From The Editor | February 21, 2014

Putting Everyday Mobile Apps To Work In The Field

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
Follow Us

6_FromThebutton

Using mobile apps is an everyday, nearly every minute experience for the masses. When’s the last time you left your smartphone at home? It’s incredible how much doing so impacts your ability to function at this point. In my opinion, there are some significant drawbacks to the always-on environment we live in today — but this isn’t a column about the detriments of constant connectivity. Because, despite some of those issues, the apps we have access to today are also incredibly valuable — they help us to be more efficient, effective, and informed in our everyday lives. Take mobile banking, for instance — the need to visit your brick-and-mortar bank has been all but eliminated, saving us all time and enabling us real-time access to all of the information we need.

Consumer-Oriented Apps Can Pay Off In The Field
Do you know where else the time savings and real-time information that mobile apps provide deliver big benefits? You guessed it — the mobile workforce. SmartVan posted a column recently about the mobile apps that field techs can’t live without. The article was a result of a LinkedIn discussion that had field techs as well as industry experts weighing in on the consumer-focused apps that techs commonly find beneficial for work use (you can find the full post at www.thesmartvan.com). Here’s what the SmartVan had to say about the techs’ top five picks:

GasBuddy: Gas is a huge cost of doing business for field service companies. With prices high, some field techs recommend GasBuddy, a free app, which generates a list of the cheapest and closest gas stations based on users’ location data.

TurboScan: For technicians who need to upload receipts and manage lengthy paper trails, there’s TurboScan. The $3 app turns users’ iPhones into a multipage scanner for documents, receipts, notes, whiteboards, and other text. Users store or email documents as multipage PDF or JPG files.

Waze: Unexpected traffic jams and roadblocks are major headaches for service techs on a tight schedule. Waze is a community-based mapping and traffic app 70 million users use to report traffic snafus. Does it work? Google bought Waze earlier this year for $1.1 billion.

Dropbox: File-sharing apps like Dropbox help service techs share pictures of equipment, look up client data, and even store service manuals — all via the Internet. The Dropbox app is free, and users can pay to add more storage space.

Skype: There’s been a lot of talk about what video can do for field service techs, thanks to Google Glass and the tech industry’s obsession with high-priced wearables. But why spend all the money? Some service techs say they’re doing just fine with Skype, the free Microsoft-owned video chat service. Similar services include FaceTime and Google Hangouts.

Do you know if your techs are using any of these apps in the field? Maybe these will give you some good ideas of everyday tools you could put to work for your company — or at least give you an idea of the type of functionality your techs might find beneficial in corporate-liable solutions you’re deploying.