Sunday, August 19, 2007

Symbol MC50, Target & Handheld PDAs in the Field

My family and I were doing something for the first time - outfitting a university dorm room. My son is about to leave the nest and join the ranks of academics and scholars (I hope!). Did you know that Target (USA based stores) has a complete line of products for dorm rooms called "07 College?" OK, they were not too creative on the brand name, but we did buy about a half dozen products from that line for his dorm room. In the process of shopping a store clerk walked by with a Symbol MC50 handheld PDA in her hand (if you are a regular reader you will note that Wal-Mart also used this handheld PDA and barcode scanner). She was looking up product inventory with the handheld and answering customers' questions.

I pondered the activities of the store clerk and considered how that same activity (i.e. business process) could also be used outside the store. Most of the mobile software solutions MobileDataforce helps deploy involve some level of rain, wind, dust and mud (in addition to oil, blood, ice, explosions, etc.). The store clerk was looking up inventory to help a customer know if they could buy the product. The query also would tell the clerk where the products were located, and if there were more in the warehouse.

Field Service technicians use this same feature everyday. They just work in locations with more dirt and spider webs. Picture this - the service technician is on his back under a furnace. A replacement part is required for the repair. He pulls out his Smart Phone and queries the inventory in his van. The part is not there, but it is in a van just 1 mile away. He calls to the other van driver who delivers it.