Digging in the Field

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — August 11, 2013

When reviewing the daily processes of a field worker it’s easy to identify what can be optimized by automating through mobile technology. In an interview with Mobile Enterprise, Balca Korkut, Senior Analyst for VDC Research provided a brief overview of what it takes to mobilize the field.

Mobile Enterprise (ME): What’s the biggest issue with outdated processes in the field?

Balca Korkut (BK): Typical daily tasks of a field service worker involve operational processes that vary with industry, but range from stocking trucks to navigating to job sites, carrying out work orders, diagnosing problems and finding the appropriate solutions, locating necessary parts, conducting repairs, collecting payments and completing forms.

For majority of the organizations, a lot of the steps throughout this process consist of procedural manuals and charts which are carried in hand or are installed on a mobile device and include a lot of paperwork (or basic step-by-step applications that are based on Excel-type solutions) that are typically error prone in nature.

All of these manual processes are causing severe inefficiencies which often result in field workers not having access to the most up-to-date information. Mobile solutions bring powerful capabilities, and allow organizations to achieve more granular levels of activity detail.

These solutions allow users to document the process every step of the way and integrate well with back-end enterprise applications, enabling remote workers, supervisors and even executives to have visibility to the status.

ME: How can companies optimize mobile solutions in the field?

BK: Field service organizations that have an enterprise mobility solution that is not necessarily providing the best result for the company should first focus on what’s working and what’s not working with their current deployment.
Next, they should learn about what type of features and capabilities their next-generation solution should have and which features aren’t as necessary.

While internal IT departments tend to be the point of contact for such investments, it’s usually the end users—that is the field workers—who are the most knowledgeable about technical requirements. Depending on the size of organizations, marketing departments and company executives can also be heavily involved in the decision making process.

Addressing each step results in an optimized enterprise mobility solution that not only improves processes, but also empowers field workers and enables them to make faster and smarter decisions.

ME: How does mobility drive compliance and competition in the field?

BK: Compliance and safety issues are key drivers for mobility investments. For example, organizations want to ensure that the work that is carried out by field workers is in full compliance to protocols. Likewise, more organizations are putting heavier emphasis on driver safety due to the increasing road accidents. 

Advanced telematics and geo-location solutions enable organizations to monitor driving behavior of drivers and provide analytics around aggressive driving. Organizations can utilize this data to make recommendations to their drivers, with the goal of decreasing the number of accidents in addition to mitigating risks and liability associated with driving.

A lot of field service organizations have also started seeing mobility solutions as a way of gaining competitive advantage over their peers. Having real-time visibility into critical operations help these organizations to make smarter decisions, have fewer issues with data integrity and quality, all in addition to realizing productivity gains.

Mobile solutions are delivering operational efficiencies by providing more granular and accurate access to real-time information both in the field and back in the office. Organizations are not only better informed about their transactions and workflows, but can also document the whole process while integrating with their enterprise applications.

These improvements are not only positively impacting mobile worker productivity and decision making, but increasing sales and customer loyalty and resulting in more repeat business.

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