Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

Since 2007, Gartner has been predicting the top strategic tech trends for the coming year; not an easy task considering the unpredictable nature of the IT market.

In this year’s report, Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015, the analysts describe their focus this way:

“Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, end users or IT, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. These technologies impact the organization’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives.”

Here is a breakdown of Gartner’s list: Read the full post »

Why IoT and M2M Technology is Gaining Such Ground

While M2M technology has been around for some time now (in technology years that is) it is now moving beyond the notice of early adopters and innovators to early majority. More and more people are becoming familiar with the concept at a consumer level (Smart Homes, iBeacon technology, etc) and the business sector is beginning to find ways to leverage the technology as a profit center. The reason for this?

“I believe the recent buzz is a result of the convergence of factors: Field service companies have the knowledge management capabilities to turn data points into insight, many organizations are making or thinking about the transition from a reactive, break-fix service model to a proactive or preventative model, and the volume of machines a assets that are connected has reached a number with can drive value.”

Aly Pinder – Senior Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group

 

THE REAL VALUE OF IoT and M2M

DATArrive-internet-of-thingsAs with most advances in technology, initial buzz can hover around the novelty of of the technology itself, with a vague understanding of how it might impact our lives. There can be an excitement over what could be, but an unrealized connection to the daily impact.

For some time, this has been the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M) technology. The introduction of automated process and greater access to information has long been the building blocks of industrial advancement, and now, the latest progression of technology is finding a valuable position in many industries.

Recently, Field Technologies Magazine provided an industry report dedicated to the IoT and the specific benefits within field services. The follow list is taken from the recent report “The Vast Benefits M2M and IoT Can Provide” which help to clarify just what exactly the IoT and M2M devices can do for us:

  1. Improve Efficiency and Productivity – rather than sending a driver out to vending machine locations to fill them on a set schedule, you only send someone when inventory gets low. Instead of having a utility worker spending full days reading meters, you can receive that data remotely. M2M allows companies to evolve from reactive work to proactive work.
  2. Provide Better Customer Service – As an organization shifts from being reactive to proactive in the service of their customers, an obvious boon to customer service is felt. Rather than customers alerting service providers of issues, service providers are enabled to identify issues, notify customers, estimate arrivals and have a better grasp on completion times.
  3. Grow Revenue – a reduction in waste is a quick way to maximize profits. The migration towards M2M automation provides new ways for companies to extend the value of their current workforce while providing added value to their service offering and potentially grow their customer base
  4. Business Insight to Make Process and Product Improvements – the data gathered from M2M-enabled process can provide valuable insight into what is working or failing when it comes to products and processes. The ability to analyze real operational process with hard data becomes a valuable resource for companies

Read the entire industry report here.

How Does DATArrive Improve Field Services?

Looking for a quick overview of how DATArrive can bring value to field service operations? Here is a quick overview.

Also, you can download the industry overview here.

Overview: Three Ways Mobile Apps Are Better With Contextual Sensor Data

Over at the Forrester blog, Rowan Curran has a short video posted that lists 3 ways in which sensor data can enhance mobile applications. This is a good introduction into how integration with existing data brings added value to the application experience.

 

The Challenges Ahead for Mobile Application Development

Analysts from Gartner Inc. and IDC have recently weighed in on the challenges that lie directly in front of mobile app developers and the necessity for these teams to think differently from traditional practices. David Ramel at adtmag.com summarizes these points in a recent article and highlights several obstacles development teams must wrestle with:

  1. Approaches taken within developing for desktop software do not translate in mobile app development – device diversity, network connectivity and other mobile-specific considerations dement that mobile development teams use “functional, performance load and UX testing as well as agile development practices.”
  2. Mobile disruption – the central problem in mobile application development is addressing the variety of platforms and devices that employees can bring into the enterprise. This flood of devices has created a “disruption” of sorts that demands developers are able to distribute to multiple combinations of devices, OS and form factors.
  3. UX matters – Ramel sites that most user complaints about mobile apps have to do with user experience caused by poor UI design, workflow responsiveness. In the world of mobile, function definitely matters, but with a limited amount of screen size, form matters a whole lot more

The advice for development teams: “embrace the Web ecosystem of skills and set up Web developer teams along with existing Java and Microsoft ecosystem developer teams because tools, frameworks and middleware aimed at enterprises are increasingly integrating HTML5 support.”

 

Read the full article here.

 

We’re Hiring!

Sierra Data Systems is looking to add a new member to our team. Do you know someone who might be a good fit?

Position: Web Developer

As a mid-senior level Web developer you will be primarily responsible for working with a small team to develop and maintain an existing large and complex Software-as-a-Service ASP.NET / JavaScript / mobile business-to-business web application. Developing/maintaining other smaller custom business applications is also likely. You must be comfortable with building new products from the concept phase onward, as well as taking complex and challenging existing systems and quickly developing expertise in maintaining/enhancing them. You must be able to follow existing software development processes, understand and communicate detailed project documentation, and generate work estimates. You must be quality conscious, and be dedicated to delivering quality products on time and on budget.

Position Requirements

  • Between 3-5 years of real world experience using JavaScript / CSS / HTML5. Prefer JQuery, Backbone, Underscore, Lodash, Require or other JavaScript library experience. PhoneGap experience is a plus. Since we are in the process of redesigning existing SaaS systems for JavaScript/HTML5 this is the most important piece of hiring criteria.
  • Experience in building native mobile applications on modern smartphone platforms including Android, and/or iOS is a plus.
  • Familiarity and experience with MVC, MVP, MVVM and MVCVM patterns.
  • Knowledge of ASP.NET 3+ web applications using SQL Server 2008+
  • Prefer at least one year of experience using both VB.NET and C#, as well as report development experience with tools such as Crystal Reports or RDLC.
  • Demonstrated aptitude with any the following is a plus: Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio 2012.
  • Dedication and proven track record of delivering working, tested and high-quality software on a schedule. Accuracy in providing time estimates for work goals is essential.
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively.
  • Ability to multi-task and manage multiple assignments in a fast-paced, highly agile environment.
  • Excellent ability to read and understand technical documentation and development specifications and the verbal skills to communicate both with technical and non-technical groups. Strong analytical and problem solving skills. You will be expected to use your analytical skills to fill in gaps in requirements, including speaking to customers and fellow employees to gather additional information related to your assignments.
  • Confidence and curiosity to “take ownership” of a project while maintaining the flexibility to work at the behest of customers, team leadership, and the overall needs and standards of the application when necessary.
  • Exposure to commercial software development lifecycle (SDLC) and knowledge of Agile development methodology.

Position Details

  • Sierra Data Systems is the leading enterprise mobility software company focused on transforming business processes to drive results for field service and logistics operations. The Company’s modular SaaS product, DATArrive™, optimizes business processes increasing the value of mobile employees and giving management the ability to make data driven decisions.
  • Full Time, salaried, 40 hour work week in an office environment. Eventually, there may be an opportunity for some remote work.
  • Position is located in Grass Valley, CA. Relocation support is not available.
  • We are unable to accept those needing or possessing and H1B Visa

To apply, please send a copy of your resume to jobs@sierradata.com

Download a copy of the job description here

The Second Wave of Mobility

second-wave_310_224Field Technologies Magazine recently released their Field Mobility Annual Report for 2014 which highlights the numerous trends and expectations for the forthcoming year based off of responses from over 700 consumers. Among the many insights was the recognition that we are in second (or maybe third?) wave of mobility.

Meaning this: initially, companies invest in mobility to move away from manual or paper-driven processes by mobilizing their operations. For many industries, this was the surge 5-7 years ago and remains a critical step for companies who have yet to do so. But for many companies, the second wave of mobilization lies within the area of automating existing processes through “awareness technology.” Depending upon the industry, this could mean:

  • using GPS technology to “arrive” at a location rather than manually selecting a menu option
  • leveraging historical data to suggest inventory, staffing needs, or estimated hours to complete work
  • accessing crowdsourced data to estimate traffic patters, wait times or weather conditions
  • engaging with bluetooth technology for location awareness and know data points that trigger workflow actions

The bottom line is that mobility will inevitably continue to evolve but the real winners will be companies and products that think proactively and progressively to leverage technology for their advantage.

The Field Mobility Annual Report can be accessed here.

Three Field Service Trends That Continue to Deliver Success

Arrow-going-up

In a recent article at Field Technologies Online, Scott Dutton summarized the three trends in field services that are allowing companies to  cut service costs, improve productivity, and boost customer satisfaction.

Mobile Devices – the continued saturation of mobile devices into our everyday lives has made this resource a swiss army knife of sorts for field service companies. According to a recent survey by Field Technologies, about half the mobile workforce currently uses smartphones as the primary means of communication from the field. The other half is divided unequally: roughly 40 percent still use laptops, and approximately 11 percent prefer tablets. Interestingly, more than a quarter of both laptop users and smartphone proponents are considering a switch to tablets because of the portability, popularity, and screen size tablet provide.

Field-Service Workforce Automation – As the partnership between mobile devices and web-based workforce automation apps continue to become more integrated, companies have an even more powerful resource in the hands of their mobile employees. Web-accessible apps for work-order assignment, customer relationship, billing, and inventory management all provide field-service professionals with the real-time data necessary for informed, on-the-spot decision-making. Longer-term benefits include accurate forecasting and reporting for more productive allocation of personnel and material resources.

Location-Based Services – As customer experience is such a huge factor in field service success, having a toolset that is able to provide the right information at the right moment becomes critical. Having the right expert with the right equipment in the right place at the right time improves field-service performance and productivity, which results in sharp increases in customer satisfaction and noticeable improvements to the bottom line.

Build or Buy?

Building mobility applications in house (or outsourcing for one-off development) has its risks. As taken from the recent issue of Field Mobility Magazine “Field Mobility – Should I Buy or Build?

When an IT organization builds applications, it’s harder to sustain a long-term commitment. When you lose long-term commitment, your product is left behind. With a market that’s moving so quickly, that’s a very big risk. If you decide, “I’ll hire 10 developers and I’ll build this application.” They build this application and you’re very happy. They move to the next project. And 2 years from now, the application is outdated. Then what do you do?