Scanning barcodes by hand was yesterday. Tomorrow’s warehouse workers will be wearing smart glasses and will scan the data on goods by simply looking at a product. To assemble an order from several items, they won’t need a paper pick list any more. A female voice command from an earpiece will guide the forklift truck driver through the warehouse from shelf to shelf. Once he reaches the right compartment, the voice will give him instructions about how many of which product needs to be loaded onto the pallet. If his forklift is on a collision course with a colleague’s on the way to the next aisle, the augmented reality glasses will display a warning to prevent a crash.
These scenes are taken from a video by SAP and the IT e-commerce provider Bechtle, which some 140 visitors at the Mobile Business Conference held by SAP partner NEO in Berlin saw at the start of the event. The working environment filmed from the perspective of a warehouse employee in the Bechtle warehouse is not yet reality. But the company is working with SAP to move closer to implementing such solutions. What the project showed as an example was the message of the MBC as a whole: mobile working isn’t just an iPad with a sales app for field sales staff. It’s more about integrated, well-planned scenarios.
Business benefits in service and sales
“The business benefits of mobility are greater than ever,” said NEO Managing Director Jens Beier. This applies to maintenance and service, as well as to sales and marketing. According to Beier and his management team colleague Arvin Arora, NEO has come to this conclusion not simply by listening to “soothsayers and analysts,” but also by observing practice in companies.
Next page: CIOs still struggling with classic issues
A number of the statements heard at the Mobile Business Conference probably still sounded like the distant future to the IT managers of many organizations. Although market researcher IDC recently pointed out the importance of mobile device management, many CIOs are still struggling with issues that are old hat. Bring your own device (BYOD)? According to Arora, this is “almost a standard topic.” Mobile applications in companies, and setting them up on different platforms, from iOS through Android? This is a “classic.” And mobility architecture “really should function.” From NEO’s point of view, such topics form the basis of gaining business benefits from mobility projects.
According to Beier, it is crucial that companies keep an eye on “the entire process chain” for all such initiatives. Instead of taking a user-driven approach by buying 100 iPads and then thinking about where they can be deployed appropriately, companies need to devise a well-structured mobility roadmap. After all, the IT department will then have to deal with the zoo of devices and its fields of application.
M2M means fewer service staff
At the NEO booth in the exhibition space in front of the lecture halls, a scale model of a CT scanner visualized the way in which mobile networks are developing. Such medical devices currently require attention from technicians at regular intervals: These service employees need to note the metering data, detect errors, and compare the device numbers with the images. However, if the scanner communicates directly with the monitoring systems, many of the on-site checks previously required will become superfluous. Instead, the machine will be constantly monitored and the metering data reports that are generated will make it possible to plan maintenance. If, for example, the sensors detect a constant and unusually high operating temperature, a breakdown is on the horizon and repair work can be scheduled. The system automatically generates a message to the SAP system, which sends a message to the technician’s cell phone.
Next page: Less call outs for service employees
For service employees, these increasingly networked devices can even mean less mobility in some cases: instead of trotting from machine to machine according to schedule, they are called out less often – but when they are called out, it’s necessary. Besides the field of medicine, a further example of monitoring using direct communication between machines is that of coffee machines in large-scale catering facilities.
Scenarios and user presentations
Visitors to the NEO Mobile Business Conference, held from July 1 to 2, were able to take a look at these scenarios. The conference schedule comprised a range of user presentations in which companies presented the mobility projects that they had implemented with NEO’s assistance.