Thursday, December 27, 2007

Apple Stores, iPhones & Symbol MC50 Handhelds an Interesting Combination

I was shopping in Portland, Oregon yesterday and observed a very interesting combination of handheld computers, iPhones and PDAs at work. As I was shopping in the Apple store at Pioneer Place, I noticed that the Apple sales people were all carrying Symbol/Motorola MC50 handheld computers with wireless support, credit card swipers and bar code scanners all running on Windows Mobile 5.0 operating systems. Do you see the irony in this? The Apple sales people are selling smartphones (iPhones) and PDAs (iTouch) using the Apple operating system, but all of their sales people use Windows Mobile operating systems for their business applications. This is just not right.
The way the Apple sales people were using the MC50s handhelds was very cool. They could swipe debit and credit cards anywhere in the store, give you the product and email your receipt to you. That is very cool! No long lines at the cash register, the sales people can take care of all credit card and debit card purchases anywhere in the store. Now if only they could figure out a way to accomplish that using their own Apple PDAs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Building a Small Mobile Business Using Mobile Handheld PDAs and Smartphones

Over the past few years companies were coming to MobileDataforce to ask about mobilizing existing business processes like field services, work orders, asset tracking, inspections, etc. These were companies that were just looking for ways to make things more efficient using handheld PDAs and smartphones. I am now seeing a new trend. This trend is companies that are starting from the ground up with a mobile business plan that takes advantage of mobile software and handheld PDA technology at their core.

Companies that can be run by a mobile owner/manager. The mobile owner/manager is able to enter work orders and job assignments on his handheld computer, dispatch the job to his team and keep working in the field. All the work is electronically documented on handhelds and synchronized back to his office accounting and work order software without human intervention.

These capabilities offer very compelling competitive advantages. You have full business visibility on the handheld. You don't have the high admin cost for the office. You can run very small operations very efficiently and with built in quality assurance.

For more information please visit MobileDataforce's website.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

38 Reasons to Mobilize Your Business with Handheld PDAs

This article describes the value that mobile software applications on handheld PDAs can provide businesses:

  1. Eliminate time spent in the re-typing data collected in the field.
  2. Reduce time spent on the phone dispatching service tickets , rather dispatch direct from your office computer to the mobile handheld computer in the field.
  3. Send driving directions in the mobile work order to save driving time and fuel costs.
  4. Save driving time by wirelessly synchronizing work orders with the office.
  5. Reduce fuel costs by minimizing the need to drive back and forth to the office to deliver paper work.
  6. Provide better customer service by accessing their account information via wireless connectivity on your handheld computer.
  7. Improve the efficiency of field data collection by using barcode scanners or RFID readers for rapid asset tracking.
  8. Improve the quality of work by providing real-time management visibility to work being done in the field.
  9. Create and schedule service tickets direct from the field. Reduces the need for an administrative intermediary.
  10. Immediate invoicing for faster collections and cash management by synchronizing with the office accounting system or by using a mobile printer and credit card swipe machine on the handheld computer.
  11. Proof of work – GPS audit trail of work with date and time stamp documents location and time of work. Reduces invoicing disputes.
  12. Reduce introductions of human errors with automated business processes and systems integration. Move electronic data from the field to your database applications without human intervention.
  13. Ensure complete data is sent from the field – incomplete data wastes time tracking down later.
  14. Avoid handwriting and translation errors by pre-populating electronic form information.
  15. Validate answers on mobile handheld PDA forms – to ensure data accuracy.
  16. Take digital images to document work and avoid invoicing disputes
    Push data to the handheld and avoid time communicating information on the phone.
  17. GPS tracking for reduced travel time and lower fuel consumption.
  18. Compute and analyze data on the handheld in the field – programmed analytics can help field users make quicker and better decisions.
  19. Automated business processes - your mobile application can be configured to perform all kinds of automated business functions, queries, computations, analytics and many more time consuming features automatically based on data input or buttons pushed.
  20. Enforce business processes for efficiency and best practices - mobile software solutions can be configured to ensure the field user follows the appropriate business processes.
  21. Avoid lost data —capture data immediately and sync to headquarters.
  22. Avoid undocumented inventory usage and unbilled time due to forgetfulness. Enforce real time data entry at point of work.
  23. Require clock in and clock out at jobsites to document the accuracy of work/time estimates.
  24. Train new service technicians and inspectors with audio memos or video clips.
  25. Capture digital signature for proof-of-delivery and proof of work on handheld computers.
  26. Query for available inventory in nearby work vans to save travel time, inventory and fuel cost.
  27. Use product and services information on handheld computers to up-sell.
  28. Query latest shipping status and/or inventory levels via handheld computer while onsite with customer.
  29. Document work and inspections time and dates to limit liability and disputes
    Use mobile technologies as a competitive advantage and show instant visibility to work.
  30. Demonstrate to potential customers the advantages of including GPS, time and date stamps, digital images, audio memos and more to document work and synchronize with the office using your handheld computer.
  31. Download product warranty information to the handheld computer for review at point of work.
  32. Using rugged handhelds are often easier to carry around at job sites and are more durable than using laptops—lower ownership costs.
  33. Mobile handheld computers with barcode scanners capture data quicker than typing on a laptop.
  34. Combine your phone, GPS device, laptop, digital camera, paper forms and barcode scanner all on one mobile handheld device to save money, weight and support costs.
  35. Combine job estimates, inspections, work orders, mobile inventory, time sheets all on one mobile application and one synchronization platform to mobilize and automate the entire business.
  36. Scale your business by lowering administrative costs and the administrative work required to run the business.
  37. Improve profits by analyzing real-time data collection on handhelds to understand the amount of time each task takes—so better scheduling and estimates can be implemented.
  38. Push data to the handheld and avoid time communicating information on the phone.

Monday, December 03, 2007

MobileDataforce, Mobile Software, PDAs and Handhelds at the 2008 Olympics

MobileDataforce has a customer in the Netherlands called Janssen-Fritsen. They are supplying all gymnastics equipment for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing next year. This is their fifth Olympic order. They are a market leader and expert in the field of equipment and materials for sports education, gymnastics and sports centers. Most of their products are developed in-house and supported by their professional services team.

The company has 25 field workers that register and work with large quantities of information related to the installation and condition of the equipment. Until recently, all of this information was managed with paper forms. They have now mobilized these paper processes using MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Platform to improve service efficiency and to significantly reduce the reporting time.

Mobile Handheld PDA Applications for Inspections on Hospital Equipment

MobileDataforce is working on a mobile software application for use on handheld PDAs and barcode scanners by a biomedical equipment company that provides services to over 200 hospitals. The mobile field services application provides:
  • Work Orders software
  • Inspection Software
  • Breakdown repairs and preventative maintenance on all biomedical equipment
  • Safety and performance testing of all biomedical equipment
  • Loan equipment to minimise inconvenience
  • Acceptance testing of all new biomedical equipment
  • Training and education on equipment operation and maintenance

Our mobile application will integrate with their pre-existing CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) to provide mobile handheld PDA applications for their service technicians.