Software advances shape phone usage for work tasks

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With emerging technology, source codes used to develop a web-based desktop application can be converted to a mobile application without redoing it from scratch. Courtesy PEC Technologies

Cell phones have become more than a tool for entertainment.

Whether it’s an iPhone or an Android, phones have revolutionized the way we carry out a task. It is more than just a device for making and receiving calls, playing games or checking social media. Phones have become a tool that employees can use to carry out a full day’s work all because the landscape in the software industry has changed. 

According to Tim Hendriksen, co-owner of PEC Technologies, a common set of tools now are being used across all office desktop and mobile platforms. 

“The tools that have become available to us tie-in very well with the tools we use for traditional application development,” he said. “We can take a lot of the source codes we use to develop a web-based desktop application to convert to a mobile application without redoing everything from scratch. A lot of the tools that we have been using now are really web-based tools. These mobile applications we are creating, we are using the same JavaScript, HTML and some of the same technologies that you see on a website, which we are kind of used to using them there so we can (bring) them over for a mobile application, as well.”

While software developers have been creating applications for smartphones for more than a decade, Hendriksen said if you just wanted to do mobile development, developers were just doing mobile development. If you wanted to do iPhone application development, that program would only be available on the iPhone — same with Android application development.

Now that tools can be used across all platforms with ease when installing applications, Hendriksen said it has been cost-effective for employers and it increases the productivity of employees because information can easily be saved and accessed on all platforms thanks to cloud storage.

Along with expanding beyond office spaces, Matt Reimink, co-owner of PEC Technologies, said they are expanding to manufacturing plants that have a lot of robotics.

“We are finding out more and more that our consumers now see fewer barriers in the office and what is happening on the plant floor to make real-time business decisions,” he said. “They want that information updating live and frequently coming into them, so that is where my area of expertise has been. ‘Hey, how are my machines operating? What are my cycle times? What are my downtimes on my machines?’ and getting those into a database … to say ‘I can store all of this and look for trends. I can start to see patterns in my data out (on the plant floor.)’

“The way that is trending is more mobile, as well. It is not so much just that the supervisor has to be on his PC at his desk to see the (data) anymore, so it can be more mobile. As he is going around the floor, he has the data with him. The cost justification is just a slam dunk because to make those decisions in real-time with that data just helps them to streamline the business and its processes and drive their cost down.”

One example where that is prevalent Reimink said is on chicken farms, an egg-producing farm, where all of its feed mills and all of its coops are connected so at any point (farmers) can say, “Hey, what are the chickens in coop six eating? Do we have to adjust their formula? What is the egg production coming out? And look for trends and different types of data.”

“Four or five years ago, it was more on the fringes, like the tools weren’t there to easily connect all the data, but now it is there, and most companies are playing catch up with it,” Reimink said. “(Now they are saying), ‘All of our employees have smartphones, why are we not capitalizing on them and doing more data gathering for us while they are out there?’”

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