Waizu – Reducing mobile device loss and protecting the bottom line


Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with Adrian Lawson, managing director of independent software vendor (ISV) Waizu, about how the company’s solutions are geared to helping organisations avoid the costly loss or misplacement of their mobile devices, thereby keeping their assets active and accountable and their workers fully productive.

Adrian Lawson: “The typical payback of our solutions is between 4 and 20 working weeks, so the financial outlay really is minimal and the benefits substantial.”

Also, with over 10,000 licenses now firmly under its belt, Lawson discusses Waizu’s recently announced partnership with leading total solution provider (TSP) Dakota Integrated Solutions and explains how the dovetailing of the companies’ respective ISV and TSP strengths can offer customers in supply chain, healthcare, manufacturing and retail a fully rounded software, hardware, integration, service and support offering.

According to research from leading mobile device manufacturer Zebra Technologies, organisations lose between 12% and 15% of their mobile devices every year. This estate could comprise of tablet PCs, smartphones, rugged PDAs or a combination of all three.

Additionally, the operational overhead per single shift in issuing out and receiving back shared devices in a typical organisation represents at least 50% of the typical device cost every single year. These types of findings were the inspiration for Adrian Lawson to start thinking about possible ways to stop these types of constraints in their tracks – a thought process that ultimately resulted in the formation of Waizu.

The name of the company means ‘wise’ in Japanese, and this definition was the foundation of Lawson’s thinking around the most logical ways for companies to avoid costly mobile device losses. The result was the development of a suite of software and platform solutions that can greatly reduce the amount of lost or missing devices for businesses and automate the issue in/out process to put significant money back on the bottom line.

Lawson provides the background to Waizu’s formation and rapid growth: “I've been active within the auto ID or enterprise mobility sector for 20 years, working for leading vendors including Honeywell. I have also worked for managed service providers (MSPs) and whether I have a vendor hat on or an MSP hat on there have always been day-to-day challenges in managing shared rugged devices.

Nearly every conversation with customers has included a reference to the topic of lost mobile devices, how best to look after them and how to minimise repairs, returns and damage. Whether within supply chain, manufacturing, healthcare or retail, these are fundamental issues no matter who I talk to.”

Device checkout

User accountability

Lawson explained that mobile device management (MDM) tools, now more commonly known as enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools, have been available for some time and equate to a market worth billions of dollars. “This software sector is largely dominated by market leaders such as Microsoft with Intune and Cisco with Meraki,” he says, adding that SOTI is also a dominant player in this space.

“However, with the availability of all these device management tools, the asset management issues concerning lost or mislaid devices often still weren’t being resolved. We would see large customers with major deployments of shared devices that used MDM, but they would still talk about the day-to-day problem of missing devices and how they would like to put in place greater user accountability to make sure the devices were looked after more efficiently.”

Different personas

So, the road to creating Waizu was very much paved with considerations around why these problems still existed. “As I started to investigate the issue in greater depth, I focused on the audience for some of the tools that are available,” said Lawson. “This was because an MDM solution is very much an IT asset.

Therefore, if you are part of an IT department with responsibilities for IT-related functions it's a critical tool to be able to lock down a device, provide some security, enrolment and all the other key things that an MDM does.

However, the audience that looks after the devices every day is not necessarily IT-focused. For example, when I visit a shared warehouse, I normally don’t see IT people issuing devices and checking them. The people managing this process are likely to work in operations: the DC manager, operations manager, service delivery and so on.

So, there are different personas, and some personas might not even know what an MDM is.” So, Lawson recognised a major gap in the market for tools to address the persona issue. “This ultimately led to Waizu’s creation of a platform that provides tools for different audiences with different personas to effectively manage the use of their mobile device estate,” he explained.

Different mindset

Lawson reflects that using devices within the work environment entails something of a different mindset to using devices that we own and use for social and domestic purposes. “Most of us wouldn’t walk out of our front door without checking that we have our mobile phone and our keys,” he says. “However, in manufacturing or supply chain organisations where there are 100, 500 or 1000 shared devices, there can be a completely different attitude.

In that environment, if users put a device on a pallet and the pallet moves, or if the device falls down the back of the racking, the user simply goes to where the assets are stored and picks up another one.

At Waizu, we have a different perspective when visiting companies to witness some of these problems. We spot straight away if a device is left on a pallet or the floor. We also look at how devices are issued to users.”

Missing device

Time-consuming manual checks

There is often a formal process concerning the issuing of these shared devices. They might be distributed via a security office or from a control room, for example. Indeed, one of the first distribution centres Lawson visited as a representative of Waizu was in the process of holding a team meeting of about 70 or so people, or so he thought.

“Then, the operations manager explained that it wasn’t a meeting at all, it was just people waiting for their devices to be issued,” says Lawson. “There they were queuing up in a security office signing their name on a clipboard to be able to take out a particular device.

That entailed 70 people going through that line at every single start of a shift, seven days a week 364 days a year. If you add up the time of issuing devices manually, you're potentially racking up thousands of hours of lost productivity, and the reason the company was engaging in that level of intense tracking was because devices were going missing. It really all boils down to the missing device challenge.

Like that company, many others also want to stop losing or mislaying devices. They therefore issue devices manually and conduct an audit. Then, they go through a returns process and an audit and that’s a very slow process.”

Solutions development

Waizu started out by being laser focused on the missing device issue and the device check-in and checkout issue. Then, as it began to solve these problems, its product portfolio and product innovation roadmap continued to expand rapidly. Device Finder is one of the software applications it launched early on.

“Device Finder is specifically focused on finding lost devices, preventing devices from being lost in the first instance and proactively letting a customer know if there's a lost device,” explains Lawson. “We then added features around the device check-in and checkout process so users can sign a device out on the screen of device.

This replaces that manual check-in and checkout process in the security office or gatehouse.” Now, with Waizu solutions such as Device Finder, the Virtual Smart Cabinet and the Waizu Analytics Platform, organisations can be more aware of where their mobile devices are at any given time. “The typical payback of our solutions is between 4 and 20 working weeks, so the financial outlay really is minimal and the benefits substantial,” says Lawson.

Waizu in action

Dakota partnership

A move that is further strengthening Waizu’s market presence is its new partnership with Dakota Integrated Solutions Ltd, the real-time date capture, printing, mobility, support and voice-directed solutions specialist. Dakota is now promoting and selling the entire Waizu software suite, including the Device Finder software application, the Virtual Smart Cabinet and the Waizu Analytics Platform.

Lawson believes Dakota’s reputation for delivering best-in-class data capture technology and voice-enabled digital workflow solutions for both the supply chain and healthcare sectors is second-to-none. “We are extremely pleased that this new partnership will see the Waizu Platform being delivered into new green field market sectors for us as a business,” says Lawson. “We are delighted to have already fully engaged with the Dakota sales teams and have immediately identified several interesting opportunities. The mutual potential here is very significant indeed and we are excited to see what the future holds.”

Best possible customer service

As a dedicated ISV, Waizu does not sell hardware. So, Lawson believes the relationship the company now has with Dakota is pivotal to its continued growth. Similarly, as an ISV, Waizu can help Dakota to pull together an overall managed service solution for its customers by offering the formal check-in checkout process layer of functionality. “It’s all about providing the best possible customer service and I believe our partnership really does give both Waizu and Dakota a competitive edge in that regard,” says Lawson.

“At Waizu, we have partner managers who work solely with the channel, constantly thinking every day about how the relationship with Dakota can develop and grow. Although Waizu doesn’t sell hardware, we still have conversations where customers explain they are looking to refresh their equipment in, say, 6 to 9 months’ time. This opens up opportunities for Dakota, who has access to all the technology required to conduct the refresh that will now incorporate Waizu’s check-in checkout functionality.”

Innovation and rapid deployment

Lawson adds that because Waizu is a relatively small software business, it is particularly nimble and able to innovate quickly and deploy enhanced functionality in a rapid manner. He believes these benefits, together with the company’s new partnership with Dakota, will continue to give Waizu an ongoing competitive edge.

About Waizu

When Adrian Lawson was the CEO for a tech and managed services company in Bristol, he saw first-hand the challenges that companies have when managing their mobile devices day to day, and the cost to those companies as a result. Whether they were tablets, smartphones or rugged PDAs, it was a huge problem, and he was determined to find a solution to these challenges.

Nor do traditional MDM tools eliminate the significant downtime associated with the issuing out and receiving back of shared devices, which usually requires a manual process. A new type of platform was required, one that enables the operations teams to wise up and solve these significant day-to-day issues that fall outside of the IT department. They need to know where, when and how their mobile devices are being used.

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