Work is Going Mobile — How Are You Supporting It?
I recently discussed how the number of organizations moving to a field service-based model is increasing dramatically. Keep in mind, that’s not just to help customers in their service territories. It’s for internal organizational service needs as well, such as equipment or machinery repair. Of course, the first step in this transition is determining the needs for a field service team. This naturally comes with a long list of questions.
What needs or challenges will a field service team fulfill or resolve? What is the makeup of a field service team? What processes will be established for assigning, completing, and analyzing work performed? And of course, what tools will be needed to get the work done, track the numerous details involved, and analyze its performance?
Understandably, field service is a big thing. While I’d enjoy digging into some of the former questions in the above list, there’s one that I’m particularly interested in: the tools required to help field service teams do their jobs well. Of course, depending on the business and the industry it’s in, field service teams will need different equipment to do their work. So when I say “tools,” I don’t necessarily mean the scanners, point-of-sale devices, repair equipment, hand tools, and so on that a field service technician might need to actually do work.
Instead, I’d like to focus on the tools involved with managing the data that field service teams need in the field. ERPs, CRMs, eCommerce platforms, and other databases house that data and automate certain actions around it. But that’s just one element of the overall need. That data has to be managed in the field by your service team.
Initially, you might think of some kind of mobility solution like an iPad or other rugged device for logging service orders, work completed, generating invoices, capturing signatures, and so on. But if you’re using an ERP to house all this service-related data, it stands that you probably have more than just a handful of field employees that would need such devices.
However, a quick calculation of the number of field service employees multiplied by the cost of the devices could very well bring things to a screeching halt (even factoring in pricing negotiations, potential multi-device discounts, and so on).
A common solution is to turn to an enterprise mobility partner for support. But implementations of that magnitude come with even more costs, as the partner will want to include a service package and will have their own timeline with its associated costs. Eventually, the devices (that you don’t even own) will become outdated and require repair, paving the way for another round of investment and implementation. So, what can your business do to streamline field service operations?
Go with BYOD
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a strategy that allows mobile workers to use a device they already own, whether it’s their personal mobile device or a company-provided phone. Either way, non-desk workers already have a device in-hand. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of following a bring your own device policy.
You Could Realize Dramatic Cost Savings
This is one of the most immediate and long-term benefits of a BYOD strategy. By letting remote employees bring their own devices into the field, you realize tremendous savings by:
Not having to invest in mobility equipment yourself
Avoiding the administrative costs of shipping that equipment to the field
Preventing lost time in training employees on an unfamiliar device
Not having to support repairs or coordinate device updates
Not having to pay insurance on devices or pay for replacements
Potentially not having to pay for data programs or hotspots for connectivity
Avoiding costly partnerships with mobility provider organizations
Applications Bring People and Data Together
Just because remote workers have iPhones or Android devices in their hands doesn’t mean they’re ready to be used in the field. There still has to be a business case and use for them, and that is where applications come in. ERPs, CRMs, and others may have mobile applications, but they often don’t speak to one another, export data beyond their own four digital walls, or support critical field-level functionality. (This is where Bezlio can support your business. Learn more about our platform here.) Once your field teams have the proper application(s) in place, they’ll be ready to go.
Supporting Your Field Teams Is Easier
While your apps will have requirements that must be met in terms of OS versions, you won’t need to worry about developing new solutions for different devices. With the right app, you can make your tooling platform agnostic so it supports your field teams wherever they are and on whatever device they’re using. There’s no need for a field employee to submit their device in for upgrading or updating since the latter can be managed via application updates from you and device updates from the employee. And should the employee switch or upgrade their device, as long as your application(s) is compatible with its OS, everyone is good to go.
Support is Great, but What About Safety?
One of the most immediate concerns you might have with a BYOD approach is safety. It’s understandable — the devices field teams are using aren’t really yours. How can you be sure your enterprise data is safe? That the employee’s device hasn’t been compromised (or will be)? What if an employee loses or forgets their device? Many apps struggle with this, as data is stored locally. However, apps such as Bezlio don’t store enterprise data on employees’ devices except when the employee is offline.
In a recent post, we discussed how Bezlio routes data between your database, to the cloud, and to the end user. It’s never stored — just shared. Should an employee lose track of a device, administrators can remove its access thanks to granular security permissions — ensuring that no data is left behind for prying eyes. If data is stored locally during an offline session, it is synced once back in coverage and then removed from the device.
Realize the Benefits Faster
Cost savings are just the beginning. The real value comes in both the immediate and long-term results of empowering employees with tools that are available sooner rather than later and with minimal development. If your ERP or CRM already has a mobile application, you may be able to put it to good use, but is it the right use? Does it provide a comprehensive picture of your organization’s performance? The customer’s history? The employee’s history and work requirements? There’s a lot that goes into BYOD, which is why it’s critical that you look for an app that brings all business requirements together in a single platform.
With Bezlio, BYOD is Just the Beginning
If you’re considering or are currently using a bring-your-own-device workforce, it’s time to consider an application that can bring it all into harmony. Empower your field teams with the data they need to manage information efficiently, serve customers better, and produce stronger bottom-line results for your business.
ADAM ELLIS, CO-FOUNDER & CEO
Adam Ellis is the Chief Executive Officer of Bezlio and one of four co-founders. Adam is a lifelong entrepreneur and has extensive ERP and mobile software knowledge through his consulting and management experience. He has a passion for exploring innovative ideas and how they can change the status quo. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn to learn more about his involvement in the ERP space.