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January 19, 2018
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Study: More than half of warehousing organizations to upgrade mobile devices

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Many firms choosing Android-based handhelds as Microsoft ends support, VDC finds.

More than half of warehousing and logistics organizations plan to upgrade their mobile device collections in an effort to apply the latest handheld technologies to balance soaring customer service requirements with rising labor costs, according to an industry study released Thursday.

Fifty-six percent of organizations plan to upgrade their existing fleets of mobile devices, as their current devices near end-of-life, according to a study conducted by VDC Research Group Inc., a supply chain analyst firm in Natick, Mass. Commissioned by supply chain mobile device management provider Ivanti Software Inc., the study, "Taking Advantage of Apps and App Modernization in Warehousing," contacted 143 qualified survey respondents from North America and Europe during August 2017.

Organizations are motivated to upgrade their mobile devices because by their own admission, 53 percent of information technology (IT) decision makers supporting warehouse operations view their mobility deployments as immature, the study found.

Another factor pushing the surge of upgrades is the decision by Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp., the dominant provider of mobile operating systems (OS), to end support for its three products in that area; Microsoft Windows Mobile, Windows CE, and Windows Embedded Handheld, VDC found. The change has left many current customers with no clear migration path to new technologies, at the same time that the warehousing industry has come to rely on ruggedized handheld computers for data collection and processing, as well as inventory management, package delivery verification, digital exchange, and other applications, VDC said in the report.

In response, many mobile platform providers are turning to Google Inc.'s Android OS as a replacement, with vendors such as Honeywell International Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corp. both launching Android-based product families over the past year.

The Android OS offers more sophisticated and functional mobile solutions than the legacy products it may replace, allowing warehouse and DC operations executives to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and fulfill orders faster, David Krebs, executive vice president of VDC Research, wrote in the report.

"The warehouse is much more complex than it was 10 years ago. Now, so many factors can impact the success of supply chain operations," Steve Bemis, global vice president of sales at Ivanti's Supply Chain Business unit, said in a statement. "Everything from asset utilization to working capital to transportation expenses, and even regulatory pressures, employee turnover, and the need for faster response times, are driving companies to look for new ways for improving productivity. Along the way, they are also finding that stepping up to 'modern mobility' with Android gives them an edge."

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