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Friday, 27 July 2012 11:31

HansaWorld delivers ERP on a tablet

HansaWorld delivers ERP on a tablet

Continuing its reputation for being first across a variety of platforms, enterprise resource planning vendor HansaWorld has announced that its software is fully iPad compatible. The development goes beyond putting ERP on to a tablet, as through this move, it is also affirming the growing popularity of tablet computers as a replacement for notebooks.

The company’s strategy is in line with global sales figures for tablets: Some 500 million of these devices are in the market today. That’s a significant number and the impetus behind HansaWorld having a fully-iPad compliant platform in development for over a year now.

The steady introduction of tablet computers is a component of the wider ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend, itself an extension of the powerful handsets that most office workers bring with them to work. Technology companies cannot ignore this trend any less than CIOs can. Working with it instead allows for improvements in productivity as well as employee satisfaction.

HansaWorld has invested substantially in doing just that. The full Enterprise solution, the company’s flagship product, can be accessed and operated from an iPad. It’s a full client/server interface, with the iPad connecting to the system just as a PC or notebook would.

Designing an ERP solution to operate with a tablet is no small accomplishment. It required practically a full redesign of the user interface to operate with touch input rather than keyboard and mouse; it required resizing of nearly everything, too, to prevent overlapping of buttons and other features.

The investment that HansaWorld has made into creating a fully-iPad accessible ERP is reflective of its confidence in the enduring popularity of tablet devices. There are some roles where the tablet is a clear winner, for example, in stock-taking, customer-facing field work, viewing forms and reports. Our testing has shown that they are suitable for many, if not most, ERP functions.

There is distinct demand for such solutions, too. Most of our customers have tablet computing in their strategic plans, if they aren’t already implementing these devices into their environments one way or another. It does require a mindset shift, just as moving from printed books to reading on a tablet does – but once clients see how well it works, they can see the potential.

In addition to its iPad compatible ERP, HansaWorld has developed modules for Android tablets and is working on a version suitable for the soon-to-be-released Windows 8 platform.

Published in Mobile
UC projects fail when they don’t heed cultural impact on organisations

Unified communications (UC) is changing the way organisations operate, as their employees tend to be more available, productive and effective when invested with UC tools.

But report published in July from analyst firm Canalys points out that many UC deployments fail or don’t meet their goals because their cultural (people) impact and the related contexts of IT consumerisation ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device) and workforce mobility are ignored.

In Tellumat, we are in agreement that many UC failures can be avoided by approaching projects as a business transformation process in which the user experience is central.

Three key trends

Consumerisation is the increasing use by employees of technologies like smart phones, iPads, video and social networking tools in the enterprise.

As Canalys points out, organisations that fail to assimilate and take advantage of consumerisation (for instance, with a BYOD strategy) will find themselves increasingly at a disadvantage against competitors.

For example, organisations that aren’t visible on in social media will become remote from customers who want to communicate via an increasing number of channels. (Conversely, UC solution providers that do not recognise the touch points of the technology with consumerisation and BYOD will at the very least miss the opportunity to leverage existing consumer platforms.)

Vendors and partners must also advise customers on the impact of workforce mobility, on processes and information accessed by employees.

Workforce mobility is not a new concept, but due to the consumerisation of IT and BYOD, it is a rapidly accelerating trend, making it an IT priority.

The proliferation of mobile devices provides employees with greater access to tools like video collaboration. Increasingly, employees want to access business applications and social media while on the move. If mobility is not considered as an integral part of future UC strategies, then the investment will be wasted.

Expert guidance

To accommodate these trends in employees’ everyday workflow, organisations will need guidance from experienced UC partners. Issues that have to be thrashed out include:

  • The decision about which platforms to support (iOS, Android or BlackBerry),
  • The changing security ecosystem, and
  • Networking (the number of devices without Ethernet ports is on the increase).

But it goes deeper than processes and architecture, touching the very core of an organisation’s objectives. Technologies like UC, BYOD and mobility have impact far beyond the scope of just an IT department purchasing decision. They affect management, HR, marketing, sales, R&D and back-office integration, in countless new ways.

To prepare for the impact of the new technologies and accommodate them, organisations must ask themselves what they want the technologies to achieve, and within what parameters. The following considerations are common:

  • Organisations must work through changing access modes and trust accords very closely and apply corporate policies as well as IT security measures accordingly.
  • Education of employees is a crucial aspect of a holistic UC deployment: employees must understand their responsibilities and obligations in a world where they are able to freely move sensitive data from device to device and location to location.
  • Equally, the corporate culture of the organisation must embrace trust and openness in a mobile, UC-driven, BYOD environment, so that employees are able to take more rapid but well-informed decisions.
  • UC deployments that incorporate collaborative tools and social media work most effectively when the deployment is aligned with business goals such as improving customer satisfaction or streamlining decision-making processes.
  • Collaboration must enable individuals to identify other individuals in order to be able to freely form communities that can quickly come together to tackle specific company issues.

All these and more must be keen focus areas in the purchasing decision, to ensure that the organisation is prepared for the big changes that UC can bring, and that benefits will be realised.

Published in Mobile
Thursday, 12 July 2012 13:25

The African (iPad) Renaissance


At the last count, there were over 2 million iPads in South Africa – and the number is still rising.  In the two years since its release, the iPad and other Android tablets have had a considerable impact on the African market.
The assumption has been that these devices were only used for simple tasks, such as email or Web browsing – yet research shows that this isn’t always the case.

IDG’s iPad for Business Survey revealed that 47% of African professionals own a corporate-issued iPad, compared to a global average of 24%. Of those professionals, 83% have said that they “always use their iPad at work”, compared to 51% for the rest of the world.  The survey has also shown that a number of professionals are beginning to replace their laptops and other gadgets with the iPad.

I believe that there are several reasons for this. For one thing, the continent is far more reliant on mobile connectivity than the rest of the world. Secondly, it offers ease of use and admission to information in a part of the world where libraries and wireless connectivity at home are not as easily accessible. IDG found that 97% of professionals use the iPad for reading, 72% of iPad owners carry their laptop less, and 66% say their iPad has partially or completely replaced their laptop, painting a picture of a generation that prefers to “learn on the move”.

This offers a new opportunity for several industries and businesses in South Africa. If one takes the recent Eastern Cape textbook debacle into account, the iPad as teaching medium makes as much sense for textbook publishers as for education departments and families, with apps and content repositories making it an ideal single portal to content and learning. Distribution and the revision of textbook content would not pose the same problem.

Entertainment is another no-brainer.  Embedded multimedia (such as video) in magazine means that the media becomes ultra-immersive, engaging and interactive. Further enriched by a rich application ecosystem, media convergence and personalisation, tablets are great for watching video, gaming, playing music and more. Likewise, industries that depend heavily on content can all benefit from this: from travel and leisure companies to consulting firms and e-commerce store fronts – the list is virtually endless.

It is not just a replacement for entry-level laptops and netbooks, and doesn’t only appeal to some industries: The iPad is becoming a corporate workhorse, particularly on the African continent.

As Kathryn Cave of IDG put it: “It has heralded seismic shifts in the way its users access and digest information. And it has shown that the African continent has its own unique business landscape.”

The further decrease in the Price of the iPad 2 and the increasing pressure on hardware manufacturers to make tablets accessible to the general market, will continue to reinforce this trend in years to come. Content-rich industries (and who isn’t, with the advent of so much digital and social and mobile media today?) stand to benefit the most from app-lifying their content.

It’s clear that businesses hoping to compete for a share of the African market have to set their sights on gaining a digital presence – and soon.

Published in Hardware
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