Mobile Resource Management via BlackBerry Devices

By  Jeff Goldman — April 23, 2010

BlackBerry devices support a wide range of mobile resource management (MRM) functionality, with the help of application providers like TeleNav, Air-Trak, Intergis and others -- a 2009 study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates found that approximately 3.6 million mobile devices were being used to manage fleet vehicles, trailers, construction equipment and mobile workers, with the expectation that the market will grow to more than 6.5 million units by 2012.

In looking at the market as a whole, Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst Jeanine Sterling says it makes the most sense to define MRM relatively broadly. "We define it as handset-based solutions that use wireless and location technology to locate, track and manage the mobile worker, the mobile work, and/or the mobile asset... everything from simple dots-on-a-map 'where's my employee?' to timecard, workflow management, dispatch -- more sophisticated capabilities," she says.

Within that range, Sterling says, there are generally three levels (good, better, best) of solutions on offer. "The basic package, which is usually about $10 per device per month, has tracking, some mapping, geofencing, and some really basic reports," she says. "It doesn't really integrate into any of the back-office systems like payroll or anything else -- it's very much focused on tracking the employee or the asset."

Beyond that, the "better" package, at about $15 a month, and the "best," at approximately $20 a month, each add a significant amount of functionality. "In these two areas, you get various combinations of timecard reporting right there on the device, text messaging... basic to enriched dispatch, various forms of data capture like image capture, signature capture, bar code scanning... and navigation, and now you're starting to integrate with back office systems," Sterling says.

Yankee Group research director Sheryl Kingstone says one of the key areas to consider in evaluating an MRM solution is its flexibility. "Each field service worker has their own process," she says. "For instance, in the telecommunications space, for Rogers or for Comcast, they have their own way of going about conducting field service calls. You have to make sure that what you're choosing is as flexible as it can be, and easy to use on the device."

The same is true for the back-end processes. "When you're talking about scheduling and dispatch, it's great if the person can do some work on the mobile device, being able to schedule and make changes, but you want to make sure that you're also doing the analytics... it's not only about the device, but the intersection back to dispatch and what that can do from a scheduling and operations standpoint," Kingstone says.

Frost & Sullivan's Sterling says another way that providers differentiate their offerings is through verticalization. "Home healthcare is a big one right now," she says. "Agilis Systems, an MRM developer, has put together a whole new unit just creating and marketing solutions to the healthcare sector. And TeleNav... got together with Turnpike Global to put together a transportation industry oriented solution for Sprint."

And that brings up the leading reason why many companies settle on a specific provider. "A lot of it has to do with who they partner up with when they start looking at these types of solutions -- so if they're partnering up with a particular wireless carrier, they're going to be pointed towards a couple of different alternatives," Sterling says. "The account executive will certainly give the pros and cons of each, and usually there's some capability that tips a potential customer one way or the other."

One company that did so is the Security Center in Dallas, Texas, which was introduced to BlackBerry devices and the TeleNav Track LITE solution by AT&T Wireless - the company now has 14 BlackBerry Curves deployed.
 
"We're a regional sales, installation and service company for electronic and physical security of banking equipment -- so we have technicians that work on safes, vaults, drive-ups, alarms and drive-in windows at banks," explains company operations director Gary Akey.

The company uses the BlackBerry devices to support its technicians and its dispatching staff. "For the techs, that's how they receive their calls and close them out -- and for the dispatchers, it's a tool to be in contact with the techs, and then also as backup telephones for the facility... we get a lot of severe storms here, and it's not uncommon to have the phone system or the lines knocked out, and when that happens, that's how we keep everything going," Akey says.

For the technicians, Akey says, the BlackBerry devices are useful for safety as well as for dispatching. "In our line of work, it's not unheard of that some bad guy could sit there and say, 'Hey, this guy knows how to work on vaults,' and hold him under duress to try and break into a safe or a vault," he says.

One key advantage of TeleNav Track LITE, Akey says, is the fact that no client software has to be installed on the device itself -- which not only simplifies the deployment, but also means the technician can't disable the tracking functionality. "The day we switched over to TeleNav LITE, our dispatchers were smiling ear to ear," Akey says. "It was the first time they'd just go to their screen and, boom, everybody popped up... it's just made the dispatchers' job so much easier."

 
Related Articles

Mobile Resource Management via BlackBerry Devices

By  Jeff Goldman — April 23, 2010

BlackBerry devices support a wide range of mobile resource management (MRM) functionality, with the help of application providers like TeleNav, Air-Trak, Intergis and others -- a 2009 study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates found that approximately 3.6 million mobile devices were being used to manage fleet vehicles, trailers, construction equipment and mobile workers, with the expectation that the market will grow to more than 6.5 million units by 2012.

In looking at the market as a whole, Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst Jeanine Sterling says it makes the most sense to define MRM relatively broadly. "We define it as handset-based solutions that use wireless and location technology to locate, track and manage the mobile worker, the mobile work, and/or the mobile asset... everything from simple dots-on-a-map 'where's my employee?' to timecard, workflow management, dispatch -- more sophisticated capabilities," she says.

Within that range, Sterling says, there are generally three levels (good, better, best) of solutions on offer. "The basic package, which is usually about $10 per device per month, has tracking, some mapping, geofencing, and some really basic reports," she says. "It doesn't really integrate into any of the back-office systems like payroll or anything else -- it's very much focused on tracking the employee or the asset."

Beyond that, the "better" package, at about $15 a month, and the "best," at approximately $20 a month, each add a significant amount of functionality. "In these two areas, you get various combinations of timecard reporting right there on the device, text messaging... basic to enriched dispatch, various forms of data capture like image capture, signature capture, bar code scanning... and navigation, and now you're starting to integrate with back office systems," Sterling says.

Yankee Group research director Sheryl Kingstone says one of the key areas to consider in evaluating an MRM solution is its flexibility. "Each field service worker has their own process," she says. "For instance, in the telecommunications space, for Rogers or for Comcast, they have their own way of going about conducting field service calls. You have to make sure that what you're choosing is as flexible as it can be, and easy to use on the device."

The same is true for the back-end processes. "When you're talking about scheduling and dispatch, it's great if the person can do some work on the mobile device, being able to schedule and make changes, but you want to make sure that you're also doing the analytics... it's not only about the device, but the intersection back to dispatch and what that can do from a scheduling and operations standpoint," Kingstone says.

Frost & Sullivan's Sterling says another way that providers differentiate their offerings is through verticalization. "Home healthcare is a big one right now," she says. "Agilis Systems, an MRM developer, has put together a whole new unit just creating and marketing solutions to the healthcare sector. And TeleNav... got together with Turnpike Global to put together a transportation industry oriented solution for Sprint."

And that brings up the leading reason why many companies settle on a specific provider. "A lot of it has to do with who they partner up with when they start looking at these types of solutions -- so if they're partnering up with a particular wireless carrier, they're going to be pointed towards a couple of different alternatives," Sterling says. "The account executive will certainly give the pros and cons of each, and usually there's some capability that tips a potential customer one way or the other."

One company that did so is the Security Center in Dallas, Texas, which was introduced to BlackBerry devices and the TeleNav Track LITE solution by AT&T Wireless - the company now has 14 BlackBerry Curves deployed.
 
"We're a regional sales, installation and service company for electronic and physical security of banking equipment -- so we have technicians that work on safes, vaults, drive-ups, alarms and drive-in windows at banks," explains company operations director Gary Akey.

The company uses the BlackBerry devices to support its technicians and its dispatching staff. "For the techs, that's how they receive their calls and close them out -- and for the dispatchers, it's a tool to be in contact with the techs, and then also as backup telephones for the facility... we get a lot of severe storms here, and it's not uncommon to have the phone system or the lines knocked out, and when that happens, that's how we keep everything going," Akey says.

For the technicians, Akey says, the BlackBerry devices are useful for safety as well as for dispatching. "In our line of work, it's not unheard of that some bad guy could sit there and say, 'Hey, this guy knows how to work on vaults,' and hold him under duress to try and break into a safe or a vault," he says.

One key advantage of TeleNav Track LITE, Akey says, is the fact that no client software has to be installed on the device itself -- which not only simplifies the deployment, but also means the technician can't disable the tracking functionality. "The day we switched over to TeleNav LITE, our dispatchers were smiling ear to ear," Akey says. "It was the first time they'd just go to their screen and, boom, everybody popped up... it's just made the dispatchers' job so much easier."

 
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