Friday, July 02, 2010

The Stylus, Proof of Delivery and Windows Embedded Mobile

I was interviewing Gil Bouhnick, Director of Mobile Solutions with ClickSoftware, an SAP mobility partner, today about their new version of ClickMobile 8.1.1.  In the course of our interview he mentioned the stylus.  Remember the stylus?  The handy little hard plastic faux pen used to write on the screen of PDAs, handheld computers and smartphones.  They remain important to many field service processes today as we will discuss in a moment.

Gil and I were discussing the differences between mobile consumer and industrial grade devices.  He mentioned that in most mobile proof-of-delivery projects that he works on, the customer requires a signature from the recipient.  The signature is often captured as a digital signature by using a stylus and writing on the screen.  It occurred to me that most smartphones no longer have this feature.  As a result, smartphones without styluses will not be used in these business processes. 

Windows Mobile (and the next Windows Embedded Handheld OS) lets you capture a digital signature, draw on the screen, use radio buttons, check boxes and other onscreen tools to input data.  Not being able to use these features would be a big problem for many service technicians and delivery folks that use rugged handhelds in their work today.  That is why I am so interested in Microsoft's recent announcement regarding their Windows Phone 7 and Windows Embedded Handheld strategy.  Gil wrote an article summarizing many of the recent announcements by Microsoft on their mobility strategy,

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
CEO/Principal Consultant, Netcentric Strategies LLC
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.