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Automating Your Field Force : Functionality – Six Final Questions

Posted May 7, 2012

Functionality – Six Final Questions

In previous parts in this series, we’ve discussed how to decide whether or not to automate your field force, how to choose between consumer-grade and  rugged devices, and how to select the best mobile form factors for your deployment.

To conclude the series, what follows are six key questions you need to answer in order to conclude the decision-making process regarding a mobile deployment.

QUESTION 1 – OPERATING SYSTEM

Does your mobile solution need to run on Windows XP or Windows 7, or can it run on Windows Mobile? Key considerations here include the back-end systems your mobile solution needs to tie into and the applications it needs to run — does it need to tie directly into your ERP system, for example? If you don’t consider this in advance, you could find yourself unable to connect to important systems, or unable to run a crucial application.


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Automating Your Field Force : Form Factor

Posted May 3, 2012

Form Factor

Once you’ve concluded that a rugged device is a better fit for your mobile deployment than a consumer-grade device, the next step is to choose the right form factor to fit your needs, whether a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

The key in doing so is to strike the right balance to support all required functionality. The first step as an enterprise is to evaluate all business processes on a task by task basis to understand how your workers do their jobs on a daily basis. It is critical to also insure that your workers provide direct feedback as part of this process.

Consider, for example, a police officer who needs a rugged device in their squad car – they’ll likely need a rugged laptop with a full keyboard, larger than the one available on most handhelds, in order to be able to type out extended reports while on the move.

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Automating Your Field Force : Consumer vs. Rugged

Posted May 2, 2012

Consumer vs. Rugged

As you consider a mobile deployment, you might assume that consumer grade mobile devices will more than meet your needs – but regardless of where your field workers spend the majority of their time, there are several reasons to give rugged handhelds, tablets and notebooks a second look.

Rugged devices are a good fit for more than just those users who anticipate extreme weather conditions or highly physical work environments, such as an oil rig or a combat zone.

For a field worker who visits several customer sites on a typical day, tossing a tablet or laptop onto the passenger seat every time he or she gets back into the car can cause gradual wear and tear that will quickly require that device to be replaced.

That device will also face temperatures of up to 130 or 140 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s left in the car on a summer day – so the ability to survive extreme temperatures should be a key consideration as well.

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Automating Your Field Force : Paper vs. Automation

Posted April 30, 2012

The global mobile worker population exceeded a billion people in 2010, according to a recent report from VDC Research. That growth, research director David Krebs wrote at the time, reflects “the increasingly flexible, distributed and dynamic workflows occurring in virtually every industry sector.”

But those mobile workers are surprisingly ill-equipped.

According to VDC, the level of penetration of enterprise mobility solutions among mobile workers is between 5 percent and 15 percent, depending on the regional market.

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Pharmacy Pill Bottle Labeling

Posted April 26, 2012

Industry Need

Advancements in pharmaceutical science enable improved health, better management of medical conditions, and even extended life spans for many. However, realization of these benefits relies on accurate identification of medicines and dosing instructions; mistakes can have severe health repercussions. Specialized pill bottle labels fulfill this critical identification and information role.

Pharmaceutical labeling has a unique set of product requirements. Durability is key. Frequent handling, contact abrasion (such as jostling with purse contents), or storage in warm, moist environments must not degrade the printed image or adhesion. Many common label materials are quickly degraded by contact with hand lotions or other environmental exposures.

Pharmaceuticals are typically fulfilled through two channels, each of which contributes additional unique requirements.

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Scanning at the Point-of-Sale: Keys to Improving the Customer Experience

Posted April 20, 2012

Industry Need

What can customers get in your stores that they can’t get online?

Retailers who cannot easily answer this question risk losing business to e-commerce competitors – more than 3,100 U.S. retail stores closed in 2011 and more than 5,000 more are projected to close in 2012, according to published industry reports. Retailers who are answering the question successfully are focusing on creating an excellent customer experience. They are creating and enhancing customer loyalty programs, offering new services, seamlessly merging sales channels and providing exceptional customer service.

Creating a positive customer experience also requires satisfying the desire for immediacy. Successful retailers have products available for customers to touch, try and take home right away, without having to wait for shipment.

To create this experience, retailers need to keep their products on the shelves and their staff on the floor. It requires a workforce that is knowledgeable, flexible and highly responsive. Retailers should demand the same from their equipment.

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Labeling Solutions for the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries

Posted April 9, 2012

Industry Need

The Health Industry Business Communications Council and the American National Standards Institute have developed the ANSI/HIBC standards for packed and item level bar coding for the health care industry. Bar code technology is a proven valuable tool for reducing labor costs, human error and automating data to improve the quality of patient care. Standards for proper identification can be found at http://www.hibcc.org.  Analytical diagnosis begins with specimen analysis in laboratories that submit samples to extreme conditions such as centrifugal separation, cryogenic freezing or autoclave sterilization.

Extreme applications have been at the core of Intermec’s business since the development of the bar code, with solutions ranging from pharmaceutical clean rooms designed for temporary ID to durable military code applications for transcontinental deployment.

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Adopting Automated Data Collection For SMBs

Posted April 6, 2012

Finding and calculating the value of automated data capture technology at small and medium businesses

Introduction

Any business that would benefit by holding less inventory, decreasing mis-shipments and reducing errors should seriously consider implementing bar code systems and other forms of automated data collection (ADC) technology. Companies of all sizes apply bar code and wireless data collection systems to save labor, increase efficiency and cut operations costs. ADC is a proven productivity enhancer, and advancements in the technology have made such systems affordable and practical for more businesses than ever before.

Common errors and inefficiencies don’t have to be part of business as usual. This paper exposes some of the hidden expenses that hamper profitability, and how accurate data collection can eliminate them. The examples and techniques presented show the link between quality information and efficient operations. When investing in ADC, small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) can earn a full and rapid return on investment through reduced expenses and increased productivity. This white paper will help show how by presenting ADC cost-justification guidelines and strategies.

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Supply Chain of the Future

Posted April 5, 2012

Minimize short-term disruptions to gain the agility needed to take on long-term disruptions

Executive Summary

In an uncertain world, investing in mobile computing will enhance your short-term flexibility in order to gain long-term confidence. The traditional instinct of individuals in the face of uncertainty is to sit tight and wait out the situation. The world moves too fast and is too interconnected today, making that approach outmoded.

To be a leader in the future, you will have to accept uncertainty, and minimize it everywhere you possibly can. Uncertainty is not going away any time soon, so the way to handle it is to use effective technology that minimizes the effects of uncertainty.

Remember: By minimizing short-term disruptions, you gain the confidence and agility needed to take on long-term disruptions.

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Achieve Your Federal Identification Credentialing Goals

Posted March 23, 2012

Enabling Security, Compliance, and Efficiency

Identity management and verification depend on trusted credentialing technologies. U.S. federal, state and local governments and private enterprises alike are seeking ways to improve security, not just for facility access, but also for single-sign-on into cyberspace. Furthermore, non-federal issuers of identity cards demand cost-effective, compliant methods to produce identity cards that interoperate with federal government Personal Identity Verification (PIV) and PIV-Interoperable (PIV-I) systems.

Beyond government applications, the private sector also stands to gain from secure credentialing standards and technologies. The PIV-I card is a non-federally issued credential designed for use by state and regional employees, including first responders. The PIV-I card meets all FIPS 201 standards and is recognized and trusted by the federal government. PIV-I cards can provide states, local jurisdictions, and enterprises a single, interoperable, and secure credential usable across multiple application areas. The result is a more secure infrastructure, and better services for employees, contractors, businesses, and consumers.

This white paper provides an overview of FIPS 201-compliant smart ID cards and shows the significant benefits the technology enables. The paper also shows how to produce PIV-I compliant access cards that contain tamperresistant coatings, radio frequency identification (RFID), and other features using the latest printing technologies.

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