¶ … Innovations in Smartphone Apps
Wireless technology is one of the fastest-changing phenomena in the world today. No single day passes without the telecommunication industry experiencing some new development that revolutionizes the way information is accessed and used. This technological evolution brings about improved security, increased coverage and greater throughput, and in so doing, impacts on information accessibility. Although this evolution has had an impact on almost all spheres of human life, the world of business stands out. The scale on which businesses can access corporate data today has never been experienced before. With mobile technology for instance, the retrieval of sale-closing or account-servicing information no longer depends on the proximity to the premises' LAN. Companies are, therefore, in a position to conduct business from anywhere, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
It would be prudent to begin by outlining some of the significant mobile technology advancements realized in the recent past.
Machine to Machine (M2M Solutions): these enable two-way communication by connecting devices in diverse locations to a single network and enabling them to share real-time information through radio signal (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). The rationale behind M2M solutions is that not only does the wireless transmission of information from a business, house or instrument, and receipt of useful feedback automate the traditional (manual) processes, but it also "helps to streamline service provisioning and billing" (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Numerous innovations in the field of M2M solutions come up on a daily basis. The most recent development on this front is the MNC-favoring invention of an M2M solution pack capable of "ordering and provisioning in multiple countries" (AT&T, 2014). AT&T, which offers one some of the most comprehensive M2M solutions in the world, for instance, recently developed a software-based global SIM with the ability to manage connected M2M assets located in 200+ countries (AT&T, 2014).
Mobile Resource Management (MRM) Solutions: refer to "a portfolio of technologies, equipment, software and services that grant end-to-end visibility to any company with" mobile assets, including workers and vehicles (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). MRM solutions make use of wireless communications tied to GPS systems to monitor the movements and workings of mobile assets (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Almost all aspects of the business benefit in one way or another from MRM solutions;
i) Customer-service -- timely arrival at customers' premises during delivery, delivery of accurate shipments, and elimination of fraudulent delivery reporting and work time (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
ii) Cost-control -- reduced losses resulting from theft, lower car maintenance and fuel expenses owing to a decline in unauthorized usage, and lower overtime expenditure and labor-related costs (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
iii) Productivity -- optimization of mobile resources' (such as drivers) time and vehicle safety-improvement (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
GPS Tracking: available on all GPS-enabled smart phones, data tracking software makes use of the Global Positioning System to establish the exact location of a mobile asset, a vehicle or a person. The data is then stored either within the unit or transmitted to a centralized database via modem, radio, or GPRS (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). GPS tracking software produces a map backdrop that displays the asset's movement using the recorded data (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Tracking systems facilitate the identification of wasteful practices within the organization. Benefits include;
i) Customer-service -- ensures time-saving and makes it easier to serve more customers in a day, and provides a basis for better response to emergencies as it ensures that "vehicles get to work sites more quickly" (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
ii) Cost-control -- lets managers "know when drivers are wasting fuel by exceeding the speed limit, idling excessively, or not taking the shortest routes" (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Insurance companies more often than not offer discount on premiums to GPS-managed systems (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
iii) Productivity - helps managers to monitor the time employees spend on a particular job, eliminates unauthorized usage of company vehicles, forms (through its quantified data) an effective basis for employee evaluation and performance appraisal, enables the development of competitive bids as it allows for the accurate estimation of transport costs within a certain period, and helps to reduce unnecessary time-consuming phone calls made by employees (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.).
Of importance in this case is the fact that, despite its benefits, the use of GPS trackers in the U.S. is limited by the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment grants every citizen the right to a quiet life, free from unnecessary seizures and unwarranted searches and interference (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). GPS tracking effectively interferes with an individual's quiet life, and is, therefore, subject to this constitutional provision (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). This implies that government authorities cannot use the tracking system to obtain evidence about a suspect - unless they have a court warrant permitting the same. A number of states,...
California's Penal Code Section 637.7 for instance bars the use of tracking devices without the consent of the 'tracked' (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010).
Mobile Devices: recent years have seen an array of devices with the ability "to connect mobile workers wirelessly to vital applications such as email" as well as "enable access" to real-time business information come up (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Such devices as mobile broadband, tablets and smart phones boost 'on-the-road' productivity and are crucial to the success of any business unit operating in today's fast-paced global marketplace (Netwurx Technology Group, n.d.). Every sector in the economy has, in some way, embraced the use of mobile wireless devices in its operations. The most pronounced ones include m-banking in the banking sector, m-health in the health sector and m-commerce in trade and marketing.
M-health enables care providers to not only access their patients' medical and health data through the Electronic Health Register in real time, but also share information with other care providers both within and without their systems using their tablets, smart phones and apps (Hampton, 2012). The influence of mobile solutions in the health sector is becoming so intense that the subject topped the agenda during the 2013 National Health IT week forum that took place between 16th and 20th September (Hampton, 2012). A 2012 study by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMMS) revealed that eighty percent of health care providers used mobile solutions in the provision of healthcare, with approximately 45% using mobile devices for the bedside collection of data, and 13% reporting their plans to (in 2013) offer their patients a mobile app (Hampton, 2012). M-health has, in itself, numerous other applications, including a mother-child infection transmission-messaging service and child malnutrition-treatment mobile app (Hampton, 2012).
M-commerce, a branch of e-commerce, refers to trade carried out through mobile interface that interface with e-data communication networks (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). Mobile devices' applications software and operating systems have been revisited a number of times to assess their ability to handle the emerging concept of m-commerce. Although Palm's PalmOS and Microsoft's Pocket PC have in the past been in active usage, their functionality has been found to be limited. The creation of software with adequate functionality has therefore previously been viewed as a challenge (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is another important block of m-commerce (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). There has been debate as to whether or not the WAP will eventually become globally accepted, more so, with Japan's I-mode's increasing popularity (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010).
Apart from enabling m-facility services, mobile technology has, in itself, undergone numerous technology advances in the recent past. The most significant of these have been enumerated in the subsequent subsection.
Ultra-Wideband Technology (UWB), 3G, and 4G Mobile Networks: UWB "is a wireless technology intended to provide high speed, lower power wireless connections (100Mbps-2 GHz) over short distances" and involves pulsing short-burst signals across substantially wide bandwidth, such that any alteration on the pulses' positions, phases or amplitudes causes data to be sent (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010, p. 157). Following disagreements between the WiMedia Alliance and the UWB forum - both of which are influential groups within the UWB industry, the UWB standard processes were stopped, and as a result, the 3G as well as the very recently-developed 4G mobile wireless networks currently dominate the industry (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010).
Bluetooth Technology: this "is a low-cost radio solution that can provide links between devices" (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010, p. 157). Embedded in such devices as video cameras, mobile phones, tablets, to mention but a few, bluetooth technology works to transfer data from one access point to another via radio waves (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010).
Natural User Interface: refers to any interface modes that rely on natural forms of data input (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). They include natural human voice recognition and normal handwriting recognition (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). Natural user interface paved way for the development of multi-input software solutions that allow for conversational and standard natural interface between companies and their customers (Agbinya & Masihpour, 2010). With this multi-input software, customers do not…
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