When it comes to unrealized promises in workplace technology, voice recognition software has long been near the top of the list. And of all the industries that stand to gain from computers interpreting and responding to human voice commands, field service also ranks pretty high.

Now that voice recognition software is overcoming two of its biggest drawbacks, field service organizations are now positioned to take advantage — just as they have from other mainstream consumer technologies, like smartphones and tablets, and now promise to profit from newer advances, like alternative-fuel vans and “wearable computers.”

Apple & Google Change the Game

So what’s the big payoff for field service when it comes to voice recognition? Anything that takes work out of the hands of service techs and let’s them focus on the job of installing, fixing or maintaining equipment — not calling the home office. This includes faster travel times, improved first-time fix-it rates, better note-taking and data collection, and more efficient scheduling.

“Any field service technician with a phone can easily track their daily activities” with voice recognition software, said Brad Wyland, vice president of strategic marketing at Datria Systems, on Field Technologies Online. “You can track ticket management, dispatch, report time and materials for projects, and record travel time and expenses.”

The two leading developers of voice recognition software, Apple and Google’s Android division, have each rolled out services that are easy to use, more reliable than ever — and free. The mass adoption of Apple’s Siri and Android’s Jelly Bean has big implications as more service companies allow employee-owned devices in the field.

Siri vs. Jelly Bean

Brock Diedrick on Business2.community.com recently compared Siri and Jelly Bean’s voice-activated services. He found that both services are comparable, with one key exception: Siri responds verbally to information requests, whereas Jelly Bean requires technicians to look at their device screens for answers. But Diedrick, citing a review of the two services on Gizmodo, singled out Jelly Bean for faster and better text messaging, navigation and we browsing. Siri was quicker to update calendars and respond to weather commands.

And how do they do in noisy environments? Not so well. Voice recognition technology finally works in the field, but it’s still not perfect.

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Field Technologies Online provides is a resource for the optimization of field workers, service and assets. The publication's goal is to provide companies in the field service, transportation/distribution, government, public works and utilities industries with information on mobile technologies that can be used to improve productivity and drive efficiency.