Magazine Article | May 21, 2009

Is It Time To Go Mobile?

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Even though times are tough, now may be the perfect time to invest in mobile field service technologies.

Integrated Solutions, FS&M Advisor 2009
Economic uncertainty has caused many field service organizations to place an indefinite freeze on technology spending. While certainly an understandable reaction to combat a recessionary period, this act can severely hinder your progression as a service organization. Think about it. Most of your competitors are having the same economical hardships you are, and most are trying to cut costs by eliminating "unnecessary" spending. For many, this includes holding off on technology investments to improve business operations. If you have the means — and the guts — to make a technology investment in this down economy, it can have a more profound impact on your competitive advantage than a technology investment made during prosperous times.

For example, a recent survey by research and analysis firm Aberdeen Group indicates that adoption rates for basic mobile field service applications (e.g. work order management, work order scheduling, etc.) are still lagging, with only 37% to 40% of respondents having these systems in place. Furthermore, 34% of respondents also indicate that they plan to hold on to their resources and delay technology purchases in the near term because of current economic conditions. Just think of the headway you can make in your competitive landscape if you are willing to make a technology investment that you know the vast majority of your competitors won't be making for at least the next year. Sure, a technology investment during these tough times can be a scary proposition, but an ROI can be achieved much faster because of the inactivity of your rivals. Furthermore, a technology investment in and of itself can help reduce many of the costs you were trying to eliminate in the first place (e.g. fuel costs, labor costs, consumable costs, etc.).

If you do decide to invest in mobile field service technologies in the near term, you may want to read the two analyst articles contained in this supplement for advice on what applications can give you the biggest bang for your buck. In the first article, VDC Research Group practice director David Krebs outlines the evolution of today's field service applications and explains how integration of the latest mobile technologies with your core back end enterprise applications is key to solution scalability. In the second article, Sumair Dutta, lead research analyst of strategic service management for Aberdeen Group, explains how today's GPS (global positioning system) and LBS (location-based services) technologies are being applied to reduce the fuel consumption and cost per visit of field service organizations throughout the world.

Once you've read these articles, be sure review the field service and mobility vendor and product profiles as well. These profiles can serve as a starting point for your mobile technology search and can help you deploy the solutions mentioned in the analyst articles.