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How Mobility Drives a Smarter Workforce in the Field

3/18/2015

Excellent service means responding quickly to customer needs. For those providing field service, this means four basic things: being on time, having enough time to do the job properly, having the right skills, and bringing the right tools. As Information Age notes in a recent article, “For mobile technicians, an increased importance has been put on their role to the overall success of the organization, as they are quite often the only interaction a customer will have with the business.”

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Consequently, mobility has taken on an increasingly strategic role for field-service organizations. Recent Aberdeen Group research has confirmed this trend, finding that 82 percent of field-service organizations identified mobility as a strategic initiative for the service operation in the next 12 months—as a tool to empower the field with real-time intelligence to make decisions and resolve issues to better serve the customer. Notes Information Age:

Companies that understand how to strategically leverage mobility solutions stand to drive efficiencies, improve customer service, and benefit from a more profitable bottom line. With field-based work becoming increasingly complex and time-sensitive, more and more businesses are beginning to focus on the proliferation of mobile solutions, integrated with back-end field service solutions, to help manage field operations and provide the mobile workforce with the real-time knowledge needed to make better, more intelligent decisions while in the field.

Among the emerging mobile technologies that are enabling better and smarter field service: the Internet of Things (IoT), by enabling devices to communicate with one another and send and receive data, and mobile applications that provide technicians with visibility across the organization and the ability to share, store, and view job data while in the field.

In a post on its data and networks blog, Ottawa, Ontario-based SkyWave lists five characteristics organizations should look for when considering mobile technology for its workforce:

  • Easy integration. The hardware platform should allow the integrator to customize the solution to ensure easy integration into existing enterprise processes while providing off-the-shelf software applications to enable common functions.
  • Modularity, flexibility, and network readiness. The smartest solutions are modular in nature, allowing you to plan for coverage issues from the outset, and to address requirements with options for cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite, and Ethernet networking.
  • Programmability and configurability. Programming, configuration, and protocol restrictions compromise access to smart data. Devices based on open protocols and customizable scripting languages provide the flexibility needed to develop and deploy a truly custom mobile workforce solution.
  • Minimization of airtime costs. Smarter devices allow for advanced analytics and exception-based reporting at the edge, and enable field workers to access critical data without prohibitive roaming charges.
  • Device agnosticism. Compatibility with a variety of Web-enabled devices simplifies and streamlines access to intelligent data. This device-agnostic compatibility can facilitate a variety of custom workforce automation applications, increase productivity, and ensure continuous communication with remote assets, vehicles, and personnel.

It is important to note that the data gathered and communicated through mobility is not sufficient in and of itself. Integrating that data is key. As Information Age comments:

It is how that data is analyzed and turned into usable information that is what will really make a difference. For this reason, data captured through mobile devices must be tied into other systems within the organization’s technology infrastructure—if not, it will get lost.

Not surprisingly, Aberdeen found the top strategic action for 62 percent of best-in-class field-service organizations was to improve data integration between the field and back-office systems. These companies understood that mobility not only made for a smarter workforce, but when leveraged properly, a smarter enterprise.

Posted by HCM Insights Team

 

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