Recent mobility technology advances have significantly improved the way mobile workforces are managed. Service level agreement compliance, worker duty of care, and accuracy of service/sales/asset records are some of the key investment drivers in mobile workforce solutions. The following critical technology elements of a successful mobility deployment are covered in this paper:
• Real-time data for decision support
• Intelligent worker routing and alerting
• Instant remote worker communication
• Simple capture of asset and inventory data
• Mobile device reliability in the field
• Ease of use through ergonomic design
• High-quality imaging, photography and video
• Remote mobile estate device management
Real-time data for decision support
Innovations in mobile workforce technology today go well beyond simple data capture and information retrieval in the field and on the road. The core benefits of class-leading solutions are enhanced efficiency and productivity, faster customer response times and a higher level of customer satisfaction.
Improvements start with workforces that are equipped with mobile computers that provide instant access to each customer’s order history, service records, and product service history, as well as inventory technical data and the ability to be directed to the next appointment or task without manual intervention.
Having dependable wireless communication with sufficient speed and bandwidth brings the desktop to the mobile worker, allowing them to access relevant systems in the field and trouble-shoot via online databases. Providing these enhanced service levels conveys to the customer that the service or sales company is driving for excellence, which in turn builds trust for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
Intelligent worker routing and alerting
Intelligent routing is a business necessity to ensure sales and service organisations are optimising their mobile assets and providing first-class customer service.
Leveraging GPS integration allows solution providers to identify the current location of a field worker, asset or vehicle; identify the closest technician or sales agent for an appointment; and factor in a worker’s current location when scheduling the next appointment. Also, current traffic conditions can be included in routing instructions to ensure the next appointment is reached as soon as possible.
Location awareness naturally increases efficiency by reducing the ‘blind spots’ of dispatchers, workforce controllers and service centres. However, we find that our customers value the associated benefits of fuel reduction and environmental sustainability at least as high. Think about the potential savings of reduced journey times and re-visits in organisations.
Instant remote worker communication
Duty of care is a primary concern of enterprise-class businesses, especially at the executive level, due to the prevalence of corporate manslaughter cases in lone worker situations in Europe.
Instant communication at the press of a button (push to talk) is primarily a productivity and duty of care function. However, it is also a platform for time-dependent up-selling and cross-selling of offers to customers. For example, an extended warranty or additional product offer can be initiated from a control centre in one-to-one or one-to-many preset groups, through instant talk or instant message, as an offer becomes available.
The natural result is an increase in revenue generation, if the customer commits to the additional product or service.
An integral benefit of real-time communication enabled by a mobile device is the ability for the field worker or agent to receive an approval signature at the point of work and process the transaction in real time. This not only increases the ability to complete the up-sell or cross-sell opportunity, compared to call centre follow ups, but also confirms work completion in real-time and collects purchase trend information for future targeted offers.
Simple capture of asset and inventory data
Two of the major benefits commonly cited for field mobility investments are improved real-time decision-making and improved inventory accuracy. Fast and efficient bar code data capture ensures inventory usage is recorded immediately at the source and that inventory replenishment can be tightly managed. High inventory levels are a cost to any business in terms of tying up capital and potential depreciation. By recording accurate usage at the source, including the usage of specific parts or parts under warranty, inventory data can be reported to ensure proper replenishment and billing. This in turn leads to accurate service/sales history and asset records.
Mobile device reliability in the field
Mobile computers deployed in remote workforce management applications must be designed for years of dependability under harsh conditions. Enterprises using fit for purpose rugged and semi-rugged devices benefit from the reliability offered in hot, cold and wet environments and protection against the inevitable hard knocks.
Downtime due to damaged devices or dead batteries will also be significantly reduced. These issues are usually associated with deployments of consumer-grade devices, which have become prevalent in some mobile workforce applications. Improvement starts with an assessment of your workforce downtime today.
Ease of use through ergonomic design
A user-friendly form factor is critical to keeping employees productive. This is the case in unforgiving in-field environments, as well as less harsh in-home or in-premise locations.
High-quality imaging, photography and video
Mobile computers that incorporate the latest in imaging technology allow field operatives to capture images of products, assets, work sites or post-job site cleanup, providing proof of condition and environmental records.
Recording images of utility meters, for example, can also provide proof of route coverage. In conjunction with wider captured data, high-quality images, taken via an area imager or a camera, provide a complete audit trail for analysis and performance reporting, in addition to proof of service for the customer.
Many customers value the benefits that arise from integrating image capture into their mobile applications. Field-based workers make less mistakes with clear and intuitive instructions, and the collective workforce saves precious time by eliminating the need to switch between software systems for image capture.
Video technology can be utilised for the ‘virtual experience.’ Previously captured location video can be provided to remote workers to enhance their location awareness. This feature may be especially useful in safety critical environments where visual terrain and asset knowledge is imperative to complete a work order.
Remote mobile estate device management
Remote mobile device management provides IT administrators with a convenient system to manage all mobile computers within their network from any single remote location. Typically, it is a browser-based stand alone solution that can be incorporated into any enterprise. Independent research indicates that the use of a mobile device management (MDM) solution can save an organisation over €160 per device per year in support costs. For a 100 unit deployment, MDM translates into savings of over €78,000 over a five year period.
Honeywell Scanning & Mobility