Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today is a great day around the office as we launch the new PointSync.com website. For years, our flagship product line needed proper representation online, and now that day has come. Here are some of the highlights of the new site:

General Design:
First, we wanted to have a super clean design that's easy on the eyes, easy to read and easy to navigate. The Home Page is a special place on any site. For ours, we wanted to take a highly technical topic and make it clear what our core value is to a potential customer. A combination of static and carousal style graphics keeps the eyes focused on the important content.

Product Pages:
There is a LOT to talk about with the PointSync Professional product and our developer plugin's & libraries. We wanted to find a place between overwhelming and not enough information, which is tough with such robust products. Take a look at the PointSync product pages for a good balance of screens shots, FAQ, technical info and other information.

Sync "U":
We also talk about synchronizing data a lot around here. Fact is, bullet-proof data synchronization is the core competency built into PointSync Professional . To explain the importance of our synchronization technology and how it fits into the enterprise, we made a whole page dedicated to the topic called Sync "U".

Case Studies:
We're proud to have some well known customers using PointSync Pro. Companies like Craig Hospital, Audi, Inspection Processing Services, FieldSync Assisted Care and others on board as PointSync Customers.

There is plenty more to look at on the site. Please take a few minutes and see what we're doing in the enterprise mobility space. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. See our Contact page for email addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Thanks for reading and visiting our new site!  The URL is: http://www.pointsync.com

PointSync Mobile Technologies

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Facebook Focuses on HTML5 in 2011 - Good for Social Media - Not Good for the Enterprise

In the blog on Forbes, “Facebook: Our Focus in 2011 Is On Mobile, HTML5” (link at the end of this blog), it is easy to see why mobility is not only a focus for Facebook, but also for practically every business. However, what is good for Facebook, other social media companies, publications, and gaming companies is not likely the best thing for your company – except for similar functions like connecting and communicating with your customers and community. Mobile is the fastest growing part of Facebook’s network and mobile users are twice as active as desktop users. These are market realities in the consumer market.  Some meaningful questions for business users are “Is mobility relevant to our business?”, “If mobility is important in our business, do we face similar challenges as Facebook?”, and “If our challenges are not the same, is HTML5 worth the investment today?”  With almost 2 decades of enterprise technology experience under practically every environment and major tech segment, I believe that mobility today is almost certainly relevant to your company, as it delivers cost savings, improved productivity/efficiency, and various controls and risk mitigation – exactly that which enterprise technology should provide to one extent or another.

Where the confusion starts and understanding of requirements often breakdown is in understanding the challenges. Facebook is a) a social media provider and b) spending millions (maybe 10s of millions) of dollars to evaluate *if* HTML5 will be the answer to their problems. So, if you are a social media company looking for a mobile platform, you can probably stop reading here.  The needs of “enterprise” apps is very different. To quote the blogger, Oliver Chiang, quoting Bret Taylor, CTO of Facebook, “… Apple and Google could do more to ‘close the gap’ between what a native application on their respective smartphones can do and what an HTML5 app on those devices can do. One example is Apple allowing HTML5 apps to also access the accelerometer (which allows for motion and directional input) on the iPhone.”  My first reaction is, “Yes, there is a gap.” My second reaction, “What motivation do Apple and Google have for abandoning the capabilities of their respective OS in delivering their users an exceptional experience – let alone abandoning in part or in total the revenue streams and appeal of app stores?”  Regardless, HTML5 is not proven as a viable alternative for most business processes, is still in its infancy in the consumer market (making it a good bit further away from being ready for the enterprise), and help doesn’t seem likely from the device and OS camps.

The nuggets I took away reinforce the strategy we see among our customers leading the charge in enterprise mobility.
  1. Enterprise Platform, Not Just a Mobile Platform: Anyone who has ever had to work with a web form or manage employees in the field, knows that lost time, lost data, and limited access to data cost money and kill customer service and productivity. Mobile web is rarely even a consideration. Even an app built on web services can fail to meet enterprise requirements.
  2. Right Device for the Job: Yes, we love the power and capabilities of iPhone, Android phones, and their tablet siblings, but try to process hundreds of barcodes or RFID tagged items on these devices and you’ll likely be looking for a job at Facebook.  Enterprise mobility is about converting some operation or process into software or delivering software and capabilities to support operations or processes. If you've done your job in selecting a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) that will support today and in the future the devices/OS appropriate to the task, then you can take advantage of all the native power and glory of the leading mobile platforms and device manufacturers. There is no one-size fits all mobile solution – and you wouldn't want it that way. That is the way it was prior to iPhone, Android phones, and the reemergence of the tablet! Different great devices one of the main reasons that mobility is exploding globally. Different jobs require specialized tools.
  3. AppStore Revenue Share is Not a Factor: You can argue that iOS (Apple) limits what a developer can do in building an application and accessing certain capabilities of those devices, but, hey, that is Apple’s business – sell and support great hardware (and primarily to consumers), often with their own tools (for which they charge money). Facebook, gaming companies, publications, and other mobile app companies pay 30% of their revenue to the AppStore. Folks – this is a BIG motivator driving Facebook's investment in trying to break free of the AppStore with a web-based app (HTML5). The enterprise is under no such obligation.  Yes, there are a variety of different financial considerations that would inform your purchasing decision, but a revenue share is not one of them. Again, if your enterprise mobile app is not required to be deployed to thousands (even 10s or 100s of thousands) of users on different devices that you do not own, manage, or control, then you are completely free to evaluate capabilities of mobile web vs native app head to head on their own merits.
There is a lot of confusion in the mobile space today, especially the mobile enterprise space, but don’t avoid investing in a quality mobile enterprise application platform and quality mobile apps. If you are early in your mobile deployments the MVP (mobile value proposition) is so compelling that you simply can’t wait. It is costing your organization hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars annually while you wait for the rapidly changing mobile market to settle down. The average ROI among our customers is less than 6 months.  A hosted solution can provide immediate ROI. Yes, you will be asked to support Windows Mobile, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, etc. in your environment. And the list will change and grow with Windows Phone, Symbian, WebOS, and who knows what over the next several years. But will you be asked to deploy the same app across every platform? In most cases, the answer is, No.  The guys in the warehouse or doing deliveries are likely doing very different functions with very different needs than your sales and service team. The guys maintaining your fleet require something very different from your records management staff. So “build once, deploy to many” is partly an enterprise myth.   Yes, there is a cost of maintaining the same app for 2 platforms (e.g. Windows Mobile and iOS), but it is miniscule compared to a) the cost savings and other benefits of mobilizing your workforce and b) the overall cost of mobile initiatives. And if you've selected a capable mobile app platform, such as PointSync, the management will be that much less.

No one knows your business better than you. Have us help you put together for your business a Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculation. If you haven’t yet been burned by the endless hours spent developing, supporting, modifying, and testing the data synchronization of your mobile solutions, please don’t’ start digging that hole before you talk to us and have us help you build your use case for a true mobile enterprise application platform and apps.  You, your mobile workers, and your CFO will all thank you. And if you have been burned, we’ll show you a way to salvage your situation in the most timely and cost-effective way possible.  If Facebook figures it all out, believe that they (and others) will announce it to the world and you’ll be happy that they *and not you* invested in HTML5 to attempt to meet your enterprise needs.

posted by David Cohen
CEO @ MobileDatatForce

Joining Forces: Partnering with PointSync™

Partnering in business is imperative to any company’s success.  When companies effectively combine their assets and capabilities together, they can create synergistic solutions to address internal business challenges and external customer’s needs. That's why partnering is a key strategy at PointSync.

Early in 2011, we started building a new PointSync Channel Program.  This program enables Resellers and Independent Sales Reps to introduce and sell exciting mobile solutions and technologies to their new and existing customers.  This includes the PointSync Mobility Platform, which has been used since 2005 to deploy thousands of mobile workers into the field.  Now, this platform is broadly available to any company globally wishing to develop mobile business applications.

So why partner with PointSync to start selling mobile solutions?  Here's a few great reasons: 
  • Mobile solutions represent one of the hottest technology markets with projected growth years into the future.
  • PointSync has over a decade of experience in delivering mobile solutions and technologies that help thousands of users automate the data collection and reporting process.
  • Just for partners, we're building a new content portal to offer 24/7 access to training, tools, documents, videos and other collateral needed to be successful. (see sample below)
  • Dedicated account management resource to provide support.
  • Our PointSync product team is dedicated to keeping the product lineup updated based on current industry standards.  (We've updated it twice already in 2011!)
  • We value the relationships we have with our partners and will respond quickly to requests for information and other inquiries.

Mobile business solutions are complex, often requiring disparate technologies to seamlessly connect to ensure it can successfully perform the business function required.  By partnering with PointSync, you're teaming with a company who has been focused solely on mobility since 2000 and understands where the challenges exist and how to solve them.

Whether you're a business owner, developer or entrepreneur, we'd love to talk to you about how we can work together.  Call or email our Channel Manager, Lori Uria for more information.

Phone:  208-854-7994
Email:  Click HERE

Thursday, June 9, 2011

3 Reasons We Need Rugged Android Devices

For many of our customers who have incorporated a mobile solution into their business operations, robust and rugged handheld devices are an absolute must.  They need devices that can be drop-kicked across a warehouse floor, resist water sprayed directly on them or are completely sealed from dust, oil and other contaminants.  Companies like PSION | Teklogix, Intermec, Motorola (formerly Symbol) and DataLogic are industry leaders in this technology field and have such devices available if you're willing to shell out $1000 or more per unit.

While these devices are stellar in their ability to take a licking, they all continue to run on the aging Windows Mobile operating system. As a partner with some of these manufactures, we know they're considering releasing Android-base devices. We'd like to see them move quickly and get them to market...and here are three reasons why:
Soon Please...
  1. The writing is on the wall!  The industry has changed at a frighteningly fast pace.  In the last three years, Android and iPhone devices have overtaken the market by reinventing how mobile devices work.  Windows Mobile remains entrenched in a usage model that was valid in the middle of the last decade.  In 2011, the stylus is no longer an option...devices are finger-driven.
  2. Windows Mobile smartphones have all but vanished.  If a mobile app is designed for a person doing deliveries on a rugged device running Windows Mobile, an account manager who also uses the app for account and inventory lookups will need a Windows Mobile device as well.  Finding a small, inexpensive Windows Mobile smartphone is now very difficult, making it hard to build the app once and have it transition easily between different types of mobile workers and devices.
  3. Deploy now, fill the holes later.  While Windows Mobile may be a more enterprise-ready operating system due to a longer history in the market, that has not stopped executives, managers and other employees from using their Android and iPhone devices for business purposes.  The cycle has always been to push the technology into the enterprise, figure out where the holes are, then build ways to fix those issues.  How about this?  Let's push to get Android into enterprise scenarios now, then resolve the sync and management issues with products like PointSync Professional!
As software developers, we hedge our bets on the most widely accepted platforms. Right now, Android owns the biggest share of the mobile platform war. According to industry studies, Android will grow to own 50% of the market by 2012!  In the near future, we'd like to see the same app we write for an account executive packing a Droid Pro also work on a high-end rugged device. Who will step to the plate first?  Whoever it is, we hope it happens soon.

Tim Cerami
Information Architect @ MobileDataForce

Friday, May 27, 2011

Want to Build Your Own Sync Platform? We did! And Here's What Happened...

Back in 2008, we wrote a super cool mobile app that helps young hemophilia patients track bleed-events that get shared with their doctors and nurses. Back then, the most popular smart phones ran Windows Mobile, so it was written for that platform. The foundation of the solution was our PointSync Pro Mobile Platform.

Fast forward to 2010...MobileDataForce was asked to make an iPhone version of the application because many of the patients had started carrying iPhone's as their device of choice. This presented an issue, because at that time PointSync did not support synchronization and management tasks for anything but Windows Mobile devices.

To solve this, MDF engineers decided to build a sync tool from scratch, using Web Services to synchronize patient events from the iPhone to the database in the cloud. They started out by building the solution with very basic requirements, which consisted of only data synchronization. At completion of this first phase, they were 400 hours and $25,000 into it.

As patients began using it, it became evident that some critical pieces of the solution were missing. For example, when a sync issue came up, there were no auditing or troubleshooting tools to help support staff diagnose and resolve the problem. MDF engineers went back to the drawing board and added basic troubleshooting to the solution, causing the overall cost to rise far beyond the original expectations. In the end, only 10% of the functionality found in PointSync was incorporated into this custom sync solution.

With over 500,000 lines of code and a strong history since 2005, PointSync Pro 2.5 (and higher) now supports iPhone devices. In fact, we now support iPhone, Android AND BlackBerry devices.  If you're considering building your own sync technology for your mobile enterprise solution, carefully consider everything it should do.  Your list should include:
  • Data synchronization and application/file deployment
  • Cross-platform support for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile
  • Support for end-to-end data encryption
  • Allow mobile workers to work in a disconnected mode when connectivity is unavailable
  • Logging and auditing to help diagnose and resolve technical issues
  • Robust integration to databases (SQL Server, MySQL, DB2, SQL Anywhere) and third party systems
  • An administrative interface to manage the entire system
At the end of the day, our experience has proven that there's no reason to re-invent this wheel.  PointSync is ready to bolt into your environment right now to provide these necessary functions.  If you need assistance building your mobile application as well, we can help with that too.

For more information on PointSync, please contact our sales team at (208) 384-1200 or visit the MobileDataForce website at www.mobiledataforce.com or the PointSync website at www.pointsync.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mobility in Light of Tragedy...

Wow, can mother nature deliver a blow or what?   Looking at the destruction caused by the F4-F5 twister that roared through Joplin, MS shows the stark reality that in just minutes, a reset button can set back decades of development.

More devastating is the loss of human life, personal injury, loss of property and the despair many feel in seeing what they've built and labored over become a scattered pile of rubble.  Our thoughts go out to those that are suffering the great loss caused by this vicious tornado.

We don't want to exploit tragedy as a way to drum up business, however scenarios like this inspire thoughts on using mobile technology in remote or damaged areas.

Take a look at the picture on the left.  Notice anything left standing over about 10 feet tall?  Those 190mph winds took down everything in their path, including access to basic services such as electricity and cellular services.

In situations like this, mobile solutions can really shine for people generating insurance claims and gathering other types of information.  The lightweight form factor, long battery life, photo capture and signature collection enables claims adjusters and inspectors to gather data for an entire day without needing to connect to a power source.  More important, properly engineered, mission critical mobile solutions will allow the operator to continue to collect data in places of devastation where an Internet connection may no longer be available.

We preach about the expectations of 100% connectivity and how building mobile solutions that require an Internet connection generally leads to frustrated users, loss of productivity and unacceptable contingency plans.  To know more about how mobile solutions can work in areas of natural catastrophe or limited connectivity, we have years of experience building mobile solutions for such environments. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Picking the Right Mobile Business App Developer

Right now, there are 350,000 applications available on the Apple App Store.  The Android Market Place has around 250,000 apps available.  There are tons of mobile apps out there.  Some are pretty good and some are pretty much junk.  Making a solid mobile app takes experience and good understanding of the hardware. Even well known software companies like Skype are learning to make mobile apps that work as advertised and don't have nasty side-effects like dead batteries by 3pm in the afternoon.

So how do you select the right company to develop a mobile app for your business?  If it's for business, the app must first meet the needs of the users, know how to manage the capabilities of the hardware and be steadfast in handling and delivering data.  As you shop for a partner to build your mobile solution, consider these 5 factors into your decision making process:
  1. Can the mobile solution work with hundreds of users, tapping into the same database at the same time?
  2. Can the mobile solution integrate with third-party accounting software, CRM's and other systems?
  3. Does the mobile solution include a robust synchronization engine that contains built-in tools that make sure databases don't become corrupt, database conflicts get resolved and data doesn't get lost somewhere in the "cloud"?
  4. Does the mobile solution rely on having an Internet connection?  Can the app continue to collect data with a weak or absent connection?
  5. Can the mobile application fully control internal hardware (like a barcode scanner) to maximize battery life, while providing functionality when it's needed?
MobileDataForce does not focus on making games, calorie counters and apps of that nature.  We build mobile solutions and data synchronization tools for business use.  If you need to perform inspections, assign/complete work orders, track company assets, enter a sales order or integrate mobility with your existing system, the guy who just wrote a cool checkbook app is probably NOT the right choice.

Whether your business needs a custom mobile solution, or you want to bring a robust sync engine into an app you've already developed, we can help.  For 10+ years we've focused on mobile development, starting way back with the original Palm devices!   And since 2005, our PointSync product has been the backend sync engine for thousands of mobile users.

Want to know more?  Contact us by phone (208-384-1200), email (sales@mobiledataforce.com) or on our websites:  www.mobiledataforce.com or www.pointsync.com.