Enterprise Asset Management: Mobility Readiness Checklist

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Stuart Baker is the head of maintenance of a large manufacturing company. Stuart is attending his monthly meeting with his maintenance leads and his operations assistant Shelley Hudson.

Shelley has spent the last week compiling the data required for this monthly meeting. Shelley dreads the last week of the month when she has to compile these reports from various data points in the SAP system – top 10 spends, cumulative vs. planned costs, top 10 visits, labour vs. material costs, backlog job orders, etc.

Stuart asks his maintenance leads about the repeated same locations visits, huge backlog of job orders and cost overruns.

The maintenance leads complain about the inefficiency in the system – technicians having to drive across plants to collect their job orders, time taken to fill their PM audit documents, lack of work breakdown by technician, delay in status reporting from technicians and may others.

Shelley complains about the amount of time she has to spend compiling all this information for a week every month.

Stuart has heard these complaints before. He wants to bring in efficiency in the system and change the way his department works. He has heard about mobile apps and starts thinking if he can get all his maintenance data – orders, notifications, warehouse material movements and reports on mobile devices on demand anywhere any time.

Stuart approaches his IT head Andrew Hughes. He explains his problems and proposes mobile apps. Andrew knows about mobility but wonders if their company is ready for mobility. They have not done mobile projects before. So he asks for a week’s time to do his research before giving an answer to Stuart.

Andrew’s research leads him to lots of mobile apps, mobile devices, MDM, etc. in the mobile heap. He finds lots of mobile apps for EAM. He reads about the business challenges these apps solve and the benefits. But this does not satisfy him as he is thinking of a sustainable mobility strategy, holistic solutions and the approach to mobility.

Does this sound like a familiar problem you have faced while embarking on mobility for Enterprise Asset Management? This is a common challenge that many organizations have faced.

We would like to solve this puzzle for you. So we have prepared a comprehensive check list that helps you with your mobility readiness check for Enterprise Asset Management. Unvired mobility check list for Enterprise Asset Management is a compilation from experience in implementing Mobile EAM for more than a decade across the globe.

Click here to download the Enterprise Asset Management – Mobility Readiness Checklist.

Unvired Mobile Platform 3.2 Release

Blog Technology

UMP_Use_Cases

Unvired Mobile Platform (UMP) 3.2 is here! This is our latest and greatest version. Unvired understands that customers would like to minimize the number of platforms that are run in their enterprises. Our customers have demanded a single platform that can meet all their digital, mobility and integration needs. We are proud to announce that we have achieved all these in UMP 3.2. Now UMP is all of the below:

  • Mobile Application Development Platform
  • Mobile Backend As A Service (MBaaS)
  • Offline and Conflict Resolution Framework
  • Internet of Things Platform
  • Digital Platform

Click here to download the whitepaper on UMP. We will follow up with a series of blogs describing the use cases and features of UMP separately. Watch Unvired blogs for a deep dive on UMP.

Unvired Workflow for SAP on Apple Watch

Unvired Workflow for SAP on Apple Watch

Application Blog Technology

Want to announce something exciting, the Unvired WorkFlow application for SAP is now also available with Apple Watch integration.  The new iOS 8 Interactive Notifications are also leveraged for this (https://www.apple.com/in/ios/whats-new/design/). What this means is, for a typical decision maker app like Unvired WF, you can take decisions without having to open the app. In the Unvired Workflow application the users can take decisions on workflow documents like Travel Approval, Purchase Order Approval etc. directly from the notification.

Further, if you are wearing an Apple Watch, then things become super easy. You can take these decisions directly from your Apple Watch as well.

Plus, you get a confirmation of your action from the backend system such as SAP right on your Apple Watch or iPhone, so you can be absolutely sure that the workflow was in-fact successfully executed.

Let’s cut to the chase and see how this works:

Whenever a new Workflow Document is created in the backend SAP system, your iPhone or iPad is notified by a push notification which typically looks like this.

iPad Notification

iPad Notification

If you have holstered you phone and wearing an Apple Watch, the notification directly gets delivered and shows up like this.

Apple Watch

Now, you can do one of two things.
1. Tap on one of the decision buttons and thats it. The decision is made and sent to backend server for processing. Real simple.
2. Want to have a closer, more detailed look at the workflow, just tap on the notification. The app starts automatically on your iPhone or iPad with the corresponding workflow document and you can take decision after reviewing the document.
Key take away is the speed of decision making which is very critical for any successful enterprise.

Unvired Workflow for SAP with Android Wear

Unvired Workflow for SAP with Android Wear

Application Blog Technology

The Unvired WorkFlow application for SAP is now also available with Android Wear integration. 

Unvired Workflow for SAP allows you to receive workflow documents like Purchase Orders,
Purchase Requisitions, Leave Requests, Travel Requests, Travel Expenses etc. on the mobile/wear device for user action.

Life is about doing, not just viewing right? The Android Wear Watch integration allows you to take actions on SAP right from your Watch.  And you get a confirmation of your action from SAP right on your Watch, so you can rest assured that the purchase order that you just approved was successful.

Let’s see how this works:

Whenever a new Workflow Document is created in the SAP system, your Android phone/tablet is notified by a push notification which typically looks like this.

TR_Device

And it would show up like this on your Watch. Sweet right?

wear

Now, you can do any of the following:
1. Tap on one of the decision buttons to either approve or to ask for it to be corrected. That’s it, the decision is made and sent to SAP for processing. Real simple.
2. Not convinced, need to look at the workflow details? Just tap on the notification and the Android app starts with the corresponding workflow document and you can take a decision after reviewing the document.

What are you waiting for?   Download the Unvired Workflow App from Google Play and give it a spin today.

UI Toolkit on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?

Blog Technology Viewpoint

Today most enterprises want to build and deploy awesome mobile apps on multiple devices for their employees and customers. But when it comes to UI technology most are stumped. If I were to pick the most common question that we encounter in discussions with customers it would be, How do I build apps for all devices? (this is typically iOS and Android). Follow ups to that are: What UI should I choose? How can I build once and run anywhere? What skills should we ramp up on? The list is endless.

First up the UI choice needs to lend itself to your need and not the other way round. At Unvired our normal approach is to find out what that need is and then recommend the technology solution.

I want to deploy native apps with fantastic user experience, fast performance, hardware integration and so on.

If your need falls in this category you are typically looking to build native applications using the vendor’s prescribed technology. These are:

  • iOS – Objective C (more recently Swift) using the XCode IDE from Apple
  • Android – Java using the Eclipse IDE or the Android Studio
  • Windows – C#/.Net using the Visual Studio IDE

All platforms come with their own set of challenges based on the OS version to support. This is more under control with Apple where you are usaully covered if you support the latest version and the one lower (for e.g. iOS 8.x and 7.x). Its more complicated with Android given the disparate devices and OS distribution and you should opt for the OS version with the most installed base for e.g Kitkat or 4.4. You are also well served if you use the standard APIs and do not depend on any vendor/device dependent APIs from Samsung, Sony etc.

I want to build apps once and deploy them on multiple devices. 

This is the trickier questions as there are a few choices. This usually needs further qualification on what skills the company has or alternatively what they would prefer in addition to the end application’s requirements.

Web technology, hybrid apps that do not require any major hardware integration etc.

The most obvious choice in this case is to build hybrid HTML5/JavaScript apps using the Apache Cordova/Phonegap (http://cordova.apache.org/) plugin. This allows to build, host and deploy hybrid (native like) apps that render the UI in a webview with standard HTML5 look and feel. The advantage is that the technologies used are typical web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS and web developers will be able to code them. Some understanding of the mobile paradigm is definitely necessary. The plethora of CSS/JavaScript frameworks can be utilized to build some real cool apps. However performance can be an issue with lag on some devices, transitions not being smooth, low touch sensitivity etc. This technology is evolving and will only improve further.

Native apps that can be deployed on any device

Xamarin (http://xamarin.com) is your best choice here (at least for now, more on that later). Mobile applications can be developed in C#/.Net and deployed on iOS, Android and Windows tablets. The code compiles into native applications and hence offer a native user experience. The User interface can be developed once for multiple devices using Xamarin Forms or alternatively separate UI for Android and iOS devices can be developed with common business logic.

A new kid on the block here is Telerik NativeScript (http://www.telerik.com/nativescript) with an imminent release in April/May 2015. Telerik is positioning NativeScript as a JavaScript framework that can be used to develop mobile applications that are finally packaged as native applications. So these applications will not render in a webview on the device but will render as native applications. This is new technology under development and needs validation / adoption.

So now that you know them all, what’s your choice?

Unvired Apps can now be built with Xamarin!

Unvired Apps can now be built with Xamarin!

Blog Technology

Here is some real exciting news.  Unvired has so far been supporting development of Native applications using the SDK and tool sets provided by the device/OS vendors and Hybrid/HTML5 applications using the Cordova mechanism.  Many of our customers and propects have expressed the need to build Native applications in a simple manner with the benefits of Build-Once-Run-Anywhere.  To fulfil that need we decided to support developing Unvired Enterprise applications using the widely popular Xamarin Studio.

We are delighted to announce the availability of the Unvired Xamarin component that brings the power of connecting to enterprise systems such as SAP, Sharepoint, Oracle among others using the simplicity of the Unvired Mobile Platform to the Xamarin Studio.  The Unvired Xamarin component can be accessed on the Xamarin component store.

So how does this benefit you?

As an Enterprise – There is now a simple, proven way to nowconnect apps to your enterprise systems such as SAP using the scalable Unvired Mobile Platform.  Applications can be developed once and deployed on multiple devices!

As a Developer – Use the familiar C# / .Net technologies to harness the power of the Unvired Mobile Platform and build awesome user experiences with Xamarin.  Building those many micro-apps that your manager wanted is now real easy!

As a User– You can now get to use awesome apps from your company on all devices, never be left out again!

Want to get started right away?

Login to Xamarin Studio and download the Unvired Xamarin Component.  Follow the example and the included getting started guide.  To build more complex applications with SAP etc we are in the process of publishing some more samples to our GitHub repository, watch this space or follow us on Twitter @unvired to get updates.

Unvired Mobile Platform now on H2 database

Unvired Mobile Platform now on H2 database

Blog Technology

Exciting update for Unvired Mobile Platform (UMP) development.   UMP now supports the H2 embedded database.  (What is H2?)

First up, H2 is a pure Java embedded database with the performance and capabilities of larger server based database systems.  UMP has been supporting MySQL, MS SQL and Oracle so far and has now added full support for H2.  So what, you ask?

1. Easier and less cumbersome Trials and POCs

One of the hallmarks of UMP has been simple free trials and self experience via POCs before the enterprise makes the buy decision.  This just became easier with the H2 support.  Unzip the preconfigured trial UMP archive,  start the UMP service and you are up and running.  An on-premise trial should now take a maximum of 1 hour for you to self provision!

2. Easy evangelizing of UMP in your organization

As a mobile architect or developer are you excited about UMP and want to try building some apps before evangelizing it within your organization.  You can now simply extract the UMP archive and run it with one click on your laptops or Mac’s and start development.  No licenses from IT required!

3. Easy development and test/quality servers

One of the constraints an Enterprise has always faced is the time and resource constraints in setting up hardware or provisioning Virtual Machines in their data centres.  For a traditional DB server such as MS SQL or Oracle additional license/hardware/DBA resources were required and led to approvals and delays.  Now with support for H2, the UMP service just needs to be started and automatically an H2 database will be created/used without any additional licenses or hardware requirement.

4. Single cloud instance sufficient for UMP

If you are provisioning instances in AWS or similar cloud services, a single instance is sufficient to unleash the full power of UMP.

Interested in trying any of the above?  Drop us an email and we will be happy to oblige.  Contact us.

Shellshock security update

Blog Security Technology

From Wikipedia:

Shellshock, also known as Bashdoor, is a family of security bugs in the widely used Unix Bash shell, the first of which was disclosed on 24 September 2014. Many Internet-facing services, such as some web server deployments, use Bash to process certain requests, allowing an attacker to cause vulnerable versions of Bash to execute arbitrary commands. This can allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to a computer system.

Details: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellshock_(software_bug)

And: https://shellshocker.net/

And: http://blog.cloudflare.com/inside-shellshock/ for some understanding on how hackers are exploiting the bug

UMP and Shellshock:

Shellshock affects running the Bash shell.  UMP is currently supported on Linux and Unix systems which typically run the Bash shell.  While UMP is not directly affected, the bug exposes the underlying system to attacks and its critical that the system is patched.  Please contact your OS provider to get the required patches and update them immediately.

Conclusion:

The bug exposes the underlying system to attacks and its critical that the system is patched.  Please contact your OS provider to get the required patches and update them immediately.

 

3 Things to Consider now that iOS 8 is here

3 Things to Consider now that iOS 8 is here

Blog Technology

iOS 8 has arrived, and business users and consumers alike are wondering whether to upgrade to iOS 8 or not. So, here are answers to three questions that could be lingering in your mind:

1. Should I upgrade now or later?

The answer to this question largely depends on the apps in question. Ideally speaking, Apple developed apps should have zero issues when you upgrade to a newer iOS version. You can upgrade to iOS 8 in this case.

On the other hand, if you are using third-part apps (not built by Apple), then it might not be a good idea to upgrade immediately. Although Apple guarantees all existing apps built for iOS 7 to continue to work in iOS 8, the behavior of the app after the upgrade might vary depending on the design of the app. Even though the app may still work, you might expect some weird UI behavior like delayed animation transitions and input fields getting hidden on their own. So in order to be safe, you may want to wait until the developer releases an iOS 8 update for the app.

2. Will my existing apps on iOS 7 or below work?

Apple guarantees that the existing apps built by Apple will continue to run in their newer OS releases. Third-party built apps will work on iOS 8 from a functionality perspective, but with respect to the UI behavior, the same cannot always be true. We tried running our existing apps which were built for iOS 7 on iOS 8, and were faced with some awkward UI behaviors like delays in transition. Most of the other third party apps out there in the market should have similar issues. So the bottom line is that you cannot be sure that all your apps will work 100% when you upgrade.

3.What are the most important new features in iOS 8 from a business perspective?

iOS 8 has a host of features for both business and consumers. Notably on the business side, these are the features to look out for:

Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is a new mobile payment service created by Apple that intends to replace existing Credit Card/Debit Card transactions at merchant outlets with just a swipe of your phone. Although only iPhone 6 users get the direct benefit of using Apple Pay, iPhone 5 users can do this with a new gadget which was released along with iOS 8 (Apple Watch). This is a really crucial feature especially for businesses which always looks to cut down costs. More about Apple Pay here: https://www.apple.com/apple-pay/ Access to TouchID for third party apps is also an interesting development

Interactive Notifications:

Till today, Notifications were completely controlled by Apple and it was basically read-only. Notifications in the Notification Center worked closely with the app and you had to open up the app in order to get notifications. But now with iOS 8, app developers can gain limited control of the Notification Centre and can create interesting use-cases like approving a purchase order without having to open up the app. This can potentially save lot of time for the app user.

Continuity:

Thanks to the new iOS 8, app users can start over precisely where they left off in all compatible Apple devices like iPhone, iPad or Mac. This makes writing emails, creating presentations across devices hassle-free and makes sharing of the content across devices easy like never before. Additionally recently used apps and contacts appear on top in the multitasking view for quick access