Extract from Blueprint Options – Mobile SolutionsFig 7.1 High level Common Mobile Architecture
This document will describe the capabilities of a selected group of leading suppliers in the Work Management, Scheduling and MobileTechnology marketplace. It will make a judgement on their strengths and weaknesses by scoring the key areas that will assist with determiningif the supplier be invited to formally tender their commercial solution(s).The document will form the basis of a Technical Blueprint for a Mobile Field Force Management architecture to cover: A configurable client application that can work on a range of devices with a defined set of hardware and software configurations. A system to securely and robustly synchronise data between backend databases on the corporate LAN and a large number of local databases on distributed clients. A system to stage all field work required within a specified business area with the ability to automatically schedule jobs to field resources Routine and ad-hoc reporting A system to support the management of mobile devicesAt the heart of the architecture is a standards based integration engine (the mobility platform) which may (ideally) utilise a Service OrientedArchitecture (SOA) using a framework approach for integrating with various backend systems.SOA architecture provides a design framework for enabling rapid system development and integration. An example of this could be Cognito’sEAI Tibco engine or SAP’s Process Integration (PI) within the NetWeaver platform.This integration capability is one of the more important functionalities that a platform provides and provides the ability to create a service basedevent driven call to various backend systems in order to concatenate information required by the requesting mobile client application.The resulting data as gathered by the above approach is then copied and stored within a staging database. Almost all vendors have at leastone staging database and sometimes a vendor may even have two staging databases in order to properly achieve the required horizontal /vertical splicing of the information ready for the field force to action upon. This temporary storage area for concatenated data can be referred toas a consolidated database; a meta-data database or preparation database.The mobile platform will handle user management; role management and security. There are typical user interfaces available for administeringusers and assigning roles and privileges accordingly.Depending on the mobile platform in question there are numerous ways of viewing the state and statuses of e.g. job details data. Thisinformation is also held within the staging database and the platform usually assigns timestamps to the data rows upon state changes. Therecould be additional data status views developed through a web user interface to match an organisations requirements.The direct integration into a suitable scheduling engine is normally achieved through the use of the scheduling engines native interface; thiscould be (and often is) achieved through web services, direct database table schema interrogation or flat file parsing and generation.
In some cases a scheduling engine is embedded as part of the mobile platform either through re-packaging a popular scheduling engine or acompletely new scheduling engine developed and implemented within the platform.Leading vendors will provide additional functionality such as location based services enabling client applications to update the server withcurrent location / speed of travel / status of work.The level of complexity and functionality obviously varies depending on the specific vendor mobility platform however with today’s plug and playapproach towards mobile computing and the available services to support this type of applications, there are numerous web services and ‘niceto haves’ that could be readily implemented as part of a platform. This could be anything from supporting ‘Lone Worker’ scenarios to bindingdevice and ‘User ID’ to the SIM card to enable enhanced security.From a mobile application and local data storage perspective the evaluated vendors provide a client application in a variety of ways. Theseinclude web browser based client solution, native embedded C++ and client run time library interfaces; or integration with popular IntegratedDevelopment Environments (IDE) such as Visual Studio .NET and Eclipse for J2ME and in certain scenario’s the vendor provides its ownproprietary ways of developing a mobile client application using their own scripting language.