Friday, June 28, 2013

Airline Cockpits Begin the Ascent toward Fully Mobilized Pilot Operations

In today’s vastly competitive air travel arena, airlines always seem to be “one-upping” the competition. Offering planes that are larger, faster, more luxurious, less expensive, and every other amenity, or lack thereof, they can imagine. Many, if not most, have also come on board with consumer-side mobile apps offering airline information, and personalized access to travel itineraries, booking information, flight delay details and more. But what still plagues the airlines, as is true for so many other industries, is the massive amount of internal paper-based operations. Everything from human resources and maintenance, to flight attendant activities and pilot operations is hampered by inordinate amounts of paper. Now American Airlines has announced it is the first in the industry to completely mobilize the cockpit with apps delivered on the iPad.

Replacing heavy, bulky pilot bags with the iPad did more than just open up space and eliminate copious amounts of paper, some 3,000 pages per pilot, according to American. It reduced American’s #1 pilot injury source (transporting the bags) while dramatically streamlining access to all manner of daily operational data and even emergency procedure details. Additionally utilizing apps in the air and on the ground potentially allows mobile data capture of every manner including photographic, GPS/location, visual mapping, alphanumeric and more.

But the non-stop mobile momentum doesn’t end with iPads in the cockpit. It’s just one component of American’s aggressive, cross platform, go forward mobile strategy. Flight attendants operations are being streamlined to enhance all manner of in-flight customer interactions from food service to gate details and connecting flight information. “All 16,000 of American’s crew members worldwide have been given Galaxy Notes. ‘We’re the first airline to give a tablet to every single crew member’,” said Patrick O’Keeffe, American’s VP of Airline Operations Technology.

Perhaps an even bigger step towards global mobilization in the air, American successfully lobbied the FAA for broader use of the iPad in flight. They are currently the only airline in the world able to use iPad at every phase of flight from takeoff to landing. But winning the blessing of the FAA leaves other airlines with the opportunity to be fully cleared for takeoff in the mobile space as well.

As if streamlined operations, increased employee productivity, reduced injury and huge cost savings isn’t enough, American’s mobile app deployment in the cockpit has dramatic impact on the environment, “removing the kitbag from all of our planes saves a minimum of 400,000 gallons and $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices,” said Campbell…“Additionally, each of the more than 8,000 iPads we have deployed to date replaces more. Altogether, 24 million pages of paper documents have been eliminated.”

With American Airlines being the first to globally embrace mobile apps for internal, in-flight operations, they have clearly stepped to the top rung of the competitive ladder. This inevitably begs the question of whether the others can be far behind. Who will get their fastest and with equally robust mobile app data collection solutions remains to be seen. One thing is clear, mobile optimization is sure to make the friendly skies even friendlier.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mobile Data Collection Apps Go Far Beyond Saving Paper

Though the advent of the internet has dramatically changed the way we do business, most companies are still bound to a tremendous amount of daily paper transactions. Data collection, re-entry, validation and approval drag down productivity and leave too many opportunities for error. If field employees are involved, time is wasted waiting for the documentation to arrive for entry. The same delays occur in getting information out to the field. Inevitably extra steps in data processing can lead to errors. Automating this process dramatically reduces time delays, and removes the middle man, allowing off-site workers to gather and share information to, and from, the field in real-time.

Mobile data collection offers a flexibility and scalability that paper simply can’t match. Mobile data collection apps allow employees to use their own devices to capture and submit virtually any data. Integration with back end CRM, ERP and other databases eliminates repeat data entry by allowing the information to process seamlessly behind the scenes. Options to have the data submitted by email, spreadsheet, PDF, web post, database connection or in-app further accelerates related processes (data analysis, validation, reporting, approval, invoicing, etc). Streamlining or completely eliminating the paper burden increases efficiency and data output in the field and in the office. The ability to immediately deploy changes remotely and provide push notifications of key information means employees will always have the latest rules, regulations and emergency process information at hand. This helps improve worker safety and peace of mind.

To be effective, mobile data collection apps need to be robust and offer many types of information capture. These native, cross platform apps must, at a minimum, collect numeric, alphanumeric, date/time, GPS, location address, email, photo and signature data. They must work in both Internet connected mode and when Internet connection is not available (offline). They must allow data to be stored locally on a device and sent once the connection is re-established to ensure that information can be gathered on the spot and delivered timely. They must also have the ability to integrate with back end corporate databases.

The uses for mobile data collection are endless. From remotely-manned oil wells to agriculture, scientific research, crime scene investigation, global health and much more, the ability to collect and immediately transmit data carries benefits even beyond a greener planet. Eliminating the paper processing nightmare, increasing productivity and revenue, decreasing expenses and improving worker safety will offer a competitive edge to any organization.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Gartner Says Mobile CRM Apps in App Stores Will Have Grown 500% by 2014

Gartner recently reported the Number of Mobile CRM Apps Downloadable on App Stores will Grow to Over 1,200 by 2014.

"CRM continues to be high on the CIO's agenda," said Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.” According to Gartner's Executive Program survey of 2,053 CIOs in 2013, attracting and retaining new customers was ranked the No. 4 business priority for 2013. “Customer experience management is emerging as a business discipline for marketing, sales and customer service leaders. Every day, these leaders are incorporating more new technology into their projects to achieve their organizational goals."

As detailed in a previous blog, and further confirmed Johan Jacobs, Research Director at Gartner, an effective mobile app strategy (CRM or otherwise) involves knowing the reasons behind the mobile app drive. You need to take a deep dive into the goal of your enterprise mobile app strategy and determine exactly what it is that mobile apps will do for your business. Think of the business processes you want to enable with mobile apps first, determine the priorities for delivery (chances are multiple apps will be needed and desired for maximum productivity and ROI) then build your strategy around these processes. Find out what products or services your (internal and external) customers want and need. For employees, channels and business partners survey each group and determine what business issues they are facing and how mobile app(s) can solve these issues. Understanding not only why your enterprise organization needs mobile apps, and what business processes they will support, but who will deliver and manage the process and end product, is essential to a successful CRM mobile app strategy.

As indicated by Gartner, “the shift to apps will create a competitive advantage for some CRM vendors...” which means those unable to create effective apps with a solid design interface and usability will inevitably fall behind. As Mr. Jacobs indicated, “if there is a rapid rise in demand for CRM apps, there will be a shortage of development skills”. So CRM application vendors will not only need to determine what functionality to include in their apps but have the resources to bring them to market. Ensuring rapid and effective apps that support CRM processes means adopting a platform that enables both non-programmers and expert programmers to create native iOS and Android mobile apps without writing code.

These high performance apps must be data rich, sophisticated, secure and highly scalable. They also need to potentially connect to cloud servers, enterprise databases and ERP applications while supporting hundreds of thousands of corporate users. Being able to develop and deploy best in class apps in the short term will help keep CRM application vendors from falling behind the pack. The ability to analyze app usage, provide effective updates and changes and immediately distribute them to all end users will further define the leaders of the pack. SO what does a best-in-class CRM mobile app entail? More to come on that…

Friday, June 14, 2013

Oil and Gas Mobile Apps are an Essential Component for Safety and Management

With the continually expanding global oil and gas infrastructure, it is more important than ever to be able to safely submit, store and mange information. Many programs exist on the back end to document new construction and on-going inspections. There is also a wealth of documentation on rules and regulations, emergency and safety procedures and more. But the front-end data collection and documentation research requires a multitude of mostly paper-based forms, charts, rules and reports which can be time consuming and tedious. Not to mention, in an emergency situation, having immediate access to the most up-to-date procedures and real-time collaboration can dramatically accelerate response and repair time. Automating these processes through mobile apps not only streamlines operations and increases employee productivity, but can greatly enhance safety and emergency response.
Being able to complete and submit detailed mobile forms, including photographic documentation, dramatically reduces paper usage and data inaccuracies. Inspectors, product managers and safety officials can work even in offline mode and user management and signature options offer the security that only the appropriate people are accessing information. All personnel can be kept aware of regulatory changes and mission-critical instructions through in-app notifications and immediate distribution of app changes. This ensures the most up-to-date collection, reporting and reference capabilities will always be available.
Some of the features a best-in-class Oil & Gas mobile app should include are:

Equipment Management - Keep track of multiple tanks, wells, pipes, and even traveling rigs.

Daily reporting - Document and monitor work progress in, and from, the field. Identify & report problems with photographic evidence and signature capture and detail work plans, project schedules and more .

Detailed calculations –quick and easy calculations, unit conversions, financial reports and even “what if” scenarios on environmental impact.

Enhanced Emergency Response –Access resources and collaborate in real-time with your team from wherever you are.

References – access a host of reference materials to use for configuration, safety research, and emergency response. Data can be made editable to take advantage individual detailing and updates.

Hazardous Site check in – allow solo workers at dangerous sites to check in and enable one-touch emergency communication

Back-end data integration– Feed data collection activities directly to your internal databases for immediate reporting and further actions.

Location Tracking - Collect and record GPS data visually and with coordinates and access in-app maps and directions.

The benefits to implementing Oil & Gas mobile apps are numerous and palpable:

 - Save time and money in data collection and reporting

- Manage site incidents more efficiently and address situations as they arise

- Go green, eliminate paperwork and reduce inaccuracies

- Improve workforce productivity and safety in the field

- Automate maintenance and repair processes to increase asset reliability and performance

- Identify and help prevent equipment malfunctions on the spot with immediate feedback to internal resources

In the Oil and Gas industry, streamlining data flow to and from offsite resources with mobile apps enables smarter, faster decisions, improves worker safety, increases productivity while decreasing expenses and helps ensure protection of the environment.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Inspection and Audit Apps Ensure Ease of Complex Data Collection and Reporting

Whether you are inspection/audit individual or company, or a business that needs to perform inspections of any sort, automating this process through a mobile app offers virtually limitless opportunities. Construction auditors reviewing jobsite safety incidents can collect detailed information and supporting photos that even include follow up actions. From business and residential properties to restaurants, commercial vehicle fleets, utilities and more, full-scale mobile inspection/audit apps afford efficient, detailed, professional and effective data collection and reporting.

With a robust inspection/audit mobile app that supports complex data collection, you can complete your entire inspection, online or offline, directly through your electronic “forms”. Capabilities such as image capture, text and multiple choice data elements and one-touch GPS location identification, provide for seamless collection of critical inspection details. Login, user management and signature options offer several levels of security to ensure only the appropriate people are accessing information. Completed forms can be immediately submitted via email, web post, corporate database, in-app database or even to another portion of the app itself.

Complex mobile data inspection apps also innumerable benefits:

Customer Benefits:

- Accelerate business processes

- Streamline measurement and data collection

- Eliminate manual processes and paper trails

- Identify, monitor and help prevent hazards

- Improve customer service and showcase modern advances

- Create reports with comments, locations, photos, etc

- Enhance data accuracy

Employee Benefits:

- Save time in creating reports and delivering them to the employer, employees and/or customers

- Fill out inspection forms, even offline, with the simple touch of a finger and have them submit automatically when connection is available

- Gain access to corporate systems from anywhere, anytime, and increase productivity

- Leverage BYOD and require less IT purchases

No matter the type of inspection required, best in class, complex, mobile data collection apps offer inspectors and auditors the ability to compile and report data from anywhere, at any time. Additionally the ability to keep off-site personnel aware of important information, such as rule changes or mission-critical instructions through in-app notifications and immediate distribution of app changes, for example an enhanced or entirely new form, means the most up-to-date collection and reporting capabilities will always be available.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Creating Insurance Property and Causality Apps is Now Easier Than Ever

Over 1 billion smartphones and tablets are in use by customers, employees, partners and agents across the country and around the globe. Consumers are quickly turning mobile app usage from just the fun of social networking and games to the every day necessities of mobile banking, ecommerce and a host of business purposes. Some large insurance companies have increased their marketshare by jumping on the mobile app bandwagon and now it's even easier for any insurance and property/casualty companies to follow suit with their own apps. 
Insurance companies providing mobile apps offer an invaluable services to their customers, employees and partners by providing timely access to information, quotes, claims and account management. Along with a more efficient and cost effective means of managing an internal and external "customer base", a full service insurance app dramatically reduces paper usage for a "go-green" approach to business. 
With an insurance app built on a flexible, scalable, easy-to-use platform offering cross-platform native app functionality:
- Customers can now
  •    Ask for quotes anytime from anywhere
  •    Manage their accounts
  •    Report claims with Pics, video, etc
  •    Eliminate Ajusters making a physical trip to every incident
  •    Pay bills 
  •    Reduce paper forms
  •    Get answers faster any time of the day
- Employees can now:
  • Get access to corporate systems from anywhere, anytime and increase productivity
  • Eliminate paper forms 
  • Leverage BYOD and require less IT purchases
- Partners and Agents can now:
  • Service more clients
  • Service clients faster and easier
  • Eliminate paper forms
  • Make less trips and provide timely follow up
Snappii now offers features and functionality that enables full-service, customized Insurance Mobile App creation:
  • Ability to create mobile apps without coding
  • Ability to leverage any programmer and non programmer to create and manage mobile apps
  • Dramatically Reduce cost of mobile apps
  • Enable multiple app releases with minimum effort
  • Support for complex calculations
  • Mobile forms completion and submission (including photos)
  • Complex data access
  • Push Notifications
  • Easy no-coding integration to Legacy systems
Putting the right insurance information into customers' and employees' hands in a timely and efficient manner through a mobile app means improved productivity, increased business and more satisfied customers. That's the kind of insurance policy every business needs.