Mobile computing: VDC Research surveys mobile and wireless users

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
June 29, 2010 - MMH Editorial

There is a revolution going on in mobile and wireless computing inside and outside the four walls of the plant and warehouse. VDC Research (http://www.vdcresearch.com), the Boston-based research firm, is surveying the end user market – that means folks like you, our readers at Modern Materials Handling – to find out how requirements and needs are changing.

“Our clients manufacture and design solutions for the market,” says David Krebs, director of VDC’s mobile and wireless practice. “We’re trying to collect the information about how end users are currently using the equipment and where are the gaps. That’s everything from the design of the device to the applications that end users are using or want to use.”

You can have your voice heard and possibly win an Amazon gift certificate by clicking on the following link and participating in the survey. http://vdcresearch.com/survey/10_emob_eu.html VDC w.ill be taking input over the next three to four weeks.

What does Krebs see happening in the market? It will come as no surprise that there has been some contraction in the supply chain end of the market. “We started tracking the softness in the market in mid-2008, and were expecting that to continue in 2009, but the extent to the fall off last year was surprising,” says Krebs. While VDC was forecasting a pullback of 15 to 20%, the market for wireless and mobile computing solutions in the warehouse in established economies saw a 35 – to 40% decline last year.

It may come as no surprise that the retail and automotive sectors were particularly hard hit, but Krebs says that no industrial vertical was spared. “There was so much uncertainty in the market, that people simply postponed purchasing anything,” he says. Much like the supply chain software market, the severity of the slump appears to have been a one year event. By the 3rd quarter of 2009, after four soft quarters, enterprises began spending again. While business is no where near pre-recession levels – and Krebs doesn’t expect to see those kinds of numbers until 2012 – he says the first quarter data for 2010 was surprisingly strong. Business isn’t great, he says, “but there’s evidence that people are opening up capital resources and investing again.”

A couple of factors are driving that growth. For one, Krebs says, the fundamentals around mobile and wireless investments are sound: these technologies drive improvements in productivity and support decision making.

For another, end users are now combining technologies, like barcode scanning and voice or RFID, to create new solutions. “Multi-modal is a theme that we’re following,” says Krebs.

The last is the growth of solutions to meet the unique requirements of specialized industries, like the cold chain, ports or pharmaceuticals. “The nuances within those industries are very pronounced, and we’re seeing real solutions around supply chain optimization and inventory management,” says Krebs.

On Friday, we’ll look at how mobility is impacting the supply chain. In the meantime, be sure to click on the link to have your voice heard in VDC’s survey. http://vdcresearch.com/survey/10_emob_eu.html.



About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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