Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Electrical Utilities & Handheld PDAs - New Zealand


This morning I was reviewing the sales inquiries that we have received from both Australia and New Zealand recently, and noticed a company that provides contract services to the electrical utilities industry. MobileDataforce has a great deal of experience in this area as detailed in the following articles: meter maintenance, underground cable laying, electrical pole inspections and mobile electrical utility inspections.

Our PointSync software application enables IT departments and IT consultants to rapidly develop and customize inspection applications for utilities and their contractors in an affordable manner.

RAD Tools for Mobile Application Development in Australia


RADs-ME - rapid application development for mobile environments. That is the definition of MobileDataforce's PointSync software. MobileDataforce has just set up an Australian based support, development and sales center in our North Sydney office.

We have been supporting our ANZ customers from Europe and North America for the past few years, but we recognized that that was less than ideal. Now our support and services teams are available for onsite visits, trainings and support throughout ANZ.

PointSync enables our customers to build their own mobile applications without programming or coding, or have their favorite IT consultant develop it. They can configure their applications, the user interface, business logic and the integration with back office databases from within PointSync. This flexibility and ease of use has made PointSync popular around the world.

PointSync allows companies to rapidly develop and deploy customized/bespoke mobile applications specific to their unique business processes at an affordable price.

Our MobileDataforce Australia team is now available to help you understand how to mobilize your unique business processes. Please feel free to contact us to explore your mobility needs!

Australian Sales

Mobile Application Development Training - Sydney


The tall basketball player from Boise, also known as MobileDataforce's VP of Product Management, Dave Wasden is going to be conducting training classes on mobile application development and enterprise mobility deployments in Sydney in September.

Please let Andy Noble know if you would like to participate. His contact information can be found here under contact information for ANZ.

The classes will be focused on how to use MobileDataforce's PointSync Suite, to quickly and cost effectively develop and deploy a wide variety of different mobile applications.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Road Building, Asset Management, PDA Handhelds & Rented Street Signs

Ever since John Roudebush has joined our team and our board of directors, I pay attention to street signs. I snapped this photo on my recent trip to Melbourne, Australia. I was there helping set up our new sales and support center. Why do I pay attention to street signs you may ask...let me explain.

John spent his entire career in the highway services/roadway building business. He joined our board because he absolutely believes that companies with mobile workforces need mobile handheld solutions to run remote projects efficiently. John explains how his work crews required project data on the job site - data that was only available on paper back at the office. In addition, operations managers in the office, were always seeking data from remote project sites. How much work got done today...are we on schedule....when do we need more materials delivered... In his career this was always done by inefficient paper forms that were often delayed for days and weeks.

Here is an situation he sited - construction companies often rent safety and street signs for use on road building/maintenance projects. These are mobile assets that are often lost and misplaced. The company renting these signs need barcoded or RFID enabled tags on these signs so accurate inventory and accounting of the location of these assets can be known and managed.

Yet another story - he remembers a sign companies never returning for signs and how eventually the grass and weeds simply grew over these assets as they decayed.

Additional examples - road building companies often make a significant amount of their profit by meeting or exceeding quality standards, and by meeting project deadlines. This requires real time data from the project being sent to the project managers and business managers to ensure the right management and resources are being dedicated to the project to hit these numbers. If there is a problem, and it is found early, it can be quickly corrected so as to minimize impact on the quality and schedules. If the data is delayed, trapped on a paper form on a truck's seat, and nobody has visibility to it, then the damage can be great.

Fire Control Panels, M2M, Mobile Solutions & Australia


Flying home last week from Sydney, Australia I had about 18 hours to kill. My seat mate for this trip owns a company in Portugal that develops, sells and distributes fire control panels. The kind of control panel that detects fire in a specific room, automatically shuts fire doors, stops elevators, takes over control of the ventilation system (denies air to the rooms with fire, ventilates the hallways to allow visibility to those escaping the fire), turns on the sprinklers and alerts the fire department. These systems are complex and must be tested regularly.

The problem - it takes a long time to go up the elevator to the 14th floor, down the hall, unlock suite 1467, enter fire zone 82 and test the fire detector, then return to the control panel in the basement to see if it worked, reset the fire panel and then return to the 14th floor to test the next fire zone.

My seat mate was asking if handheld computers with GPRS/GSM (PDA phones) might be the answer. They not only need to record all the test results (which is currently done on paper), but they would like to be able to review the results of the test and reset the fire panel without leaving their inspection location. Hummmm....It is easy to use PointSync to create all the inspection applications on the handheld and to integrate this data with a backoffice database system using GPRS, but how would we control and reset the fire panel?

Machine-to-Machine (m2m) SMS messages are often used to control other devices. Our software partners Sybase/iAnywhere have designed a way to send a message to a hibernating PDA phone, wake it up and have it synchronize with the enterprise database. So the technology to control another piece of machinery certainly exists.

The fire panel would need a radio device that could receive SMS messages that are programmed to command it to perform various functions and then acknowledge the results to the sender. This is very doable. I hope we can get this project, it would challenge my engineers and stimulate their creativity.

Australian Hospital Systems and Asset Management


Another meeting our MobileDataforce Australia sales team had last week was with a large private hospital system in Melbourne. They have the need to manage their hospital assets using mobile handheld computers that are barcode enabled. By assets, I mean hospital equipment of all kinds. They need to know what medical equipment is in inventory, the location and condition of this equipment.

Today the process of asset management is done using paper forms that are later entered into an asset management database. This is far too inefficient for the hospital and they are seeking a way to make this process streamlined and faster.

MobileDataforce Australia will recommend using PointSync to quickly develop a mobile client that will integrate with their existing asset management application.

Melbourne Building Safety Inspections Using Handheld Computers


In Melbourne, Australia last week our MobileDataforce Australia team met with a company that does building inspections for commercial properties. They inspect buildings to ensure they are compliant with fire and safety regulations. Today, this data is recorded on reams of paper forms which is not only inefficient in the field, but requires all kinds of work back at the office to re-enter into a computer system. It is not just the process of collecting data, but the effort to research past noncompliance issues that take up a lot time.

That is the problem - the solution is to use MobileDataforce's PointSync to create a customized mobile application that enables all relevant data to be collected directly to a handheld computer that can synchronize automatically with your backoffice database. This eliminates hours of time each day. In addition, the handheld computer application can validate the data, remind the user what the appropriate answers are, ensure all data gets filled out and guides the user through the various inspection processes.

Sales Force Automation in Australia & MobileDataforce

While I was in Australia last week, my MobileDataforce Australia sales team and I met with one of our Melbourne based customer called St. Gobain. St. Gobain is a large multi-national company headquartered out of France, and with an office in Australia. Their IT staff is using PointSync to develop a bespoke/custom sales force automation application to help track daily customer and prospect visits and to document their calls and sales opportunity notes. St. Gobain supplies their customers with a large variety of chemicals and resins.

Sales force automation is a common and popular mobilization process here at MobileDataforce. We are engaged in at least 3 of these now. Some are being developed by internal IT staff, others are being done by MobileDataforce on behalf of our customers.

New Zealand Cattle Management & Handheld Computers


In Sydney, Australia last week, Andy Noble (MobileDataforce Australia's MD) and I met with Vani Saradhi from Psion Teklogix. Vani has been working on a large cattle management project in New Zealand that involves using over 1,000 Workabout Pro handheld computers.

It was an interesting discussion since we are also working on cattle management applications here in the USA. I wrote about our cattle management activities in an earlier article. We also met with a large multi-national holding company in Australia that owns large cattle feedlots. We are discussing our experiences with them as well.

As you can see in the picture to the right, much to my delight, there are Starbuck's Coffee shops in Sydney as well.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Warehouse Management and Inventory Application on Handheld Computers


We delivered a mobile warehouse and inventory application for use on Intermec handheld computers this week to Pepsi MidAmerica. It was developed using MobileDataforce's PointSync Suite. It was designed for use on handheld computers using barcode scanning technologies. Pallets of Pepsi products are brought to the warehouse, unloaded, scanned into the warehouse management system, stocked and redistributed to local retail stores.

This is the second application we have delivered to Pepsi MidAmerica in the past few months. PointSync can be used to develop a wide variety of mobile applications - warehouse management, sales force automation, field force automation, inspections, asset management, vehicle tracking applications and much more.

Mobile Quality Assurance in Australia's Alligator Country


We sent our Melbourne based sales engineer Pratheep, into the tropics of northern Australia this week. He flew 5 hours north of Sydney into alligator country to help CSR implement a mobile handheld quality assurance application using MobileDataforce's software for their sugar processing plants. After a successful implementation, I understand he made it back mostly intact.

MobileDataforce's Australian Expansion


I spent the last 10 days in Australia working with Andy Noble to open up our MobileDataforce Australia office in Sydney. Please note the good looking MobileDataforce shirt. We conducted a total of 12 sales presentations during that time. Australia is an amazing place, and I am excited at the opportunity to invest in the development of this market and to provide our customers with local sales, support and training.

David Wasden, our VP of Product Management, is heading down under in a few weeks to conduct PointSync training classes for a number of our partners and customers to help them learn how to use PointSync to develop a wide variety of mobile applications for their clients.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Department of Environmental Quality & Handheld Solutions


MobileDataforce is working with the Department of Environmental Quality for the state of Idaho. They are developing their first application to inspect fuel tanks. They are using PointSync to develop these applications internally. We love this! We are primarily a software company that supports our IT customers and SI partners and we love seeing the applications that our customers develop on their own using PointSync.