Working Smart: How Mobile Technology Is Making Field Services Safer and More Efficient

Field services worker wearing a headset and using a wearable device while on the job

Whether you realize it or not, field services are everywhere and represent an essential piece of the larger puzzle that keeps cities running around the clock. From construction workers on a job site to public utility workers repairing a water main break or power line, the industries in which field services workers operate also puts them at an increased safety risk. In major sectors that help keep the economy running smoothly – construction, agriculture, utilities and telecommunications – organizations are obligated to ensure a safe work environment for workers. Organizations must also reliably ensure employee safety while balancing productivity and the complex, demanding and time-sensitive nature of workers’ responsibilities.

Rapid technological advancements mean field services employees no longer need to rely on outdated technologies, like pagers and two-way radios, to communicate and get the critical information they need to safely perform their jobs. Innovative mobile technology enables real-time communication between field services staff to share vital information, conduct wellbeing checks, monitor asset and personnel location, and mitigate potential hazardous exposures. Integrated with a secure mobility and IoT management platform, mobile technology can also help facilitate safer work practices regarding criteria like vehicle speed and the number of hours workers spend on the road.

Mobile technology not only keeps the lines of communication open to ensure the safety of field services workers while on the job, it also greatly improves productivity by reducing the amount of time it takes to complete routine tasks. Consider, for example, hands-free barcode scanning technologies that saves valuable seconds in the field. Or Wearable headsets used by elevator technicians to quickly look up schematics or find parts completely hands-free. Both examples illustrate how wearable technology enables tasks to be performed faster, freeing up workers’ time for more value-added tasks and responsibilities. More time to complete more projects, also means more satisfied customers for field services organizations with a service model.

From a safety perspective, Tizen smartwatches are being used in field services for real-time communication during emergency situations, and fatigue monitoring technologies alert drivers who may be falling asleep at the wheel while driving, helping to save lives – both the driver’s and the communities they service.

Advanced mobile capabilities in field services has raised the bar at every stage; from improving communication between dispatchers and technicians in the field, to having access to more robust decision-making tools and the ability to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues without ever leaving a job site.

The integration of IoT technology over recent years has further enhanced the field services industry by ushering in a new level of intelligence that can help forecast what will happen in the future. Predictive analytics is being used to identify patterns and determine the likelihood of equipment failures, help monitor and re-order inventory for replacement parts in real-time and pinpoint any potential risks and hazards for workers. Many of these processes can be automated with an integrated IoT management solution, providing organizations greater flexibility and visibility into every endpoint within their organization.

Before any effective mobile strategy can be implemented, however, organizations must have a clear understanding of field workers’ roles and responsibilities and the unique environments in which they operate. These essential insights will help inform adoption strategies to properly rollout any new technology that supports a mobile-first workforce.

Here are three of the most common obstacles faced by the field services industry and how an integrated mobile-first strategy anchored by the SOTI ONE Platform can help solve them.

Data security concerns

With the growing number of connected endpoints managed by organizations, points of vulnerability are only increasing, placing sensitive company data at risk. In fact, nearly half of respondents from SOTI’s recent report with VDC Research, Implementing Business-Critical Solutions, recently experienced a cyberattack or data breach at their company. Furthermore, according to respondents, the largest sources of vulnerability are communication protocols, remote access, mobile devices and connected devices. Shockingly, the report found that only 22.3% of organizations invest in business-critical mobility solutions to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of litigation. As mobile devices are relied on more heavily to carry out critical work functions, it is essential for field services organizations to adopt a mobile-first strategy where the secure management of mobile devices is integrated across their operations.

Visibility over mobile fleet

Travel time between job sites can harm productivity, and lack of visibility over your mobile fleet can be detrimental to efficient workflows. Solutions like SOTI MobiControl provide organizations visibility into the location of field workers’ devices in real-time, analyze driving routes to avoid traffic jams or roadblocks, and provide the fastest travel routes. Through integration with SOTI Insight, companies can extract advanced data analytics from mobile devices (like app, data, network and location usage) to further improve their business operations. The report also revealed that only one in five organizations have complete visibility into the performance of mobile technology used by their frontline workforce. Considering the business-critical nature of mobile solutions for many organizations today, providing IT teams with real-time visibility into their performance, and the tools to quickly resolve issues, significantly reduces service disruptions and keeps field services employees working.

No time for downtime

Managing mobile devices, with the ability to diagnose, troubleshoot and fix mobile tech issues remotely through SOTI Assist, helps organizations reduce downtime, and use their IT teams more effectively. The ability to fix mobile issues anytime and anywhere, empowers field services workers to stay productive, especially during busy days on the road with numerous projects. According to the report, the three leading causes of mobile failure leading to workflow disruption include network/connectivity (49% of respondents), application performance (41%) and battery life (37%). With each incidence of failure, workers lose over 100 minutes of productivity.

For field services organizations, ensuring network connectivity on mobile devices to communicate and share critical information quickly is closely tied to high levels of customer satisfaction. A reliable connection is only a piece of the puzzle, however, when it comes to building a comprehensive mobile-first strategy that edges out the competition. Field services workers must be equipped with not only the right technology to perform their jobs, but devices that work when, where and how they’re supposed to. SOTI Snap, for example, delivers these benefits to field services organizations who require rapid app development. Their remote workers will likely require a different set of tools not covered by standard business applications or will need legacy processes, such as the use of paper and pen, to be replaced for both efficiency and security purposes.