Thursday, November 29, 2007

MobileDataforce Launches PointSync – Professional Version 2.0



Boise, Idaho— November 29, 2007 – MobileDataforce® a leading provider of business critical mobile software applications for use on handheld PDAs, today announced the release of the PointSync Mobility Platform, Professional version 2.0. This release represents a major upgrade to the company’s award-winning rapid application development solution.

PointSync Mobility Platform, Professional version 2.0 contains over 29 new features to help make mobile application enablement faster and less expensive,” said Tim Cerami, Director of Product Management at MobileDataforce. “We worked closely with our technology partners, customers and channel partners to better understand their need to develop custom mobile software applications faster and with more tools to help develop larger and more complex enterprise mobile solutions. The results can be found in today’s release.”

New Version Includes:

  • Support for larger data requirements on data intensive mobile applications
  • Support for server to server synchronization which enables complex mobile architectures and high volume data movement
  • New mobile application design features to speed up development (Control Picker, Tab Controls, Expanded Toolbars, Dynamic Show/Hide Controls, etc)
  • Ease of use features for mobile applications running on Windows Mobile phones
  • GPS Device Settings – enhanced GPS integration features for mobile applications

    About PointSync Mobility Platform

    The PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class development platform used to rapidly design, develop, deploy and support mobile business applications running on mobile handheld PDAs and barcode scanners. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directional synchronization, connectivity, security and enterprise database integration all within one platform.
About MobileDataforce

MobileDataforce is a global leader in the development of enterprise class mobile software development platforms and mobile business applications for use on handheld computers, PDA phones, Tablet PCs and laptops. MobileDataforce is a fast growing company with offices in Europe, North America and in Australia to support their expanding customer base and sales channels. Privately held, MobileDataforce has been mobilizing business processes since 2000. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.mobiledataforce.com/news/www.mobiledataforce.com.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Using Mobile Software Applications & Handheld PDAs for Inspections



I often get asked what markets we focus on with our mobile software applications for handheld PDAs. My first reaction is to say only the markets that have money, but that is not true...we are particular...we prefer certain currencies such as the Euros now days! The real answer is that inspection services is a very big market for us.

In the inspections services market nearly every customer has unique data collection requirements. They can not simply go to Office Depot and find a handheld PDA software application that meets their unique inspection service needs. What is required is the ability to cost effectively customize a mobile inspection solution in a relatively short period of time. We developed the PointSync Mobility Platform for that purpose.

Most inspections follow a common process. From a high level software technology perspective an inspection looks like this:
  1. Create and upload an electronic inspection form to a handheld computer
  2. Capture data
  3. Synchronize data and integrate data with the office database application

When you drill down a bit deeper it looks like:

  1. Development tools for creating electronic inspection forms quickly

  2. Add pick lists and drop down menus of items to inspect (to speed up inspections)

  3. Add the measuring scale for inspections (i.e. excellent/good/fair/poor)

  4. Add data validation to ensure quality data is capture

  5. Add business rules to the handheld inspection form (i.e. the answer is invalid if it says the VW can carry 76 passengers)

  6. Configure connectivity preferences (i.e. wireless, wifi, cable, satellite, etc.)

  7. Configure the synchronization process

  8. Configure the security settings

  9. Configure integration of data with the designated database

  10. Manage application updates and versions

  11. Manage mobile users

  12. Manage a large variety of unique mobile applications

  13. Manage mobile handheld PDAs

Two of the key words above are "Configure" and "Manage". You don't want to be required to program or code these items. It takes far too long and is far too expensive. You need a rapid application development tool for mobile inspections. You want to be able to design, develop and deploy new custom inspections quickly and cost effectively.

Some of our biggest mobile inspection customers are electrical utilities, food processing companies, electrical contractors, government agencies, construction engineering firms, etc. The common theme is a huge amount of data needs to flow easily and cost effectively between the field and the office over handheld computers, laptops or Tablet PCs.

If you would like to brainstorm about how to mobilize your inspection processes please contact us.

MobileDataforce Hires Mike Freeman as VP of Sales

MobileDataforce Hires Mobility Expert Mike Freeman to Accelerate Success in Worldwide Sales of Mobile Software Solutions

Noted Speaker, Sales Leader and Visionary Business Executive Joins MobileDataforce as VP of Sales...learn more

We are growing very fast here at MobileDataforce and we are attracting some very good industry talent to our management team. Mike Freeman, former VP of Enterprise Sales at Palm Inc, will bring a huge amount of talent and expertise to our team.

Welcome Mike!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Getting Paid for Field Services - Using Handheld PDAs

I had the opportunity recently to spend time with one of our mobile software customers. They are developing a new business and dedicating a lot of time to thinking through their business processes. As he shared this experience, it occurred to me that my client is not getting paid for the work completed, but rather on the completed documentation of the work done. I realized these two items go hand-in-hand, but you don't automatically receive payment for work, unless there is adequate data that documents the work.

I again saw this phenomena in play when a large customer would not pay their bill until I properly registered as a vendor, got approved as a vendor, and filled out a series of forms before they would even consider paying me. Again, it was the completed and submitted data that released the funds, not the work.

The importance of getting accurate, complete and timely data from the point-of-work to the bill paying department of your customer is crucial to your success. Many small companies don't recognize this upfront. They assume doing a good job in the field will equate to good collections and a good bank account. Wouldn't that be nice.

Reality is that many small companies fumble around with these processes trying to keep stacks of loose forms and paper that are floating around in the cab of their delivery or service truck organized long enough to carry them into the office and pile them on the admin's desk. The admin looks at the stack of dusty and mud stained forms with blazing eyes that leave you watching your back.

The good news is that mobile handheld PDAs and smartphones with good mobile software applications can now be cost effectively integrated directly with your accounting and work order management systems.

The purpose of these mobile software applications is to ensure that accurate and complete data, that documents the work you have performed, gets into the hands of your paying customers as soon as possible, with as little administrative work and expense as possible. We call that "mobile business process optimization." If you would like to learn more about optimizing your field services using mobile handheld devices and mobile software applications please contact us or visit our website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MobileDataforce VIN Decoding Technology (MVDT) on Mobile Handheld PDAs

Mobile handheld PDAs are a wonderful thing. We are using them plus our “MVDT” (MobileDataforce VIN Decoding Technology) to deliver some very interesting projects involving field services and automobiles.

The following items can be identified by simply scanning the barcode on the dashboard or on the door frame of a car: year, make, model, body type, bed length, doors, # of cylinders, engine formation, engine size, fuel delivery method, fuel type, gross vehicle weight, build plant, restraint system, transmission gears, transmission type, wheelbase, antilock brakes (y/n), stability control (y/n), traction control (y/n), trim level, curb weight, EPA city mileage with auto, EPA city mileage with manual, EPA highway mileage with auto, EPA highway mileage with manual, ground clearance, height, length, width and color options.

All of this information can be automatically imported into a vehicle inspection or a work order uniquely associated with the automobile. For more details please visit our website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Broncos vs Vandals and Using Mobile Handheld PDAs

Our office in Boise, Idaho is nicely decorated today in two different color sets. One is black and gold - representing the University of Idaho Vandals football team, and the other color scheme is blue and orange for the Boise State University Broncos football team. This week the two interstate rivals will be playing each other.

Nick Martin, a Boise State University graduate and technical support guru, arrived at his office to an unpleasant surprise this morning. His desk was fully decorated in his rival's colors. I am sure revenge and conspiracy course through the halls.

How does this relate to mobile handheld computers? I took this picture with my Palm Treo 750 PDA phone running on Windows Mobile 6.0. I synced the image back to my desktop where I am writing this blog. Using the software solution PointSync Mobility Platform I can do the exact same thing with any business application - work orders, inspections, asset tracking, proof-of-delivery and more. The world is now ready for mobilized business applications of all kinds. If you would like to discuss your thoughts on mobilizing business applications please contact us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

MobileDataforce Announces FieldSync Automotive™ for Paintless Dent Repair


Mobile software solution provides VIN scanning and decoding, automotive inspections and work order applications for use on Windows Mobile handheld devices

Boise, Idaho— November 15, 2007 – MobileDataforce® a leading provider of business critical mobile software applications today announced a new mobile software solution called FieldSync Automotive which was designed and developed using the popular PointSync Mobility Platform for mobile handheld PDAs. This application is specifically designed for companies involved in the mobile automotive services market such as Paintless Dent Repair, Smart repair, windshield repair, bumper repair and other mobile services that require automotive inspections, work orders, VIN scanning and decoding, mobile invoices and reports.

“We are excited about offering a new category of mobile business software solutions,” says Kevin Benedict, CEO MobileDataforce. “FieldSync Automotive is the first in a series of mobile business solutions that we will be releasing on the PointSync Mobility Platform to run on Windows Mobile devices.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

iPAQ Handheld PDAs Everywhere


Our office is covered with many HP iPAQ handheld PDAs today. They are getting installed with a mobile supply chain logistics application that is being used to track supplies heading to various clinics in Africa that treat Aids patients. My PSO (professional services organization) team developed this custom mobile application to our customer's specifications and is now helping install all of the mobile applications on the PDAs in preparation for use in the field.
Our customer selected the iPAQ 694o with an Otterbox as a protective cover.

Monday, November 12, 2007

xTablet T8600 Rugged Tablet PCs Compete with Handheld PDAs

My team is working with an xTablet T8600 rugged Tablet PC in the office today. It is being considered by a number of our customers and competing against handheld PDAs. Our customers need a rugged Tablet PC to view either map details or to conduct in-depth equipment inspections. It has a barcode scanner on the top, a credit card swipe on the right side and a great strap on the back to slip your arm through to hold it.

For more information click here. Here are some statements from their website:

Flexibility: MobileDemand's Rugged Tablet PC's are created to be as flexible as your workforce needs - regardless of the industry you are in.
Total Cost of Ownership: For markets such as Direct Store Delivery (DSD), Field Service, Transportation and Logistics, Healthcare, and Manufacturing and Distribution the right choice is a mobile computer..
Durable, Rugged Tablet PC: Nowhere is a failure more recognizable to the customer. It is critical that your field personnel are equipped with the best mobile solution.
Superior Customer Service From MobileDemand: MobileDemand's goal is to provide the best total experience before, during, and most importantly after the sale.
Customer Focused Engineering: MobileDemand takes pride in listening to our customers and using their input in the product design of our products and accessories.

MobileDataforce often works with both rugged handheld computers and rugged Tablet PCs. The majority of our customers have projects that involve data collection out-of-doors in wet, muddy and dusty environments so durability is an important component.

Application Enablement for Mobile Software Solutions, PDAs and Handhelds

I have read about a dozen reports over the last month on the subject of mobile software, handheld and PDA applications. Many companies have synchronization technologies for email, calendars, tasks and messaging, but one of the biggest needs right now is "application enablement." The definition of application enablement, as I understand it, is the ability for a company with a defined need for a mobile application to find a way to cost effectively develop and deploy it.

Here is a scenario - The Business Manager walks down the long row of cubicles to the IT manager's desk and says, "I need a field service work order management system on rugged PDA phones for my service technicians."

The IT manager closes down his My Space page and slowly turns and faces the Business Manager. "We have a custom Work Order Dispatch application written by your cousin Pete. There are no mobile applications that plug into it off-the-shelf."

"Just develop it then."

"How? Do you have a large budget and 12 months?"

This is the question that comes up in companies across the globe. The big unknown is how do you cost effectively create mobile applications. The answer is you need a RAD tool (rapid application development tool) that is designed for mobile applications. The following link covers this subject in more detail.

The PointSync Mobility Platform is the RAD tool created by MobileDataforce to address this need.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Making Millions with Mobile Handheld PDA Software Applications



In the last month I have spoken to several of our customers about their motivations for mobilizing their business processes for use on handheld PDAs. I was very intrigued that several of them identified their primary motivation was closing new business.

At MobileDataforce we are very focused on helping our customers identify the cost savings that can be achieved by mobilizing business processes on handhelds like:
  • Work Order Dispatch
  • Inspections
  • Asset Tracking
  • Delivery services
  • Clinical trials data collection
  • etc.

However, sometimes this can blind us to the fact that the primary motivations of some of our customers are to close new business by mobilizing, rather than achieving cost savings by mobilizing.

Two of the custom mobile software projects my teams are working on today were initiated because our customers wanted to achieve a competitive advantage in their business. They were not motivated primarily by cost savings due to business process efficiencies. They wanted to show their sales prospects a better way of conducting business using handheld computers, mobile software applications and wireless synchronization with their office database applications. In both cases it worked. Their end user customers chose them over competing companies that were still using inefficient paper, clipboards and fax machines.

I wrote an article called the 28 Reasons to Mobilize which can be downloaded here, but in this article I failed to list as a motivation - closing new business. Yes mobilizing your business prcesses to run on handheld PDAs can save money through efficiencies, but it can also add top line revenue to your business.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

RFID Adoption Rates are Dropping


In an article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 it is reported that RFID adoption rates are actually dropping. In 2006 13% of logistic providers said they have committed to using RFID at some point in the future, in 2007 the number is only 10%. Currently only 8% of logistics providers are involved in proof-of-concepts and this is also down from 2006 numbers.

The ROIs are simply not there yet for the majority of companies. The RFID tags remain too expensive and the accuracy of many RFID systems is not sufficient. Tom McKenna, VP of Penske Corp., says he could only get 95% accuracy on the RFID reads, which of course does not work for him.

Long live the bar code!!!
MobileDataforce has created many barcode and RFID solutions. Our mobile software solutions, the PointSync Mobility Platform, does not care if the data comes to the handheld through a bar code scanner, RFID reader or any other method. We process the data the same way and wirelessly synchronize it with enterprise database applications.