October 27, 2018 • 10 min read
AIDC Cloud and Barcode Scanners
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
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). Also, 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. However, there’s nothing like deadlines to force action. Interestingly, 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.
Future of AIDC
So, what is the future? Primarily, 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?
For instance, we had a Fortune-100 customer tell us that it took him 9-months to change the label on the user-input field in their legacy Windows Embedded OS mobile app.
First and foremost, this is probably not common. Therefore, it’s likely there are other factors involved. Therefore, we showed him how to change a label in a field quickly and globally deploy that to all authorized mobile app-users with a click. As a result, 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 foresight.
The AIDC Cloud
First, think of a time you booked a flight online. 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.
The AIDC Cloud administrator will have one or more AIDC tasks 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.
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.
Admins can change or revoke the app-user credentials can be at any time. Also, they can change, add, or remove the assigned services remotely. Importantly, the updates would be effective instantly.
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 serves many purposes. Most importantly, it structures workflows for app-users to accurately capture data. Bad data is very expensive. Therefore, validation is an important part of the workflow and AIDC.
For example, if the app shows the app-user that an item is ‘Invalid’, they will not collect data for that item. Also, simply showing users 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
- Scan Builder
Connect Your Data
Primarily, there are two considerations. First, you can get your data to the mobile app. Secondly, you can connect 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)