Field Technologies Magazine recently released their Field Mobility Annual Report for 2014 which highlights the numerous trends and expectations for the forthcoming year based off of responses from over 700 consumers. Among the many insights was the recognition that we are in second (or maybe third?) wave of mobility.
Meaning this: initially, companies invest in mobility to move away from manual or paper-driven processes by mobilizing their operations. For many industries, this was the surge 5-7 years ago and remains a critical step for companies who have yet to do so. But for many companies, the second wave of mobilization lies within the area of automating existing processes through “awareness technology.” Depending upon the industry, this could mean:
- using GPS technology to “arrive” at a location rather than manually selecting a menu option
- leveraging historical data to suggest inventory, staffing needs, or estimated hours to complete work
- accessing crowdsourced data to estimate traffic patters, wait times or weather conditions
- engaging with bluetooth technology for location awareness and know data points that trigger workflow actions
The bottom line is that mobility will inevitably continue to evolve but the real winners will be companies and products that think proactively and progressively to leverage technology for their advantage.
The Field Mobility Annual Report can be accessed here.
Posted by brettwagner on January 16, 2014
In a recent article at Field Technologies Online, Scott Dutton summarized the three trends in field services that are allowing companies to cut service costs, improve productivity, and boost customer satisfaction.
Mobile Devices – the continued saturation of mobile devices into our everyday lives has made this resource a swiss army knife of sorts for field service companies. According to a recent survey by Field Technologies, about half the mobile workforce currently uses smartphones as the primary means of communication from the field. The other half is divided unequally: roughly 40 percent still use laptops, and approximately 11 percent prefer tablets. Interestingly, more than a quarter of both laptop users and smartphone proponents are considering a switch to tablets because of the portability, popularity, and screen size tablet provide.
Field-Service Workforce Automation – As the partnership between mobile devices and web-based workforce automation apps continue to become more integrated, companies have an even more powerful resource in the hands of their mobile employees. Web-accessible apps for work-order assignment, customer relationship, billing, and inventory management all provide field-service professionals with the real-time data necessary for informed, on-the-spot decision-making. Longer-term benefits include accurate forecasting and reporting for more productive allocation of personnel and material resources.
Location-Based Services – As customer experience is such a huge factor in field service success, having a toolset that is able to provide the right information at the right moment becomes critical. Having the right expert with the right equipment in the right place at the right time improves field-service performance and productivity, which results in sharp increases in customer satisfaction and noticeable improvements to the bottom line.
Posted by brettwagner on November 13, 2013
Building mobility applications in house (or outsourcing for one-off development) has its risks. As taken from the recent issue of Field Mobility Magazine “Field Mobility – Should I Buy or Build?“
When an IT organization builds applications, it’s harder to sustain a long-term commitment. When you lose long-term commitment, your product is left behind. With a market that’s moving so quickly, that’s a very big risk. If you decide, “I’ll hire 10 developers and I’ll build this application.” They build this application and you’re very happy. They move to the next project. And 2 years from now, the application is outdated. Then what do you do?
Posted by brettwagner on October 23, 2013
By way of follow up to the previous post highlighting several factors that can contribute to headache deployments, here is the list of reasons for success. This list represents the reasons customers are happy and become our biggest evangelists.
- Looking to improve process, not just technology – anytime a client’s driving motivation is to enhance or create actual process, we know it is a good sign. Technology is as only as good as the process it supports, and when you support the desired process with great technology, it is a win.
- Willing to invest time on the front end of a project – peeling back the various layers of business rules and mobile process can takes a bit of investment and commitment. But without this critical step, even the best mobile technology will struggle at some point.
- A single point of contact who “owns” the project – having a primary relationship with one person within the company is critical. Not only does this cut down on miscommunications and confusion, it bolsters the mobile technology’s place within the company as this person becomes the resident expert and champions the new approach.
- Having a genuine pain point – yes, in this case pain is good. The recognition that the existing environment is a detriment to the company, only provides more motivation to ensure that the new approach is the right fit and executed well.
Posted by brettwagner on July 15, 2013
While we all love to tout our best mobile deployments and write up case studies on our success stories, I was recently challenged to describe what a bad deployment looked like. While each mobile deployment has its challenges, I discovered there are some scenarios that lend themselves to just becoming massive headaches. In our experience, here are a number of factors that can lead to the worst deployment ever:
- NON-MANDATED – there is no driving motivation to implement this mobility project. It quickly becomes clear that this is a “want to” vs. “have to” scenario. There is no cost justification, demand for legal compliance, a requirement to meet specific service level agreements or company mandated policy. This is simply a case of “it would be nice if we could _______.”
- ROI IS NOT CLEARLY DEFINED – going into the project there was no clear definition of success. Nothing that clarifies “we need to improve productivity by X”, cut operational cost by ___”, or streamline workforce by X.” Without this there can never really be a tangible sense customer satisfaction.
- NO DEADLINES – Especially when there is no mandate for the solution a lack of deadline leads to drawn out implementation, delays in pre-production training and a general hesitancy to eventually go live.
- OPERATIONS PEOPLE ARE NOT INVOLVED – when the influencers and decision makers are not directly involved in the operations side of the business, there is such a huge disconnect in expectations, a clear understanding of needs and a “boots on the ground” approach. This inevitably leads to all manner of delays and chasing rabbit trails for items that in the end, really really do not provide value to the project.
- UNWILLINGNESS TO INVEST TIME ON THE FRONT END OF THE PROJECT – because a successful mobile deployment relies so heavily on operational workflows, it demands a fair amount of investment on the front end of a project to evaluate process, define the proper business rules and work through the current vs. expected process. An unwillingness to roll up the sleeves and wade through this work ultimately leads to greater frustration and headaches as technology is rolled out to the larger team.
- NOT CONSULTING THE END USER – working with operational team members is critical but not consulting the actual end user is even worse. Assuming or even dictating how a mobile process should work with out input from the actual mobile worker is the “ivory tower” approach to mobility that typically leads to a fumbled implementation and poor user adoption.
But it’s not always bad. Next up – best deployment stories.
Posted by brettwagner on July 10, 2013
Intermec has recently commissioned a new study surveying logistics managers at organizations of over 500 employees within the UK, France, USA, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Apart from the usual findings a few are worth noting:
- $282,000 – the amount companies expect to save in the next 12 months from GPS technology
- 92% - the amount of transportation and logistics managers struggle to meet same-day delivery requirements
- 60% – the percentage of respondents who believe mobile communications offer the most promising return on investment to their organization
Posted by brettwagner on June 17, 2013
I was glad to see our friends at True Wireless have recently jumped into the blogging world. For those not familiar, True has been a respected leader in the wireless world since 2004, managing the major aspects of the the wireless lifecycle including procurement, billing, deployment, helpdesk and MDM. Some of the recent content from the blog includes:
- Why you shouldn’t tackle a large mobile deployment on your own
- 5 reasons to outsource mobility management
- Security strategies for BYOD
Be sure and check out some of their new content at truewireless.com/blog
Posted by brettwagner on May 23, 2013
As noted in a recent article from Stein Soeleberg at KORE Telematics, the buzz around the “Internet of Things” has been heating up lately. He states:
The term, coined by a technology pioneer, refers to uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. Brought into the mainstream in waves, the chatter around the Internet of Things has been steadily growing and can be attributed to large companies, such as Google and GE, jumping on the bandwagon. Those companies, not surprisingly, think everything from your refrigerator to your window blinds will all be connected and remotely controlled and monitored to improve the quality of our daily lives.
But what impact, if any, could the Internet of Things have upon enterprise mobility? Soeleberg suggests 3 verticals that could benefit from the emerging technology:
- Supply Chain – critical intelligence can protect the quality of delivered goods
- Smart City – navigating the logistics of traffic, utilities, or public service as well as cost saving efficiencies
- Healthcare – information gathering and critical care monitoring
Read the article in its entirety here.
Posted by brettwagner on May 15, 2013
An recent infographic created by Zendesk, pulls together some research from Businessweek, Forrester, Gigaom Pro, Frost & Sullivan, and a few others, about the influence of mobile apps in the enterprise. A couple of interesting findings:
- 72% of small businesses use mobile apps in their operations
- Sales of web-enabled mobile devices have surpassed sales of web-enabled laptops, notebooks and desktop computers
- 43% of businesses report plans to incorporate mobile more in the future
You can view the infographic with all the findings here.
Posted by brettwagner on May 8, 2013
The latest issue of Field Technologies magazine is out and within it, Sarah Howland provides a concise overview of simple steps that can be taken to ensure a successful mobile deployment.
- Define Clear Goals for Your Mobile Solution – Rushing into technology selection before you have clearly defined objectives for the solution may save time on the front end, but ultimately will end in failure. Taking time to think through the current challenges of the existing process and what you are looking for in a new solution is critical. But stopping here is not enough. You could call it shoe shopping for a growing teen-age boy. Sure, it fits today – but give it a month. Too often companies invest in a technology solution that fits today’s process, but what will that process look like in 1 year, 5 years, 7 years? Is there other workflows that should be considered? Will a upfront investment in a new process actually enable your company to be more successful as a result?
- Do Your Due Diligence in Technology Selection – It is understandable why some companies want to rush through the evaluation and selection process simply because the options can be so numerous, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. There are many wrong reasons to land on a specific technology solution (cheapest, most expensive, household name, never heard of them, etc) versus it being the best fit to clearly defined goals you have already defined (the right reason). Don’t rush this process. Stick to selecting the solution that best addresses the goals you’ve outlined.
- Don’t Ignore the Need for Change Management – Regardless if this is your first mobile solution, or upgrading from a current process, it is still a change. Anytime you are introducing change into the organization and asking your team to do a familiar process in a different way, you will need to manage this change. Without this oversight, even the best solution (see #1), will end up being a flop.
Posted by brettwagner on April 17, 2013