This paper explains a new and growing trend that exploits the advent of mobile devices
and how their use can benefit your business. It presents descriptions of how businesses
are currently using PDAs and handheld computers in new and innovative ways that
improve customer service and enable greater efficiency.
It also describes basic advantages to incorporating mobile devices in your current
operations, which enable a more effective operational implementation.
Mobile Devices Today
The evolution of mobile devices began with simple communication pagers, but other,
more sophisticated devices quickly supplanted this simple device. First, cell phones
made pagers obsolete and later PDAs eventually combined the functions of the paper
Day-Timer© and cell phones. Today the line that once distinguished computing devices,
PDAs, and cell phones is significantly blurred.
Cell phones and PDAs can now access the Internet, they are equipped with alarms and
address books, and they often have computing power that once rivaled most desktop
computers. Likewise, computers have become completely mobile and have tablet
features that once were available only on a PDA.
Wireless computers can now connect to any network over the Internet using wireless
hotspots at Internet cafes and other public establishments such as coffee shops and
restaurants. Handheld computers now physically resemble some cell phones and PDAs.
Tablet PCs allow you to take notes using a stylus while roaming freely around a room or
Although differences do still exist between basic cell phones and desktop computers, it’s
clear that the convergence of computing devices, PDAs, and cell phones is inevitable.
Both the consumer and business markets are moving toward mobile devices with
exceptional computing power and multiple communication protocols.
To many of us, this fact is obvious. What might not be so obvious is how this
convergence will inevitably be used for significant business gain.
Untapped Markets—New Solutions to Old Problems
With the mobile convergence, new applications of the technology will emerge that were
simply not possible before the convergence. A seemingly innocuous example of this is
the elimination of the common clipboard.
Believe it or not, the replacement of the clipboard represents a potential transfiguration of
the operational implementation of many industries. Law enforcement, security, and even
wait-staff at local restaurants could completely change the way they operate.
Previously arduous tasks such as filling out required forms, writing reports, and order
taking could be automated and streamlined. Depending on the business, the resulting
benefit can range from better customer service to reduced administrative overhead.
Safer Law Enforcement
In the case of law enforcement, a mobile device could perform the multitasking that
officers are often asked to do. In a routine traffic stop, police officers are required to
execute a long list of activities.
Primary requirements during any stop include checking the license plate, driver’s license,
registration, and proof of insurance. This enables the officer to determine whether the car
is stolen, whether the driver has an outstanding warrant, and whether the driver is
The challenge is that officer is required to perform these duties while visually inspecting
the car, the driver, any passengers—all while remaining alert to the surrounding area. A
mobile, handheld computer could streamline that process so that a police officer can
better focus on the primary task at hand: citing the driver if necessary and recording the
Using a PDA, an officer could first record the license number on a single electronic form
at the outset of the stop. Using the same form the officer could then record the driver’s
license number, registration, and insurance information. After submitting the form, the
information could be transmitted back to a centralized database. A cross-check could
then be performed on both driver and vehicle—all without the officer returning to his car
and turning his back on the vehicle.
If there is a problem, the officer could immediately be notified and take the proper action.
If not, the officer would have the option of citing the driver from a menu of violations. A
ticket could be printed, and a report automatically filed with the central database. Most of
the process would take place without the officer’s attention being diverted from the scene.
The added benefit is that fewer administrative personnel are required to process each
citation. The information can also be available in real time at the central database and
therefore accessible to other officers.
Better Public Security
Another potential application is public security and detention operations. In large public
facilities such as arenas and enclosed shopping malls, security is a primary concern.
Along with security cameras, alarm systems are commonly in place to monitor for things
such as fire and security breaches.
One of the challenges security personnel face is the possibility of false alarms. In an
emergency, the public must be notified to evacuate, but it is the mission of security
personnel to confirm that an emergency condition exists.
Evacuations can be dangerous, and they certainly disrupt business activities. Mobile
devices can expedite alarm confirmations, which is the first step in assessing a potential
Mobile personnel can be assigned an area that allows them to be in a local proximity to
several alarms. If an alarm is triggered a security officer can be automatically notified and
quickly dispatched to the required location. The event can be automatically documented
along with any action that was taken such as disabling or resetting the alarm.
This same paradigm can be applied to detention centers where guards must constantly
monitor inmates. Being able to immediately report any security breaches, and to
automatically document any incident is invaluable to administrators of such facilities.
Improved Customer Service
Customer facing industries can also benefit from the mobile convergence in the form of
improved customer service—which translates to a competitive advantage. A big
challenge in the restaurant industry, for example, is ensuring that wait staff can tend to
customers while simultaneously communicating with kitchen staff.
Sometimes an establishment is unexpectedly busy, or for some reason is short-staffed.
In such cases it can be challenging to ensure that customers are properly serviced and
that orders are efficiently communicated to the kitchen. This unavoidable reality of the
restaurant industry can have a negative affect on both sales and staffing turn-over.
Mobile devices can be used to improve the efficiency of communicating with the kitchen,
and keep wait staff in front of customers longer. Orders can be taken on a PDA and
immediately transmitted to the kitchen and bar. When the order is ready, the wait staff
can be notified Using WiFi on their PDAs and dedicated servers can bring the food or
drink order directly to the customer. This improved operational capability, would enable
the wait staff to be in front of the customer longer and tend to their needs more effectively.
At the end of the meal, a check can be printed directly from the PDA, and for customers
paying with a credit card, a card reader attached to the PDA can be used to process the
payment. Restaurant managers estimate that at high-end establishments the number of
customers paying by credit card is often as high as 90%. The ability to settle the tab on
the spot means better service for customers and few, if any, dedicated cashiers.
Then there’s the added bonus of being able to automatically track menu activity and
inventory. Managers can obtain a report to determine which items are most popular and
which are not. Inventories can be checked against customer orders and purchase orders
can be automatically generated and transmitted to vendors.
The result is less waste, reduced staffing costs, and a more enjoyable dining
experience—which is the restaurateur’s stock in trade.
Traditional Markets—Industrial and IT Solutions
One of the main challenges faced by every organization is ensuring peak productivity.
This challenge is particularly critical in the manufacturing industry. Lost productivity
corresponds directly to diminished profits because it increases the per-unit cost of every
product on the line.
Likewise, downtime in your IT infrastructure directly affects customer service and
revenue. That’s because today, the vast majority of communication with current and
prospective customers and business partners occurs electronically. Customer research,
direct sales, purchasing, and invoicing all happen over the Internet, and corporate
extranets and intranets.
But how can moving to a mobile computing paradigm improve manufacturing productivity
or diminish downtime? The answer resides in the mobile capability itself.
Industrial Solutions and benefits
In industrial settings, preventive maintenance and continual monitoring is a key element
to fine-tuning performance. It can be difficult in some settings to have stationary
monitoring points to collect data for the purpose of achieving optimal production levels.
In many cases manufacturing equipment is used to produce more than one product.
Depending on what’s being produced, plant engineers monitor different parts of the
process, take different measurements, and alarms are triggered by different conditions.
In such cases it’s not always practical to have a fixed station to monitor and record
valuable production data. In fact, to meet production demand, some useful data might go
unrecorded because tearing down and setting up fixed monitoring and measuring stations
might be too cumbersome.
With a mobile solution you can take the application where it needs to go. 360 degree
inspections are not only possible, they become practical. And in the event of an alarm
you can take the application to where the problem is physically located.
IT Solutions and benefits
IT solutions, while distinct from industrial solutions, solve many of the same types of
problems. IT administrators aren’t concerned with how many widgets are produced in a
certain time and how non-optimal production rates can increase the per-unit cost of
widgets. They are, however, concerned with things such as how quickly customers can
download software hot-fixes and product add-ons.
If customers can’t access the corporate Web site, administrators need to know
immediately, and they need to understand why quickly. Likewise, if accounting can’t
invoice customers through their CRM system, administrators need to be able to quickly
distinguish whether the problem is with the infrastructure or the application.
But like industrial solutions, it isn’t entirely obvious how mobile technology can ensure
service levels or improve day-to-day operations. The answer again lies in the ability of
administrators to be where they need to be with the application in-hand.
If, for example, a server isn’t responding, a physical inspection is necessary to determine
whether the server is hung-up or if a power failure has occurred. With a mobile solution
an administrator can be stationed in the vicinity of specific server clusters and be notified
on a handheld device about the alarm. A physical inspection can then be made, and the
correct action can be taken right away. The onsite administrator can then have the
application restart and resynchronize the down server—all from the palm of his hand.
Without mobile capability, the IT organization would have to rely strictly on voice
communication, which would invariably introduce delays.
The InduSoft HMI Software Solution: CEView
Armed with the understanding of just how valuable mobile technology can be, InduSoft©
long ago developed and continues to offer the industry’s premier mobile solution.
InduSoft was the first company to provide a Rapid Application Configuration Environment
for easily developing applications and solutions for a PDA. The company dubbed the
innovation CEView, because it runs on Microsoft Windows CE®. CEView was introduced
in 1997 and to date, no other viable mobile solution exists.
And coupled with the InduSoft development environment, InduSoft Web Studio, CEView
is a powerful tool. CEView has interfaces to relational databases and has all the latest
protocols to communicate using WiFI, BlueTooth, wireless infrared, RFID and more.
Engineers can develop applications using InduSoft Web Studio on their desktop and then
simply download the application to a Windows CE or Windows Mobile device using built
in remote management capabilities.
With InduSoft Web Studio, development and implementation is reduced to a fraction of
the time required for larger more expensive systems that don’t fully support a mobile
solution. All-in-all, the CEView mobile solution provides significant bang for your buck.
Mobile solutions that are affordable and effective. That’s InduSoft.