Dynamic peripheral devices in the mobile workplace
Mobile, high-performance PC systems – in this case mainly netbooks and Tablet PCs - are fundamentally changing the way work is organised in a typical office environment. The use of these devices means that it is no longer necessary for an employee to conduct their IT-based activities in a fixed workplace. Thanks to wireless networking, their mobile front end for all applications allows them to move freely around the (office) space, without missing out on the system support needed for their activities.
Many companies are even using this “free space” to remodel the way they organise their work. The example of bank branches is a good one. The spatial structure of a bank branch was quite rigid in the past: there were advisory areas, often in separate rooms, and the cash zone for handling cash, along with the appropriate security equipment. Cash was only handled in that area and PC workstations with cash applications were installed there to control the automatic teller machines (ATMs), for example.
For some years banks have been designing their branches according to different criteria. The customer is welcomed into an open area and led by staff to the so-called service points depending on the topics he wishes to discuss or deal with. This means changing location: consultation in a confidential area or meeting room or carrying out a cash transaction at the cashier.
The final step that was missing from this type of “mobile” customer service was the fact that the staff member is now able to access all applications needed for dealing with customers on a mobile PC, their Tablet PC. This includes advisory, account processing or teller applications.
However, there is still one area where this mobility is subject to tight limits: the use of peripheral devices. In order to perform a typical banking transaction one needs to use certain special devices in the workplace: printers for producing documents, card readers for reading in data, signature scanners for recording signatures and, in particular, automated teller safes for handling cash.
This presents a problem, however. For the “mobile” form of consultation described above, it is hard to predict which part of the branch the consultant and customer will be in and thus which devices they will be near when a particular process needs to be completed. Classic device configurations and interfaces are more likely to be aligned to a direct, static mapping or a direct connection to a peripheral device.
This is where “CETIS Location Device Assignment” is needed. This provides a dynamic, location-dependent mapping concept which seeks out the nearest available peripheral for the current location of a mobile workspace and assigns and makes it available to the mobile workspace. This is made possible by linking different techniques and products.
The core of the concept is the dynamic, network-oriented control of peripheral devices using the "Web Device Controller" concept. This interface concept makes it possible to control peripheral devices, including specific ones like those mentioned above, using network connections and thus making them practically WLAN capable - a prerequisite for use in the mobile workplace.
CETIS has now expanded WDC device control around a routing component. Device configurations for each location defined are stored in CETIS Location Management. Dynamic allocation of a device configuration to a mobile device, depending on the current location, means that current "nearby" devices will be used.
The third element is determining the exact location using an app on the mobile device. This app “learns” all the locations stored in CETIS and now offers possibilities for linking the mobile device with a site so that the operator decides where it is located using dialog select, or, far more elegantly, the nearest located "location ID point" is recognised through NFC and it automatically determines the location. For example, the Device Controller used for the WDC can serve as "Location ID Point", but technically standalone location ID points are also possible. One condition is naturally also that the mobile device should be NFC capable.
By means of the close cooperation of the two products: "Web Device Controller" and CETIS, S & N is thus able to provide an infrastructure solution which offers a major contribution to the transformation of mobile working environments. Initial pilot projects in the banking sector are underway, but the universality of the concept demands that it also be extended to other mobile applications.