Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Patented Technology is a Must in Mobile Software

How do you know that your mobile technology is unique, adequately protected from litigation, and market-leading?  The answer?  Patents.

First, let’s talk about uniqueness. One of the primary benefits of adopting patented technology is that it is, by definition, unique from competitive technologies. Or unique enough that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has designated it as such. Uniqueness is valuable, since it creates distinctiveness among products on the market and helps your product to stand out from others.

Second, choosing a patent holder as your mobile technology provider could save your company from headaches later on down the road. With patented technology, you have protection and peace of mind that you won’t have to re-work your solution and replace technology due to lawsuits and patent litigation. While this is a concern with any technology, it’s especially important in the competitive and dynamic mobility market. Some mobile vendors have proven to be aggressive with patent claims, so think of patent protection as an insurance policy. 

Third, patents are often held by market leaders who have the resources and are savvy enough to navigate the complex patent acquisition process. It means that company knows its technology is unique and important enough to invest in patent protection. Patent holders typically provide a balance between cutting edge technology and proven experience. This balance of technology and expertise is the hallmark of a successful mobile software provider.

@hand believes strongly in the value of intellectual property protection. Not only that, @hand’s software technology is protected by two U.S. patents.  To learn more about @hand and our award-winning technology, contact us today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mobility Checklist: What to Look for in a Mobile Asset Management Solution

When considering your approach to mobile asset management, it’s important to find an enterprise mobility software provider that delivers whole solutions.  Too often, mobile solutions for asset management automate work order execution without addressing the lifecycle of the asset.  The best solutions on the market will provide capabilities in the areas of work management, asset tracking, and supply management, as well as incorporate customer-specific business processes.  And solution providers should combine expertly-crafted software with total solution services to satisfy the realization and long-term sustainment of customer solutions.

Consider the following benefit checklist, for mobile asset management:

1) Improved asset data integrity. A good mobile solution means not only better access to data, but better data - more powerful collection tools, improved security and quality assurance measures. Customers should be able to rely 100% on the data being delivered from the mobile system to the central business system of record.

2) Increased preventive (PM) to corrective (CM) maintenance ratio. The best enterprise mobility providers will stay ahead of the technological curve both inside of their industry and your own. The best mobile solution will offer comprehensive features to mirror proper preventive maintenance tasks performed in a routinely scheduled manner and designed to keep equipment in a working state, prevent deterioration or failure. The solution should also be able to identify and track corrective work needed to keep equipment from causing downtime. A comprehensive feature set enables an increased PM to CM ratio so customers can stay ahead of the curve.

 

3) Reduced equipment downtime and work turnaround time. Savvy mobile asset management software and field inspection software will enable workers to better measure and analyze equipment performance, take preventative maintenance measures and order more accurate repairs, leading to reduced equipment downtime. Companies will also see improvements to their workflow, as information is passed more seamlessly through a centralized system.

4) Improved adherence to RCM processes. Good enterprise mobile software solutions will align fully with Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) processes, including such features as work order updates for PMs and CMs, condition assessments and quality assurance inspections in a wide range of work environments. This ensures that assets continue to do what their users require in their present operating state.

 

5) Reduced equipment lifecycle costs. Enterprise mobility solutions should take a holistic view on the lifecycle of your equipment and assets and foster a preventative maintenance environment, which will in turn extend equipment lifespan, protect investments in assets and ultimately reduce costs of maintenance.

Mobile asset management is a business-critical function, but it is essential to consider other pillars of mobile process optimization. Stayed tuned to this blog for a deeper look at processes such as mobile inventory management and field ticketing. The best solution providers should always be on their toes, ready to anticipate and implement smart solutions, keeping your company ahead of the competition.
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Investing in Mobility Means Investing in the End User

As more and more companies race to develop effective enterprise mobility solutions, one issue exceeds all else: user adoption. No company, after all, wants to spend time, money and effort developing mobile software the end user won’t adopt. So, just what is the key to keeping those user adoption rates high? Creating an experience for the end user that is as seamless as the one they experience on their personal mobile devices, while providing powerful, tailored solutions for their niche industry, task, or line of employment.

Precisely what this means will differ between companies operating in unique environments. That’s why it’s so important to work with a mobile solution provider who can capture your business workflow and align mobile applications with your business rather than with their technology and software. The word “seamless” must apply not just to the end user’s immediate experience but also to their deeper interactions within the system. How do they access the data they need, and distribute their own work to the wider organization in the most convenient and efficient manner? What immediate tools do end users need on their mobile devices to effective capture data and speed through every day tasks? These are essential questions to answer.

Partnering with the right mobile vendor means employing a second set of eyes to look at the issues from the outside in. Your mobile vendor will be in the unique position to start with the end user and determine how mobile systems can be employed to aid in the performance of work functions like inventory tracking, asset management, round completion, and readings, before working in to the central business systems and organizations.

The surest path to a seamless end user experience is to partner with an exceptional enterprise mobility provider who considers the mobile needs of your workers first, and carries that intelligence on to your core business systems. That’s a whole solution, for a whole company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RFID – It’s Not Just Turbo-Charged Barcode Scanning for Inventory Management

RFID, or “radio frequency identification”, has come a long way since the first true RFID device was developed in the early 1970’s. The RFID market has grown by 17% to $7.46 billion since 2011 and is estimated to grow to more than $20 billion by 2014. While most RFID tags range from the size of a quarter to a few inches across and pack a powerful punch, RFID technology can even be embedded into a tiny capsule about twice the size of a grain of rice. A common scenario consumers will recognize is RFID tags placed in merchandise to deter theft. In retail, RFID tags broadcast a signal to the RFID “readers” situated at the entrances and exits to the stores. In transportation, RFID technology streamlines traffic. Tags are built into devices attached to vehicles that broadcast a signal to RFID readers at toll booth locations so drivers don’t have to stop to pay tolls.

In the business world, however, RFID has a much more advanced use case. RFID technology for mobile asset or inventory management applications used in large manufacturing, energy or industrial organizations has many advantages over traditional barcode scanning. In addition to being wireless and not requiring contact, RFID also doesn’t require line-of-sight to capture a reading. When these tags are attached to assets and detected by handheld devices such as Motorola-Symbol, Intermec or Psion, a “commission” creates an affiliation between the RFID tag and the asset. Use of RFID tags has proven to improve efficiency and productivity for asset tracking and inventory processes such as physical inventory, transfers and location updates. And the right mobile applications developed for RFID readings can deliver a complete set of tools that eliminate paperwork and manual data entry without sacrificing accurate identification of assets and inventory. When you consider that data captured from readings is synchronized with central business systems like ERP, accurate data is essential.

But while RFID technology is superior in many ways to barcode scanning in mobile inventory management applications, it isn’t a panacea – that is, it doesn’t preclude the need for powerful and intuitive mobile application interfaces that guide users through the data collection and verification process. The right mobile application supporting the RFID process means the difference between an error-free or error-prone situation.

Read more about mobile asset tracking and RFID here

Friday, November 9, 2012

Success of Mobile Strategies Depends on Data Integration

Embracing enterprise mobile software can bring many data-centric benefits to a diversity of companies operating across the industry bounds. Among the most important: greater access to more data across a wide range of measurements, which in turn can lead to richer analyses that can power more accurate and innovative business decisions.

But more access to data doesn’t mean much unless that enterprise mobile software also provides seamless integration with a company’s ERP; data, after all, is useless if it stalls in the collection stage. Instead, a company’s ERP needs to be able to access and use that data, both in its immediate form and in further analyses throughout the system. For example, organizations use ERP systems such as Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), SAP or IBM Maximo to manage business functions such as asset management, field service, and complex supply chains. Mobile workers and field personnel are key participants in these processes, but these online workers often lack the technology to capture and communicate enterprise data as efficiently as always-connected, office-based workers. Such a high level of integration requires an enterprise mobile software partner that can tailor their out-of-the-box solutions for specific customers, expanding beyond an initial set of integration points to connect mobile applications to the various back-end systems that store mission critical data. Properly structured data integration from qualified mobile software vendors protects and extracts new value from the organization’s investment into their ERP and central business systems.

What’s more, it’s not enough for a mobile system to integrate with just one ERP system; rather, it’s important to choose a provider whose software can integrate with a wide range of back-end systems, including Oracle EBS, SAP and IBM Maximo, or no ERP system at all. This gives customers maximum freedom to choose an enterprise mobile software provider without being hampered by their ERP. Should they decide to switch their ERP in the future, they won’t have to deal with the added cost, time, headache and potential data losses of also switching their mobile software system.

While it may not be as eye-catching as its headline grabbing counterparts, data integration is a crucial consideration when choosing an enterprise mobile software provider.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mobility is a Critical Component in the Oil & Gas Industry

In the oil and gas industry, making quick, informed decisions in adverse conditions is an essential part of any field worker’s job. This requires the ability to interact with and analyze complex information efficiently, whether that’s updating service orders, logging activity or allocating resources in such a way that every member of the workflow, including asset managers and supply workers, can receive up-to-date information. Operational efficiency and data integrity in service and materials management, up-to-the-minute asset and equipment status in mission-critical functions has a direct impact on the organization's ability to maintain a productive pipeline which can mean the difference between revenue lost or earned.

It’s no wonder, then, that oil and gas companies are racing to embrace the next big movement in mobile technology: enterprise mobile applications. In fact, according to IQPC, it’s predicted that by 2015, the oil & gas industry alone will spend $8 billion on enterprise mobile applications, from field inspection software to mobile supply chain software to mobile inventory software, and everything in between.

As this trend comes to dominate the industry, it’s important that companies in the oil and gas industries choose their mobile software provider carefully, looking for a few key features:

 

  • Always available software. Applications and data should still be available to workers even when connectivity isn’t an option.   
  • Management for a wide range of projects in the field.  Mobile software should enable the field or platform worker to enter data for a wide range of jobs and interact with technology to support paperless ticketing and  location tracking.
  • Better asset management in a unified interface. From order assessments to inventory tracking, mobile software for the oil and gas industry should integrate data into an easy to use interface that unifies ERP, EAM and CMMS systems.
  • Seamless interaction with delivery capture and tool tracking. Mobile software should interact seamlessly with scanners and manage all tasks and issues related to tracking inventory.

 

Mobile software is one of the biggest oil and gas industry trends today. Companies that stay ahead of the curve will see exceptional results.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mobile App Developers See Beyond Form Factor Boundaries

If you think that your mobile solutions strategy need only pertain to smartphones and tablets, think again. According to a recent survey by IDC, mobile application developers are eager to develop for a far greater range of form factors, including “televisions, connected cars, game consoles, Google Glass and foldable screens.” And they’re hoping to be doing so by 2015.

This will undoubtedly affect the ways businesses operate, making strategic partnerships with cutting edge mobile technology vendors all the more crucial. As device platforms expand exponentially, the right mobile technology will offer an architecture to operate across a diversity of operating systems and devices.

What’s more, businesses require a partner that can adjust quickly to landmark changes in this constantly shifting environment - finding new, efficient ways to integrate an increasingly disparate data landscape, and developing new tools to work across a business’ many platforms. And, of course, the right mobile solutions provider will be intimately acquainted with its clients’ data management systems, allowing for straightforward evolution during the continuous innovation process.

As the popularity of mobile platforms grows both in and outside of business, it’s important to develop a relationship with a mobile software technology provider now to keep ahead of the impending demand and to establish a framework for the future.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Implementations of @hand Software Continue to Underscore Market Success

@hand’s Field Mobility System, the leading enterprise mobility platform for mission-critical mobile work processes, has been recently deployed and implemented with market-leading customers in the life sciences, energy, and mining sectors.

AUSTIN, TX – November 1, 2012 - @hand, the leading provider of field mobility software solutions, is pleased to announce a series of implementations by several market-leading companies. The deployments by these customers significantly shifts the landscape of the enterprise mobility market as @hand continues to be recognized as a leader in the market with its flexible and scalable mobile inventory and asset maintenance solutions.

Recent successful customer deployments include the following:

  • For a global life sciences manufacturer, @hand has delivered a field inventory solution deployed to iPads. The mobile application enables field sales personnel to track product inventory across a range of customer sites, mostly hospitals, as well as manage customer orders. Mobile users can also leverage Bluetooth-based barcode scanners to facilitate item identification. This solution is based on @hand’s cross-platform application architecture, which offers support for a variety of device platforms, such as iOS and Android.
  • For a leading provider of midstream services in the natural gas industry, @hand has implemented a mobile solution that improves data accuracy at the point of interaction with assets and increases the speed of information transfer throughout the enterprise. The @hand mobile inventory management application integrates with this customer’s Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) ERP system and is deployed to inventory control personnel. Benefits include improvements in inventory tracking and data accuracy.
  • For a leading specialty chemicals manufacturer, @hand deployed several mobile maintenance and inventory functions including receiving, issues, transfers, and cycle counts, as well as new work order creation, all interfaced with Oracle EBS. The mobile solution is used by technicians at chemical processing facilities. @hand's alignment with Oracle EBS was a critical factor in @hand’s selection, and the mobility solution leverages @hand's Oracle Validated Integration. With the solution deployed, the organization can deploy resources more efficiently to manage inventory tasks at processing sites.

 

As @hand continues to advance into the fourth quarter of 2012, the adoption of its advanced mobile technology for enterprises demonstrates its market leadership in delivering significant value at the edge of the enterprise where it matters most to enterprises.

“@hand continues its momentum as organizations continue to adopt our mobility platform and leverage @hand for mission-critical work processes across a variety of industries,” said Jason Lanier, Vice President, Products, @hand Corp. “With @hand, these customers are transforming their mobile work processes, while improving productivity, data integrity, and visibility throughout the enterprise.

About @hand

@hand provides enterprise mobility solutions for mission-critical work processes, such as asset management, supply chain, and field service. With patented software and a comprehensive set of solution services, @hand offers over a decade of experience in the successful delivery of strategic solutions for the mobile enterprise. To learn more, visit www.hand.com.

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