This month, we launched a brand new video: Tech Roundtable: Managing the Android Migration to Android and the Cloud, here are our 5 takeways from our experts.
WINDOWS HAS REACHED END OF LIFE
The days of Windows as the primary mobile operating system for manufacturers and distributors are coming to a close. With an end-of-life date for Windows, companies have been making the switch to other operating systems. Many have already made the switch to Android, for its versatility and universal application.
Since the enterprise realm has adopted many of the consumer-facing features of Android, users are already accustomed the operating system, its features, navigation, and the applications it supports. In turn, this familiarity with the system reduces training time, and allows companies to launch Android solutions quickly, driving productivity and improving the bottom line.
ANDROID IS FUTURE PROOF
Another reason many in the supply chain industry have chosen Android are the capabilities of Android devices. As technology evolves, manufacturers and distributors have a need for devices with improved data capture capabilities, including photos, sensors, scanners, voice-to-text, and eventually, object recognition. This rich data can be used to improve operations, supplying decision makers with in-depth information.
CLOUD INTEGRATION IS KEY
However, the main reason companies are switching to an Android operating system is its ability to integrate with cloud technology. Working in the cloud improves data availability and inventory visibility, enabling decision makers to make better supply chain management decisions. The cloud gives users the ability to pull information to any device, so if a device is broken or unavailable, the same information can be accessed from another device, ensuring no downtime. It allows for more interactions where there was only pen and paper before, and drives up industry expectations.
With cloud technology, manufactures and distributors are able to optimize workflows, conduct application tests, and move toward what is known as a “pure cloud” model, where companies work completely in the cloud. Over the next five to seven years, it is expected that companies will likely transition to this model. As the upward trend of cloud computing continues, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ distributors and manufactures should move to the cloud, but rather, ‘when’ and ‘how.’
In order to successfully move workflow operations to Android and the cloud, CIOs should build a roadmap for the transition. Companies will need to take into consideration each one of their specific needs in regards to their inventory, customers, infrastructure, and more. By determining your company’s specific needs, and by working in conjunction with others who have already successfully made the transition, companies will be able to improve workflows and position themselves for future growth.
Here are a few things to take into consideration as you build your unique Road Map:
1. Does your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System integrate with Android?
Reevaluating your current ERP system will lay the foundation for your roadmap to the cloud. Depending on your current workflows and ERP system, it may be necessary to update to a more recent system. Unfortunately, older ERP systems produced decades ago weren’t created to be implemented with Android. While Android has tremendous capabilities as a front-end system, it will not be nearly as effective if it does not integrate with the back-end. In order to get the most out of Android, it will require a more recent ERP system that is able to integrate with Android.
2. Can your wireless network support the migration?
The next thing to take into consideration is your current wireless network. Having a strong wireless network is crucial in order to support working on the cloud. If a wireless network is slow or fails, it can lead to a lag in data or even downtime.
Implementing a strong wireless network is another foundational aspect that must be addressed before rolling out with Android and cloud solutions.
3. Do your manufacturers/distributors meet your security needs?
Security is a main concern many manufacturers and distributors have when moving to the cloud. It is important to create an environment where your company’s sensitive data is protected, while allowing the appropriate people the access to the data they need, when they need it.
The cloud enables companies to have stronger security features than a network that exists within the four walls, but it is important to evaluate each provider’s ability to provide a secure network, including providing security patch updates and add-ons. It is also important to address security from an enterprise perspective, where data is located both on-site and in the cloud.
Another large factor when it comes to keeping the cloud secure is identity management. Users should be easily identified within the system, allowing for permissions, two-factor authentication, and visibility into who is accessing the cloud and their particular device.
4. What devices do you need to meet your user's needs?
One benefit of Android is that it can be used on a wide variety of devices, each with their own capabilities. Consider the device capabilities you would like to have in order to meet the specific needs of your company. In the past, companies have primarily used a stylus and keyboard to enter information, whereas newer devices are touch-centric, and support many forms of data input. Android is able to support multiple data input functions such as text, voice-to-text, barcode scanning, and more. So whether you want to implement barcode scanning, Bluetooth low-energy, or RFID, your devices will support it.
Once you establish which devices your company will utilize, you will be able to interchange devices and pull the exact information you need directly from the cloud. This will ensure that data is never lost, reduces downtime, and keeps workflows running smoothly.
5. How can you future-proof your technology?
Technological advancements of the supply chain can be a cost saving tool. Companies should consider the costs of updating operating systems and compare them to the time and money saved through working on the cloud.
Firstly, the applications used are often affordable. Testing software applications is a large part of the final cost. Since Android can be used on a wide variety of devices, it is important to test applications across a large number of your devices to ensure they work correctly across the board. With the help of the cloud, applications can be tested across hundreds of devices from any location, as opposed to physically testing each device. This significantly reduces the time frame in which applications are updated and released, as well as drastically lowers the cost for the final application
As you lay out your roadmap to the cloud, keep in mind that there are many companies and service providers who have made the transition already and can pass on their best practices. And, as you move to the future, the ability to optimize and improve your systems will position you for growth.