Manufacturers, warehouses and distributors have a challenging situation when their barcode devices and rugged mobile computers are deployed to customer sites. Since a company may not be able to mandate just how the barcode devices are connected to their corporate network, there is a requirement to manage the multiple device configurations for the handhelds. Some use the customer’s Internet connection, others use a telephone modem connection, or new methods may be required such as cellular connectivity.
Mobile device management (MDM) is designed to allow companies to manage multiple device types and device configurations through the use of device group. A company can manage all the devices that use direct Internet connectivity in one group, those that utilize cradle modems in another, and those that may require a combination of both in yet another. The benefit is that the configuration is managed at the highest common level rather than at the device. Therefore a device can be reassigned to a completely different configuration by simply adding it to the appropriate group.
In addition to the issue of connectivity, a company’s customers are a cross-section of users; some are quite technical, while others have no interest in technical matters, some are too busy to be bothered by technical issues, and others are quite needy. Soti MobiControl and Supply Chain Services have designed a solution which allows help-desk staff to make trouble-shooting as pain-free as possible.
Supply Chain Services utilized MDM features to create a solution which is simple enough for any customer who can "tap" on an icon, and yet powerful enough to allow help-desk staff to eliminate software and configuration problems in only a few minutes.
Supply Chain Services has been able to overcome the problem manufacturers have in persisting not only the operating environment (i.e., firmware) on the devices but the fully functioning production environment on the devices. Storing the fully functional production environment on the device, can be accomplished using an additional SD-Card, however maintaining that configuration to the latest levels is not something that can be done without a tool like MDM. Every time the software is updated, every time a configuration change is made, the MDM administrator need only update the appropriate package or rule, and apply it to the device group. The next time the device connects to the company network, the production image can be updated with the most current version. Whether the device connects daily, weekly, or monthly the newest configuration will persist on the device.
Years of help-desk experience with handheld device support has proven that spending too much time diagnosing software, and configuration issues is inefficient. Supply Chain Services has added into its solution the ability to restore the factory default software and configuration environment with a single “tap” of an icon. After a reboot the device is returned to an “out-of-box” condition, they simply “tap” the production environment icon and after a few minutes the device software and configuration will be restored to the same configuration as all the other devices in the same device group. This effectively eliminates software and configuration as being the end-users problem. If they are still experiencing issues (typically with connectivity) the help-desk staff can focus on physical connection issues, or the hardware itself as having a problem.
The MDM solution also ensures that the data the customer collected before having an issue is safe. Should the device have issues which require the device to be restored to factory defaults and back to the fully functioning production environment, the order data will still be there for their use, eliminating the frustration of repeating all their work to create the order.
Another unique issue is the ability to overcome was persistence of the password for the connection back to the company’s network. Securing the password eliminates the need to provide the customer with the password for connectivity during the trouble-shooting process, sealing a potential security breach in the network. This is a custom solution, however the deployment of this solution is made possible because of the MDM command-line features.
At the end of the day a company’s IT department can spend more time on business issues because with MDM they use remote control to take care of configurations, updates, and problem solving support for barcode devices. It provides the utmost in security to prevent unwarranted intrusions into their networks. And amazingly it can all be performed without needing to be an IT expert.
Article By Ken Boyd
Ken Boyd is the director of marketing at Supply Chain Services, a value added reseller of barcoding equipment. His experience in the high tech industry started with a 12 year career with IBM, then marketing positions at ROI Systems and Epicor Software. He is a subject matter expert and avid blogger for barcoding systems topics. More information about Supply Chain Services can be found at www.supplychainservices.com.