AIDC Cloud and Barcode Scanners

  • Remotely configure and deploy custom barcode scanner workflows from the cloud

  • Issue and remotely manage app usernames authorized to scan for custom workflows

  • Scan records synced globally across all devices to a central server

Background

The evolution of enterprise AIDC is gaining speed as support for Windows Embedded Operating Systems is phased out. Here is the current schedule:

  • June 10, 2018 – Windows Embedded CE 6.0 will be End of Life
  • June 9, 2019 –  Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld will be End of Life
  • January 14, 2020 – Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 will be End of Life
Change is good …

Remember when phones were for phone calls? That seems like a very long time ago but the iPhone was first released only 11 years ago (June 29, 2007). The Android OS followed soon thereafter (September 23, 2008), together dramatically changing the way we communicate.

Legacy enterprise installations using Windows Embedded OS are difficult to change but there’s nothing like deadlines to force action. We now commonly find enterprises investing in new Android OS mobile computers, as well as Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, with and without accessories.

… but only if you leverage the technologies of the future

So, what is the future? It’s leveraging the new operating systems and devices with cloud-based AIDC. Of course, you’ve heard that before, but WHY is that so important?.

Here’s an example. We had a Fortune-100 customer tell us it took him 9-months to change the label on the user-input field in their legacy Windows Embedded OS mobile app.

Is that common? Probably not – it’s likely there are other factors involved. But when we showed him how to change a label in a field in under a minute and globally deploy that change to all authorized mobile app-users with a simple click on his web account, he was convinced about the power of the cloud.

In our opinion, the mobile computer manufacturer and AIDC service provider that leverages the cloud will lead the way into the future and be rewarded with market-share for their for foresight.

The “AIDC Cloud” Explained

Have you ever booked an airline ticket online? Of course you have, and likely many times. In a similar way you use a flight-booking web interface (often called a ‘wizard’) to reserve a flight, an AIDC Cloud administrator uses a web-based ‘wizard’ to configure AIDC workflows.

Workflows

The AIDC Cloud administrator will have one or more AIDC task for their authorized mobile app-users to accomplish (we call those tasks ‘Services’). They use a web-based wizard to configure the mobile app to capture, collect and connect the resulting data exactly as necessary to accomplish the intended task.

Authorized App-Users

Once the administrator has created these Services, they need to assign them to app-users for use in the field. They create unique app usernames (often an email address) with passwords and then email those app-users their credentials.

With a few clicks, they associate specific app-users to specific Services, depending on the task at hand.  When the app-user signs into the mobile app they automatically see only those Services which the administrator has assigned. They can then begin their assigned tasks.

The app-user credentials can be changed or revoked at any time. Assigned Services can be changed, added, or removed by the administrator at any time remotely. Those updated are instantly effective.

Scan Records

What is a “Scan Record”?

  • Who scanned (app username)
  • What they scanned (the barcode scanned)
  • When they scanned the barcode (time and date stamps)
  • Where they scanned (GPS or lookup)
  • How they scanned (scan, lookup, manual entry, NFC)
  • Why they scanned (the workflow name and service ID)

What is “Associated Data”?

When setting up your workflows you can add app-user prompts (Questions) to present to your authorized app-users, including:

  • Form fields
  • Multiple-choice (single answer or multi-answer)
  • Dropdown menu
  • Secondary barcode scans
  • Photo capture
  • Signature Capture
  • Custom Questions – HTML (offline)
  • Custom Questions – URL (online)
Validation

Validation serves many purposes but the most important for AIDC generally relate to structuring workflows for app-users to accurately capture data. Bad data is very expensive so validation is an important part of the workflow.

For example, if the app shows the app-user that an item is ‘Invalid’ they will not collect data for that item. OR simply showing an app-user an item description and attributes after a scan can help them from entering bad data. Here are some validation options:

  • Validate against database
  • Custom On-Device Validation
  • Conditional Validations
  • A/B Compare Validation
  • Validate to our server or yours
  • On-Device or Online
  • Custom Questions
  • Pattern Validation
  • Regex Validation
  • Multiple-Choice/Dropdown
  • Scan Builder
Connect Your Data

There are two considerations – one is getting your data to the mobile app and the other is connecting the mobile app’s scan records to your databases. Here are a few options:

  • Web UI to manually upload and download data to/from our servers
  • API to automate the insertion to and retrieval of data from our server
  • Postback URL (app posts scan records to your server and your server posts back to the app-user)
  • Scheduled exports via FTP, Dropbox, and email
  • Direct integration (custom) or using API connectors (Zapier)
Summary

The AIDC Cloud is already here. Finally, it’s up to the enterprise IT departments to start making the transition. Depending on the task, that can take as little as 10-20 minutes but generally no longer than a few hours.

October 27th, 2018|