So, like countless other field service managers, you’ve invested in a brand-new smartphone or tablet to help give your service organization a boost … if only you could find it.
iPhones, Android, and other smartphones are great, but they’re also expensive to replace if you happen to lose one in the field. Whether it’s in a customer’s basement or under the front seat in your van, a lost device can be a major headache.
Not to fret, though. Field service technology may be getting more high tech, but so are the tools for finding those missing devices. The major mobile platforms, Apple, Android, and Windows (though it’s struggling to catch on), all offer free or inexpensive apps that can help locate misplaced phones and tablets. And in the case that you still can’t recover your lost phone, these apps allow managers to remotely lock and erase any sensitive information that may be stored on the device. On CNET, Danny Sullivan offers a pretty comprehensive rundown of the best apps.
Apple’s free Find my Phone and Find my iPad apps allow managers to track missing devices using their built-in GPS locator. The app also allows you to send a message to the lost phone’s screen (“If found, please call 555-555-5555”), or prompt the device to ring, just in case the technician buried the device in the parts bin or under the driver’s seat. And if the device can’t be tracked down, managers can remotely erase all data to protect sensitive customer or business information.
There are several third-party lost-phone apps in the Android Marketplace, though the free versions are pretty limited. The free version of Lookout, for example, allows managers to locate lost phones and make them ring. Remote lock and wipe functionality, however, costs about $3 per month or $30 per year.
Plan B is a free app that, unlike Lookout, can be downloaded to a phone after the phone goes missing.
Similar to the other apps, the free Find My Phone app allows users to locate, ring, lock and remotely wipe lost phones.
These free or inexpensive apps should be a no-brainer for any manager investing in smartphones or tablets for field techs. These devices aren’t cheap, and part of the appeal is the ability to consolidate a ton of (potentially sensitive) information on a single device. If nothing else, the ability to remotely lock and wipe devices should be enough motivation for managers to make a “find my device” app the first download on all new phones or tablets.