Why Your Mobile Application Management Strategy Needs to Account for Signal Loss
Enterprise mobility, particularly in the branch of mobile device management, has had a tremendous impact on the way that field-based operations are performed. From shipping and transport to manufacturing and healthcare, there are many industries that have been catapulted into new and unprecedented levels of operational efficiency. But that’s not to say that there haven’t been pitfalls or dead ends along the way; any new paradigm in how business is done will take time to refine. If you’re unconvinced of this basic truth, go to YouTube and watch videos of early attempts at airplanes crashing and failing hilariously, and remember that today, it is now the safest and fastest way to travel. Innovation is a journey, not a destination!
One area in mobile application management that is still taking its first steps towards being improved is having an efficient backup plan for when an employee faces signal loss or disconnection while in the field. Suddenly, the advantages of a mobile-empowered workforce have disappeared—unless you have a mobile device management plan that is prepared to handle these signal blackouts without missing a step.
The first step towards successful disconnected operations is for the application in question to store and cache operational data as it becomes available for later use. If your employee in the field has to connect to the internet every time they want to double check information they have already seen, then that is not a very strong mobile device management strategy. By caching this data, it will still be available no matter whether the device is connected. However, updates and modifications will not be available until a connection is found again.
Along with caching data, it’s important for mobile device management to be able to queue server updates in both directions—from device to server, and vice versa. This is particularly important on the mobile end, where the progress of a shipment, or the status of a work order, will need to be updated. By having it updated manually later, you lose both time and accuracy, as an employee may rely on memory to record the necessary information. By allowing the data to be recorded instantaneously, and then queued to be transmitted to the server as soon as the signal becomes available again, the information is able to be accurately recorded in the proper databases as soon as possible. Especially for service technicians that may need to suddenly modify the specific details of a work order in the field, this can save a lot of time sorting through mix-ups.
An important thing not to be overlooked in any mobile application with offline functionality is that it should have a system for notifying field employees on their connection status. It’s essential to your mobile device management strategy employee should never need to assume that they are working with a reliable connection only to discover that they aren’t.