4 Creative Ways Mobile can Keep Your Supply Chain on Track

4 Creative Ways Mobile can Keep Your Supply Chain on Track

Mobile devices are everywhere. Every aspect of the supply chain, from the supplier to the consumer, has been impacted by mobile technology. There is a good chance that you are already using some type of mobile supply chain application, but is your mobile strategy keeping up with the needs of your operation?

Not only is mobile hardware changing quickly, with new phones being released constantly, but the software that runs on these devices is also changing. Device manufacturers are continuing to add more and more features into the operating system of mobile devices as well as giving developers the ability to quickly take advantage of these new features in their mobile apps. In addition to the devices and software improvements, manufacturers have also been producing rugged cases for mobile devices that add superior durability while still being able to take advantage of the latest mobile technology and features.

Barcode Scanners Increase App Adoptability 

While barcode scanners have been used with mobile apps for a very long time, there have also been many hardware and software improvements that have increased both reliability and ease of use. A good scanner can make the difference in the adoptability of your app and can make your business more efficient from source to customer. Reducing the time it takes to actually scan an item and adding support for many more barcode types can make tasks like inventory and asset management much more efficient. It complements voice features well by allowing identification of products in environments where speech recognition might not work well.

Related: See how we added product scanning to improve warehouse inventory count and identify packages at delivery checkpoints for AC Moore

Speech Recognition Tailored To Your Product Lines

Voice and speech recognition have probably have made very rapid advancements in the past few years. All the major players including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung, have worked on optimizing and perfecting the ability to recognize and process speech. Not only will you find it on mobile devices, but this past year has seen a large adoption of devices such as Amazon’s stand-alone Echo and Dot products. What used to be a novelty years ago has now transformed into a valuable feature available on almost all modern mobile devices. Speech recognition is able to easily complement technologies like barcode scanning in areas such as inventory management. It also has the flexibility of being as adjustable and powerful as you need by tying a recognized vocabulary with data from suppliers, transportation, sales, and consumers.

  • Using voice to document quality control inspections
  • Improving safety by not requiring workers to take eyes off equipment and instead use voice to enter/read data

GPS

GPS technology has also improved over the years giving mobile devices much quicker and more precise location information. While traditional mobile uses of GPS like navigation are quite mainstream, features such as geofencing are not as widespread. Geofencing creates a virtual geographic boundary that mobile software can react to. It can trigger a check in when a truck arrives with a shipment or optimize and adjust workflows based on estimated times of arrival. When combined with a smart mobile app, it can also give receiving terminals detailed information about drivers and shipments (eliminating possible paperwork) as well as giving feedback back to drivers about possible gate changes or wait times.

Supply Chain Case Study: See how changes to truck routing and package tracking improved routing and fuel efficiency for JB Hunt.

Beacons

With the introduction of Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) beacons, companies have been able to improve the logistics of their business in a much more efficient (and affordable) way than what was delivered with RFID. Early adoption of beacons was often used for indoor navigation, where GPS signal was unreliable. Shockoe has tackled this through a great personalized tour experience app with Anheuser-Busch. Uses have expanded to allow workers to efficiently navigate and locate items in storage, as well as being able to give a customer the ability to find the product they are looking for in a retail store. In addition to location proximity, beacons can also be fitted with additional sensors for light, humidity, and temperature; which expands their many uses to areas such as storage and transportation. A beacons low cost, enhanced battery lifetime, and the fact that they can be used with mobile devices (bypassing the need for specialized equipment), makes them particularly ideal for supply chain operations.

  • Alert personnel that humidity levels for monitored goods are above acceptable range and direct them to the location using their mobile device
  • Navigate grocery customers looking for a certain product to the correct aisle for the store

Mobile technologies are being used in all aspects of supply chain management from manufacturing to the consumer. At Shockoe, we are building smart mobile apps that leverage the latest features available. We work to give suppliers, truck drivers, dispatchers, receivers, retail stores, and customers real-time insights and collaboration using an app they love. 

Related post: 4 Tips in Designing a Retail Inventory Management App 

 

Mobile Utility: Powering the Next Generation of Brand and Employee Engagement Apps

Mobile Utility: Powering the Next Generation of Brand and Employee Engagement Apps

It’s been well over a decade since the release of the first true smartphone. Apple promised to revolutionize the computing world with the iPhone, and true to their word, they did. Since then, companies like Shockoe have worked diligently to harness the full potential of such hardware. From Fortune 500 to start-ups, mobile shops have helped companies create workforce and customer-loyalty apps that measurably improve the daily lives of users. What is a Utility App? Let’s jump in.

Understanding Utility Apps

App downloads have been on a steep decline. This is unsurprising — bloatware, marketing gimmicks, usability issues, and ad-riddled pages make it unappealing to download an app and keep it on your phone. Even the greatest of intentions can backfire when apps lack focus or miss the mark on execution. Enter “Utility Apps.”

Utility is the concept of providing functionality and measurably demonstrating value – this idea is the fundamental key to any successful app. Was it built specifically for doing focused work, for producing clear results, or supplying a common need? The way we currently see it, there are three types of Utility Apps:

  • Customer and Brand Loyalty
  • Workforce Mobility
  • Resource & Inventory Management

Whether improving a brand or buying experience or alternatively, providing mobility to employees, the ingredients behind a successful app deployment are always the same. Does the application provide the best means to resolve a need?

Why Mobile Utility?

understanding-utility-appsWe’re often approached by customers who think of mobile as an alternative or add-on channel. This notion still surprises us. With 77% of US adults carrying around a smartphone, and furthermore, many checking it over a 100 times per day, mobile is a must for 2018.

With this in mind, it’s quite simple. Users will engage more with companies that remove barriers to products and resources and grant access through phones. As far as we see it, the writing is on the wall. Growing enterprises should feel obligated to improve mobile transactions and embrace innovative technology. Voice recognition, biometric access, Augment and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are the new status quo behind today’s competitive apps.

Brand & Customer Loyalty Apps

Today’s most successful companies are investing heavily in their digital strategy to provide utility beyond shameless advertising. Home Depot, Nike, Delta, Amazon, Starbucks, all share a common thread — their apps aim to serve their customers. Furthermore, they provide functionality to the point that users rely on the application to improve their daily lives. A tall order, but a necessary one for companies aiming to lead the pack.

If you’re part of a B2C company that is still thinking of mobile as a secondary digital strategy, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Mobility provides customers access to your brand and products on their schedule — not the other way around. E-commerce has been quickest to adopt, but other retailers, whether brick and mortar, restaurants, coffee shops, airlines, clothing lines should feel equally pressured to make the investment.

How Caribou Coffee Brewed Up App-Driven Business

Caribou Coffee, like many B2C companies, exists in a competitive business environment. In 2016, their low-rated app and poor user feedback proved users wanted to engage on mobile but were failing to do so. Sometimes it takes rethinking a good idea and executing in a different manner to get the desired business result.

caribou-coffee-brand

By keeping utility front and center, Caribou with Shockoe’s help overhauled everything from the back-end architecture to the user-interface. Despite major strategy and technology changes, Shockoe never steered away from the fundamental mobile goal: providing measurable utility. Loyalty systems were built to keep users coming back, login bugs were teased out to reduce access frustration, and in the end, all user testing kicked back positive. The result was a 4.9-star rating app backed by a loyal and satisfied customer pool.

The Modern Mobile Workforce

Loyalty is not a trait reserved for customers. Employers are now on the hook for providing work tools that facilitate work-life, and equally, boost management oversight.

Certain job-types nestle right into mobile as a solution. Utility technicians, outside sales representatives, high volume retailers simply operate better when they toss out antiquated hardware/software. Being able to review next appointments, manage tasks, report progress, generate reports, all while on the move, is the new business norm. Companies electing to keep their processes tethered to clunky portals and pen & paper will not only lose time but in time will also see employees grow frustrated.

Management Apps: Right Tool, Wrong Execution

Oracle, Microsoft Insight, Salesforce, or other CRM/ERP software are sometimes built with the right intention, but with misaligned execution that forgoes utility.

Even the most brilliant backend architecture can flop if the tool itself feels unusable. For the people managing resources, submitting expense reports, or counting inventory, designers must consider everything from strategy, information architecture, UX/UI, design, and innovation (biometric log-in, document scanning, etc.). It’s only once all these ingredients align that a mobile app can begin to make headway. Think of how the app is used and what limitations exist (and resolve them), and then and only then will you produce a tool as powerful as the system behind it.

Build App That Fit and Scale

Because companies come in different shapes and sizes, every process and deployment should be equally unique. Whether it’s an IT service team’s ability to service employees through mobile or tracking travel expenses through custom payroll app, it’s key to deliver tools that help employees feel heard and managed as a company grows.

Shockoe did just this when internal stakeholders at American Express were requesting greater numbers of custom productivity apps. With a growing backlog, a mobile roadmap became a necessity, as did a way of prioritizing and deploying the right mobile applications. Together, our teams conceived an application for employees to suggest, track, and manage the mobile tools rolled out by the company. The result has been better managed digital growth with greater employee access to digital tools. Everybody wins.

The Single Thread

Regardless if an app aims to bring more customers through the door or is attempting to streamline a supply chain, if it does not provide utility, you can count on a short shelf-life. All apps should be built upon solid strategy, sound data architecture, and clear UX/UI. This is the secret formula to any app that will ultimately end up as a front-page tool that your users count upon on a daily basis.

 

Google Flutter goes Beta at #MWC18

Google Flutter goes Beta at #MWC18

What is Flutter? 

 

According to Google, Flutter is a mobile UI framework for creating high-quality native interfaces on iOS and Android. As a Google Partner and a company that has focused on building cross-platform mobile solutions for individuals and organizations, it is amazing to see a product like Flutter be released into Beta.

 

Better than other Cross-Platform Solutions

 

First of all, this initiative is backed by Google, which gives it a strong start. Also, the performance and platform integration are seamless and the structure allows us to build at high speed with great performance on both major platforms (iOS and Android.) Sure, there are some bugs and shortcomings, but that is always expected in a Beta version. We are on a trial run and, so far, our team loves it.

 

 

The team at Flutter highlights the benefits best on their Medium Post (Seth Ladd, Product Manager @ Google for Flutter):

 

  • High-velocity development with features like stateful Hot Reload, a new reactive framework, rich widget set, and integrated tooling.
  • Expressive and flexible designs with composable widget sets, rich animation libraries, and a layered, extensible architecture.
  • High-quality experiences across devices and platforms with our portable, GPU-accelerated renderer and high-performance, native ARM code runtime.

 

As a cross-platform mobile application development company, we are very excited about this solution because we can start using it immediately with our current apps. We don’t need to write our complete app in Flutter, we can simply add new Flutter-based screens to existing apps. Flutter is better than most of the cross-platform solutions we use today because it allows us, not only to build for two platforms but to make changes to the source code and see the UI updates in seconds, making the development process significantly faster.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Flutter, please reach out to schedule an informational meeting.

 

google-flutter-goes-beta

 

Mobile World Congress (#MWC18)

 

MWC is one of the biggest events on the mobile calendar. This year, more than in the past, the focus is going beyond our traditional understanding of Mobile Apps and pushing into the connected life or what MWC is calling “Intelligently Connected.”

 

Follow Shockoe to keep up to date on the key themes this year:

 

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI & ML)
  • Forthcoming 5G & LTE enablement
  • IoT smart city technology and edge computing devices
  • Big data and analytics
  • Technology in society and net neutrality
  • Consumer smartphone and tablet devices

Understanding the Impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Understanding the Impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

On December 6th, we continued our panel series, this time focusing on the Manufacturing Industry, specifically Industry 4.0.  Joined by Phil Naglieri (Director of Technology at Shockoe), Mason Brown (UX LEad at Shockoe), Mike Upchurch (Chief Strategy Officer at Notch), and Will Middleton (CEO at Cloudy Data Systems) we explored the results of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – including predictive maintenance, improved decision-making in real time, anticipating inventory based on production, and improved coordination of jobs and people.

We are currently in the Intelligence Age or Age of Information – The Fourth Industrial Revolution, revolution measured around manufacturing, but really on the impact of everything around us.  The one we are currently living is characterized by data, analytics, and the merger of technology with the physical, digital and biological worlds.

To get the full interview, check out our YouTube Channel

A Brief History of the Previous Industrial Revolutions
#1 – Agrarian to Industrial (Textile and Industry) & Steam:  This revolution took place in during the 18th and 19th century.  It was a period marked by the creation of the iron and textile industries as well as the Steam Engine.

#2 – Electricity, Assembly Line, Light Bulb, and Telephone:  The second revolution started in the late 18 hundreds and lasted through the beginning of WWI, this revolution was marked by the creation of the combustion engine, the light bulb, the telephone, and the assembly line.

#3 – Nuclear Power, Computers, Computing, and Internet:  About half a century later, and really the only revolution any of us lived through is the third revolution, which appeared with the emergence of a new type of energy whose potential surpassed its predecessors: nuclear energy. This revolution also brought with it electronics and the internet—such as the transistor, microprocessor, and computers and the world wide web.

Question and Answer with the Panelists:

Can you give me some insight into the following statement:

“Manufacturing workers are retiring in droves, with an estimated 2.7 million jobs being vacated by 2025. At the same time, the growth and advancement of the industry is expected to create an additional 700,000 jobs for skilled manufacturing employees over the next decade. As a result, manufacturers are scrambling to fill this knowledge and skills deficit with the next generation of workers — millennials.”

Answer (Phil):  Mobile is essential to Manufacturing Companies, who are not naive to the process of hiring new generations to fill the roles left by aging workforces as we’ve seen happen in the recent past, Mobile brings a sense of familiarity and allows for quicker adoption.  Not only will employers onboard new employees quicker, it will allow them to streamline their processes better.

Question:  AI and machine learning are getting a lot of press so can you tell us a little about it?  Specifically, as it relates to Manufacturing, where possible

Response (Mike):  At a high level, think of AI and machine learning as that you are using machines to do what a human would do if they had unlimited time and capacity.  So for example, let’s say you are the production manager at a plant and you are trying to improve yield.  You’d look at a bunch of process and machine data in reports, make changes and then evaluate the impact of your change.  Machine learning will do the same thing except use math to look at thousands of variables and their interrelationships.  The other thing to know is that 80% of the work to use machine learning with be data acquisition and management.  To be good a machine learning, you have to be good at data.  Finally, the process is iterative and exploratory.  For example, a project might start with a question like, “of the 3,000 points of data we capture, what combination of factors cause defects?”.  To solve it the data scientist will try different sets and types of data as well as different models to figure out what combination yields the optimal insight.

Question:  With the recent addition of bitcoin to the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, bitcoin and blockchain are in the news today more than ever. How are these different and is the hype really worth it?

Response (Will):  I have been heavily involved in the bitcoin and blockchain space for over a year now and recently became the chapter leader for the Government Blockchain Association Richmond Chapter. Bitcoin and blockchain have been a wild ride this year and the hype is most definitely worth it. The technology provided by the blockchain and the decentralized value exchange of bitcoin are both extremely transformational and disruptive.

Blockchain is one of the underlying technologies behind bitcoin. Though public and private key cryptography, it allows different entities (i.e. an organization, a person, or even a machine) to prove that it is the owner of some data stored on a public database. In Bitcoin, the user can prove they are the owner of the account that sits on the public ledger.

Question:   Earlier you talked about machine learning can you tell us how it’s being used in manufacturing?

Response (Mike):  There are three common categories of use – predictive maintenance, improvements in things like yield, capacity, and quality, and systems optimization.

Using machine learning for predictive maintenance has proven to reduce downtime, in some cases as much as 50% and increase machine life by 20% to 40%.  An example would be predicting part failure and fixing the issue before it happens.
Improving yield/throughput/capacity and quality – studies have shown a wide range of results.  In some industries, the increase can be in the 10% range, but in others, like semiconductor manufacturing, where they are already good at yield, the results can 1%.  However, in that business, a  1% improvement in yield is worth $100M.  This is accomplished by looking at the end-to-end process and understanding not only how each machine contributes to defects, but also the interdependencies of each machine to each other as well as environmental factors; such a factory temperature fluctuations.
As for systems optimization, think of looking at the entire process from sales through manufacturing and delivery. An example would be using 1,000 variables and 10,000 constraints to figure out how to optimize system performance.  The company that did it raised earnings 50%.  Quite dramatic.  A lot of simulation is used here.  An example would be that large oil and gas companies have simulations of their entire plant so they can do things like see how changes in maintenance schedules affect the entire system using software and then optimize the schedule before doing any physical changes.

What are the challenges?

  • Data
  • Security – fog/edge/local, not cloud
  • Operational – ready to adopt?
  • Finding talent

To get the full interview, check out our YouTube Channel

[INFOGRAPHIC] Mobile Apps for the Supply Chain

[INFOGRAPHIC] Mobile Apps for the Supply Chain

Apps for the Supply Chain

Shockoe is a leader in the development of advanced mobile applications focused on increasing sales, end-user experiences and employee productivity. Since our founding in 2010, our strong focus on today’s mobile consumer and end-user have helped us grow into a global consulting firm with a unique combination of mobile strategy, experience design, development and integration Our products have strong returns on investment, deliver excellent user experiences, and adhere to the best practices in security and reliability.

Shockoe Featured as a Top App Developer on Clutch!

Shockoe Featured as a Top App Developer on Clutch!

At Shockoe, our experienced team of engineers and designers are committed to delivering high-quality, impressive mobile solutions to our clients. With over seven years of experience in the field, we know how to create an app that is beautifully designed, easy to use, and that meets each user’s needs.

Recently, our hard work was noticed by Clutch, a ratings and review firm based out of Washington, D.C. Clutch published the results of their annual report on the Top Mobile App Development Companies in DC, and we made the list! Clutch’s methodology evaluates thousands of companies around the globe based on verified client reviews, services offered, work quality, and market presence.

So far, we have received several positive reviews on Clutch. We are glad that our hard work is paying off and that our clients are impressed by our mobile solutions. We are able to meet each unique need of our diverse set of clients, and our solutions are flawlessly designed. We’re happy to see that our Clutch reviews reflect our efforts.

Excerpts from our Most Recent Clutch Reviews

“They say they’re mobile only and they stick to that. Because of that, they’re very strategically focused, which allows them to do more and stay on the cutting edge. They stay on top of the latest trends.”

“We’ve had nothing but great success working with them. They’re professionals. They’re good at what they do. They’re nimble and responsive.”

“Shockoe’s developers and their Chief Executive Officer care about the work. When the team is making suggestions based on their personal experience, they become more than a contractor.”

We are excited to be featured as a top app developer on Clutch, and we look forward to being included in their ongoing research!

3 Key Takeaways from Today’s Axway Appcelerator Announcement for Developers

3 Key Takeaways from Today’s Axway Appcelerator Announcement for Developers

The mobile dev world is buzzing with the Axway news that was revealed earlier today. To summarize the announcement:

  • The Axway Appcelerator Indie development tier is now free.
  • Hyperloop is now included with the Indie plan and is now free for all developers.
  • Appcelerator Arrow Builder is now called Axway API Builder and is also included in the (now free) Indie plan.

Hyperloop is Axway’s next-generation compiler that gives Titanium mobile developers full access to the native iOS, Android, and Windows APIs, all from within JavaScript.

Axway API Builder is a tool for creating, managing, and orchestrating APIs. It allows developers to expose and control the flow of data from multiple sources using many builtin data connectors. API Builder is also extensible and allows devs to use Node.JS to create their own connectors, flows, endpoints, etc.

Quite simply this means that every mobile developer is only a few JavaScript lines of code away from any native API. Axway is opening the door for mobile developers to have free access the Axway Appcelerator platform tools including Titanium, Hyperloop, API Builder and more!
Demand for training and developers with experience with both Hyperloop and Axway API Builder will undoubtedly increase as a result of these recent changes. Axway has strategically partnered with Shockoe to develop new training courses for both Hyperloop and Axway API Builder. Shockoe’s development experience with both of these products also enables us to continue giving our clients a feature rich experience, from apps to APIs.

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