For field service business owners, throwing large sums of money into mobile technology solutions can be a difficult plunge to take. However, when faced with the potential advantages, the initial step of deciding to purchase the equipment isn’t anywhere as tough as creating a road map to make sure you get the highest possible return on investment. In his article “Planning for a Mobile Future,” Dan Ortega of Mobile Enterprise details which areas of a business stand to benefit from moving toward mobile, and how. While he lists nine ways mobile devices can help businesses run more efficiently and maximize ROI, here are the five specifically pertaining to field service.

  1. Service and Support: How field service can use mobile technology was the subject of a panel discussion at Field Service 2011, where Brent Felker of DecisionPoint Systems mentioned benefits such as mobile inventory management and collaboration, as well as making more effective connections with customers that can improve onsite sales. Also, Tablet computers are already being used by firms like Wells Fargo to demonstrate financial solutions, according to Ortega. Tablets can also have the same function for service pros, who can similarly demonstrate products and services to customers.
  2. Supply chain: “Every organization has a chain of partners. Working with these partners involves complex interactions, including ordering parts, negotiating contracts, approving discounts, obtain­ing status reports, and more … Mobilizing these process flows can not only make them faster, but it also enables real-time data analysis for ongoing process improvements,” writes Ortega.
  3. Human resources: Making all the forms present in the HR process — like timesheets — available to access, complete and send via mobile devices saves time, paper and money.
  4. Management: The ability to pull up real-time data metrics helps managers assess performance and make quicker decisions both in and out of the office.
  5. An Investment in the Future: Upgrading mobile equipment doesn’t just help businesses in the short term. “A well designed mobile framework is easy to extend and modify, mak­ing it possible to improve on your initial ROI by orders of magnitude, with very low ongoing costs,” writes Ortega.

Pretty soon, the question of whether or not to go mobile won’t be the question at all. In the coming yeas everyone will eventually adopt technologies that allow service techs, managers, HR personnel and suppliers to communicate with each other and make on-the-spot decisions. However, the road maps on how to utilize these technologies will be where businesses differ, and become a key way companies get an edge on their competition.

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