Impact Applications Launches First 'Zero Client' Application

Always on communication is a reality. Yet, despite the potentially huge benefits of mobile computing, many organisations have eschewed the technology because the only applications on offer have been thin client solutions that offer intermittent communication and demand costly deployment and upgrade of the mobile devices.

Now a new breed of applications is being born, from a company originally a spin-out of the UK's fifth largest university, the University of Wolverhampton. Impact Applications has launched its first zero client applications that have been developed with the recognition that real time communication requires a fundamentally new software model.

Martin Taylor, managing director of Impact Applications, explains, The mobile environment has changed. With GPRS coverage now at 98%, the networks are in place to deliver always on communications offering businesses the chance to improve response times to customers, reduce administrative overheads through direct, real time server to mobile information provision and minimise stock holdings through intelligent purchasing and deployment.

He continues, But simply bolting a web browser onto existing thin client solutions is not the way forwards. Always on communication is a new way of working and, as such, requires a different approach. No value is being attained from almost now implementations, and businesses should quite frankly no longer have to compromise.

Impact Applications operations management system Impact:Response has been developed over the last three years and is delivering significant business benefits to emergency response building contractors, Response Maintenance & Building Solutions. The system is being used by Response Maintenances head office and its field based building contractors. Since initial implementation in 2003 and roll-out during 2004, the organisation has achieved: an improvement in its emergency response times by 25%; a 15% increase in the efficiency of its field service operation; 50% reduction in wasted stock holdings; increased the accuracy of job estimation by 50% and a 20% reduction in administrative overheads. Together, this represents a saving in excess of 250,000 in just 18 months.

The system is also being used by Response Maintenances largely low-tech tradesmen who have been able to use the application with minimal training due to its simple and easy-to-use interface. Using a standard web browser already built in to the mobile device, the tradesman connects directly to the back office for real time job information responding in minutes to emergency repairs.

The benefits of the zero client approach are significant, and not only for organisations in time sensitive businesses. With no client side software, the implementation is simple users require simply a user name and password to get access. There is no problematic synchronisation of information between client and server and, critically, there is no expensive upgrade process.

And, without resource hungry client software, users can be given standard mobile devices. Furthermore, with no data held on the device, there is little danger of business or customer sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Instead, using SSL, the connection between mobile web browser and server is completely secure, overcoming one of the major headaches associated with deploying technology to a mobile workforce.

Martin Taylor concludes, For any organisation in a time critical business, constant and real time communication transforms the business model. While not every business will feel confident to invest in a zero client solution, for many companies that ten or fifteen minute delay means the difference between winning and losing business, making or breaking a Service Level Agreement. In our view, businesses should no longer compromise. Zero client, real time communication is the future of e-business.

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