Want to Know When Mobile Device Batteries are Draining Excessively? Curious if Printers are Actually Printing? Hoping to Right Size Your Device Fleet Once and For All? There’s an API for That…and More!

Well, technically, there are nearly 30 APIs available, so let’s get into the logistics of the Zebra VisibilityIQ™ software suite. (And give you a sneak peek at seven more APIs coming in October).

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by Dan Quagliana
October 01, 2021

Today’s workers waste a lot of time trying to find misplaced devices, fix printer issues, and deal with draining batteries. And IT teams spend a lot of time stressing about security updates and device utilization.

How much, exactly?

Zebra’s customers lose roughly 10% of their devices, and worker productivity significantly suffers when devices aren’t working and need attention.

That’s why I’m back to remind you about the Zebra VisibilityIQ™ software suite. As I have said before, and I’ll say again at the (free) DevCon 2021 virtual event coming up Nov. 3-5, 2021, VisibilityIQ application programming interfaces (API) are probably the best way for you to understand the health, availability and utilization of your Zebra mobile devices and printers. They really are a (device) lifesaver.

Though you have a lot of people working for you, and they may seem to have superhuman powers, no one can keep tabs on the health and utilization of every device in your fleet every moment of the day. They can’t predict which devices are going to have issues from day to day either. That would require them to extract and process hundreds of data points from each device. And you have, what, a few thousand devices floating around in the universe right now? Even if it’s only a few dozen, let’s just give machine learning credit where credit is due.

That takes me to the reason for this post today…

Zebra developers have been working nonstop for months to build all the APIs you need (as developers, operations managers, or IT) to know:

1. what assets your organization has in its possession right now.

2. where each of those assets are.

3. how healthy, utilized and/or available each asset has been lately.

When I last checked in with you, there were more than 20 VisibilityIQ APIs at your disposal. Since then, we’ve added seven more to the lineup. And (shhh!) don’t tell anyone, but we’ll be releasing three more by the end of October!

I can’t tell you what they are, though, unless you attend my DevCon session first.

Or can I?

Well, I won’t tell my boss I’m letting the cat out of the bag if you won’t. But you have to promise me you’ll spread this juicy news around the watercooler…and on social media…and by any means necessary to ensure it makes its way to your boss! And your customers.

See, the benefit of VisibilityIQ lies in its name: greater operational visibility – specific to the health of your Zebra mobile computers, printers and batteries powering workers’ days.

Without the detailed insights it provides on customizable dashboards, it’s hard to prevent device downtime. That’s because VisibilityIQ APIs do more than just show you what’s happening. They help you understand why they’re happening and what to do about it, and then they integrate those insights and actions into your business applications. And with one of the new APIs coming out in the October release, you’ll actually be able to predict what might occur in the future if you don’t do something today to address a device health issue.

That’s right, we have built a Predictive Insights API that will help you prevent many of the issues you’re dealing with right now!

(Have you registered for DevCon 2021 yet? I can’t give this info away for free.)

What else is in store for your future?

Power. Well, more battery power to be precise. With the Battery Level API, you’ll be able to watch and manage mobile computer and printer battery levels across sites. Better yet, you’ll be able to confirm if inappropriate charging behaviors are contributing to battery drops or if there is an issue with the charger/cradle. You can even drill down by device model and individual devices during selected time frames if you need to investigate productivity declines.

In fact, we’ve doubled down on batteries by giving you a second tool to identify battery depletion. The Battery Discharge API will alert you to mobile computers and printers that may have an abnormally high discharge rate so you can figure out what’s going on before the issue gets bigger. It could be an application problem or just time to replace the battery. Either way, the goal is to get your attention so you can fix it before the battery and device go down completely.

-  Perfection. Well, something close to it. I know many of you (or your customers) struggle with rightsizing your device fleet and overall utilization. So, we created a Utilization Rightsizing API to help you see which devices might be overstocked or understocked, among other things. Click on the link I just shared to see what other info will be available. It will help you make the right decisions when trying to increase the return on investment (ROI) for your Zebra mobile devices and/or printers.

Printer alerts. I can’t spin the benefits any better way. I know how important printer performance and availability are to every business today, and so do you. With the Printer Alerts API, you’ll have the scoop on all the things that could have workers’ heads spinning. For example, you’ll know when the cutter is jammed, head is too hot or cold, or paper has run out. Though, I feel like the person standing over the printer is going to figure that out sooner or later. Nevertheless, it’s good for you to have that insight too. Maybe it’s a recurring issue that requires a friendly reminder to workers to check the paper stack on occasion.

A way to gauge your average and maximum memory levels. At the mobile computer or site levels, not personally. You’ll need to see a different kind of doctor for that. But these kinds of memory checks are still important, too, considering apps and devices start to crash when the memory bank is full. So, check out the Storage Memory Utilization API.

The ability to identify sites and mobile computers with high levels of RAM usage, courtesy of the Physical Memory Utilization API. The Physical Memory Utilization API will help you see when a device’s memory is being used more than 90% in an hour’s time. 

For now, I highly recommend you check out these three APIs that were released in the last few months:

LifeGuard Analytics My buddy Adam Arruda did a deep dive on this in his last blog post. Please go check it out…now. (The link will open in a new window, so we won’t lose a connection here. I promise.)

Scan Metrics – This one is pretty straightforward. Every time VisibilityIQ scans a Zebra mobile computer in your fleet to check on its status, a record is created. This API will keep track of how many were successful and how many raised a red flag over a certain period of time. This is good to know when you’re troubleshooting issues reported by users or want to see which users should have reported device issues but didn’t.

Total Devices – Though every API is mission critical – at least in my experience working with customers these last 10+ years – this one is absolutely fundamental. You must know how many Zebra mobile computers and Zebra DNA printers are in your possession at all times – and how many should be but aren’t. This is the closest thing to a device tracker without actually having Zebra Device Tracker (which you might actually have too, by the way.) You’ll see which devices are:

o   presumed to be at their designated site.

o   inbound to certain facilities.

o   in operation.

o   in repair.

o   hanging out in the spare pool ready to be put to work.

This is a great API to use in tandem with the Utilization Rightsizing API I just mentioned.

Wondering how you can get your hands on these new APIs?

If you’re a Zebra customer or developer (or plan to become one soon), the VisibilityIQ APIs are available in a bundle, which can also be added to your VisibilityIQ Foresight service level agreement. Talk to your Zebra representative about which route is best for you.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me at DevCon (in living color) to learn more about how you can put the APIs into action, no matter what your role is in boosting device and worker utilization. (In other words, DevCon is not just for developers, so don’t leave me hanging.)

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Dan Quagliana
Dan Quagliana is the Senior Product Manager for Zebra’s VisibilityIQ solution, highlighting insights on device usage and health optimization. Dan owns the product strategy and feature roadmap for VisibilityIQ, including driving the shift to an API-first operation. . Previously Dan was responsible for building a Data Services business at Zebra, working across the Zebra portfolio to accelerate customers’ ability to transform edge data and events into actionable insight with easy to consume APIs.