 - 2014

Often one of the most difficult tasks company’s face is how to define their place in the world and differentiate themselves from their competitors.  Every company is different, even those that provide the same product or services.  This is because companies are more than just the products and services they sell.  Companies are a collection of individuals and as such each brings a unique view of the world which influences “HOW” as opposed to “WHAT” a company produces.  It is the “HOW” that truly determines the image or brand of a company.  Taking a long look at HOW you are different from your competitors is one method for identifying your unique value.  Another method to help define your company is to look not at the items you produce but the end result of what these items produce.  A company that manufactures drill bites may describe themselves as the leading provider of “accurate holes” for cabinet manufactures.

Looking for something you cannot find?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On September - 9 - 2014

With the invention of the internet and continued advancements in search engine technology, the World Wide Web has become the largest single depository of information available to man.  However, even with all this information there are still times when I cannot readily access something I am looking for.  It may be because I did not use the best search criteria or maybe it simply does not exist.  At DecisionPoint, everything we do is related to mobile computing.  As such, we have deep knowledge on this subject.  If there is something related to mobile computing that you need please give us a try.  We are eager to hear your needs and identify a solution.

3 Considerations When Selecting a Packaged Software Application

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On August - 27 - 2014

 

While mobile computing devices get most of the press these days, it is the mobile applications that are at the heart of every mobile computing solution.  It is the application that defines the business logic, user interface and information exchange.  When selecting a mobile application there are a number of considerations that you should take into account.

1)      Every application provider takes their unique approach to solve the business issues at hand.  Therefore, the first thing you should do is identify all of your business requirements and stack rank them against one another.  No application will have every feature that you want but using the 80/20 rule if you can get the top 80% of your requirements you will likely achieve the required ROI.

2)      Evaluate the application offering against your present and future technology requirements.  Many companies have established technology requirements on at least some segments of their business.  This is done simply to reduce the overall technology support cost.  When evaluating software applications, make sure that the application supports your technology standards

3)      User training and support is a perpetual cost and does not end until the application is decommission or replaced.  For mobile applications this time period is often between 5 and 10 years.  When selecting new applications it is important to take this user interface into account.  Complex or confusing user interfaces and workflows will increase your training and support costs for the life of project.

While there are many other considerations to take into account, getting these three right will significantly reduce your chances for making a bad choice.  For additional information on software selection please feel free to reach out to DecisionPoint Systems.

Off-the-shelf or custom?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On August - 19 - 2014


With the 100’s of thousands of mobile applications available for download one would think that finding a mobile business application is a simple search away.  However, the reality is that the majority of these applications for download are consumer and or entertainment in origin.  The mobile business application market is still a niche, vertically oriented marketplace and as such, the number of applications available for any particular industry varies greatly.  For example, if you are a plumber looking for a field service application you will have many off-the-shelf applications to choose from.  However, if you are in the sign installation business your options are more limited.

Custom developed mobile applications fill to voids.  First, they provide solutions for those industries that have few current options available to them.  Second, they provide solutions for those companies that have options but do not want to conform to the business rules, user interface or support platforms that the available application provide.  Whether you select off-the-shelf or custom, the good news is that every company can leverage the business advantages provided by mobile computing solutions.  For more information on how mobile computing can help your business please give us a call.

The true cost of consumer devices

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On August - 12 - 2014

device2At first glance consumer smart phones are significantly cheaper than traditional ruggedized enterprise mobile computers with similar specifications.  There are a couple reasons for this difference including ruggedizing a mobile computer requires more engineering and material thus demands a higher cost.  Additionally, the sheer manufacturing volume of smart phones enable manufactures to leverage the economies of scale and thus lower the cost.  However, the most significant reason for the end user price difference is that wireless carriers subsidize the device cost in order to attract customers to sign multiple year contracts for their voice and data services.  This works to the benefit of enterprises that require wireless data and can utilize smart phones for their mobile needs.  However, there are additional cost considerations that need to be considered such as device replacement cost and peripheral costs.  Smart phones are not built to withstand excessive drops or weather.  As such, if you are operating in a harsh environment you should expect a higher device failure rate that than of an enterprise class device.  In addition to device replace cost, you need to consider user down time and customer service levels into the equation as device failure equates to lost productivity.  The second consideration is the cost associated with any required peripherals that are required to support the smart phone.  Peripherals such as barcode scanners, cases, specialized cables and battery charging equipment can significantly increase the overall cost of a consumer smart phone deployment.  The facts are that consumer smart phones have significantly expanded the user base for mobile computing applications and are suitable devices in many cases.  However, the prudent buyer evaluates the total cost of ownership before making a selection.

 

With so many choices where do you start?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On July - 30 - 2014

 

There are more mobile computers and smart phones to choose from than ever.  With multiple operating systems (Android, IOS, Windows Mobile, etc.), differing display sizes, a virtually unlimited number of form factors and peripherals (rugged, camera’s, scanners, radio options and so on) how do you choose the right device?  The key is to defining and prioritizing your requirements.  We recommend the following:

1)      Select your application(s) first – Application selection should be your first priority as the application is what has the greatest impact on your business and interfaces with your other enterprise systems.  Additionally, due to the large number of devices available the chances are high that you will be able to choose between several devices that support your application.

2)      Identify specific environmental needs – The environment can play a significant factor in device selection.  Are your mobile workers outdoors, in extremely cold or dirty environments? Do they work in oil fields or require special certifications such as intrinsically safe devices?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you will likely need to evaluate ruggedized mobile computers rather than smart phones.

3)      Identify specific technology needs – Often mobile devices are required to connect to other equipment such as meters or provide specialized data input technologies such as barcode reading or RFID.  If your application requires such items, you will need to select devices that have integrated these capabilities or support them through peripheral devices.

4)      Users – last but certainly not least are user considerations.  Device size, weight, carrying and storage considers should also be considered as well as battery life and recharging capabilites.  Bring your own device (BYOD) is also another consideration for those applications where smart phones are a suitable choice.  BYOD can reduce your overall capital expenditure, however, there are trade-offs related to security and control.

With a thorough examination of your all your requests and proper prioritization you will be able to select a mobile device that meets all or your mobile needs.

Is wearable mobile’s future?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On July - 22 - 2014

Google followed up the release of Google glass with the recent release of an android based smart watch.  Samsung released a similar smart watch on the same day.  While miniaturization is the typical technology trend and often leads to new product categories, smaller is not always better.  Take for instance smart phones.  As the technology improved over the last 10 years, phones shrunk in size.  However, in the last 12 months we have seen this trend reverse as users began to use these devices for a wider number of applications and as such demanded larger displays.  The new smart watches will likely follow a similar product path.  As they gain adoption users will identify new usage models and applications that will be limited by the small display and user interface, thus requiring larger devices or supporting products.  And this is where mobile will likely transition from a single device (smart phone) to a network of personal devices that work seamlessly together in order to meet users ever increasing demands.

Why is mobile computing exploding?

Posted by Ashleigh Cipolla On July - 16 - 2014

 

There is no arguing that mobile computing is exploding.  There are new applications and devices released every day, but why?  Many reasons can be put forward but they all can be categorized into one of two camps: technology advancements or human connection.  Technology advancements are easy to see, small form factors, brilliant displays and ergonomic packaging.  However, in my opinion the single technology that made the mobile explosion possible is the development of wide are wireless connectivity.  It is the ability to have a conversation via voice or text and connect to the internet from anywhere without wires that led to the development of the smart phone and countless applications.  Without this connectivity mobile devices would still be those specialized devices of the 1980’s and 1990’s being used in warehouse and retail stores to track inventory. Human connection is the other reason for mobiles mass appeal.  It allows us to connect, share and learn in real time.  The most downloaded and used applications contain one or more methods for connecting with others, whether it be family, friends, per groups or complete strangers. Technology will continue to change and evolve but our need to connect is eternal.  While no one knows what tomorrow will bring you can be assured that mobile is here to stay.