What do iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch mean for the enterprise?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Apple announced iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and Apple Watch yesterday. The build up to the event (as always), the event itself and the products announced have all been exciting. Already enough digital space has been used to report the event and review the products. So in this blog I will try to analyze what these announcements mean for the enterprise – end users, IT departments and developers?

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+

iPhones_3

Enterprise / End Users

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ come with  4.7″ and 5.5″ screens. Difference for an enterprise between 6/6+ and 5S/5C is mainly the cost. But when you compare 6+ with an iPad mini then you see other differences emerging. Enterprises enable employees with iPads so that users can see more information on the screen without having to navigate across multiple screens or scroll in a screen. For ex:

  • Read word documents with graphics and tables
  • Service technician viewing a work order and details on the iPad
  • Executives viewing sales and other charts

iPhone (till 5S) with its 4″ screen is not suitable to see large amount of information in a meaningful way on a single screen. Many apps or scenarios are just not suitable for an iPhone 5S. So an iPad is necessary. Take Apple’s own email app. Apple shows the e-mail app differently in an iPhone compared to an iPad. In the iPhone there is a mail list and on clicking a mail you see the mail in a full screen. In the iPad the main mail view is split into 2 parts. The smaller list on the left shows the list of mails and the wider part on the right shows the selected mail.

Now iPhone 6+ can possibly push both users and enterprises towards a single device per user. A single device reduces the cost for an enterprise (if the enterprise is providing 2 devices per user) and can be very convenient for users. (Does this mean that one Apple device is competing another Apple device? This is a topic for another day!)

IT Departments

IT departments should love iPhone 6+ if both the enterprise and users agree to move to a single device from 2 devices per user. Benefits for the IT departments are:

  • Lesser number of devices to deploy and take care in an MDM
  • In many cases the app development cost can also be lower when building for a single device compared to multiple devices

But how do existing apps and devices (iPads and iPhone 5S/5C) work with iPhone 6/6+? This is a cause of concern for the IT departments even though from a software point of view there is no difference between 5c/5S and 6.

  • More categories of devices mean more work in managing the devices in the enterprise network
  • 6+ has an impact on apps too. The larger screen size and double tap on the home button in the iPhone 6+ require some adaptation in the existing apps though not necessary. But once the users start using the old apps on 6+ they might complain if double tap on home is not supported in the app.

Developers

With more screen sizes, developers need to be both creative and judicious while designing the user interface for the applications that have to work on multiple devices. Designing apps that have to work on iPads, iPhone 6+ and iPhone 6 (5s/C) is more challenging. Though designing apps for Apple is is not as challenging as in the Android environment where one does not know when a phone ends and when the tablet begins it is still a challenge that needs to be taken into account.

Apple also announced a new programming language Swift in the last WWDC event. Swift is supported from iOS8. Though Swift is backward compatible with Objective C, once all the Apple devices move to iOS8 it does not make any sense to stick to Objective C. Newer capabilities of Swift cannot be used if one sticks to Objective C. Eventually everyone will have to move to Swift. So delaying Swift adoption does not make sense. The real impact for developers is when devices start running iOS8. Add to that iPhone 6+!

Apple Watch

watches

 

I just love the Apple Watch. This is some challenge for Switzerland! The best review of the Apple Watch I have read is from Benjamin Clymer. There is nothing left to write about the Watch design beyond what Mr. Clymer has already written. So lets move on.

Moving away from the buzz around the Watch, what does the Apple Watch really mean for the enterprise? Before discussing the impact of Watch on the enterprise we have to understand some of the software features of the Watch.

  • Watch connects to an iPhone. So the Watch gets connected to the internet via an iPhone. Will the Watch also connect to an iPad? Not clear currently.
  • Will the Watch be able to connect to the WIFI network directly? No.
  • What version of iOS will the Watch run? Not answered currently. But it will be iOS8+ as the Watch is still sometime coming.
  • So from what we know the primary requirement to own an Apple Watch is to own an iPhone.

Enterprise / End Users

Enterprises can start buying Apple Watches as gifts for their employees! Apart from that enterprises are not going to be proactive in finding use cases to make watches productive tools at work. Just the way enterprise adoption of iPhones and iPads started with users, adoption of Watches has to start with users. Once the Apple Watches start appearing on corporate users’ wrists’ enterprises will start thinking of extending apps to Watches.

For end users Apple Watches are great convenience tools to see (feel) notifications, maps (especially while walking without having to open the phone), calendar events (see the alert and call a contact on the iPhone by tapping on the Watch) and monitor health.

Classic enterprise uses cases include getting alerts (sales targets, project status, work assignments, etc.), approving workflow documents, filling time sheets for projects, applying leave, filling digital check lists, etc.

IT Departments

The real challenges are for the IT departments.

  • Should Watches used for corporate work be controlled via an MDM? Will users agree to allow the enterprise control a personal device?
  • Is the enterprise scenario or use case compelling enough to support on a Watch?
  • Cost and effort involved in developing apps for a different device with a different user interface paradigm. What is the ROI? Employee happiness or productivity improvement?
  • Security considerations

Developers

Developers have to be highly creative and innovative to design enterprise apps for Watches. Traditional user interface and engagement is not going to work on Watches. Multiple questions arise when we talk of apps on Watches.

Can the same iPhone app with a different user interface be used on the Watch or is a new design ground up from the data model required for the Watch app? Is the app optimized enough not to drain the battery? Is optimization from developers required at all or will Apple take care of it via restrictions?

End Note

Irrespective of the challenges these are exciting times. Every advancement in technology is opening up new frontiers. Apple’s designs are making these advancements personal and beautiful.

Enjoy Apple. Enjoy Design.

Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP on Mobile

Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP on Mobile

Application Blog

Warehouse operators require real-time information in order to execute their tasks efficiently. Real-time information for operators mean real-time updates to SAP too. Most often warehouse operators are expected to use a PC or a kiosk to access SAP. In warehouses expecting operators to use PCs or kiosks for all their work is counter productive. Operators either have to keep visiting the PC after every task or for every piece of information or takes note on paper (to later enter in SAP). Visiting the PC or kiosk often is a waste of time. Translating paper work into SAP later is error prone and makes real-time visibility impossible.

Warehouse operators have to be enabled to access SAP processes from mobile devices. Unvired is releasing Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP, a mobile application that brings warehouse processes to the operators. Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP helps warehouse workers to get the stock overview, move goods, issue & return materials, count physical inventory, receive goods, create purchase requisitions and deliver goods efficiently from mobile devices real-time.

Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP is available on iPad, Android Smart Phones & Tablets, Windows and Google Glass.

Yes! Google Glass. Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP on Google Glass goes one step ahead of smart phones and tablets enabling warehouse operators work hands free with Glass.

More details about Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP can be found here. A blog and video on Unvired Inventory Manager for SAP on Google Glass can be found here.

Unvired Inventory Manager App Brings SAP on Google Glass

Application Mobile Use Case Technology

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An operator in a warehouse is driving a forklift and has to check a particular material’s stock level for delivery. The operator has an iPad where he can get the stock levels from SAP. To do that he has to free his hands and use the iPad. Instead the operator talks to his Google Glass, scans the barcode on the material pallet and gets the stock levels for that material across all storage locations and batches by categories (quantity that can be shipped, quantity in quality inspection, etc.) on the Google Glass. He quickly glances at his Glass and knows exactly which storage locations he needs to visit in order to prepare for his delivery.

Then the operator has to move some materials to a different storage location to make space for his delivery. Driving the forklift he moves the materials. Once he moves the materials he scans the barcodes of the material, quantity and batch on his Glass. He dictates the from and to storage locations and moves the goods in SAP using his Glass!

Yes this is the new way of working in a warehouse! All this is possible because of Google Glass and Unvired Inventory Manager (based on SAP ERP) on Google Glass.

Yes! Unvired Inventory Manager is now on Google Glass!

Google Glass is an enterprise device that can be used in multiple industries – manufacturing, oil & gas, chemicals, utilities, etc. Inventory management on Google Glass is a classic case across these industries to manage the warehouses. Operators in the warehouses are very busy carrying goods and driving forklifts desiring hands free access to data and business processes. While smart phones and tablets provide instant information, Google Glass can provides the same information in a more convenient manner. Operators in the warehouse can now use the Unvired Glass application to manage inventory more conveniently (apart from using the app on tablets). Unvired Inventory Manager on Google Glass glassifies 2 processes – checking stock and moving goods across locations.

Stock Overview: Lookup stock levels in the warehouse from the Glass.

stock_overview_process

Goods Movement: Move goods in SAP from the Glass.

goods_movement_process

More processes from Unvired Inventory Manager and other Unvired applications will be on Glass shortly! Watch this space for more news.

Unvired Primer on Google Glass

Unvired Primer on Google Glass

Blog Mobile Use Case Technology Viewpoint

Unvired started innovating with Google Glass very early and has developed multiple applications on Google Glass. We have had many enquiries on how Google Glass can be used in the enterprise and if Glass can be used in the enterprise at all. Our answer is a resounding YES based on early results.

Early trends show Google Glass use cases in the enterprise as:

  • Collaborate with Remote expert helping the Glass user solve problems
  • Just in time training or training content creation
  • Hands free Digital checklists / surveys enhancing compliance
  • Remote data access from ERP and other systems
  • Capturing images and videos, and sharing them with colleagues

Unvired is working with early adopter companies to develop applications on Glass. Watch this space for more updates and demos on Google Glass apps (integrated with SAP ERP and other systems). For a full primer on Google Glass click here.

3 Key Points to Collect Master Data and Reduce Expense

Blog Mobile Use Case

Master data collection and updates is a challenging and expensive affair for customers. Be it collecting the master data at the start of the project to enter it into an ERP / CRM system or keeping the master data clean once the system is in use is a massive task. Dealing with master data for over 10 years has given us key insights in collecting / updating master data along with keeping the costs low.

1. Trust the user in the field

The most important aspect of master data is to understand who is in the best position to deal with master data. Users in the field have the best view of the master data – field service technicians, inspectors, sales people, etc. It is often a misconception that the field service has to be centrally managed and leaving to the users on the field can leave the master data battered.

Central office has the farthest seat in the stadium. The action is on the field. So let the people in the field collect the master data. Most successful projects with the highest percentage of master data cleanliness have field users empowered to collect and update master data.

If the supervisors, managers and the central master data team wants to retain control then retain it over verification and not over collection. Make master data collection a 2-step approach where the field users collect / update the master data. The submitted master becomes operational only once there is an approval from the verification authority.

2. Initial data collection and subsequent updates to master data should have the same process

It is a common practice to follow different approaches for initial data collection for entry into the master data system (ERP, CRM, etc.) and subsequent updates of master data. This is not the best way to deal with master data. There has to be a common approach to treat master data consistently

3. Mobility is the solution: Eliminate paper and admin assistants

Eliminate paper based processes and admin assistants to manage master data. Use a mobile application to manage master data. Make master data collection and updates a process in the mobile application. Field users can use the mobile application (on smart phones or tables) to collect / update master data – both during the initial stage where master data is collected for the first time and later to update the master data.

Either the mobile application will field processes (required by users) along with master data management can be built in one go or split into two parts – build the mobile application with master data enablement processes first and later extend the application with other field processes (ex: Work orders, inspections, opportunities, leads, sales orders, etc.)

Summary

1. Empower the field people to collect master data using a mobile application eliminating paper based processes and admin assistants. Eliminate unnecessary expenses and minimize master data errors.
2. Retain approval process for collected master data to ensure correctness of data.
3. Weave the master data and other business processes into the same mobile applications so that the master data updates can be done easily as a part of the normal business flow. Ex: While creating a sales order, processing a plant maintenance work order, etc.

Unvired’s customers use master data processes along with other processes in their mobile applications based on Unvired Mobile Platform. Unvired master data management mobile solution has helped customers save a lot of money and keep their master data clean.

Unvired CRM for SAP CRM

Application Blog Technology

We have released our first version of Unvired CRM for SAP on iPad today. Unvired CRM on iPad brings SAP CRM to the iPad. Unvired CRM enables sales executives to improve customer engagement, increase sales and boost productivity.

Sales executives can get timely information about their customers on the iPad, use the maps to locate the customers and plan their visits. The product catalogue can be used to share product information with customers. Leads, opportunities and activities are pushed to the iPad so that the sales executives can follow up with customers effectively.

In an event or during a regular customer visit capture leads, opportunities and activities seamlessly on the iPad and assign it to your colleagues for follow up. Don’t wait till the event is over to organize the business cards, recollect the conversations and then enter the leads and opportunities in to the SAP system.

Organize your activities like tasks, meetings, phone calls and mails ensuring that every piece of information about the sales is captured for immediate and future reference.

Unvired CRM for SAP CRM is based on the powerful Unvired Mobile Platform that runs both on the cloud and on-premise. You can try this application with your SAP CRM system and your iPad in less than a day by signing up for a free trial!

Unvired CRM can also be tried in a demo mode without SAP CRM connectivity by downloading it from the online app store.

Empower. Engage. Win.

Unvired Mobile Platform: FTP Adapter

Blog Technology

Unvired Mobile Platform (UMP) has added a new connector to support files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Now mobile applications can get files as attachments from an FTP source. This is an addition to the attachment service offered in the platform to transfer files to and from the mobile device.

Example Use:

A medical equipment company has released a new set of products and newer models of the existing products. New sales drive is planned where the sales executives visit the customers to show the latest products. All the latest product collateral is organized in a file server based on product categories. Using the Unvired solution the updates to the files can either be pushed to the sales executives’ iPad. Or the sales executives can get the latest product collateral on-demand from the Unvired iPad application. Sales executives can use the latest product collateral in the customer meetings and forward the product collateral to the customers from the Unvired mobile app. Sales executives get access to all the required information on the iPad seamlessly without any fuss.

How it works:

FTP servers can be configured as source systems in the UMP. UMP facilitates the transfer of files between the mobile applications and the FTP server without bothering the mobile application about the technical details. The mobile application will just receive the required attachments and upload the attachments to UMP using the standard UMP attachment service.

Features:

The following features are supported in the UMP FTP adapter:

  • List – List the directory and files to navigate the files
  • Get – Get the file
  • Upload – Upload a file
  • Delete – Delete the file

Unvired Mobile Platform: Database Connector

Blog Technology

We have added a new enterprise connector to the Unvired Mobile Platform to connect to databases directly. The database connector can be used to build mobile applications where the database is the enterprise backend.

Unvired Mobile Platform allows incremental addition of enterprise connectors and already supports the following connectors.

  • Native SAP (RFCs, and BAPIs) connector
  • Salesforce.com connector
  • Web service connector – SOAP and REST
  • Active directory connector – Microsoft, etc.
  • See the full list of connectors here under ‘Enterprise Systems’.

Use:

Database connector enhances the capability of the Unvired Mobile Platform to connect to backend systems that do not expose any interfaces to the outside world. Ex: Closed systems built in proprietary languages, legacy systems, etc.

Customers do not have to depend on their enterprise software vendors to help them expose the data through programming interfaces. Using the Unvired database connector customers can deal with the data in the database directly.

Database connector can also be used with other enterprise connectors in the Unvired Mobile Platform to build composite applications that are based on multiple enterprise systems.

unvired_database_connector_2

Databases Supported:

Unvired’s database connector supports the following databases currently and shall be extended to other databases.

  • Oracle
  • MySQL
  • Microsoft SQL

How it works:

The database connector allows application developers to work with Java objects (POJOs) instead of using raw SQL statements. Unvired Designer (plugin to Eclipse) helps with modeling the application and generating the source code in Java for all the database operations – select, insert, update and delete. Using the Unvired Designer data modeling can be achieved to map the data from tables into business entities / objects.

unvired_db_connector

Features:

The database connector offers the following functionality:

  • Query – Query operations in the database
  • Insert, Modify and Delete – Data manipulation operations
  • Procedure – Execute stored procedures
  • Batch – Execute database operations in batches to bundle multiple operations in batches
  • Native – Execute any SQL statement. Useful for complex operations like nested statements, joins, etc. When the operation requires more native capability than the generated Java objects construct and use the SQL statements directly

We are releasing a few more enterprise connectors shortly. Watch this space for more information.