We’ve done a lot of preaching here at The SmartVan about the benefits to even small- or medium-sized field service firms of embracing new digital technologies. However we can certainly acknowledge that switching a  entire team on to a new platform can be tough, both in terms of implementing new computer- or smartphone-based systems, and simply in terms of getting your team to embrace that change. 

Tony Rizzo, editor of the Mobile Enterprise website, offers an illuminating case study that showcases a pretty creative way to blend old- and new-school technologies in the field. (Click here to see the full post, which is excerpted below.)

Sometimes the most cutting edge of mobile technology capabilities isn’t the approach to solving a field service problem. Being able to integrate new mobile solutions with existing — and well-understood — processes is a better alternative.

Such is the case with a recent joint project between digital pen technology vendor Anoto Group and data document production software vendor Objectif Lune.

Anoto and Objectif Lune recently created a system for R&R Marketing, one of the largest wine and spirits distributors in New Jersey. Since New Jersey law requires that there be physical invoices with all product deliveries, R&R Marketing was challenged with managing inventory and same-day delivery services with their paper-based will-call process. They needed to find a way to automate while also continuing to keep their physical documentation procedures in place — a clear case of old-school meets new-school.

The system works exactly like traditional paper-based forms. Documents are printed on industry-standard laser printers at their rated print speeds. These documents are then distributed according to company protocol. The technology allows the handwritten information to be recorded onto a chip in the digital pen. When a document is completed and signed, the data in the pen is routed automatically through a USB connection to a PC or through a Bluetooth connection using a cell phone. The handwritten information is converted into electronic data for immediate use.

This new process now allows:

  • Sales people to be notified immediately about when their orders are ready for pick-up.
  • Customers to be alerted as to when their orders are being delivered.
  • R&R Marketing to make order changes in real-time for its customers, while also continuing to provide hard copy documentation for all deliveries.
  • R&R Marketing to communicate challenges with invoices “in-transit” in real-time to sales people, shipping and delivery departments and to customer service so they can quickly resolve any issues for next-day service.

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