Magazine Article | January 1, 2006


Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, January 2006
Sun Microsystems, a high-tech manufacturer and solutions provider, employs 1,100 field service engineers (SEs) to maintain and fix customers’ computer desktops and server and storage systems. The SEs were burdened with inefficient field service processes and equipment, as they carried both mobile phones and pagers. The dispatch strategy in use was the classic “page and call back” strategy – the SEs received pages with limited information, then had to call the dispatcher for more information, taking notes to document the customer contact information and nature of the problem. Since the technicians were calling the same center as customers, they often were put on hold in the queue. Once connected, there was a margin for error as the dispatcher communicated the information to the technician. Adding technicians’ inbound calls to the dispatcher’s call load drove an increase in the ratio of dispatchers to technicians – with a corresponding increase in costs. Additionally, Sun was incurring monthly costs for the mobile phones, pagers, and wireline services in dispatch.

Sun realized that it was necessary to replace mobile phones and pagers with an appropriate device and a streamlined process. Sun’s technical requirements were somewhat of a challenge – it refused to consider anything on a Windows platform. Sun contracted with Cingular Wireless to help develop a solution to solve its problem. Cingular worked closely with Sun in a consultative role to assess the current field service process and to test the viability of various devices and platforms. Sun finally settled on the Palm Treo 650, with a custom field service application developed by Sun. Now, field technicians are alerted to new trouble tickets via SMS (short message service), and they are able to remotely download case and task information on the Treo.

Sun is very enthusiastic about its results – the solution has reduced field service support costs (particularly in dispatch) by approximately $50,000 per month. In addition, service response times are improved. And, the solution integrated with Sun’s existing core back end systems without modification.