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Author's profile photo Rory Shaffer

NextGenerationEAM – What’s this all about? ( Mobilize – Part Three )

In our last installment of NextGeneration EAM we spoke about the concepts of visualization.  The power of images over that of words and how visualizing is more effective in most workers minds.

In this week’s blog, I would like to explore the expectations and the solutions that are available to address yet another critical node of our NextGenEAM Mind Map.  For a quick refresher, let’s revisit it before diving head in.  The NextGenEAM Mind Map was an exercise in mapping the key ideas that support the concept of NextGenEAM.  The Worker, the Visualization, the Data and Mobility.  The MindMap below shows the structure and a couple of the minor nodes are specifically called out.


When we traditionally thought of mobilizing we contacted our IT department and they delivered a rendering of the back office transaction on some dedicated / purpose built hardware that was required unique charging stations, communications pathway, additional end user training for the UX and UI !  Fortunately these days are past us and today’s technologies are flexible and better yet we are able to utilize rapid development techniques.  This has led to a shift in paradigm for application lifecycle – historically the lifecycle was measured in years and was closely aligned to that of the parent system.  Today’s model would have us changing application functionality within a year or slightly longer timeframe.  This is now possible partially thanks to the pervasive nature of mobile apps in the day to day users existence – but also since the convergence of the UI and UX on a handful of platforms and form factors.

The porting of transactions to the mobile device has also gone by the wayside – Thanks Goodness – due to emerging SDK’s that allow for the development of purpose built applications that take only what is needed from the transaction and add in information sourced from either the devices native capabilities or from a subset of the parents databases.  Users are more capable in the field, data is more accurate and the devices last longer as they are a welcome addition rather than a hindrance that breakage will remedy.

This leads us to the place we find ourselves in today.  Mobility Platforms that allow for the convergence of multiple databases, transactions and information sources.  The concept of a mobility platform while somewhat recent is a leap ahead for the shop that is still offering / supporting the dedicated applications and devices.  The SAP Mobile Platform offers a singular platform approach to the various channels of mobility that are required in today’s enterprise shop.  Business to Employee, Business to Consumer and Business to Business. 

Clearly in EAM one would recognize the need for a comprehensive Business to Employee (B2E) method for work order, inventory, and inspection processes.  Additionally in scenarios what are found in the transmission and distribution world we have found great value in the Business to Consumer (B2C) applications.  While these are usually thought of as somewhat the domain of the “other side”, the information that consumers can contribute to the eyes and ears of the EAM team are invaluable.  Take the scenario of a pole hit – the first person on the sidewalk to see that occur whips out their smartphone and completes a simple process on a SAP mobility app named Utility Customer Connect – this in turn provides the dispatcher and the call center with the on site reporting and imagery needed to mount a comprehensive first time resolution of the issue.


Now we have not only a on site report, the coordinates and a great image to share with the crew, we have a onsite historical record and input to the CSR and the planning group for their role in the process flow.

While all of these benefits of mobilization are essentially irrefutable, the question remains how to provide connectivity during the work day or in special environments ?  The only requirement that we – SAP would impose is the desire to mobilize.  Regardless of the mode of connectivity or environment the SAP EAM mobility solution can cover it.  If you find yourself in a radio emission (RF Free ) the zone our Work Manager Solution is capable of having the wireless communication link disabled while the worker is completing their tasks.  When they are out of the RF Free zone and can switch back on the com link the data is seamlessly passed back and any new information or responses returned.  This is also applicable for the worker who moves into an area of poor coverage – the SAP Mobile Platform merely holds the data in place until the coverage for coms returns and the information exchange resumes.  No need to any user intervention to occur.  Finally the steadfast Dock and Go is also supported for those situations where coverage is cost prohibitive or due to whatever security requirements not an acceptable risk.

So take a look at the latest from SAP Mobility Platform (SMP) and specifically the SAP Work Manager application.  Note that it’s a far cry from the days of old techniques of ported back end transactions.  Beyond support for notifications, work order, and time confirmation, this application can be used to create new work while in the field and supports the drill down into additional detail on device.

On the roadmap for the SAP Work Manager Application is the addition of geospatial support from Esri by embedding the run time version directly in the applications structure.  This will allow the user to see the work on the map and drill into additional detail and functions with out having to toggle out of the Work Manager application into another map app to complete the task.  Beyond the Esri maps the roadmap calls for the introduction of additional visualization solutions from SAP to allow the user to access the power of 3D imagery through the integration of the SAP Visual Enterprise solution set.


So we could say Long Live the King – with the king being in this case the concept that an EAM worker is mobile and needs the benefit of purpose built apps for their tasks of EAM, Materials and Inspections.  These apps need to be flexible to enable rapid development and updates, visualization support from GIS and 3D sources, adaptive connectivity and the ability to connect to singular or multiple backend systems for data and process support.

This- and more –  is available from SAP in the SAP Mobile Platform and the SAP Work Manager, Inspection Manager and Inventory Manager applications.

Be sure to check out our SAP Mobility Solution linkand look for the next installation of this blog when I will address the final topic in the EAM MindMap – BIG DATA.

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