20140514_Field_Enablement_At_Meat_Spot_crop_sq_200   If your field workforce is up and running on a mobile device platform to do their work, congratulations! You’re already realizing the benefits of stepping away from a paper-based process. But is their mobile experience taking advantage of the latest and greatest functionality? Advancements in just the past two years have been so rapid that many of the functions that seemed revolutionary just a short time ago have been eclipsed. The field service experience no longer needs to be a disembodied app on a device – now the device can act as a Swiss Army knife of tools, as well as an extension of the desktop and your corporate systems.

I interviewed the experts on our Devices and Mobility team, and they shared with me fifteen mobility improvements you can take advantage of today, that will empower your field staff and make their work lives easier:

Functionality Then Now
1. E-signature capture Needing to sign on paper, or to use a dedicated device or stylus, which is challenging if it is lost, stolen, broken, or used in a slippery / greasy environment Sign with your finger.
2. GPS location detection Continual connection to wifi drains the battery.
Example: Needing to track vehicles during their delivery routes, or find equipment or inventory at a facility.
Get regular location updates without being continually connected.
3. Offline / disconnected data access Long, tedious waiting for app sync; inability to multitask. Sync in the background while you continue to work.
4. Cross-platform availability Locked into a single platform, heavy reliance on native code. Provide cross-platform availability with minimal native code.
5. Multiple functions in a single device Dedicated, proprietary devices that provide a single function.
Example: a retail organization having a separate device for everything the customer can do in their stores – price scanning, gift registry, etc.)
A single device that can support multiple use cases and functions.
6. Image capture Needing to carry a separate camera or switch to separate function.
Example: taking photos during a site inspection.
Hands-free data capture.
7. Audio capture Ambient environmental noise means poor recording quality.
Example: Elevator shaft inspection – making voice annotations while there is a loud hum in background.
Custom filters can provide background noise reduction as needed.
8. Data capture Manual data entry.
Example: Capturing environmental temperature at different times of day.
Sensors can report back to your app, eliminating manual data entry.
9. Scanning / barcode Scan individual items with a dedicated scanner. Walk into a room and anything with a Bluetooth low-energy signal can be captured.
10. Real-time streaming Streaming kills your cellular plan & battery life. Design apps to only stream on-demand; implement push notifications for background updates.
11. Screen Brightness Battery drain.
Example: Dim environmental lighting, for example at an inspection site, requires higher screen brightness.
Profile your app’s power consumption using tools; theme the UI to work well across ambient lighting conditions.
12. Dashboards Lacking the ability to receive alerts and act upon the information displayed. Sites are responsively designed and the computing power of the device is greater. Receive information, act upon information. See your dashboard on your phone.
13. Native applications Applications such as those in the MS Office suite opened in web browser version with varying results. The software becomes part of the tool. Applications such as PowerPoint can be opened and projected from the phone.
14. Personal assistant The automated PAs of two years ago produced varying results with limited functionality. Today’s functionality is much improved. Assistants like Siri, GoogleNow, and Cortana can analyze your calendar and help with reminders.
15. Segregation of enterprise / personal Needing to carry two devices Today’s mobile operating systems handle this nicely.

 

For more information, read our Field Enablement case studies for the Insurance and Medical Devices industries, and join our Field Enablement Roadshow in New York, Chicago, and Boston!   We look forward to your feedback!