Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MobileDataforce Acquires Treetop Technologies to Increase Capacity for Developing Mobile Software Solutions

MobileDataforce Acquires Treetop Technologies

Acquisition supports strategy for rapid growth in the enterprise mobile software applications markets for handheld PDAs and Smartphones

Boise, Idaho— January 30, 2008MobileDataforce® a leading provider of business critical mobile software applications for handheld PDAS and Smartphones announced today it has acquired privately-held Treetop Technologies of Boise, Idaho. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition of Treetop Technologies extends MobileDataforce’s portfolio of services to include enterprise database and web design, development and integration. “These are skills that are in high demand by our medium to large mobile application customers.” says Kevin Benedict, CEO of MobileDataforce. “MobileDataforce is experiencing rapid growth around the world and as our mobile software development projects for handheld PDAS and Smartphones grow in size and complexity, the talents of the Treetop Technologies’ team will become critical to our future success and growth plans. This move continues to reinforce our goal of providing complete mobility enablement solutions that extend from the office to the field.

Treetop Technologies was ranked as Inc. Magazine’s 18th fastest growing software company in America in 2005. Their client list includes multi-national Fortune 500 companies, technology-based firms and various public entities. Treetop Technologies has provided services and support for projects ranging from mission critical manufacturing systems to complex business solutions. “Combining Treetop Technologies with our 11 years of experience developing enterprise applications with MobileDataforce’s exceptional growth in the mobile application market will create one of the world’s leading mobile solutions companies,” explains Jason Crawforth, CEO of Treetop Technologies.

The acquisition was successfully managed and executed by Nick Miller and team at Hawley Troxell Ennis & Hawley LLP in Boise, Idaho.

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, January 29, 2008

Energy Efficiency & Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software Solutions


Our team in the UK has been working on various large mobile energy and water efficiency inspection applications for the last year. MobileDataforce is now being approached in the USA by a number of electrical and water utilities seeking our help developing mobile software applications that can be used for home inspections to determine where both electricity and water can be saved.
Yesterday, I received a flyer from our local electrical utility asking for homeowners to subscribe to a service that allows the electrical utility to inspect their air conditioning units, and then apply a piece of monitoring equipment that allows the utility to regulate the use of the unit during peak times in the summer. I am not necessarily comfortable with a outside entity running my air conditioning unit from a distance, but I understand their need to start taking steps to better manage the use of electricity for conservation purposes.
The bottom line - they need MobileDataforce's mobile handheld inspection software for energy efficiency inspections, and our mobile work order software for dispatching field service technicians. We have a lot of experience in this area and it provides a great service to our communities.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mobile Solutions for Handheld PDAs and Tablet PCs in China


Two of our PSO (professional services organization) team members returned on Saturday from a 10 day trip to China where they were working on a mobile software project for Quality Assurance and Reporting. The quality of the manufacturing is very important to the buyer in the USA, so having good inspection software and reports are required to be gathered at the point of manufacturing in China and the data is sent around the world for review and storage in California. The mobile software applications can be configured to work on mobile handheld PDAs or Tablet PCs.
This is a very complex mobile solution, one of the most challenging we have implemented, but the satisfaction of having safeguarded products used by millions is worth it.
This is just one example of the many large international mobile software projects MobileDataforce is currently working on to mobilize various business processes for our enterprise customers.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chain of Custody with MobileDataforce's Mobile Handheld PDA Software Solutions

Our professional services team has just completed a very powerful mobile software application for, use on handheld PDAs, that provides a "chain-of-custody" solution for delivering medicine primarily to African and South American locations. The specific application that we just delivered tracks the delivery of AIDs medicine from the warehouse to the clinic.

One of the big challenges faced by organizations providing medicine to remote areas, is to make sure that the medicine purchased and shipped actually arrives at the designated location. The application we just delivered includes functionality that validates that the medicine, in the appropriate quantities, arrives at 8 specific locations along the shipping route and is confirmed with digital signatures from valid signers.

The distance, environmental challenges and lack of infrastructure often mean that mobile software solutions are the best option for tracking supplies around the world. MobileDataforce is working on many such solutions today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mobile Handheld PDAs, Politics & Barack Obama

Politics & Windows Mobile Software Applications

One of my Product Managers created a mobile software application last week for the campaign team that works for presidential candidate Barack Obama. It was designed to help caucus participants quickly compute a caucus strategy during the dynamic events of the night. This is a first for me. I have never seen a custom mobile software application designed to help define and develop a political strategy in real time. Good job Tim!


How is this possible you might ask - he developed it using MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform. Using a rapid application development platform like PointSync, you can quickly create all kinds of interesting mobile software applications that you can run on your PDAs and PDA phones.




Mobile Mobile Water Bottle Delivery Solution on Handheld PDAs

My team is working on a mobile water bottle delivery solution for use on handheld PDAs for a Portuguese company that delivers water in Africa. The mobile software solution includes the following:
  • Route delivery information
  • Barcode scanning
  • Mobile Inventory of water/water bottles
  • Delivery details
  • Mileage of vehicle
  • Mobile printer and printing support

MobileDataforce is delivering an increasing number of these kinds of mobile route delivery applications for both handheld PDAs and handheld barcode scanners. If a company is currently using paper, the ROI is very easy to document. Not only can the basic business processes associated with deliveries be mobilized, but CRM information, competitive data collection, new order processes, service details, etc., can all be mobilized using the same mobile software platform and the same handheld computer.

Friday, January 11, 2008

12 Steps to a Successful Mobile Software Deployment on Handheld PDAs

Companies around the globe are looking for ways to do more with less. Many recognize that their mobile workforce is being managed inefficiently and extending business process automation to mobile field workers using handheld PDAs is becoming a priority. The following 12 steps identify how you can get started automating and mobilizing these business processes for use on handhelds.

Step 1 – Understand the ROI/Scope of the Project and Plan Ahead

What are some of the key challenges with a mobile software development project? Many companies don’t put enough thought into what they need, and what the anticipated ROI will be. Others don’t assign and schedule testing resources. Some finish the development but have no deployment strategy. Still others buy incompatible handheld PDAs before they start development and find out they don’t meet the requirements of the field user. The results of these deficiencies are project scope creep, cost overruns, missed deadlines and dissatisfied end users.

Step 2 – Build a Team and Include the Field User

Make sure the members of your team have the right roles and responsibilities to help the mobility project succeed. Mobile solutions usually tie into other corporate IT assets and business processes, therefore impact other IT departments and business units. In addition, a representative mobile field worker(s) should be included on the project team to provide valuable “real-world” insight.

Step 3 – Select the Right Mobile Solution and Advisers

Performing successful data synchronization from mobile computing devices can be a challenging and complex task. There are many variables that can determine the success of a mobile development project. Make sure you have experienced mobility experts to advise you and select a proven mobile middleware solution as the foundation for your solution.

Step 4 – Know Your Target Users and Their Environment

During the planning and scoping phase of your mobile project, take the time to experience the working environment of your mobile field workers and observe the business processes in action. Focus on how the information is collected and exchanged between the office and the mobile workers. These observations can significantly impact the design, development and deployment of a successful project! Evaluate the physical environment of the work. How do moist, cold and dirty environments impact the mobile devices? How does low light or bright sunlight affect visibility of the screen? Can workers read the small text on the PDA screen, or does the text need to be larger?

Step 5 – Decide Who will Develop the Mobile Solution

Do you have an IT department with software developers that are available for a new development project? Do they have experience developing custom mobile software solutions? Are they knowledgeable with mobile data synchronization issues? Will they be able to dedicate the time to finishing the application in the necessary time frame? Do you have the risk tolerance for letting an inexperienced internal development team attempt the project, or is the ROI sufficient to justify contracting with mobility experts to develop the custom application?

Step 6 – Do You Start with a Mobile Software Platform or Build from Scratch?

Do you start developing your mobile software project with a blank computer screen, or do you start with a packaged mobile middleware solution that has a development environment included like the PointSync Mobility Platform from MobileDataforce? Again, your success is heavily reliant on your expertise in custom mobile application design and development. If you have experience developing mobile middleware applications and custom mobile software applications, then using a packaged application is less important. If you don’t have experience and are working with a limited budget and time frame, then it is crucial that you select a mobile application development solution to expedite the project.

Step 7 – Understand How to Re-engineer Business Processes for Mobility

Mobile solutions can provide bar code scanning, digital images, GPS, RFID, data synchronization, enterprise database queries, integration with inventory, scheduling, work order, accounting and many other enterprise software applications. How will these capabilities change the way the field user works?

Step 8 – Build in Phases

Most successful projects involve a series of phased implementations. Each phase can be developed, tested and implemented in an orderly manner. Once a phase is deployed and proven, additional phases can be layered on top that include more features and added complexity. Remember, the more data requirements that you add the more data you must synchronize, and the longer each synchronization session will take. Only synchronize data that your remote users require in the field. Be aware that most mobile devices don’t have the same CPU power or memory as a PC/laptop, so understand the performance of your application on mobile devices before designing the solution.

Step 9 – Evaluate Your Hardware and Connectivity Needs

The term “mobile devices” can have many different interpretations. Today, laptops, Tablet PC’s, UMPCs, PDAs and Smart phones are all identified with this term. When determining the best mobile device for your project you will want to consider screen size, data storage capacity, security, physical working environment, required hardware accessories such as barcode scanners, GPS, digital cameras, RFID, and the ability to upgrade the device with updated hardware and software components.

How do you connect your mobile device to your enterprise database applications? You have many options including cradle, WiFi, satellite, Bluetooth, wireless, dial-up modems and satellite uplinks to name a few. The method(s) you choose will be affected by how often your mobile workers need to send/receive data. How much data will be transmitted and will they always have connectivity. Study each option, your working environment and consult your mobility partner to make the best selections.

Step 10 – Deploy, Evaluate and Improve

Once you have completed the first phase of your mobile solution and you are ready to deploy in the real world, roll out your solution to a group of trusted and motivated field users. Define a specific period of time to evaluate the solution, document the results and identify any required changes and improvements. The result of this evaluation should be an improved mobile solution that is ready for a wider deployment.

Step 11 – Set and Enforce Hardware and Security Policies

Mobile devices are small computers with the ability to store sensitive corporate data, communicate this data over the Internet and even catch viruses. You must clearly communicate how mobile devices are to be used and for what purpose. Establish and publish guidelines for using mobile devices.

Step 12 – Provide Full Support for Mobile Users

Mobile devices are guaranteed to break. What is your plan for keeping a mobile worker productive and communicating business critical information when their mobile device ceases to function or gets misplaced? These are inevitable issues that are best planned for in advance. Have a plan and a documented back up process.

For more information on MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform please visit our website, email us or call us at USA 208-854-1200.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Building Businesses with Mobile Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software


I have written a great deal on the value of specific mobile solutions like the following:
  • Mobile Work Orders
  • Mobile Inspections
  • Mobile Job Estimates
  • Mobile Asset Tracking
  • Mobile Delivery Solutions

Today I want to focus on some key problems businesses face, and how mobile solutions can help solve these problems. When a company expands beyond the capabilities of the owner/manager, new employees or contractors must be added. This can often introduce the following kinds of problems:

  • Inexperienced workers
  • Unreliable workers
  • Irresponsible workers
  • Uncommitted workers
  • Forgetful workers
  • Thieves and felons on the payroll

These problems can lead to the following set of issues:

  • Unhappy customers
  • Cost overruns
  • Incomplete and/or incorrect paperwork
  • Inaccurate job estimates
  • Work quality issues
  • Slow work production
  • Lost tools and equipment
  • Management headaches

Believe it or not - many of these issues can be improved and corrected by using mobile software applications on handheld computers to help ensure the best work in the field. Mobile handheld PDAs can help the owner/manager keep better tabs on the work and equipment in the field, ensure completed and correct paperwork, monitor customer satisfaction, and get real time notification if the job is taking longer than anticipated.

For more information on mobile solutions that can help in these areas please visit our website.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Smartphones, Mobile Handheld PDAs, Location Based Mobility - Google, Starbucks & Safeway


I made an interesting observation while taking a road trip over the holidays. Mobile handheld PDAs and Google and mapping software have made it possible for businesses without obvious street front locations to become more successful. Let me explain - My wife wanted to know if there was a Starbucks location along our driving route. She googled (used as a verb) the word Starbucks on her mobile handheld PDA phone and looked for a location in one of the small rural towns we would be traveling through. She quickly found a Starbucks location inside a Safeway in Baker City, Oregon. Here is the interesting point, this Safeway was not visible from the freeway, yet Starbucks had a long line of travellers waiting for their hot drinks. Seems we were not the only travelers clever enough to use a mobile phone, Internet explorer and Google to find their favorite drink.

Again, the fact that the location was not visible from the freeway did not seem to be a problem. How might this change the economics of the retail industry? In the near future, the key to retail success may be more dependent on your ability to be found on search engines like Google and Yahoo, and less on the physical location of the retail establishment. Hummm...perhaps I should use all of my saved money and buy 1 share of Google.