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Microsoft LIFE2 logo

 

Anglia Business Solutions provides mobility solution for new Microsoft Life2 technology showcase facility.

 

 

 

Introduction


As life continues to evolve, we are all experiencing the convergence of the organic and the digital. As technologies develop and people open themselves to the possibilities of how their lives can be enhanced on a daily basis, we can create real harmony between these two worlds.

 

Microsoft has created Life2 – a truly integrated environment where the experience isn’t just limited to work or home – but our entire lives.

 

Life2 demonstrates how businesses use technology to support their employees, transforming every corner of the organisation. And at home where we can embrace the digital age, using the latest services and devices to get the most out of connecting to the world around them.

 

Life2 is a disused school in Chelsea, London, which has been completely transformed to look like a number of businesses and a house. The Life2 experience features a fictional family who live and work there using a range of Microsoft products to manage their everyday life.

 

The Life2 facility is bursting at the seams with the latest Microsoft technologies. Visitors to the facility will see how business can benefit from the digital lifestyle available today – as well as gain insights into the future. From communication to entertainment, finance to education, shopping or working; Life2 will show how technology is transforming daily activities, leaving us to deal with the already time-consuming job of living our lives.

 

Microsoft asked one of their leading Gold Certified Partners, Anglia Business Solutions, to deploy a state of the art mobility solution to form the backbone of the technologies on display at the new Life2 facility.

 

The technologies deployed at Life2 by Anglia include:

SalesAce - Mobile Sales force application

 

This is an Anglia developed B2B e-commerce and sales force mobility solution using a combination of Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision, Microsoft .NET and Anglia’s own ‘Drizzle’ Technology.

 

The system provides the user with immediate access to dynamic customer and product information from any location twenty fours a day via mobile handheld devices. This enables the user to advise customers on stock availability, check on previous order progress, resolve any commercial issues and electronically enter orders while face to face with the client.

 

screenshot showing sales ace syncronisation

Fig. 1: Sales Ace syncronisation menu.
 

Drizzle Technology (DT)


Developed by Anglia, DT is the enabler for communication between mobile devices and a base repository of data. DT lets you replicate data over slow or partially existent connection. For example a field worker may use a handheld computer but is reliant on using a mobile phone connection when available to synchronise data with a base server.

 

DT lets mobile devices periodically or on demand synchronise data. The synchronisation is bidirectional and is optimised from the ground up to maximise limited amounts on bandwidth. Synchronisation is computed on both the mobile device and base repository to ensure that the available bandwidth is utilised optimally. Additionally, if a connection is unexpectedly lost the system picks up from the point where the connection was dropped with no loss of data.

 

DT is also able to filter data on the base repository of data to ensure only prudent data is transmitted. For example a salesman may only want to have available customer information prudent to the territory they look after.

 

DT has the advantage that it lets the mobile user manipulate large volumes of data effortlessly. Large price lists or stock inventory can be sent over to the mobile device. DT only transmits the changes on individual items which makes working with massive volumes of data fast and reflective quickly of change.

 

The synchronisation of data can be implemented over any type of data network including private corporate (LAN/wan), wireless (RF/802.11x/Spread Spectrum), public phone network, mobile phone network (GSM/GPRS/CDMA). The entire synchronisation process uses strong encryption to ensure that data to and from the mobile device are kept totally secure, even when operating over the public Internet.

 

DT is built from the ground up using Microsoft Products. The technology employed is built around Microsoft SQL Server and robust .NET components which have been optimised for this application. The entire environment can be used to deliver data from not only SQL Server but connect effortlessly to ERP systems such as Microsoft Navision, or connect to 3rd party databases and applications.

 

Order Fulfilment Solution & Workflow
 

Using the latest Microsoft Navision 4.0 technology, this part of the solution handles the order processing in a business environment. Orders arrive from the mobile handheld devices described above or via web, phone or fax. The solution automatically establishes the best prices from suppliers and dispatches XML requests to Microsoft BizTalk Server to fulfil the orders. In addition, downstream suppliers are instructed to package products based on supplier branding and to supply printed material in the language of the customer.

 

screenshot showing Sales Ace order entry screen in Dynamics NAV

Fig. 2: Sales Ace order entry screen
 

The key to this scenario is that the business holds no stock. It can perform just in time order fulfilment maintaining business agility to switch supplier and offer the best competitive pricing.

 

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Dashboard
 

This comprises a series of online dashboards to provide an up to the minute view of the whole business process. The dashboard is configured to show, in real-time, the orders received from the mobile sales force.

 

In this particular Life2 scenario as the user enters the office first thing in the morning he can see the result of his sales reps visiting a Japanese trade show and conducting business on the other side of the world. The KPI's are viewed on a large wall mounted display.

 

The user also has the ability to “drill down” to any of the live data constantly arriving from the various sales channels (sales reps with handhelds, web, phone or fax orders).

 

Screenshot showing KPI's with drill down information

Fig. 3: KPI display with “drill down” information

Mobile KPI dashboard
 

This application allows the above live KPI's to be viewed on a range of Windows Mobile PDA's and Smartphones. In addition the KPI's can trigger user alerts. For example, if the business experiences a “stock out” on a particular item, a mobile alert is sent to the user initiating a view of the critical KPI.

 

KPI display on a mobile device

Fig. 4: KPI display with “drill down” info on mobile handheld device
 

Mobile Warehouse and QA Application
 

This is a mobile application for checking goods in and out of a warehouse. In the LifeF scenario, as goods arrive they are checked into the local warehouse. The goods are then QA checked and finally dispatched for shipment. The solution uses either barcode or RFID technology to completely eliminate paperwork. The solution also makes use of Anglia’s Drizzle Technology and utilises ruggedised handhelds to extend the supply chain automation to the warehouse staff.

 

Mobile QA data entry screen on a mobile device

Fig. 5: Mobile QA data entry screen
 

Software & Hardware

  • Microsoft Navision 4.0

  • Anglia’s Drizzle Technology (DT)

  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2003

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2003

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

  • Microsoft BizTalk Server 2003

  • Microsoft Sharepoint Portal server v2

  • Microsoft Windows CE .NET 4.2

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional

  • SmartPhone on Windows Mobile 5

  • Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2005

  • Microsoft .NET Compact Framework v2

  • C# and ASP.NET v2

  • Handhelds - Symbol Ruggedised Handhelds, Psion Netbook Pro, iMate Jas Jar, iMate SP3

  • Microsoft OneNote

  • Live Communications Server 2003

  • Wireless Networking & Barcoding

For further information please contact Richard Jones on +44 (0)1223 873400.

 



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