“There’s an app for that.” Yeah. I get it. At more than 100,000 apps created for the iPhone and over 20,000 created for Android-based phones, there is an app for just about anything (or, really anything) that you could think of. Almost anyone with a smartphone can rattle off a laundry list of apps they’ve downloaded — ranging from useful to completely useless. Yet, a shocking number of mobile workers trade in those devices (and apps) and must put pen to paper in order to complete their activities in the field.
Now take a step back from those paper-based processes, and put those same mobile workers in their vehicles. How many of them are using GPS for turn-by-turn directions and following an optimized route that maximizes their productivity and reduces windshield time? Not nearly as many require this technology. But, more than 40% of smartphone owners use GPS on their handheld devices to get turn-by-turn directions (for iPhone users, that number is better than 80%).
When it comes to leveraging technology to be more productive, it’s as if many mobile workers have two lives — personal and business. In many cases, these field employees take a technological step backwards when they punch the clock each day.
Meet Mobile Worker Expectations
In the past, I’d speak to companies about why they hadn’t deployed GPS, routing, and geofencing applications, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear responses that included trust-questioning phrases like “big brother.” Similarly, companies would often cite training issues and the computer literacy of their mobile workers when they outlined why they hadn’t deployed real-time mobile solutions in the field.
A few years ago, those were convenient (and sometimes valid) reasons not to push forward with the deployment of mobile technology. Today, those reasons feel more like excuses. Most mobile workers see technology as an enabler to increasing productivity, not as an inhibitor. It’s what most of them have come to expect from their mobile life outside of work. And, it’s time that companies equal or better that expectation when their field workers are on the clock.