Before getting started on any project it is important to be clear on what the business benefits are going to be for your organisation. It also helps if you let us know the details of the project so we can identify particular features of the software or mobile devices which may help. Benefits are of course unique to you, but they may include one or all of the following:
- Improved service
- Reduced operating costs
- Improved cash flow and increased revenue
- Environmentally beneficial - through paper savings, reduced fuel costs etc.
- Quicker, easier, and more accurate management reporting
- Increased productivity and staff morale
- Reduced errors and no missing data
- Better brand image through streamlined processes and instant communication
- Improved audit and compliance trails
- Access to a mobile software application such as TAAP Field Force or TAAP Data Capture, customised to your requirements – subject to specification - for two, three, or five years
- Secure Web access to your application and associated data
Contact us now on 0845 230 9787 or 0208 387 1762 to discuss the finer details and tell us about your requirements. TAAP will assist you to find a device which is right for you – sometimes these are available at no charge from mobile network operators with an appropriate airtime contract.
To understand the range of operating systems available on different devices, download our short guide here.
- TAAP offers solutions to everyone from small businesses through to enterprise-sized customers
- Enterprise pricing and a variety of payment options are available for those organisations with a large number of users – please contact us for more details.
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The technology basics – what will I need?
Essential: A PDA/ smartphone/ tablet
PDA stands for Personal Digital Assistant. A PDA or smartphone is essentially a handheld computer with a specific operating system running on it, optimised for mobile devices. Tablets - larger versions of PDAs - are now available. These touch screen computers can also be used for working whilst not at a desk, and are ideal for showing larger images. Handsets come in many guises. Screen size, keyboards, battery life, and functions can all be chosen to meet a particular need. Today's PDA is very small in size, fits comfortably in a pocket and generally has good battery life which allows you to recharge the device at night or when at the office. Tablets are larger and heavier but screen size is increased. There are devices which sit between a PDA and a tablet in terms of size, so it depends on your requirements as to what device will suit your needs.
A PDA includes a small screen usually bigger than a digital phone but smaller than the smallest laptop; often has a small QWERTY keyboard that is made for thumb typing and a stylus which is a metal or plastic pen to input data or communicate with the device by a touch pad screen. More recent models such as those supporting Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Phone 7 etc. have touch screens which replicate the ‘iPhone style’ interface.
Choosing a device
Devices are available from a variety of manufacturers and their appointed resellers. They range from ruggedized handsets for use in tough outdoor conditions, through to shinier, sleeker devices suitable for use in less harsh environments. You can choose large or small screens; ruggedized or non-ruggedized; keyboards or not, and so on. Invariably there is a device ideal for your needs.
If your organisation has many users, not all users have to use the same device. TAAP can help you choose a device ideal for your needs and make sure you can change as your requirements do. We can also rent devices out to you if you prefer.
Essential: An airtime agreement
Some customers can obtain devices for 'free' if their existing network operator can provide a suitable device available on a tariff which is appropriate to the usage you require, although this is becoming less common. Airtime can consist of voice only, data only, or data and voice. You can speak to your existing network operator about tariffs or you can call TAAP on 0845 230 9787 for a chat about the options we can provide to you through our network of partners.
Required: Internet access
Internet access is required for most of TAAP’s applications because data is encrypted and transferred to a secure web portal where clients can view and download data they have processed from mobile devices. This includes photographs and signatures. If you prefer, data can be sent directly from your PDAs/tablets to your back-office system – this will require some integration from TAAP using the TAAP 'Connect' product, designed specifically so that data can be transferred from one system to another with minimal involvement from your IT department.
Touch screens and kiosks
Some clients have a requirement to capture data from customers via touch screens or ‘kiosks’. TAAP provides software which works simply and enables you to provide customers with a very simple or a media-rich display where they can enter their contact details at various points.
This enables you, the client, to capture data easily and without the need for a representative to be constantly present. Areas for use include for example: shopping centres, exhibitions, reception areas where the receptionist is not always present, shop windows, council offices, concert halls etc.
The application uses Silverlight 3 which allows many variations to the look, feel, and content of the software, and so provides an adaptable method of customer engagement.
TAAP's mobile application software is able to send receipts from a PDA device/tablet directly to a Bluetooth printer so that customers can have a printed receipt if required. The information printed on to the receipt is chosen by the client so does not have to contain any details which you don't require your customer to see. Signature capture can either be taken directly onto the PDA or after the receipt has printed, depending on your processes. If an electronic signature is taken however, this can be transposed into electronic records. Please contact us to discuss your chosen bluetooth printer and interaction with TAAP's software.
Frequently Asked Questions
A very brief history of mobile technology
Ten years ago, a mobile phone and a laptop was the most a mobile worker could expect from technology. The laptop PC allowed the user to do a great deal, but was bulky and not suitable for certain workers. The mobile phone was effective but limited to voice calls. As devices have become more powerful, the likes of Microsoft, BlackBerry and more recently, Apple, have turned phones into sophisticated mobile computers, with all of the power of the old laptops (and more), but easily portable and inexpensive. These new powerful devices, called Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and tablets come in many shapes and sizes, and can have certain formats (e.g. ruggedized) for particular uses.
Increasingly, organisations are making use of the benefits of providing mobile workers and field personnel with PDAs/tablets to help with their daily operations, as it means they can complete tasks without needing to return to their office in order to collect and deliver paperwork.
Mobile working is popular in all industries, and there are a plethora of hardware choices for use in different environments. TAAP can assist with information on the types of devices available, their capabilities, and availability.
Cost of going mobile
Devices cost from “free” up to over £1,000 each, depending on whether or not you require ruggedized devices. Some of our customers get devices free because they have an existing contract with an airtime provider (for example Vodafone or O2) and the provider is happy to upgrade the device to a new one as they can add a data charge to the standard voice-only charge.
Can I use my existing mobile phone?
It depends on the type of mobile handset you already have and what you need your software application to be able to do. It also depends on the type of environment you are working in - for example, a 'shiny' device is not usually appropriate if you are outdoors in challenging weather. However, it may be perfectly suitable for an indoor event. Call TAAP for help with this, as we can advise what may be the best option for you. TAAP is increasingly developing applications for various operating systems including the iPad and iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Android.
Safety and security
With TAAP, you can be sure of your data security. The information is encrypted and passed to your systems immediately. If the phone is lost, information cannot be retrieved from the device by any unauthorised personnel. You always own your data, TAAP merely passes it on. Call TAAP for more information or if you have a specific need.
What if there is no signal?
As TAAP's software applications are designed to work 'offline' - i.e. they aren't browser-based but are installed directly on the device - work can be completed and saved to the device itself when you're in an area of poor signal quality. When your network connection returns, you can send the data from the mobile device to your secure web portal/back office. No data is lost, and once the data is sent from the device, it is deleted so there is no risk of the device holding vast amounts of data. In addition, it is perfectly possible to use WiFi and other means of communicating, depending on the circumstances. Let us know what your needs are.