Blackbay is a large mobile solution provider and is recognised as a leading driver of mobility in Australia alongside companies such as Ericsson and Nokia.
Blackbay’s experience in providing successful mobility solutions for companies such as Royal Mail (UK), Courier Post (NZ) and Parcelforce (UK), for as few as 10 users to over 10,000 users, has enabled the Company to develop a number of seminal rules over the past 15 years that can make or break a mobility project.
The following rules by Blackbay cover the business from a tactical, strategic and IT perspective and should be considered before one starts the project or picks a vendor.
First and foremost in any mobile solution is the protection of the information the client sends to the field and the information generated by staff in the field. The security of this data and the knowledge that is being sent from both, the mobile device and received in the office environment is paramount when building trust in the systems and the new processes.
Focus on speed and field process enhancement
A key factor to a mobility solutions’ success is ensuring that introduction of technology does not slow down the mobile workforce and reduce their effectiveness. The Door Step Experience, i.e. the interaction between the clients’ operative, the device and the customer, is a crucial element to the success of one’s mobility deployment.
Business needs to focus on streamlining the activities and not placing in new processes that do not add value, just because they can now be enforced these electronically.
Change management and deployment
Change Management can make or break the acceptance of the solution. There are many methods to gain the acceptance of the team but these must start early. Deployment can be the most disruptive part of any mobile solution as units will need to be taken back to the office, new versions installed and training given.
An effective way to deal with this is to seamlessly deploy the minimum updates required as a background process to avoid device downtime or performances issues.
Any network any time (GPRS, CDMA, WiFi)
Because coverage is not always reliable and public networks cost money, a mobile solution should make access to many different networks depending on the place, need and device, possible.
This is especially important when large files like photos that are not necessarily required in real-time are to be transferred.
Flexibility of the middleware
The glue that puts the systems together can be as simple as a process that just passes information through with some filtering (stateless transition server). Or it could be far more comprehensive and manage the current state of all mobile devices as well as providing disaster recovery functions and seamless deployment of new functionality.
Expect to be able to augment current ERP or back office system (or replace) with something that has greater mobility awareness. Most ERP systems are not able to send or receive real-time information and make best use of it.
Blackbay has a set of web environments that is designed to compliment and enhance the functionality of current systems.
The mobile device being used will probably be an expensive part of the system and there are a number of points that need to be considered for example; battery life or charging options, wireless performance, key inputs, bar-coding, RFID, wireless networks (Bluetooth, WiFi or Wide area networks).
Inputs must be produced by the Business’ field team in this important user acceptability decision.
Integration via several methods
All backend (legacy) systems are different; even two SAP or Oracle systems will still have different business rules and process. For that reason Blackbay has a standard connector that can deliver information to and from the system as a flat file, XML over SOAP, web service, in and out box or as a completely custom interface.
Ability to scale from 10’s to 1000’s
Scalability is important for two reasons; the ability to grow the business and the knowledge that the application will perform under extreme loads and be stable. Discussions on other local engagements of similar or larger size should be held with suppliers and then with customers.
Ease of adding new technology
As new terminals and technologies become available, business will need to take advantage of them more and more quickly to stay ahead of the competition.
Blackbay continually works with manufacturers and others to incorporate the new functionality into client’s solutions, examples include: new scanners, RFID, cameras and location based technologies.
Blackbay has been delivering successful mobility solutions to a growing list of clients.
Blackbay can provide:
Locked down-handheld applications
This provides faster training and deployment, limits any over use of data carriage (GPRS etc) and saves time and money.
Not just a tool kit
Accurate system costing and development of applications by mobility professionals.
Rapid deployment and scalability
For new users and management of existing users, a good example is Royal Mail in the UK – a 65,000 mobility user roll out currently being staged.
Messaging layer within Blackbay applications
Saves on SMS charges and gives real time messaging capabilities to call centre or central management staff.
Plug and play call centre integration
CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) provides real-time visibility to field workers from client’s customer service environment and improves efficiencies and double handling.
Blackbay has developed a commercial grade Bluetooth application stack (combines multiple Bluetooth devices together on one device) and this will assist in the development of client’s future RFID requirements and single device usage for the future.
Full microsoft development
All development within the Blackbay applications is built on the new Microsoft products and integration methods. This is future proofing client’s investment.
The use of hospital mode on the hand-held provides huge advantages to the safety of client’s operations.
Blackbay provides not only data security, but levels of encryption and locked-down applications for users.