From The Editor | October 26, 2012

Is Your View Of What Mobility Can Do Too Narrow?

By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine

The primary goal of this magazine is to help companies with a mobile workforce understand how mobile technologies can be used to optimize those workers. When discussing this premise with someone the other day, I realized that their interpretation of the word “optimize” was simply to improve mobile worker productivity. That’s certainly an important part — but it’s not the whole picture. That conversation made me wonder who else out there may have that perception.

The reality is that mobility can be used to transform businesses in many ways, to accomplish a variety of objectives — and mobility is often being deployed for a combination of reasons, not just one. While improving productivity of your workers is a common goal, and a very valid one, the potential for what mobility can do reaches beyond that narrow view. Mobility can also be used to create a better customer experience, to help service organizations upsell and add revenue, to improve worker safety, to reduce costs, and to contribute to sustainability initiatives.

Customer Satisfaction Trumps Mobile Worker Productivity
Trimble published a report this year titled The Road Ahead Report: The Future of Field Service Delivery, for which it surveyed 100 field service managers and directors in the UK (you can view the report at According to this report, it seems that — at least for some organizations — productivity gains aren’t the only objective in mind when it comes to optimizing the mobile workforce. In fact, a majority — 68% — list improving customer satisfaction as the number one priority of their service organization. Increasing profitability came in at 43%, and improving productivity/employee utilization at 41%. So while the respondents felt increasing mobile worker productivity was an important strategic objective (88% said that’s the case), the results show that these companies realize improving productivity can’t be the sole focus.

The point here is that you shouldn’t pigeonhole the benefits of mobility into one category or focus in too narrowly on one objective. You can benefit from considering all the facets of optimizing your mobile workforce. Otherwise, you end up missing opportunities to improve your business — and missing out on some of the return on your technology investment. The software you purchased to get your techs to more jobs per day can also help you improve customer satisfaction and retention by reducing service windows and arriving on time. The fleet management solution you deployed to keep track of your workers in the field can also allow you to track their speeding and braking habits to improve driver safety and reduce liability. The possibilities are vast — just be sure to keep an open mind and think outside of the box when setting goals for your service organization and selecting technologies to help you attain them.