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Making the right connections
From Opinion column issue 65 – Winter 2014
Everyone, it seems, is now talking about telematics: governments, transport operators, truck and car manufacturers. One reason is that telematics underpin two of the EU’s ambitious goals for the next decade or so: reducing vehicle carbon emissions, and reducing the number of deaths on European roads.
In terms of carbon emission, telematics feature strongly in a drive to encourage joined-up cross-border freight transport; mobile technology is essential to real-time goods tracking, asset lifecycle analysis and advanced driver support.
Reducing road deaths is the province of projects such as eCall, which aim to deliver roadside assistance as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.
Security - a one-way street?
From Hanging Up column issue 65 – Winter 2014
How many passwords to you have to remember in the interests of trying to protect your identity online? One? Three? Five? More?
The companies we do business with online want us to have memorable passwords, preferably eight-plus digits, a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and other characters. Experts advise against using the same password for different web sites, yet at the same time they don’t want us to write any of these down.
To try and make it manageable, a typical approach by many of us might be to use variations of four or five passwords for a different sites. But it’s easy to forget which password is for which site and so on, which means resetting the original one periodically and answering security questions to protect yourself against fraud. Some sites won’t allow you to reuse a password, so another variation is added to your library.
Remote, but not isolated
From Opinion column issue 63 – February-March 2014
Much of the technology we write about in m.logistics is about improving business efficiency. The feature articles on dashcams and voice technology in this issue are typical. Yet it is easy to overlook the importance of engagement with a company’s most valuable assets – the mobile workers.
Even if you have, sensibly, involved workers in the project phase of your mobility roll-out, how do you stay engaged with workers who, by the nature of their jobs, are remote and not on site for much of their working week? Failure to do so can lead to a drop-off in the very efficiencies you were seeking with your mobile technology.
There are measures you can take. Forward-thinking logistics companies, for example, are sharing with drivers some of the fuel savings that accrue from performance monitoring. A monetary reward ensures your employees remain focused and fully engaged in your fuel-saving strategy.
It’ll never catch on
From Hanging Up column issue 63 – Feb-Mar 2014
Back in 1920 the New York Times was dismissive of predictions that rockets would ever enable man to leave the earth. More recently (April 2007, in fact) Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer famously dismissed Apple’s iPhone with the much quoted statement: "There’s no chance that the iPhone is going get any significant market share."
In the few years since that prediction, the iPhone has only not become the mobile device of choice for a generation of consumers, it has also helped spearhead development of some of the communications technology we are now so familiar with
Everyone now can have an email address and communicate with the world via Facebook or Twitter. Texting, once a youth-dominated messaging activity (and also predicted never to catch on), has become a business tool to send alerts. Meanwhile, many companies now have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Fit for purpose
From Opinion column issue 61 – July-August 2013
You probably take your smartphone for granted, forgetting just how versatile and easy to use these mini mobile computers are. You can virtually run your life on it, downloading apps for almost anything you can think of – and all for the price of a monthly contract with your network provider that includes the cost of the phone.
With this user-appeal and functionality, it’s no surprise that smartphones are now encroaching on the business world, re-opening the discussion about total cost of ownership for mobile deployments.
In one camp are those who favour rugged devices and the associated in-the-field reliability and lower lifetime costs; in the other are those who been persuaded by the lower costs and user-appeal of consumer devices, and think that mobile device management solutions should help minimise the additional in-service time and cost and more frequent device refreshes.
Mine's a 2000 - but I want a 2001
From Hanging Up column issue 61 – July-August 2013 by Tabula*
Older readers might remember the way comedians once used to mock supposed "chavs" for their desire to have the latest greatest model of device, be it hi-fi, TV or car. In the late 1990s, the aspiration was often summed up in models with the designation "2000".
The point was that such users didn’t necessarily know what features the device had, or why they really wanted them – just that it had that magic number, and therefore proved that they were ahead of the game.
The world has moved on now. There are no more chavs (there probably never were), and many (perhaps most) people who own the latest mobile device know exactly why they bought it: speed, signal strength, memory capacity, camera capability, and perhaps above all, compatibility with the software they want.
Take your partners
From Opinion column issue 60 – May-June 2013
Devising a strategy for managing mobile operations, whether they involve deliveries or service provision, has always involved numerous choices: hardware, communications platforms, software and post-deployment management.
The good news is that it’s been getting easier lately to make these choices with the confidence that the various elements in your system will work properly together. Communications, for example, are now much easier to manage in terms of costs and connectivity.
Paradoxically, though, the latest developments in mobile technology have also broadened the scope of what is possible. No company would want to ignore the positive impact that technology can have on business performance, but as the number of elements in a solution has increased, so has the risk of making a costly mistake.