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Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog....

This is where I will pen my thoughts on Enterprise Mobility and other wireless technologies based on my learning’s/ experience over the course of my IT career.

The wireless world has been a very exciting place to be over the last few years. We have seen the introduction of ground breaking products and technologies have reached a never-before-seen level of maturity. The rate of enterprise adaptation to wireless technology is only accelerating day by day.

This is a personal blog and will focus on my thoughts and perspectives on wireless technology. Please feel free to share your opinions and viewpoints so that it can be discussed and debated. Though I would like to, I won't be able to post to this blog each day. Will try my best to write whenever I get time.

I hope that you will return often to this blog. Thanks again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Location Aware Services – Put your field service operation on Maps

Does Location Matter in enterprise field service operation?
by Purushottam Darshankar
Mobility is increasingly treated as strategic part of enterprise IT, not simple add-on, by recognizing the fact that a smart mobile implementation can create real competitive advantage - the potential to “leap frog” the rivals. Customer satisfaction through post-sales service has become an absolute necessity for enterprises that are facing reduced product margins from increased competition and commoditization. The businesses who have adapted to mobile field force applications have addressed this as it has
- improved field workforce productivity and effectiveness
- reduced the field force management costs
- increased service quality and predictability
For service organizations field service forms an integral link in overall service chain. These organizations are always on lookout for technology solutions to assist field force in increasing their operational performance.
It isn’t surprising therefore that 66% of respondents state that mobile field service is either “very important” or “extremely important” to their operational and financial performance. But only 13% of respondents are “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their field service operations. (Source Aberdeen Group) The yawn of dissatisfaction is mainly due to lack of information – Where are my filed peoples? Where have they been? Who should take this job? Which job to take?
The key technology ingredient the businesses are looking to employ is location aware technology as part of purchasing or upgrading technology solution. 63% respondents currently state they use some form of location based solution to improve operational performance of their field force. (Source Aberdeen Group).
Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems – enable service organizations to locate their human and physical field asset thus making their solution to leverage on location intelligence. This will not only ensure greater management oversight into field employees and their activities but also brings in needed accuracy, real time timesheet and job information to reduce the administrative cost and enforce corporate policies.
As an example, for the repair service division of one commercial appliance giant, field service operation had traditionally been manual and paper-based. Field personnel relied on their back office to deliver their route assignments along with replacement parts everyday before they could start their day.
There was no mechanism in place to find out if a customer had cancelled a service call until they had already arrived on site, significantly impacting worker productivity. And because route and service schedules were not updated in real-time, technicians were often unable to meet the service delivery times promised to customers.
Realizing it needed to automate its field service operation, the service organization equipped its 1,000-strong field force with GPS-enabled handheld devices that allowed service workers to map routes to customer locations and provide status updates to dispatchers.
As a result of the deployment, the company experienced marked improvements in customer satisfaction with customer service levels increased to 98.8%, and technicians improved their daily work order completion rate by 20%. Not surprisingly, the technician productivity improvements exceeded project goals by 250 %.( Source Aberdeen Group
The businesses can adopt to range of LBS technologies that ranges from standard GPS handheld devices, to embedded AVL devices, to RFID tags for service parts for asset tracking and inventory management. According to Aberdeen’s recent survey, customer demand for better performance (nearly 60%) is the key market driver for organization to adopt to LBS solution. Close behind is the need to improve inefficient task scheduling and routing, which is core to field service fleet and asset management. The GPS handheld devices used not only allow back office to track field workers but also point-of-service terminal enabling them to record the key data. Use of Barcode scanners and RFID tags for service parts are some of the indicators of field service optimization efforts.
The business value of Location aware solution in field service can best be measured by relative values of key metrics when compared to Non-LBS users. 30% of companies that use LBS state that they have seen an increase in customer retention, and 33% report an increase in service revenues since Location aware solution deployment. Specific to field force management, 44% of companies have seen a drop in overtime pay with another 36% stating a reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR). (Source Aberdeen Group)
Companies that are using Location aware solutions have seen customer retention boosts of almost 16% on average. This increase is driven in part by improved resolution times and rates. These enhancements map to an overall 16.4% jump in service revenues. On the cost side, efficient route optimization and asset usage have generally led to savings in fuel and insurance costs which add to the bottom line. Given the recent spike in oil prices, a 4.4% reduction in fuel costs can be significant, especially for organizations with larger geographic coverage and larger service van/truck fleets. (Source Aberdeen Group)
Finally, the service organizations that leverage location intelligence can complete more work orders than those that are not using LBS data. On average, LBS-enabled service organizations complete 0.7 more work orders per technician per day. With the average technician staff being 50 technicians – that amounts to 35 extra work orders completed on a daily basis. This differential can be attributed to the fact that LBS-enabled field forces spend less time traveling to and from worksites.
Further, LBS enhancements have allowed companies to shave nearly three minutes of travel for every 60 minutes of time spent at worksites. Once again, with 50 technicians working eight hours a day, this can amount to 1,200 minutes of travel time saved.
On both counts – increase in work completed and reduction in travel time – service organizations can demonstrate marked improvements in service-driven profit margins and overall customer satisfaction.