Magazine Article | August 21, 2008

Invest In Mobility

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Mobile technologies can help your business thrive in a down economy.

Integrated Solutions, September 2008

You don't need to be a financial expert to realize we're in the midst of an economic downturn in the United States. I'm sure you see evidence of this when you review your numbers every month. The cost of most daily necessities — whether it be oil, natural
gas, electricity, or food — are at all-time highs today, and the value of the American dollar has plummeted to new lows. The economic pressures of our country have most recently been illustrated by the federal takeover of IndyMac Bank. And more bank failures are expected to follow.

With our economy showing no signs of rebounding any time soon, now can be a pretty scary time to run a business. Slow economic periods are a time of scrutiny for most companies. In fact, you're probably currently under pressure to find creative new ways to cut costs in order to muddle through these tough times. One way many businesses attempt to control costs is to cut IT budgets or put a freeze on 'unnecessary' technology spending. This can be one of the biggest mistakes a company can make.

Rather than cutting budgets, your focus should be on accomplishing more with less and reducing inefficiencies. Technology can be a key way to accomplish this goal, particularly when it comes to managing your mobile workforce. For example, with mobile computing devices equipped with field service management software, your field service technicians can wirelessly send and receive the data they need to perform their jobs. This allows you to dispatch these technicians to a nearby job site directly from their homes at the start of each day, which helps reduce driving distances and fuel consumption.

Fuel consumption can be further reduced by deploying GPS tracking or LBS (location-based services) technologies. With these tools, you can ensure you're always dispatching the closest and best-qualified service technician to answer a call rather than wasting fuel by sending technicians to distant locations.

You can further enhance service efficiencies by providing your service technicians with mobile handheld computers and mobile printers that will allow them to swipe credit cards and print invoices while at the job site. This practice can be much more cost-effective than collecting job and payment information in paper form and paying a data entry clerk to manually enter this information into your accounts receivable system.

This is just a small sample of the benefits that can be realized by an investment in mobile technology, and the ROI these solutions provide can far outweigh the money you would save in the form of a straightforward IT budget cut. What's more, your field service will improve as a result of a technology investment as opposed to suffering at the hands of an IT spending freeze.

While some businesses may still be considering IT budget cuts, the good news is these businesses don't appear to be readers of Integrated Solutions. In a recent survey of our subscribers, 85.8% of respondents said they expected their IT budgets to increase or remain the same in 2009, while only 14.2% expected their IT budgets to decrease next year in response to the struggling economy. Clearly, our audience gets the message.