Data-driven Support Brings Vendors Together To Solve Mobile Disconnects

Investments into distribution center layout, employees, and technology are all geared towards facilitating the processes that move company products to their customers more efficiently and cost effectively.

Imagine the frustration for this national fashion brand when not long after a successful Warehouse Management Software (WMS) go-live, Operations managers were swamped with complaints of disconnects on mobile scanning devices used for receiving, put-away and picking. As the major distribution hub for the brand’s products, delays impacted shipping and operations managers urgently called in IT teams and vendors to begin their investigation.

Multiple Vendors, Conflicting Leads

Wireless and mobile computing vendors for this DC reviewed mobile device configurations and ran detailed wireless analysis surveys. The WMS support team spent hours onsite working to witness a live version of the reported issues. They conducted in-person interviews and feedback focused on locations in the facility where the warehouse employees experienced more frequent problems; however, the wireless group could not corroborate wireless ‘dead spots’ with their data sets. At this point, the DC management and warehouse IT Team had no clear path to relieve the user complaints despite the additional investments in onsite time and vendor analysis.

Problem Capture Unlocks Key Evidence

The fleeting and inconsistent nature of mobile disconnects across a large group of mobile devices and mobile employees makes it very difficult to recreate problems for troubleshooting. And what’s worse, root cause can originate from anywhere in the data path – the device radio, network hardware, communication errors, host server errors and even combinations of causes may result in the same symptom.

“We realized that the time spent hunting in the wireless system could have been avoided with a simple process of problem capture and analysis from Connect’s Mobile Systems Intelligence,” explains Steve, a wireless engineer from the vendor team who worked with Connect in the past.

Just the Facts

Connect’s Mobile Systems Intelligence software captures the experience of the mobile-user along with a recording, or snapshot, of the customer’s end to end mobile system at the moment of the failure. This allows troubleshooters to know who, what, where, why, and when without going onsite. MSI automatically links the user’s direct feedback to the details of the live device to back-end communications. The result – no one wastes time chasing leads that don’t result in improvements.

“Application-level logic errors that were exacerbated by a browser configuration on the mobile devices caused a symptom that appeared like a wireless delay and disconnect. In total there were 5 distinct but related causes to why workers were getting what looked like a disconnect.” Greg Kling, VP of Support and Engineering for Connect’s MSI solution shares that everyone hopes that there is a single cause – a sliver bullet – but in reality it is often a mix of problems, which can feel like an unsolved mystery without the right data analysis.  

This is what makes MSI unique. It is not just capturing a limited or biased view of the data communications and trying to infer the rest. The work doesn’t stop once one cause is identified. It’s designed to continue to capture and report on user issues, remotely.

Vendors Collaborate for Faster Resolution

“Connect provided detailed data analysis to our vendor support teams and worked with them to understand it so they could make improvements and test their code with new configurations. Before MSI, vendors wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do.” reported the fashion brand’s DC Operations Manager.

Connect’s reporting system allows for vendors to review the data and utilize it to make changes and test the impacts those changes have on the end user. In the end, speeding the process and making sure everyone is working towards the same goal.

“It just makes sense to skip the guesswork and get right to it.” Connect’s President, Shari Christofferson, is happy to see that more wireless and WMS providers are taking a proactive approach to avoid finger pointing and give the customer a better ROI on their investments by including MSI to their offering.

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