In a recent post on Business Insider, Peter Eckert, co-founder and chief creative officer of projekt202, an interactive and visual design company, discussed the tablet’s role in the enterprise.
Although he clearly has a vested interest in the future of tablets, he points out that, “They do not possess the computing power of traditional personal computers, and they are not devices originally envisioned for business.” The tablet’s real strength and the key to its success, Eckert says, is that it “introduces a new level of simplicity for most users.”
More often than not, simplicity = efficiency and in few places is the latter more valuable than in field service. The industry is just beginning to see the impressive impact mobile technologies can have: iPhone applications are simplifying service dispatch, iPad apps with complete and customizable software are eliminating the need for techs to lug around massive rugged devices, 4G wireless data speeds promise to increase productivity and efficiency across the board and new mobility tools are making intricate supply chain process flows faster and more manageable.
As John Ragsdale wrote in June, field service is rapidly investing more in social media tools, as companies realize the ROI associated with the technologies, which are designed to make communication easier and more accessible. As of June, 40 percent of field service members surveyed said they were using some form of social media to communicate with customers or internally. Real-time communication tools like Chatter, Yammer and FaceTime are taking the place of service calls and, in some cases, allow techs to fix the problem remotely. Twitter and Facebook let businesses engage with their customers, post news or updates and answer questions, saving business and customers time and money by removing unnecessary phone calls and emails and the time it takes to answer them.
Fleet management is also seen innovations that allow for simplicity and efficiency never seen before. Gas cards are making it easier for drivers to track and record mileage and fuel costs, advanced fleet management tools are helping fleet managers streamline and analyze their operations and even the vehicles themselves, once massive fuel-guzzling V8s, are now hybrids or trucks and vans built with smaller displacement engines and restructured interiors optimized to carry only the necessary equipment.
While these simplifications certainly do not apply to all businesses (an iPad app just isn’t powerful enough to run a complex diagnostic program for a $1 million medical device), streamlining your operations has never been easier and more important for your business. The options are out there. It’s up to you to take advantage.
Don’t forget GPS devices! They’ve affected our guys in the field in big, big ways.
Agree, Steve! GPS capabilities are available in multiple formats and on countless platforms, thought they are likely most efficiently used in conjunction with another device techs are already using. Simplicity!