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Mobile technologies

Mobile technologies

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Mobile technologies

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  1. Mobile technologies • Bunch of disparate technologies • Many cases of successful use in firms (000’s) • Costly to implement because mostly once off bespoke development from scratch • Mostly larger companies • Immature => difficult to predict impact and success • New type of applications: Field office • Fundamentally different from desktop applications (special requirements) • Potential for conflict between personal and business usage (somewhat like email)

  2. Classifying mobile applications • Back office: MRP, ERP, SCM • Front office :CRM, SFA • Field office: • Wireless communication • Hand held devices • Field workers : consultants, sales force, field engineers, corporate executives

  3. Examples of field office apps • A field technician receives a dispatch. • He can accept the order, reject it, or assign it to somebody else. • He needs to retrieve a more detailed explanation of the problem and some history of the equipment in question. • He needs a map or directions to get to the site. • He needs to fill out time and materials. • He may need to order parts • he may need to generate an invoice.

  4. Another example • A driver performing direct store delivery • He needs route information in the morning • He need an inventory of what is on the truck • He needs to be able to cope with a last minute change in an order. • The driver might also do a pick up • He needs to be able to record the items picked up.

  5. Inventory of tasks for the field office • Selling • consulting • Fixing • Inspecting • Collecting information • make a reading • Taking a payment • Transport something • Travelling Access reference info Create / update a record of transaction Send information / alerts

  6. Security / usage constraints • Devices can be lost or stolen • Data encryption • Remote disabling of devices • Field workers not always the most computer oriented • Substantial risk of physical injuries (immersive) • Policies • Who is using such devices => profiles • Restriction to what field workers can access (data) or can perform (functionalities) • Data partitioning • Maintenance / upgrade activities more difficult • Tracking • Remote troubleshooting • Synchronisation • loss of data consistency • Conflict resolution • => complex architecture + implication for other apps.

  7. Technological components • Devices • PDAs, tablet PCs, specialised devices • Concerns over autonomy and resistance to changing environments • Networks • Mobile broad band • Concern over reliable access • Application • Large data store • Functionalities on a par with desktop • Useable interfaces • Able to work off-line • Concern over the cost +commitment required in developing these

  8. Brans and Basole’s classification Connectivity – Online Constant: The device is always connected. – Online On Demand: The device gets connected when the application requests connection. – Online When Available: The application uses a connection whenever one is available. – Offline: All work is done without a wide-area wireless connection. Once or twice a day, the device is connected through a fixed-line or WiFi link. Access – Read: The device needs to read recent information. – Create: The device needs to be able to create new data entries. – Update: The device needs to be able to post updates to the enterprise. – Alert: The device needs to be able to receive alerts. Data Size – Large: The data amount of entries required by the application is very large. – Small: The data number of entries required by the application is small. Content Type – Structured: The information is in a format that is easily interpreted by an application (for example: a text file or a relational database). – Unstructured: At least some of the information is in a format that cannot easily be interpreted by an application (for example: a picture or a video) Location – Yes: The application requires location information. – No: The application does not need to be aware of location.

  9. Some considerations about devices • Overall size and weight • Battery life • Data entry (keyboard, keypad, voice activation) • Screen size • cost • Functions • GPS • Barcode reader • Camera • RFID receiver • Carefully tuned software that can run on small devices and promote economical use of CPU whilst maintaining speed of execution • Thin versus thick client • Validation • Processing etc...

  10. More on the synchronisation issue • Problem area: when data on device is synchronised with data in back end • Two key Principles = data integrity and data consistency • New record creation • Update to existing record • Deletion of record • Volume of data and risk of incomplete synchronisation • Added problems with unstructured data

  11. Design guidelines for Mobile Business

  12. Case study work • Decide a target for a mobile application for our sales force • Draw up a business case • Analyse requirements in terms of device, connectivity, functionality and interface • Design the device and the back end