Where Are You?
By Susan Nunziata
If you gave, or received, a GPS-equipped device this past Christmas, raise your hand. If you didn't do so, then chances are you know someone who did.
The remarkable consumer uptake in GPS devices in the past year is spurring interest in how GPS and Location-Based Services (LBS) technologies can be applied to improve productivity in the enterprise, particularly for field service and asset tracking.
Indeed, GPS and LBS quickly became hot topics during a session at the fall 2007 CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment Conference, which sought to answer the question "what can I.T. managers implement today to mobilize the enterprise workforce?"
"Consumer applications will drive awareness to enterprise applications," said panelist David Ransier, business development head for Geo Micro. "They'll start to ask, 'why can't I use this in my business?' "
Ed Schmitt, of AT&T Mobility's developer central program, added, "LBS is going to touch a lot of different applications and will be the tipping point for those who aren't sure about mobility."
Mike Berger, director of marketing for Xora, tells Mobile Enterprise that businesses are "looking for an LBS solution that they can use out of the box and integrate with their existing applications and systems."
Of course, as Clay Babcock, senior director of the Advanced Products Group for Magellan GPS noted during the CTIA session, "The consumer is really about channel, price and emotion. For the business, it's [about] understanding the value proposition. There's no emotion involved. No one buys it because it's cool, they buy it because it's going to bring them return on investment. Make sure you understand what your ROI is for your application."
An Aberdeen Group report released in December 2007 sheds some light on the ROI that field service organizations are already achieving through their use of LBS technologies.
The report "The Impact of Location On Field Service" -- which was underwritten in part by ClickSoftware, ESRI, Navtrak and TeleNav -- surveyed 330 service professionals in September and October 2007. These firms manage, on average, more than 200 technicians and nearly 75 vehicles.
Since adopting LBS, the organizations have reduced their fuel, maintenance and overtime costs and increased their asset uptime, fleet and workforce utilization and service response times (See chart).
The report finds that Best-In-Class organizations are using LBS in the following ways:
>To schedule technicians in real-time using location data as a key optimization criteria;
>To monitor asset performance and asset security;
>To integrate location trends into service forecasts to adequately locate service assets to meet service demand; and
>To enhance product design and quality management via intelligence into the location of asset failure rates and incidence of service visits. //