Typical industries where the micro broker is implemented for Field Force Automation are the Industrial sector for performing maintenance tasks and automating operations, the Retail industry for performing tasks such as price lookups and stock transfers, and Healthcare for access to patient records. Sales Force Automation scenarios are commonly seen in industries such as the Financial sector, Utilities and Communications.
In these scenarios, the worker will often use a mobile device such as a PDA or smart phone in a mixed on-line and off-line mode, with assured and secure message delivery to/from the enterprise. A desktop application implemented with Lotus Expeditor is frequently used to aid in reporting, supervision and monitoring.
Enabling mobile work patterns by using the micro broker can significantly improve worker productivity and customer service. Work order management can be extended to a mobile worker by assigning work orders remotely and dynamically to workers; in this way work orders can be assigned to the right worker at the right time. Process steps in the work order can guide a worker efficiently and correctly through a task. A mobile worker is also able to have the latest product or customer information instantly available, and much manual paperwork is removed along with unnecessary returns to the office. At the same time, the status of mobile workers and work orders is immediately visible in the enterprise, and updates to customer or product records are instantly available.
The micro broker enables a Services Oriented Architecture to be extended beyond the data center to the edge of the network through providing different ways of integrating with enterprise messaging systems. The micro broker bridge component can be configured to connect to an enterprise system using an MQtt, MQ JMS or JMS JNDI connection. This enables integration with a wide range of server systems, including WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Application Server.
This Case Study will be based on a fictitious company called JKCourier, an Express Delivery company, which uses PDAs to provide delivery drivers with an automated work process.
At the start of the day, a delivery driver receives a delivery route automatically down loaded to the PDA. This contains details of the customer's delivery address, and items to be delivered. The PDA contains a bar code scanner that enables the delivery driver to scan all items into the delivery truck before beginning the delivery route. When a driver delivers an item to a customer, the driver scans the item again to indicate that it has been delivered, and the customer is required to provide an electronic signature on the PDA. This information is immediately made available in the enterprise systems and provides instant visibility of the status of the delivery. In the event of unforeseen circumstances such as a customer changing the address for delivery or providing additional delivery instructions, these details are able to be sent immediately to the driver's PDA and the delivery route updated.
This diagram provides an overview of the solution architecture:
This case study will describe the following use cases required in this Field Force Automation solution:
- Inter- and Intra-process communications : Tthis use case describes the use of the micro broker as a messaging hub on the device for applications on the device.
- Work order retrieval: This covers the integration of the mobile client with an enterprise work order management system via the micro broker.
- Notification mechanism: Details a messaging solution for sending notifications to mobile clients.
- Asynchronous secure connectivity: This use case explains how to implement a secure client to the micro broker, which also enables messages to be stored on the mobile client if there is no network connectivity.
- Deployment: This outlines a method for deploying the initial software to a mobile client and for distributing updates.
To be able to demonstrate the implementation of this business, certain assumption are made which may not be applicable in the real world. Here we consider only one device user from a location, say "location 1" using the micro broker on the device. Also we assume only one micro broker running in a J2SE environment to which the devices will connect. Also this section does not demonstrate the connectivity to WebSphere MQ as its a trivial use case and described in the previous sections.
Here we have used many Lotus Expeditor features, but the focus has been on the micro broker component for demonstrating the messaging capabilities. Other components of micro broker do play a very important role in the development of the application.