Mobile & Tech

Apple Doubles Down on the iPad in Field Service

Field service executives have, time and again, pioneered clever ways to use the latest mobile technologies in business. In the process, they’ve shown how exciting consumer gadgets, such as the iPad, can have big business impacts by helping everyone, from a desk-bound executive to the newest technician in the field, do their jobs better.

Now, Apple is reciprocating service leaders’ enthusiasm.

During Monday’s quarterly earnings call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri discussed the company’s commitment to putting iPads to work. To that end, Apple will partner with software companies to offer killer apps for business users in industries like field service.

“In addition to IBM, we working closely with more than two dozen other leading business software and solution providers including Box, Docusign, Microstrategy, Revel and ServiceMax to bring a broad range of innovative mobile solutions to more customers on iPad,” Maestri said.

Not that service pros needed the reminder. Many of them have experienced first-hand the benefits of going mobile. To wit:

  • Improved productivity and collaboration, whether via text, email or real-time video chat
  • Instant access to the information technicians need to fix the problem correctly the first time
  • Simplified workflow management
  • Increased profitability — and happier customers

Devices like the iPad offer a familiar (and affordable) tool that can transform a service organization. Consider McKinley Equipment, an Irvine, Calif.-based commercial door, warehouse and loading dock equipment manufacturer.

In 2011, the company handed its 55 technicians first-generation iPads (and a Verizon data plan) so they could access Salesforce’s CRM and ServiceMax’s field service management software in the field. McKinley’s investment in mobile technology paid off. Kevin Rusin, McKinley’s CFO, tells TechTarget that even skeptical employees came to appreciate the iPads, which allowed them to provide consistently great service.

Stories like McKinley’s are becoming more common in field service. TSIA’s latest “State of Field Services” report finds that more than 80 percent of respondents are using mobile and video technology to improve productivity and profitability. Savvy service leaders were ahead of the enterprise mobility curve. Now, it’s time for other industries to follow field service’s lead.

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