Mobile B2B And Supply Chain Applications

Mobile computing solutions are also being applied to B2B and supply chain relationships. Such solutions enable organizations to respond faster to supply chain disruptions by proactively adjusting plans or by shifting resources related to critical supply chain events as they occur. With the increased interest in collaborative commerce comes the opportunity to use wireless communication to collaborate along the supply chain. For this to take place, integration is needed.

An integrated messaging system is at the center of B2B communications. By integrating the mobile terminal into the supply chain, it is possible to make mobile reservations of goods, check availability of a particular item in the warehouse, order a particular product from the manufacturing department, or provide security access to obtain confidential financial data from a management information system.

One example of an integrated messaging system is wireless telemetry, which combines wireless communications, vehicle monitoring systems, and vehicle location devices. This technology makes possible large-scale automation of data capture, improved billing timeliness and accuracy, less overhead than with the manual alternative, and increased customer satisfaction through service responsiveness. For example, vending machines can be kept replenished and in reliable operation by wirelessly polling inventory and service status continually to avert costly machine downtime.

Mobile devices can also facilitate collaboration among members of the supply chain. There is no longer any need to call a partner company and ask someone to find certain employees who work with your company. Instead, you can contact these employees directly, on their mobile devices.

By enabling sales force employees to type orders straight into the ERP while at a client’s site, companies can reduce clerical mistakes and improve supply chain operations. By allowing them to check production schedules and inventory levels, and to access product configuration and available-to-promise/capacity-to-promise (ATP/CTP) functionality to obtain real-time delivery quotes, they empower their sales force to make more competitive and realistic offers to customers. Today’s ERP systems tie into broader supply chain management solutions that extend visibility across multiple tiers in the supply chain. Mobile supply chain management (mSCM) empowers the workforce to leverage these broader systems through inventory management and ATP/CTP functionality that extend across multiple supply chain partners and take into account logistics considerations.

Mobile Consumer

A large number of applications exist that support consumers and provide personal services. As an example, consider the situation of a person going to an international airport. Tasks such as finding the right check-in desk, checking for delayed flights, waiting for lost luggage, and even finding a place to eat or the nearest washroom can be assisted by mobile devices.

Mobile Games

In the handheld segment of the gaming market, Nintendo has been the long-time leader. In contrast, Nintendo has shown minimal interest in online or mobile games. Here, Sega has capitalized on the popularity of games such as Sonic the Hedgehog to garner 2.5 million Japanese subscribers for its mobile games and entertainment services. In Japan, where millions of commuters kill time during long train rides, cell phone games have become a cultural phenomenon.

With more than one billion cell phones in use today, the potential audience for mobile games is substantially larger than the market for other platforms, Playstation and Gameboy included. Because of the market potential, Nokia has decided to enter the mobile gaming world, producing not only the phone/console but also the games that will be delivered on memory cards. It seeks to develop and market near-distance multiplayer gaming (over Bluetooth) and wide area gaming.

In July of 2001 Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, and Siemens established the Mobile Games Interoperability Forum (MGIF) ( mgif.org) to define a range of technical standards that will make it possible to deploy mobile games across multi-game servers, wireless networks, and over different mobile devices. Microsoft is moving into this field as well.

Shopping For a Netbook Computer

This article is written for the person shopping for a netbook. You have already read up on the differences between a laptop and a netbook, a notebook and a netbook, and you are now sure all you need is a netbook. Let’s discuss what to look for when you are shopping for a netbook.

  • Battery Life
  • Keyboard and Touchpad
  • Weight
  • User Experience

While there are a few netbooks out there for simple gaming and some HD video viewing, most netbooks can be considered only tools for “type and Skype”, with some standard definition video thrown in. The essential netbook is for internet access with basic browsing, email, and composing documents on and offline.

Battery life

Pay attention to the time rating for the battery. They currently vary from 3 hours to over 14 hours. You will generally not get the full time that the netbook is rated for, since you won’t always be using it in the lowest energy mode. However many netbooks rated for 11 hours or so get easily 8 hours usage according to user reviews. If you want to be able to take your netbook anywhere and not worry about recharging for hours, pay attention to your battery life rating while shopping for a netbook.

For whom is battery life especially important factor? Travelers, students taking notes on a netbook.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Netbooks differ slightly in keyboard and touchpad user experience. This slight difference can sometimes mean a large difference in your satisfaction. Do try to get to a super store or ask friends with netbooks if you can just try typing and scrolling for a few minutes. Your will be able to find better pricing online, but do take make an effort to see what all the fuss is about.

Keyboard types generally are described as “chiclet”, or “island”, with a percentage of how large they are compared to a laptop keyboard (which used to quote how large a percentage they were of a standard keyboard). If you type 100 wpm, a keyboard may be your most important deciding factor about which netbook to buy. If you have a typing speed below 60 wpm, you may find that you can easily adjust to slight differences in keyboards.

Touchpads may now have multi-gesture capabilities like certain electronic devices that allow pinch and pull zooming and two finger swiping. Others only allow cursor tracking and perhaps tapping for clicking.

The touchpads may also incorporate right and left click buttons, or one button with right and left incorporated into one button. Many users find they have serious preferences for the two button solution, or where the buttons are placed, or how hard it is to press the buttons. Try a few out, and realize you can always take a travel mouse with you to avoid a touchpad you dislike.

For whom are the keyboard and touchpad experience the most important factor? Touch typists with over 100 wpm speed.

Weight

With the 6 cell battery for longer battery life, most netbooks are currently running about 2.5 lbs (1.1 kilos) minimum. You can find lighter netbooks with less battery time due to only 3 cells, and you can find heavier netbooks due to higher end features like HD video output or touch screen capabilities. If you really want great HD output and touch screen, you might consider a laptop instead. In the netbook niche of simple computing, don’t settle for anything over 3 lbs (1.36 kilo) or you could haul around something with real computing power.

For whom is weight the most important factor? Those who need to carry their computer with them.

Other User Experience Differences.

Other tiny differences that do make your end user experience different include

  • Whether there is a multi-card reader or only SD cards — important if you have a non-SD card for your camera or other peripheral.
  • Two separate outlets for microphone and earphones or only one combined outlet — important if you already own a particular type of headset for Skyping for instance.
  • Glossy or Matte screen — important if you work outside or in a brightly lit place often.
  • Glossy or Matte body finish (the famous fingerprint magnet or not) — important if you are easily bothered by fingerprints on your netbook.
  • Initial set up time (one popular model takes about 1 1/2 hours, others mere minutes) — important to know if you choose that one brand that you will need to allow over an hour set up time.
  • Amount of bloatware (free trial software and other software that you don’t really need) pre-loaded — important if you really feel like spending the time to remove unnecessary software.
  • Bluetooth or no bluetooth — important if you use a lot of bluetooth accessories with your mobile computing.
  • Price — You can now buy the previous generation of netbooks for a lot less money. The Pine Trail netbooks are running between about $259 – $400. And you can get “free” netbooks for signing up with certain cell phone providers packages for GSM coverage.

Finally, if you want lighter and/or cheaper, buy older models. If you only want to check emails, Skype, and browse the internet, a netbook is for you.