Mobile workforce management navigating data collaboration
A mobile workforce is no longer defined as a sales person lugging a laptop andclosing a deal on a cell phone while running through an airport. Today mobilityextends beyond the business suit to the uniform or to any worker in the field whocan benefit from improved working processes, communication gathering anddissemination and customer service.Organizations that include field service technicians and specialists are witnessingsignificant gains by deploying mobile field service solutions to increase productivityand profitably. According to the Aberdeen Group’s July 2011report, Field Service 2011: Mobility and the Extension of the Service …it is possible toEnterprise, the most successful service professionals are more than implement a mobiletwo times as likely to have a mobile application in place for fieldservice and almost as many are integrating the field data with solution that provides theenterprise systems in real time. right information at theA mobile strategy that is both well defined and implemented right time, resulting incorrectly provides both internal and external benefits to an increased productivity,enterprise. This requires more than deciding between an iPad and utilization anda more rugged device. To achieve best-in-class performance nomatter the size of the enterprise, owners, IT managers and profitability.supervisors are on the right path by first assessing what they wanttheir field workers to send/receive (logistics, forms, etc) while on the road. Theyalso need to analyze current performance and long-term expectations to build ascalable mobile roadmap that successfully integrates the field with the office.With proper assessment and understanding of how to align the flow of informationbetween the field and ERP, Customer Management and Parts Managementsystems, it is possible to implement a mobile solution that provides the rightinformation at the right time, resulting in increased productivity, utilization andprofitability.This white paper examines how combined satellite/cellular communicationtechnology can connect the office and remote field workers to collaborate andimprove business.
In today’s economic climate there are competitive pressures to offer the best pricewithout compromising on the speed and efficiency of customer service. At thesame time, businesses are mandated with corporate objectives to increase revenueand reduce overhead and the cost of doing business.When asked to specify what the top three pressures are for service and supportorganizations, Aberdeen’s survey counted 76 percent of respondents includingcustomer demand for improved service as defined by speed and/or efficiency. Alsoon the top of the list were competitive pressures at 50 percent, increasing volumeof service requests (growing service market) at 42 percent andshrinking revenue per customer with 26 percent.A mobile solution can substantially alleviate these pressures. A When asked to specifysolution that includes the right combination of wireless hardware, what the top threesoftware and connectivity can achieve results on all of these critical pressures are for serviceobjectives: and support organizations,Improves Customer Service. Technicians can collaborate in real time Aberdeen’s surveyto trouble shoot with people or software. For instance, past, present counted 76 percent ofand future service tickets and task details can be pulled and amendedwhile on the job. Service notes can be added in a timely matter and respondents includingparts can be checked, ordered and potentially delivered during the customer demand forinitial visit rather than having to set up a second visit. The reduction improved service asin time spent and a quicker resolution meets the customers’demands for quick, efficient service. defined by speed and/or efficiency.Increases Operating Efficiencies. By sending data back and forth,data captured in the field is immediately integrated with enterpriseback-office systems. This positively affects ERP, Service Managementand Parts Management systems. It also automates billing, scheduling and time andexpense reporting. From a macro perspective, it also improves service analytics forperformance, HR and sales.Lowers the Cost of Doing Business. With the data and information to get the jobdone the first time, technicians are positively impacting customer service, which isone of the best marketing tools available to grow business. It also reduces therepeated costs of returning to a site to fix what was not completed on the first visit
and as well as the time and resources that must be set aside for paperwork anddata input into an ERP system.According to Aberdeen, the best in class in the service industry reaped an averageof 12 percent increase in workforce utilization after implementing a mobilesolution. Workforce productivity and customer satisfaction saw nearly the samechange, 11 percent and 10 percent respectively. With a mobile solution in place,service revenue climbed seven percent while the time to cash decreased by sixpercent on average. Service costs were reduced three percent and time toresolution was cut by four percent.
To attain the status of best-in-class, the enterprise must find a solution that meetsthe following criteria with its mobile strategy: it successfully integrates existingenterprise applications with mobile device applications and the data istransmittable anytime, anywhere.Choosing Your IntegratorBusinesses expect tangible benefits from investing in a mobile solution. There areoptions available off the shelf. While they may work for some, businesses oftenfind that they are forced to fit within the constraints of the framework of the pre-packaged solution. This can lead to slower adoption cycles and user rejection.Alternatively, an enterprise can start from scratch to develop a mobile solution thatmeets both criteria, but at a cost. A custom solution requires a long developmentperiod and can be extremely expensive.In addition to these two choices, there is the hybrid option that provides afoundation built on experience and industry knowledge that can be adapted toprovide a solution that fits each individual business model and the peoplesupporting it. Often, this is the most cost-effective means to implement a mobileworkforce strategy, particularly when incorporating technologies that are new tothe business. This option may be the best way to assure that the full economicpotential of a mobile strategy is met.When sourcing a mobile integration partner, it is imperative to choose anorganization with the knowledge and experience to support platforms that areeasily modified to fit collaboration requirements. In addition to having a completeunderstanding of the market’s hardware choices such as handheld devices andcommunication equipment, airtime services options, and business integration best-practices, the integrator should be required to take time to understand the uniqueneeds of your business. This includes successfully integrating the mobile solutionwith all employees, from the executive suite to the field. If the corporation isunable to embrace a sustained collaboration across the entire organization, thesolution will not meet the objectives of the mobile strategy.
Choosing Your Mobile ConnectionApplications require connectivity. Without it, the application doesn’t work.According to the Aberdeen report, nearly 30 percent of field service tasks areconducted in areas with little or no wireless coverage. In business terms, thatmeans lost revenue and increased costs. It is vital that technicians are able toaccess application functionality even if they aren’t in an area of coverage.The stakes are even higher in emergency situations. Communications is thelifeblood in emergency situations. Field personnel must communicate withheadquarters but can’t if cell towers are compromised.Much like the mobile solution itself, the transport of data comes in multiple flavors.Cellular-based transmission works well in high population areas where towers areprevalent. While it is inexpensive there is one potentially very costly drawback.Cellular-based equipment can be unpredictable. Communication can be lost whenthe vehicle travels through an area without cellular coverage or during periods ofnetwork congestion or physical damage. Reconnection to the network only occursafter the network is restored. According to Aberdeen, the best in class in the service industry reaped an average of 12 percent increase in workforce utilization after implementing a mobile solution. Workforce productivity and customer satisfaction saw nearly the same change, 11 percent and 10 percent respectively.Even though cellular-based equipment offers the advantages of being able totransfer large amounts of data inexpensively, for customers whose assetsfrequently operate out of cellular service ranges or who require uninterruptedcommunication for security reasons, cellular-only communication equipment doesnot provide the mandatory constant and reliable connectivity.
Satellite-based equipment offers all of the functional benefits of cellular-basedequipment, with the advantage of uniform and reliable coverage even in remoteareas. This type of system is ideal for fleets that operate outside of cellular areasand where cargo and driver safety are of concern. In some parts of the world,satellite service is a must for cargo security and vehicle retrieval applications.Driven by competition and increased service availability over the last few years,satellite airtime costs have become very competitive. Operating costs for satellite-based AVL systems are highly dependent on the type of service, satelliteconstellation and usage patterns.Connecting the Best of Both WorldsIn the service sector, businesses that want to capitalize on the Users who adopt dual-operational and cost-benefits of cellular service with the reliability of mode satellite/cellularsatellite service have the option of using dual-mode solutions. Userswho adopt dual-mode satellite/cellular communication technologies are communicationable to take advantage of the best of worlds: high-bandwidth, lower technologies are able tocost data transmission in cellular areas, and secure and uninterrupted take advantage of the bestsatellite communication in areas with no cellular coverage. of worlds: high-There are two types of dual-mode satellite/cellular products; a hybrid bandwidth, lower costsolution and an integrated dual-mode terminal. A hybrid solution is one data transmission inwhere a standalone satellite terminal is integrated with a standalonecellular product, to create a unified satellite/cellular solution. cellular areas, and secureInstallation of a hybrid solution is more complex, requiring the services and uninterruptedof a knowledgeable integrator to create the cellular-satellite switching satellite communication inintelligence. areas with no cellularAn integrated dual-mode terminal is one where the satellite and cellular coverage.modems are all housed in a single enclosure, thereby eliminating thecosts and complexities of installing and integrating a cellular productwith a satellite product. With an integrated dual-mode terminal, theuser is able to take advantage of features such as intelligent message routing toautomatically send messages via land networks when in cellular range, seamlesslyswitching to satellite service when the asset is out of cellular range.
Skymira LLC, a leading provider of mobile business applications and machine-to-machine (M2M) telemetry services deployable on any web browser equippedsmartphone, tablet or laptop PC, offers a mobile solution for workforcemanagement using SkyWave’s IsatData Pro satellite service. IsatData Pro uses theInmarsat (LSE: ISAT.L) satellite constellation. It is designed for two-waycommunications with people and equipment anywhere, anytime. With the abilityto send more than 37 times more data, the service meets the higher data payloadcapacities required in mobile business applications and M2M telemetry, whilesignificantly increasing productivity and lowering costs.Fig.1 – Mobile solution connects management with automated processes, mobileworkforce, vehicles, and heavy equipment.SkyWave’s IDP 600 series satellite communication terminals empowers Skymira’sportfolio of satellite solutions to support business collaboration in scenarios thatinclude electronic forms (e-forms), e-mail and text messaging. IsatData Pro will alsodrive Skymira’s M2M services including GPS tracking, SCADA, and vehicle/heavyequipment telemetry.IsatData Pro combined with Skymira’s business applications for mobile devices candramatically change how remote workers operate by having instant access toinformation that enables businesses to meet the goals of their mobile strategies.
The industry solution is ideally positioned to meet the needs of workforcemanagement and integration into ERP, CRM, field service applications, servicemanagement system, service analytics and performance dashboards.Skymira is a leading provider of mobile business apps and M2M telemetry services.Easy to use, intuitive apps range from eForms and reports to vehicle and heavyequipment telemetry and GPS location based services. Deployable on any browserequipped smartphone, tablet or laptop PC over WiFi, cellular and satellitenetworks, Skymiras apps streamline operations, provide greater managementcontrol, and accelerate decision making. Skymira partners with leadingmanufacturers and network operators including Inmarsat, SkyWave, Iridium, LightSquared, Hughes, and Thrane & Thrane, among others. Founded in 1998, Skymirahas offices in Connecticut and Texas. Information about the company can be foundat www.skymira.com.SkyWave Mobile Communications is a global provider of wireless datacommunications for the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) market. SkyWave’s productsprovide dependable communication, tracking, monitoring and remotemanagement of fixed and mobile assets. Over the past 15 years, SkyWave hasdesigned, manufactured and shipped more than 450,000 Inmarsat-based satelliteterminals to customers globally in the transportation, maritime, oil and gas, utilitiesand government sectors. For more information, please visit www.skywave.com.Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communicationsservices. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speeddata communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with arange of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat employsaround 1,500 staff in more than 40 locations around the world, with a presence inthe major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. For the year ended31st December 2011, Inmarsat plc had total revenue of US$1,409 million and anEBITDA of US$854 million. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange(LSE:ISAT.L). For more information, please visit www.inmarsat.com.