Mobile Workforce in the Mobile Cloud

Asta Labs has already started commercial deployment of its Asta Workforce product that constitutes one more element of the Asta Operations solution suite. Asta Workforce enables managing teams of mobile employees by defining and supervising groups of mobile workers, assigning work orders to entire teams and selected individuals, monitoring location of the employees, their availability and workload, as well as controlling work progress and reporting work results. Asta Workforce is a truly mobile cloud solution, which is offered as a service (hosted in the Windows Azure or a Windows Server-based environment) that can be accessed from smartphones and tablets, with applications available for download directly from the app stores.

With the Asta Workgroup Manager application arbitrary workforce teams can be defined by assigning employees to (multiple) workgroups as either plain workers or workgroup managers, based on their competences and skills. The application allows work supervisors to send work requests to workforce teams, and workgroup managers to monitor the location of team members, their status and workload, and assign work requests based on their capabilities and availability. The requests can be equipped with work questionnaires, documents and images required for completing and reporting the requested task.

The Asta Workers Dashboard application allows team members to manage their status and availability, and to receive work related notifications and to pick up and accept work requests. The application is used for managing assigned work request, controlling their deadlines, and reporting their progress and completion. It also supports intra- and inter-team communication, time-, distance-, and traffic-optimised navigation to the location where the requested task is to be performed, as well as other work support functions.

Asta Workforce can be customised to suit the needs of the majority of companies from utilities, communications, healthcare, security, marketing and other sectors. Apart from simple customisation of the description of employee capabilities, workforce managers can exploit advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology, to define arbitrary work questionnaires and reports.

Asta Product Catalogue for Sales

Asta Product Catalogue is another mobile cloud solution from Asta Labs that is directed towards corporate users. The solution enables creating, managing and presenting a catalogue of products that are offered either directly by the company or by its partners. The catalogue can contain textual and multimedia specifications of the products and multiple groups of product offerings with profiled product pricing. Due to its rich, multimedia content and attractive means of presentation being applied, the catalogue can be used for both sales and marketing purposes.

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Implemented on Asta Architecture, Asta Product Catalogue is a mobile cloud solution, which is offered as a service hosted in the Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud but can also be deployed in a private Windows Server-based environment. Asta Product Catalogue constitutes an element of the Asta Sales solution suite.

The Product Basket mobile application available for smarthphones and tablets can be used to present the entire product offer in an intuitive, easy and attractive way — it allows browsing product groups, searching for products by tags and characteristics, and presenting product-related pictures, videos, diagrams, and simple descriptons.

The application can be used either on site at sales offices or directly at customer premises by mobile representatives of the company. In the latter case those mobile representatives can also immediately collect customer feedback and even product orders by completing product or customer-related surveys in real time.

Product managers can define the company’s offer using the Asta Product Eden application. They can define specifications of products being goods, resources, or services by introducing product descriptions, defining selectable product characteristics and attaching multimedia visualisations. Apart from elementary products, complex products can be defined as well by bundling together arbitrary component products.

Then product offerings can be defined by attaching pricing schemes to product specifications and defining conditions of discounts and promotions. The offerings can be arbitrarily tagged and grouped according to product domain, customer target group, distribution channel, etc.

Exploiting advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology, product, sales and marketing managers can define arbitrary sales and marketing surveys composed of freely defined queries with closed and open answers, which are supposed to be used while presenting an offer to a potential customer.

New-Gen Resource Inventory

Asta Labs has released Asta Resources — a unique, new generation resource inventory solution. It enables managing information on resource configuration and processes of resource deployment and maintenance within diverse, in particular networking, environments of telecommunications networks, power grids, communications and transport infrastructures, and others. Information on both physical and logical resources can be managed – infrastructure sites and infrastructure connections, equipment and its hardware and software modules, logical connections, and much more. The information can have the rich multimedia form of photos, videos, documents, figures, floor plans, etc., and be presented using road and satellite maps and 3D visualisations. Asta Resources allows for resource management in a multi-party environment, when the resources are owned by different companies, which can describe their owned resources as planned or installed, designate as public or private, share them and lease, etc.

Asta Resources is an advanced and modern system but at the same time it is lightweight and simple. It is a mobile cloud computing system that supports a true SaaS model. A company can obtain its dedicated instance of Asta Resources in a matter of minutes with on-line registration of the company’s account, in real time activation of the company’s services in the cloud, and immediate, on-demand download of smartphone and tablet applications from the app store by the company’s employees. Implemented on Asta Architecture, Asta Resources is a highly scalable system that can be hosted in the Microsoft’s public Windows Azure cloud as well as in the company’s private cloud organised with Windows Server-based infrastructure.

Asta Resources realises the idea of the communitised business and operations support system. Its simple, intuitive and attractive smartphone and tablet applications, resembling social networks apps, are so much different than heavy, complex, overloaded applications of legacy, traditional resource inventory systems, which are installed on a limited numer of workstations and are only operated by a few highly skilled individuals. With simplification being one of primary system design objectives, Asta Resources provides for creating a large community of system users who can access resource-related information no matter who they are and where they are, using their everyday experience with instant messaging, uploading multimedia content or information tagging of social networks. In that way, Asta Resources promotes ubiquitous use of rich, multimedia resource-related information throughout all the divisions of the company, making the information more up-to-date, more consistent, and thus more valuable, allowing, in particular, for data crowdsourcing, etc.

Asta Resources is both flexible and future safe. Domain-specific models of resources that are downloaded at system deployment can then be customised and extended at system runtime — using object-oriented modelling concepts, system administrators can freely define new classes (kinds) of resources, like a new kind of equipment with specific functionality, and new resource types, i.e., specific types of resources of a given kind, like a new model of equipment of a given kind from a given manufacturer. Exploiting advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology arbitrary technical surveys can be defined to support resource management processes. And due to advanced workflow and workforce capabilities of Asta Platform those business processes can be tailored to the company’s profile, structure, maturity, and specific needs.

Now Asta Marketing

Asta Marketing is another new mobile cloud computing system from Asta Labs, which enables organising and managing marketing campaigns — running market surveys and distributing marketing information — using mobile devices. Implemented on Asta Architecture, Asta Marketing is offered as a service, hosted in the Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud.

Exploiting advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology, marketing managers of all types of companies can define arbitrary marketing surveys composed of freely defined queries with closed and open answers. Then, they can define marketing targets, which can be people, companies and arbitrary objects identified either directly or by means of addresses, characteristics, etc. Finally, supported by workflow and workforce capabilites of Asta Platform, they can define and manage teams of surveyors — mobile marketers — who are responsible for conducting surveys by interrogating their assigned marketing targets within assigned time periods. With mobile marketers filling in survey questionnaires and gathering textual and multimedia information using tablets and smartphones, the managers can review completed surveys in real time on their mobile devices, analysing the gathered information and the efficiency of marketer groups and individual surveyors.

Asta Investments Goes into Portfolio

Asta Labs has included a new mobile cloud computing system into its product portfolio. Asta Investments allows both investors and contractors to manage all kinds of investment projects. Using mobile devices, the representatives of all involved parties can collaborate in controlling projects, subprojects, their phases and tasks. Smartphone and tablet applications provide for managing most current information on status, schedule and all involved parties, and for handling descriptions, documents, maps and pictures pertaining to every project-related activity. The state of each activity can be reviewed and analysed using advanced capabilities and customisation features of the Asta Surveys technology. Based on Asta Architecture, Asta Investments is offered as a service, hosted in the Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud.

Making the City Asta Smart

Asta Smart City is a mobile cloud computing system that supports implementing the idea of e-administration. It enables inhabitants of municipal and rural communities to report problems concerning the functioning of the community infrastructure and services using a mobile app. The reported information can be immediately managed at community offices and the status and progress of resolving the problem can be monitored on-line by the reporting individual. The information can also be made available to local inhabitants, investors and infrastracture operators; combined with territorial and demographic data it can be visualised on street and satellite maps, e.g., using large-size television panels. Asta Smart City is offered as a service, hosted in the Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud, with the applications available for smartphones, tablets and desktops.

Read more (in Polish).

Asta Labs at Microsoft Partner Strategy Conference

On October 15-16th Asta Labs took part in the Microsoft Partner Strategy Conference 2014, held in Serock near Warsaw. An annual event, this year the conference promoted Microsoft’s motto ‘mobile first, cloud first’, concentrating on the issues of cloud computing, mobility, social media, security, and Big Data. The conference gathered more than 130 prominant Microsoft Partner companies from the Polish IT sector.

Regarded by Microsoft in Poland as one of the most promising partners in the area of advanced software solutions, Asta Labs has been among just several software vendors directly invited by the organizers. Using such an excellent opportunity, Asta Labs demonstrated the entire portfolio of its innovative mobile cloud solutions for both corporate and private users, presenting an exact answer to the challenge that results from the conference’s motto.

Asta Surveys Released

The Asta Surveys technology enables conducting arbitrary business-related and technical surveys using smartphones and tablets. The gathered information can be further analysed exploiting the business intelligence capabilities provided by Asta Architecture.

Thus, service providers can organise an on-line process of collecting data about their current and potential customers, the perception of their offer, their competitors, etc., directly at customer premises, while infrastructure providers, in particular communications and utility network providers and operators, can gather information on the technical infrastructure available at their customers’ premises, conduct technical interviews on their own infrastructural sites and connections, and on the equipment that is placed at those locations.

The Asta Survey Wizard application allows for freely defining surveys — one can add a new survey, define a number of open and closed queries, edit questions and answers, specify the single- or multiple-choice mode for closed-answer queries, link queries by specifying which answers unlock which queries, require attaching multimedia (pictures, videos, documents, etc.) while answering a query.

And the Asta Interview Master application enables conducting interviews using defined surveys. It features a simple and intuitive interface — answers are selected from drop-down or check-box lists, out-of-context queries are automatically skipped, multimedia can be attached by recording voice or taking a photo with an embedded camera, etc. Completed questionnaires with attached geo-position-related information are sent on-line to the central repository and can be viewed immediately, or business intelligence can be used to process the data from the questionnaires off-line. Both applications are available on Windows smartphones as well as on Windows tablets.

All components of Asta Surveys are implemented on Asta Platform and the Asta Surveys technology is integrated into the majority of (if not all) Asta Labs solutions, in particular into Asta Sales and Asta Operations — it is used, e.g., in the Marketing subsystem for organising market surveys and marketing campaigns, in the Customers subsystem for contacting customers in the call-centre and self-care mode, and in the Resources subsystem for running resource provisioning, maintenance and service activities.