Monday, February 11, 2008

Handheld PDAs - More than Data Collection Devices

When some people think about replacing paper forms with handheld PDAs or smartphones - they are only thinking about collecting data and sending it wirelessly back to the office. However, simply collecting, storing and moving data would be a missuse of a powerful handheld PDA or rugged handheld. A computer should compute. By that I mean - a handheld computer should analyze the data collected and take action based upon the data. Here is an example:

Your house is on fire. You can take out a handheld PDA and enter data that says, "my house is on fire," and store it as the house collaspes around you, or you can program your handheld PDA to automatically call 911, turn on the sprinklers, call your work to report you will be in late, order new carpets and cancel the evening poker game, and provide a damage estimate.

OK - so that is a silly example but the point is a handheld computer can analyze the data you enter, and be programmed to take action. Handheld computers should do the following:

  • Allow you to enter information/data

  • Store it

  • Synchronize it with a distant software application

  • Take action based upon the information

  • Alert people or other computers about the data

  • Analyze the data and make predictions

  • Activate other computer programs to take action

  • Decrease inventory numbers

  • Close work orders

  • Enter a new customer order

  • Replace inventory with a new order

  • Track packages

  • Call your customers

  • Reschedule an appointment

  • Estimate the closest service technician

  • Predict the fastest route to drive

  • Analyze the accuracy of job estimates

  • Conduct time tracking

  • Copy and send the data to multiple destination

  • Perform mathmatical computations and take action based upon the result

  • Activate mechanical equipment to take action based upon the information

  • Turn on and off electronics

All of these actions can be programmed to take place based upon the data you enter into a handheld computer. At MobileDataforce we work with customers on these kinds of issues daily.