With mobile apps becoming so intrinsic and ubiquitous, we as consumers have become the greatest critics on app user experience and useability. Sparse design, no visual clutter, minimal colour palette, crisp typography and clear navigation have all become design attributes we now expect in apps designed for individuals, and from a commercial aspect, service organisations. So now in the field services sector the demand for slick, easy to use mobile apps is growing and so too is their purpose and role with regards to the collection of data.
Field service mobility is constantly evolving, and solutions in the market today provide service technicians with most of the functionality they need to effectively and efficiently manage service issues out on site, but the dilemma for ERP and mobility vendors is how do they present mature business software functionality via a narrow funnel so that features can be published within a sleek and minimalist web app. What functionality do you leave in? More importantly what do you leave out? What mobility allows for is the instantaneous capture and feedback of this vital data and with that it also opens a wide array of possibilities relating to intelligence and how it can be best used to make better decisions
Big data is now becoming a reality for SME’s especially within the Asset and Facilities Management sector, so much so that data is now regarded as a company asset. Mobile Service solutions now enable the capture and management of large file types such as photos, movie files, CAD drawings and other engineering documents that all contribute to the ever growing amounts of structured and unstructured data. So when we combine this with data feeds from asset monitoring systems or even hit rates from integrated eCommerce or social media feeds, the need for business analytics for SME’s becomes essential. As business analytics tools offer a quantitative understanding of businesses, these tools are now on offer to smaller organisations who take that quantum leap from small business software packages up to a fully integrated ERP solution. The reality today is that industry demands better information from the systems they invest in, however an understanding of how data can be converted into knowledge is still a mystery to many. A conversation I recently had with a Civil Engineer involved in a recent ERP implementation at his workplace claimed, “The data we’re now getting is so comprehensive we just don’t know what to do with it yet”
The next step is having skilled people who are able to present this data in a compelling way, a dilemma my engineer friend is still coming to terms with. Currently there’s a shortage of analytics expertise that have the appropriate level of business acumen. Skilled analysts who are able to apply context and perspective to data are in high demand and it seems that this layer of data translation may be the missing element for many newcomers into the world of ERP, mobility apps and big data analytics.
So within the context of the services industry there are generally two streams where analytics help business, operationally and strategically. Within a service company analytics can drive operational decisions on how we engage with customers, what advice we provide and what we need to sell to them to maintain their business and deliver value. The strategic benefits of data analysis help with decisions on direction of investment; asset monitoring and the predictive analysis required to maintain and deliver the highest level of service and manage risk associated with complex customer maintenance contracts.
It’s clear that service mobility apps can provide service technicians with the functionality they need to conduct their day to day work, all within an attractive, easy to use interface. But equally so mobile service applications are the critical link that provides a healthy supply of data used to deliver strategic and operational insight and improved service delivery. The goal is to have field service mobility working cohesively with analytics to gain a competitive edge. The challenge is how to navigate through the myriad of potential data sources to draw from, and then determine how this asset we call data can be best utilised to drive operational and strategic improvements.