Geolocation services are popping up for consumers everywhere, from Uber, which sends a car service to your door two times faster than a cab, to Bizzy, an app that shows you where your friends have dined lately and offers their recommendations.
But what about the enterprise? Shouldn’t this revolutionary technology be transforming companies and not just consumer habits? Well, it is. First, cloud computing transformed enterprises by allowing employees to be mobile while staying connected to the office. And now geolocation is furthering the transformation, most dramatically in the area of field service. Field service is best understood as the HVAC technician or equipment repair person who spends most of his or her time on the road, servicing machines and sourcing parts to make repairs.
Until recently, this has been a business run on clipboards, spreadsheets and Post-Its, with techs sent on their routes with little more than a phone to connect with the main office. But new cloud-based mobile solutions can deliver work orders on the fly, provide real-time access to warehouse inventory, optimize scheduling and routing based on location, and enable other features that have a direct impact on the bottom line. With geolocation, the age-old sector of field service suddenly becomes an industry on the cutting edge. Here’s a breakdown of the best ways geolocation technology is being put to use for enterprise:
- Real-time tracking and display of tech location and status. This will finally do away with those eight hour windows to wait for your technician to arrive. Field service managers can pinpoint a tech’s location, analyze his or time time on the road or stuck in traffic, plan his or breaks breaks, etc. This helps dispatchers assign and re-assign jobs based on the technician’s proximity and schedule.
- Infer delays. Dispatchers can anticipate delays and limited availability, and perform real-time schedule rebalancing and optimization.
- Tech performance management. Geolocation helps managers see when technicians are straying off routes, taking long breaks, making late starts and ending shifts early.
- More accurate tracking. Location tracking can also automatically log arrival and departure time for more accurate labor billing.
- Infer availability for routing tier-two support calls. Not all support calls are top priority. This is reflected in field service scheduling. Rather than tack tier-two support calls to the end of any technician’s schedule, geolocation supports better awareness of technician location proximity to those tier-two calls so that they may be assigned based on location, saving technicians some travel time.
- More efficient driving routes. Location awareness can give technicians updates on driving routes based on traffic and weather delays.
- Connect your tech team on the road. When on a service call, a technician may have only a limited supply of parts and tools. Geolocation can show which other technicians are nearby. If their inventories are synced, it would be easy to see who has the needed part and connect with them on the road. The system could also indicate the location of the nearest warehouse for additional supplies. This will help get that repair done on the same day and save the customer from having to reschedule. Imagine that the actual parts are geo-enabled so a tech can quickly locate a required replacement in a nearby technician’s van stock. Now that’s smart field service.
- Better customer communication. Geolocation and cloud services can also benefit the customer. Imagine a text that can automatically be sent to a customer alerting them when the technician is exactly 15 minutes away. Better technician scheduling also means better dispatcher insight into realistic service timelines. Wouldn’t it be nice to wait for a technician for those 15 minutes rather than your usual eight-hour window?
Geolocation technology is just one of the many innovations that is making its mark on the enterprise and helping companies rethink field service. What developments are you looking forward to? Is geolocation the future of field service? Let us know in the comments below.