Field Service Digital sat down with John Ragsdale, VP of technology and social research at the TSIA, for a sneak peak at an upcoming webinar he’ll host with ServiceMax’s Colby Lavin: 5 Can’t Miss Mobility Tactics for 2016 (Feb. 11 at 10am PT).

The theme? Simple mobility strategies that can have a big-time impact on the bottom line. Keep reading to hear how even simple changes can make a difference, and register for the free webinar here.

Should service leaders take incremental steps to improve their mobility program, or wait for a grand mobility overhaul?

ragsdale-hires copyRagsdale: Most companies start with a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy, letting techs use whatever mobile device they have to access corporate content via browsers. With a series of incremental investments, you can make major improvements to mobile productivity by standardizing devices and, ultimately, using mobile applications that boost usability. A grand overhaul isn’t usually required, but companies should have a roadmap to move to “best of breed” options introduced by your field service technology provider. Gradual rollouts are usually better for employee adoption and results anyway. When you try to change too much at once, employees may be overwhelmed and push back at using all the new tools.

Any hacks service leaders can apply to their current mobility program (no matter how immature it may be) that will yield meaningful results?

One tactic we’ll discuss in the webinar is how to make your field techs mobile power users. This can be as easy as providing shortcut lists for the device, OS or applications they use, and training to make sure they use time-saving features like drop downs and “type ahead” for common fields and entries.

Also, every mobile device now comes with voice technology, which makes it very easy to fill in details about what happened, parts replaced and customer interactions without pressing a single key. Never assume employees know all these tips and tricks. Training and monitoring use is necessary to make sure techs leverage all of these bells and whistles.

It’s still early days for the IoT, but what type of mobile data is commonly available today that service leaders can use to improve their businesses?

It starts before they even roll the truck. Most tech companies have remote monitoring capabilities that the call center can use to access customer equipment and check error logs. Making these tools available to field techs, who often know more about the equipment and the customer environment than the call center, can yield excellent results.

TSIA members have eliminated more than 37 percent of onsite visits due to proactive support tools. I recommend that field techs should speak with the customer and remotely connect to check equipment and error conditions before going onsite, just to better understand what they will be walking into. In some cases, they will be able to fix the problem remotely. And even if they can’t, at least the tech arrives with the right skills and knowledge to ensure first visit fix.

What excites you most about mobile technology in service in 10 years?

I’m especially excited about the role of video. While Google Glass may have ultimately not been a success, the paradigm of having a camera in the field opens the door to many possibilities. One example is using a small team of experts at headquarters to coach less-experienced techs, helping them diagnose and fix complex issues. We’ve also seen some early drone-type devices equipped with cameras, allowing the field tech to get closeups of equipment in hard-to-reach areas to make a diagnosis and figure out what parts are required — before scaling a wall, climbing on a roof or lowering themselves down the side of a building.

Don’t miss John Ragsdale’s upcoming webinar (Feb. 11 at 10am PT) to learn about simple mobile strategies that will transform your business. Register here: 5 “Can’t Miss” Mobility Tactics for 2016