I started my career in the product management group for cordless telephones, the “original“ mobile phone.  The cordless phone was an innovative device at its introduction.  People marveled at the way it freed them to communicate without being tethered to a “cord.”  It also had some success in giving flexibility to businesses and employees but only in a very limited range.

Because of the limited range, businesses bemoaned that if only it could work at a farther range — like in a warehouse or distribution center — it would be revolutionary!  While cordless phone transmission range did increase somewhat, until modern mobile phone service became a reality, field employees did not gain significant benefits.

Several years later in my career I worked on marketing EDI solutions and services.  In theory,  this was a technology that could truly transform business processes.  While it did have some success, it did not realize broad-scale adoption in all industries due to the lack of standards and complexities of true back-end integration.

Today I’m working on mobility solutions for transportation companies.  I believe I’m finally seeing the transformational promises of both cordless phones and EDI technology come to realization!

Transportation customers – airlines, trucking and logistics and railroads, are literally in the business of mobility, moving passengers and freight globally.   They are leaders in the way they use mobile solutions to transform their business processes and to make their workers more productive.

One example is the recent approval and introduction of iPads as eflight bags for pilots, as first reported by Zdnet.com, this past December.  This means about 35 pounds of paper are replaced by the iPads.  Experts say, and it seems certain, that giving the pilots access to electronic manuals, maps and charts improves efficiency and security.  A pilot can search much more quickly for a specific document using an iPad versus a brief case of paper, when necessary.

Another example of the transformational value of mobile solutions in transportation is the ability for a video to be taken to document the condition and location of freight being delivered.  Similarly the associated documentation can easily be recorded and shared versus waiting for an exchange of paper or EDI.

One of the more significant time and money saving applications of mobile video capture is its use by field repair technicians to consult with senior engineers.  Using a smart phone or tablet with Video Capture Service, allows remote experts to instruct the field tech on how to make the required repair or calibration.  A remote expert could identify what the specific replacement part is and order it immediately versus waiting for the technician to look it up, potentially saving hours of delay.

These examples are just some of the types of solutions that are being implemented with transportation customers to transform their business.  Everyday our industry experts are working with customers on other innovative transportation industry solutions, often using our MEAP Platform (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) to help design, build, deploy and manage applications.

Now when I’m thinking back to my start in cordless phone product management, I chuckle about my boss from those days, remembering his prediction that one day we’d have a “cordless” phone the size of a wristwatch, “just like Dick Tracy’s.”  While back then it seemed like it was only possible in fiction, today it is a reality!

We’d love to hear from you.  What technologies amaze you that you’re using today?  What was a breakthrough technology in its day for you?  Please leave your comments below.