Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD May-Jun 2017 Contents SIMON STOREY
Changes flagged by Microsoft will cause
big disruptions for supply chain operators
who fail to put in place a strategy for their
mobile device fleets.
The software giant has signalled the end of
the road for its ageing mobile operating systems.
Devices running Windows CE 6.0 will lose
support in June 2018, followed by Windows
Embedded Handheld 6.1 in June 2019, and 6.5
in January 2020.
The changes are of concern for many
operators as they rely heavily on applications
designed to run on these platforms. Operators
face the prospect of having to re-write their
applications or find alternatives in a very short
space of time.
The rise of Android
One of the factors responsible for Microsoft's
decision to retire its mobile operating systems
is the rise of Android. According to reports from
industry analyst firm VDC Research, 37% of all
rugged handhelds and smart phones shipped
during 2016 run on Android - an increase from
24% in the previous 12-month period.
The rise of the Google-based operating
system is relentless. Research firm IDC
estimates that, by 2020, 85% of all mobile
devices being shipped will run it. It may have
started out in the consumer market, but it
is rapidly becoming the dominant OS in the
business world as well.
This is not the first time that such a trend has
occurred. It happened with PalmOS in the late
1990s and again with PocketPC and Windows
Mobile in the early 2000s. Each time, an OS
that proved popular in the consumer space
forged a dominant position within supply chains.
While clearly causing challenges for
operators, the shift to Android also brings
opportunities. The OS encourages the adoption
of touch screens and better user interfaces.
Android devices tend to be more intuitive to use,
reducing the need for staff training and support.
The migration challenge
Yet despite these benefits, supply chain
operators still face the dilemma of how to
shift their existing applications to the Android
platform. Few can afford to entirely rewrite the
software or replace it with new applications.
Increasing numbers are opting to undertake
a migration strategy through which their current
applications can be shifted to new Android-
powered devices. Using a tool such as Ivanti
Velocity, powered by Wavelink, the applications
can be migrated and often enhanced in a
relatively short period of time. The steps in the
migration process are:
1. Migration. The process starts with
migrating an existing application onto a new
Android mobile device by running the existing
client through Velocity in what is dubbed
'native mode'. The application continues to
look and perform in the same way it did on
the older device, so if it is a telnet app, it will
still present itself as a telnet 'green screen'.
All configuration settings and operational
procedures are also preserved.
Taking a ‘native mode’ approach allows an
operator to seamlessly introduce new Android
mobile devices into the supply chain without
requiring any rewriting of code or changes
to back-end systems, and allows workers to
become comfortable with a new device without
simultaneously having to familiarise themselves
with a new application.
2. Optimisation. It's important for a supply
chain operator to be able to manage the
migration to Android at its own pace. For
this reason, the next step is to optimise the
application running in native mode on the new
device. This process involves using a tool such
as Velocity to simplify workflow tasks. This
is achieved by eliminating unused steps and
redundant tasks, and automating tasks such
It's also possible to build custom keyboards
that present users with only the keys required
for a particular task. This can improve
productivity and lower training requirements.
All these changes can be achieved without
requiring any changes to the underlying
3. Modernisation. In this phase of the
strategy, the existing application is transformed
into a touch-enabled Android app. Users are
then able to gain all the smooth visuals and
intuitive navigation features that an Android
device can provide.
This phase also provides an opportunity to
add a company brand and colour scheme to
applications, highlight data fields, and generally
make the software more visually appealing.
4. Speakeasy. As a final step in the migration
process, the operator can add voice capabilities
to the applications now running on Android
devices. Using a tool such as Speakeasy from
Ivanti, worker productivity can be further
boosted by reducing the time required to read
and interact with a device.
For example, Speakeasy uses text-to-speech
to tell a worker the next step in a workflow.
Workers can also populate fields with spoken
commands. Like the rest of the Velocity
framework, Speakeasy resides completely on
the mobile device, so there are no changes to
By following a strategy of self-paced migration
and modernisation, supply chain operators can
readily shift their existing applications to new
Android devices. Rather than being a complex
and costly process, it can be achieved rapidly
and with minimal disruption to operations.
Simon Storey is the country manager,
supply chain solutions at Ivanti. For more
information call +61 2 8287 3500,
email email@example.com or
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MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — MAY / JUNE 2017
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