Service organizations have long suffered from a painful disconnect — between the on-the-go nature of their daily operations and the stationary nature of the tools (like computers) to do their jobs efficiently. But more and more, field service companies are catching on to the mobile tools at their disposal to maximize their potential.  Todd Sweeney of E-Commerce Times adds: “Much in the way that laptops eclipsed desktops in the workplace a decade ago, mobile devices are now the business tools of choice, and there is no going back.”

Certainly not for U.S. Foodservice — one of the country’s largest food distributors — which was just profiled by Field Technologies Online.  U.S. Foodservice, which distributes food and related products to more than 250,000 customers with $20 billion in revenue, recently made the switch to a mobile virtual private network provider, through which it claims it has saved 1.1 million hours of productivity.

What was life like before the switch? Because of unpredictable wireless coverage or dial-up connections at the customer site, U.S. Foodservice employees in the field often headed home an hour before the work day was over to enter orders on a secure connection. After realizing how much time was lost in that process, the company chose Mobility XE, a mobile VPN that allows U.S. Foodservice’s fleet of workers to access consistent real-time connectivity from the field.

According to one manager at Foodservice, “with the traditional VPN solution we had before, if connectivity was lost for even a moment, the application would shut down. This often meant lost work, and always resulted in the rep having to log back in to the VPN connection, and then restart the application — wasting valuable time.”

More about mobile technologies for field service on The SmartVan.

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.