Showing posts from October, 2009

Smart Phones, Mobile Software, Coupons and Grocery Lists

I can hear it now! Readers complaining that I should already know about this category of mobile applications, but I don't so I apologize in advance. I want to be able to go to a grocery store (food store) and take out my iPhone, photograph the bar code label (UPC code) and have my GPS location uploaded to a website that will instantly provide me with all the discounts, coupons and rebates available for that product (UPC code) in that specific store location (GPS coordinate). I want to take advantage of any savings that are available. I should not have to clip coupons from newspapers, file them and browse through different websites. I want the best price for the products on my shopping list for today only. Hummm , let me think about that. Perhaps if complementary products were also on sale that could prove useful. OK, let's add that feature and make it so it can be active or inactive in set-up. It would also be useful to know how many of my products could be purchased for le

Network-Centric Mobile Field Force Automation and OODA

This article explores the combination of some of the best military strategy thinking with mobile technologies, field force automation and business intelligence solutions. *********************************************** Author Kevin Benedict Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant ***********************************************

Help Me - RFID on the Road

I want to obey the law. I want to stay within the legal spend limits, but it is so hard when you have two dogs in the car, kids asking questions, the radio on, a hot cup of coffee and you are trying to read a text message while driving through the rain at night. How is one to see every speed limit sign? I want speed limit signs along the road to be RFID enabled. I want the speed limit signs to send my car the speed limit information via RFID. I want my car to receive the RFID signal and warn me if I go above the speed limit by more than 5 MPH. I need less distractions while driving. I should be able to concentrate on reading my text messages without the distraction of looking for speed limit signs. Who will join me and sign the petition? *********************************************** Author Kevin Benedict Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant *********************************

Peer-to-Peer Mobile Computing and Field Services Automation, Part 2

This is the second in a 2 part series on Peer-to-Peer Mobile Computing and Field Services Automation. Part 1 can be read here . Field Service Technicians spend much of their time working at remote customer sites. Often the job expands or they get dispatched to a new job where they don't have the right equipment, expertise, tools or parts to complete the job in a timely manner. This can result in delays and inefficiencies that result in higher costs. Let's ponder some ideas on how a peer-to-peer mobile computing environment along with LBS (location based services) could improve these situations. Location based services allow you to identify locations, objects and people with GPS coordinates. Based upon these GPS coordinates, various actions can be programmed or configured. Once you are within 1 mile of a shopping center, you begin to receive product sales and discount information as an example. In a field service context, you could activate a database query, or activat

Peer-to-Peer Mobile Computing and Field Services Automation, Part 1

There are a lot of times when the supervisor or owner/operator of a SMB (small to medium sized business) is not at his or her desk staring at the computer screen. They are often in the field working with customers and their service teams. The problem with this is that it prevents visibility to other projects that may benefit from the supervisor's real time advice and oversight. Let's now talk about some possible solutions to this issue. In many field service automation or work order management software applications, the design and architecture of the software is in a client server model. Information and electronic service tickets are wirelessly dispatched to mobile handheld computers and Smart phones, and the service technician completes the electronic service ticket and the information is synchronized back to the server in the office. The problem with this design again is that the supervisor who is most interested in viewing this real-time work order information is not in t

American Sins, GPS, GIS and Mobile Software Applications that Show It All

I wrote an article that was published on the Ulitzer site yesterday that was very fun to write. Just read the title and you can understand, American Sins, GPS, GIS and Mobile Software Applications that Show It All . *********************************************** Author Kevin Benedict Independent Mobile Strategy, Sales and Marketing Consultant ***********************************************

The Future of Mobile and Route Sales Applications for Smart Phones, Part 2

This article is the second in a series on Mobile and Route Sales Applications for Smart Phones . You can read part one here. In this recent article I described my need to know when the New York Times newspaper arrived at the local Starbuck's Coffee shop. I wanted an email or text message telling me that my paper arrived at 7:44 AM. Why? I wanted to buy a copy before it sold out. If it was sold out, I wanted to know the next closest location that may have one in inventory. This required some application integration and clever real-time notification systems, but it was very doable. The route sales/driver also would appreciate the above application as it would sell more papers and there would be less to pick-up and transport back to the warehouse for recycling. In this second article in the series I want to focus on the use of business intelligence and business analytics as it relates to mobile applications. If you are driving a vehicle and/or using a Smart Phone, you do not want

The Future of Mobile and Route Sales Applications for Smart Phones, Part 1

I can see multiple mobile applications and technologies converging rapidly to provide some very interesting scenarios for mobile and route sales people. Consider the following scenario. A mobile sales person or route sales person is driving through an unfamiliar territory. She stops in a parking lot and activates an application on her Smart Phone that identifies her location and requests visibility into the location of all current and past customers, and any known sales prospects. Her application, using Google Maps provides a map with color coded "push pins" showing the exact locations of each. Tapping on any push pin identifies the street address, name, product and account history. The mobile sales person only has 2 hours to spare, so selects a priority filter. The map updates and removes non-selected accounts. She then selects the option to have route optimization activated from her current location in the parking lot. She gets the optimal route provided to her. She then

Mobile Computing, High Speed Internet and Good Transportation is the Answer for the Heartland

There was an interesting article by Bill Kauffman in the Wall Street Journal today (October 20, 2009) in the Bookshelf section called Where Home Is, The Heart Isn't . It talks about the book Hollowing Out the Middle by husband and wife sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas that describes a trend where young people of intellect and ambition leave the middle of America for the coastlines. This migration has devastating effects on the middle of America according to the authors. The sharpest insight in the book according to Kauffman is that "small towns play an unwitting role in their own decline" by promoting the idea that fulfilling one's dream means one must leave home for the big city lights along the shores. I live in Boise, Idaho. A small town in the high desert at the base of the mountains far from any oceans. Mobile computing, high speed Internet and a nice airport has made this a great base to raise my family and develop a high tech career. I trave

Equipment Centric Mobile Software Applications and Workflows

A service technician receives a mobile work order dispatched to his rugged mobile handheld. It calls for the immediate repair of an air conditioning unit in a specific factory. Under the account status it says annual service contact in flashing red. He pushes the red flashing button and the mobile work order application then queries a different application - the central office CMMS (computer managed maintenance system) for any additional maintenance or inspection work that needs to be completed on the broken air conditioning equipment, or any other equipment under a service contract in the area. Let's pause a moment and consider the implications of the above scenario. A need for a customer's equipment repair generates a work order that is wirelessly dispatched to the service technician. While at the jobsite , the service technician wants to know if any other equipment needs serviced while he is onsite. If he can accomplish more work while he is onsite , then that can save fu

M2M, Route Optimization, Handhelds and Business Intelligence

Recently I wrote about mobile software applications physically moving objects such as unlocking car doors. I have also seen interesting scenarios where mechanical objects activate mobile applications. One example is the PTO on a snow plow activates the GPS to track the routes being plowed, sprayed with deicer or sanded and this information is wirelessly updated in real-time to GIS system to view coverage areas. Another scenario is a mini-inventory management system or a M2M (machine to machine) scenario whereby a snack vending machine wirelessly notifies the vending machine owner of current inventory levels. I can envision a scenario where 1,500 vending machines automatically and wirelessly update the central office ERP with their inventory levels. The ERP checks inventory in the central warehouse and automatically creates shipping orders and replenishes low warehouse inventory through automated ordering rules with preferred vendors. Business intelligence software predicts the dema

Multi-Purpose and Multi-line Smart Phones

It occurred to me today that I would like a Smart phone with both a personal line and a business line in it. I work remotely so most of my work related phone calls come to my iPhone. When I create a voice mail I must choose between a business sounding voice mail, or my imitation of Elvis Presley. I don't want to choose. I want both. What Smart phone manufacturer is going to give me both a personal and a work phone all in one Smart phone handset? - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wirelessly Controlling Equipment with Mobile Software Applications

In a recent article I wrote about mobile software applications that could physically move objects. Here is another example for you to ponder from Telemetrics . This is how they describe themselves, "We deliver cost-effective wireless communication and control solutions for a wide range of distribution automation and power reliability applications." One of their products is called Monitor and Control Reclosures . It uses small monitors with wireless communications equipment to remotely report on equipment status. The most intriguing part though is mentioned below in feature #2, Here is what it does: Monitor recloser status points, such as a trip and lockout event, and automatically notify dispatch personnel. Notifications are sent upon alarms or events via pager, email or voice and can be sent to multiple individuals. Assist repair crews with the ability to provide open and close commands by supervisory (wireless) remote control of the recloser. Offers real time status

Mobile Applications that Move Things

There is a new category of mobile software applications for Smart Phones and handheld computers that physically move things. I love it!!! Zip Car, a rental car service, allows you to use your iPhone to both find and unlock the rental car. Zip Car's business model is they park their rental cars around a metropolitan area and people can register and pay for the rental online, then they are provided with a list of locations where these cars are parked near them. Once there, they can enter their rental code into their iPhone and the Zip Car is unlocked for them. In this USA Today article , a California company has now created an application called Viper SmartStart that can replace your car keys. Your iPhone will now be able to lock, unlock and start your car. Again, your Smart Phone is controlling mechanical movements. Next I can see throwing away my garage door opener, TV Remote and using my iPhone to start up and warm my car during the dark of winter. I have read in other

Mobile Applications, Location Based Services and Distribution

In this article , I wrote about a concept of having CPG companies or distributors of perishable products notify customers when their products are in inventory at a particular location. The example given was The Sunday Edition of The New York Times. I wanted to receive a text message or email when The New York Times was delivered to my local coffee shop. That way I could quickly drive down and grab a copy before they were all sold out. The LBS (location based services) and real-time notification system would need to be notified by the distributor when the product was delivered and available to be sold in a particular location. The system would require the distributor to scan a bar code label on the product with a handheld computer that includes a barcode scanner. The product, date and time stamp and location would be synchronzied with a real-time notification system that could send our text messages and emails to the subscribers. This article, and the article linked to it, are id

Mobile Blogging

This is my first attempt at blogging remotely from my iPhone. Hummm...I guess this will enable me to update readers from mobile and remote jobsites. I haves managed mobile implementations in New Zealand, Uganda, South Africa, South America and Wales. Not that Wales is quite as remote, but it would be fun to blog in Wales again. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Mobile Applications and Location Based Systems for Supply Chain and Inventory Management

In an article I published recently about grocery stores using LBS (location based services) on mobile devices and Smart phones, I proposed there were additional areas that large enterprises could benefit from real-time data collection, B2B integrations, business intelligence and location based services. Let's take a look at a couple of additional scenarios: 14 trucks are delivering perishable products on routes Truck #7 has a customer that has an unexpectedly high demand for a product Truck #7, using a mobile handheld computer, requests additional inventory from the SAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) software in the central office. The SAP ERP reports inventory levels on all 14 trucks based upon the real-time synchronization of data with each of the handheld barcode scanners of the trucks It is determined that truck #9 has excess inventory of the needed perishable product The GPS service in the handheld computer used by truck 9 identifies it's position and a meeting loc

Location Based Services on Mobile Handhelds and Smart Phones

LBS, location based services are very interesting. LBS refers to services that can be activated based upon your GPS location or cell phone tower proximity as identified by your Smart phone, mobile device or handheld computer service. I know how local pizza joints can benefit, but I am currently pondering how large businesses can utilize LBSs . I wrote about one of my new ideas in this article. It involves real-time notification of changing pricings and discounts to a grocery store's customer base. *********************************************** Author Kevin Benedict Independent Mobile Computing, EDI and B2B Expert and Consultant ***********************************************

Mobile Coupons and Gambit Mobile - I Love it!

This mobile coupon concept by Subway is BRILLIANT! I found this excerpt in a press release from . Big brands such as Subway have embraced mobile coupons. The thing Subway likes the best about the mobile coupons medium is that it can reach its target audience when that audience is most likely to buy. Subway sends text messages to its opt-in database just before lunch time when workers are deciding where to go for lunch. Receive a mobile coupon and it’s almost already decided for them. They time their mobile coupons to hit the Smart phones and other mobile devices when your stomach is growling and you are watching the clock for lunch time. I love it! Give the customer exactly what they need, on a mobile device, exactly at the time they need it. *********************************************** Author Kevin Benedict Independent Mobile Computing, EDI and B2B Consultant http://mobileenterpris

Mobile Software and Mobile Business Intelligence

Business analytics and business intelligence is one of the few hot areas in enterprise IT sales now days. In fact, SAP is shifting resources from other business groups to focus more on their Business Objects solutions. All companies, executives and managers seem to be crying for more information that they can use to make faster and better decisions. In tough economic times, information is even more critical. Take this trend and consider that over 40% of the workforce is now considered mobile and you have an emerging requirement for mobile business intelligence and analytics. In this recent article on Mobile Business Intelligence that I authored, an example of how service companies and their field service technicians can use mobile business intelligence was detailed. The bottom line, managers and mobile employees need access to critical business intelligence and business analytics while they are out of the office with customers or on remote job locations. This information needs

Mobile Application Integration Platform - For Data Collection and Cloud Computing Services

An increasingly large amount of data is being consumed by mobile handheld computers and Smart phones. This data can come from a wide variety of sources and be in many different formats including GPS, LBS (location based services), SMS , voice, Email, Video, digital photos, barcode scanning, RFID , voice memos, documents and Bluetooth data connectivity to a large variety of data collection tools and equipment. The data can come from many different ERPs , database applications and SaaS (software as a service) offerings in a cloud computing environment. The demand for mobile applications and mobile devices to be able to consume all of these various data sources and formats creates a need for an mobile data aggregation platform for mobile data feeds. This data often needs to be integrated into a mobile application somehow so the data can be used by the mobile worker. Some of this data can be aggregated on the database server side and downloaded or streamed to the mobile device, but da

Mobile Workflows and ERPs

As mobile applications become more complex and sophisticated and used by large enterprises there will be an increasing emphasis and requirement for automated mobile workflows and supported ERP business processes. I wrote about mobile application support for ERPs in this article , but today I want to focus on the automated workflow on the mobile handheld computer, Tablet PC or laptop that is used in the field. ERP business processes and automated workflows have been supported within the four walls of the enterprise for decades, but they often don't extend outside the four walls to the remote jobsite and/or mobile sales and service processes. That is a big problem that needs to be addressed by mobile application vendors. Let's begin by recognizing that it is often the service technician that is face-to-face with your customers. They are the face and personality of the service company. The actions they take, the words they say, the professionalism they display and the quality of