In 2007, the Apple Corporation debuted the iPhone, revolutionizing the smartphone industry and spawning an epic battle for consumer loyalty that still rages today. Thanks to innovation and low cost, by 2008 Apple was selling more than 11 million iPhones a year. This success didn’t go unnoticed: Within a year, there was a slew of competitors, dubbed “Androids,” fighting for their share of the burgeoning market.
In an attempt to attract consumers, many of these companies poured much of their profits into R&D, a move that led to ground-breaking tech advancements and applications. The field service industry is one that has capitalized on the innovation resulting from the intense competition between iPhone and Android.
Here are five reasons that field service companies should be grateful for the heated battle.
1. Application Offerings
Many employers tend to be concerned about the time workers spend checking their phones, playing games, and scrolling through social media. For the field service industry, however, there are a few apps that not only help technicians do their jobs, but also save companies an enviable war chest of dollars. Here are a few applications worth noting:
- Field Service Dispatching Software
A huge benefit to the field service industry came in the form of a program that took the place of human dispatchers (saving millions in labor costs), enabled automatic replenishment of parts, incorporated GPS to minimize travel, and provided digital logs for easy pre-call information gathering.
- WiFi Hotspots
Because of limitations on screen size, connections, processing power, and storage, many field service reps still need to carry a laptop, but field laptops often need to connect to the internet to be effective. Before smartphones, techs needed to rely on their customers for internet access; cellphone WiFi hotspots now provide a level of independence that was only a dream a decade ago.
- Socially Connected Service Providers
Office workers are often prohibited from using apps like Facebook and Twitter, but some field service companies have found a use for the instant gratification of social media. Customers can comment on their service experience as it is happening, giving managers a greater insight into how their techs are doing than a post-call survey could ever provide.
2. Big Power Moves
Early smartphones were like early personal computers—they had two speeds: slow and even slower. And heaven help you if you tried to make a phone call while working within an app. Healthy smartphone competition has made them smarter, faster, and able to take on just about anything an app developer can throw at them.
Apple’s new A13 bionic chip handles up to 1 trillion calculations per second, while the Samsung Galaxy 10 is a 64-bit powerhouse that is clocked at 2.7 GHz. Field service software writers no longer need to worry about whether or not there’s enough power for technicians to run diagnostic programs on their phones. Speed and multitasking concerns are two (celebrated!) casualties of the great smartphone battle of the 21st century.
3. A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
The most evident example for the existence of a smartphone war is the amount of advertising airtime given to perhaps the device’s most touted feature: camera superiority. You can’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing about more lens, or even more megapixels, for the newest wonder-phone. This, too, is a boon for field service.
The Huawei Mate Pro 30 dominates the smartphone slow-motion capture market with an impressive 1920 frames per second, but even the industry average of 480 FPS can aid technicians who work on machines that have hardware moving faster than the eye can see. Hi-def pictures and videos can be sent to other techs or specialists when service reps need a second opinion or are struggling to repair equipment in the field.
4. Unlimited Storage
What good is it to have all the processing power desired, but not enough hard drive space? Captured videos and pictures take up a lot of space, as do apps and service documentation. Even the Samsung Galaxy S10+, which maxes out at 1 terabyte, will eventually run out of storage space. Again, market forces are coming to the rescue. 5G offers access to unlimited cloud storage at speeds that will alleviate the bottleneck that comes from storing information on a distant server.
5. A Better Way to Communicate
As more creative applications become available for smartphones, so, too, will the communicative power grow for all users. Imagine a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth technology to “talk” to a machine to find out what the issue is, then in a proper British accent, instructs the tech to “use a 10-millimeter spanner to replace the output widget.”
The possibilities are as endless as the future generations of smartphones. Both iPhones and Androids will only continue to get faster and more powerful. For industries like field service, there’s profit to be made from a more efficient service force, which will, in turn, increase customer satisfaction through shorter response times and more precise repairs. And for the consumer, there will always be new reasons to run out and buy the latest and greatest smartphone.