The following article first appeared in Field Technologies Online, and is re-published here with permission.
For years, voice recognition technology has been used in conjunction with mobile technology in applications such as warehouse management where speech-based picking solutions guide workers through tasks and provide hands-free data collection capabilities. But, voice technology is less common in field service applications.
In part, this is because field service applications typically involve more complex operations and therefore, a more varied vocabulary for the solution to interpret. “Fundamentally, existing enterprise voice capabilities that originated in warehouse management and call center management are still dependent or codependent on server integration,” says Dan Villanueva, VP of marketing at Vanguard Voice Systems. “This architectural approach is the primary obstacle preventing the full voice-enabling of field service applications. After 20 years, only 8 percent of the warehouse market has adopted voice productivity in the warehouse. It’s a proven technology, but market adoption has been slow because of the complexity of the existing voice architecture.”
However, voice recognition engines are far more reliable now than they were in the past. Field service applications could benefit from voice-based navigation, data collection, data access, reporting, and task prompting. It’s now possible to use voice technology on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to augment other types of data collection, including bar codes, RFID, and manual data entry, while allowing technicians to access and input information in the field. “Any field service technician with a phone can easily track their daily activities,” says Brad Wyland, VP of strategic marketing at Datria Systems. “You can track ticket management, dispatch, report time and materials for projects, and record travel time and expenses.”
These solutions can take a number of forms, including phone-based systems that use interactive voice response (IVR) to perform worker order updates and dispatching and on-device solutions that marry voice with traditional workforce management applications. “Voice technology targeting field service applications has evolved to become a genuine mobile technology,” Villanueva says. “By that I mean voice functionality and voice-application integration can now be deployed to existing field service applications completely from mobile devices and computers used in the field. In this scenario, the mobile application is voice-upgraded without changing the core application.”
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