What is the best mobile communication method for your mobile workers?

06-December-2012 18:51
in Technology
by Admin

Many organisations considering implementing any type of mobile working solution don’t always fully appreciate the importance of mobile communication. A solution could have the most user friendly mobile application, the best mobile device and have all the tools in place for security and support but if the communication is slow and/or unreliable then the end users will not use or accept the system. This is why organisations need to consider carefully the options and user requirements before deciding the method of communication because this can either make or break a solution.


There are different methods of communication which can be broadly divided into two categories Batch and Real Time.


A batch solution is where a user will connect to a data connection typically at the start of the day and receive all the required information. The user will then work throughout the day "offline" until the point at which they connect the device to another data connection to initiate the upload/download of data effectively synchronising the device.


A real time solution is where users are "online" all the time such as a laptop within an office on Wi-Fi or a field sales rep whose iPhone connects over 3G. The mobile user will always be up to date as the device will use the permanent connection to synchronise.


It must be noted however, that within the "real time" group there is a sub category called semi-real time which is actually the group WWAN or 3G communication would come under. This is because it's impossible to always have a data connection as mobile users are always coming in and out of signal coverage.


Mobile applications optimised for this type of communication method will use a method called “store and forward”. This is where a piece of software or client on the device stores information when the device is offline and as soon as a connection is restored the application will begin transmitting the stored data.


A number of organisations have looked at deploying browser based applications as they are easy and inexpensive to develop, deploy and manage. However, due the connection availability and the unpredictable speeds of 3G communication browser based applications are not widely adopted as they rely on the device always being online.


Organisations need to consider a range of factors when selecting the communication method for your mobile working solution such as how important is up to date information, what applications will be used by the mobile worker and which will be used frequently, how will the application perform in areas of poor or no signal coverage as well as what is an acceptable cost for the on-going mobile phone bills for data.


The most effective solutions combine all possible methods to provide the highest performance when transferring data to and from your mobile devices. This may be a 3G connection for general synchronisation during the day but permit Wi-Fi access either within the office or depot or even at home where applications can transmit the bulk of data or access web based tools. This approach means that a solution can be optimized for both usability and cost.


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