From The Editor | May 24, 2012

When Mobile Technology Becomes Useless


By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine

For people who live in the fast-paced world of mobile technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest mobile devices, the coolest new apps, and the hunt for the next big technology advancement. When your company was selecting and deploying your last mobile solution, did you ever catch yourself turning into a bit of a mobile technology geek? It can happen more easily than you may think. What you need to keep in mind, though, is that your field techs aren’t going through that same experience. While you’re spending significant amounts of time learning about each technology on the market and what the pros and cons are of each, your techs are most likely going about their day jobs.

Why do I bring this up? I heard a story the other day that made me think back to one of the basics of mobile deployment success — making sure your employees are properly trained on the solution you roll out. Here’s the story: A friend of mine got into a fender bender and after a frustrating time spent with the other party involved and the police officer on-site filling out the accident report, she asked for a copy of it. Having noted during the conversation that the officer’s car was equipped with a rugged laptop computer and mobile printer, she assumed her request was a simple one. However, the officer replied by saying, “I can give you my handwritten notes and the incident number, but I don’t know how to work that thing.”

Training On Mobile Technology Is Imperative
Now I don’t know the story behind precisely why that officer doesn’t know how to use the mobile technology his force has deployed, but what I do know is that somewhere between the conception and execution of that police force’s mobile strategy, something went drastically wrong. There was a sizeable investment made in mobile technology to help that officer do his job more easily and efficiently, and he’s not using the tools the way they were intended. Whether the goal and purpose of the solution was never clearly communicated to him or he simply wasn’t properly trained on how to use the device, the end result is that the objective the mobile solution was deployed to accomplish isn’t being achieved. Let this story serve as a reminder — as it did for me — that most of your mobile workers aren’t technology gurus, and it’s your job to make sure that if you’re rolling out a mobile solution, you’re helping them to understand the reasoning behind doing so and how to properly use the tools you’re giving them. Mobility has far too much to offer your organization to sit unused in a mobile worker’s vehicle.