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More and more companies are training and providing their workforce with mobile devices and using facility management software and systems to reach their goals. They aim to reduce costs and raise satisfaction levels of increasingly demanding customers. By using this mobile devices they can carry out tasks more effectively and report back more quickly. 

Here are two important questions on the matter:

  • Which are the key features of mobile devices that give the best return on investment?
  • What are the companies concerns when it comes to their use?

To find the answers lets look at a survey where 100 businesses from Spain, UK, Italy, Germany and France participated. Theses companies have a minimum of 250 employees and 40% of them have even more than 5000 employees. Their mainly focus was service, sales, delivery or inspection in the field, and they represent a wide range of industries like, postal service, social housing, facilities management, local government, utilities and energy, professional services, and more. The respondents were senior IT management and managers with responsibilities within field operations.

Costs of field mobility

When it comes to mobile devices, costs are definitely a major factor that affects how a company makes the purchasing decisions.

How are companies viewing costs today?

According to the survey respondents explain that right now they are focusing on

  1. Annual operating expenditure (59%)
  2. Up front capital expenditure (52%)
  3. Transparency of support costs (48%)

The companies that showed the highest sensitivity to costs are the smaller companies (less than 500 employees) and the ones that operate in field service and inspection.

A very interesting outcome came from the next questions: How do companies actually believe they should be viewing costs?

Even though TCO was located in second place when asked about the most important costs, on this particular question responders mostly answered that they should be viewing costs over a 5 year period. According to the answers cost transparency is important to many, so long-term view has to be important too because only by looking beyond the cost of acquisition the “hidden” costs such as break/fix support and management over time can be calculated.

To better understand the real cost of field devices it’s important to identify what should be included in TCO. According to research consultants VDC*, it comprises the hard costs of deployment (hardware, accessories, software, implementation and training) and the softer operational costs (productivity loss, opportunity loss and IT support costs).

 

When it comes to hard and soft costs, purchasing decisions do not deliver the greatest value to the business in the long term. VDC estimates that hard costs may only account for 10% or less of TCO over 5 years.

Increasing application use

47% is the predicted growth from companies on the usage of mobile devices and 42% predicted growth for rescheduling tasks in real time and customer needs. The least popular application is  BYOD and the predicted growth is to be 41%.

In this context it’s vital for a company field mobility to have a strategy not only to meet the needs of the employees but also to drive productivity and remain competitive.

When comparing different mobile devices, companies tend to choose those that have the processing  power and functionality to support a growing number of multiple applications. 58% of the respondents are using mobile devices to capture signatures electronically, 30% plan to do it over the next two years. 45% are currently using devices to scan assets to help in inventory control, 38% plan to do it in the next 24 months.

Priorities

A good mobile device strategy allows companies to establish priorities to define what the technology can do – and what it should not do.

Security is a major issue, data security in general is a huge concern for any company and mobile access is no exception.

According to the survey’s findings it’s indispensable that mobile solutions provide access controls that will protect organizations if the device falls into the wrong hands, while also guard against viruses and non vetted applications that can compromise the security of data stored on the device. In order to achieve that, a level of centralised management is required.

Smartphones for the staff: what to buy

When it comes to smartphone for the employees the question is whether they have the right physical characteristics, capabilities and support to meet theirs needs on the field and also the support team needs.

When companies buy off the shelfs smartphones, security becomes the number one concern  (61%). Battery life is also an important issue (49%). Physical resistance is also a concern (42%), because each industry implicates different conditions in which this devices must perform.

A lot of companies expressed concern about off-the-shelf smartphones being used for non-business purposes, such as entertainment and the huge range of apps available. Length of warranty support is another issue that can ultimately affects the costs in a big way.

BYOD (bring your own device), is another concern. 78% of the respondents want to enable workers to bring their own devices over the next 24 months, and that 38% of them already do.

Usability of the screen is highly important. More than a third of the companies were concerned that the screen of an off-the-shelf smartphone wouldn’t be readable outdoors. If not, efficiency and customer satisfaction will definitely drop.

Important screen features

  • Usable in bright sun
  • Touch screen
  • Usable in rain
  • Usable with gloves
  • Screen stylus
  • Physical keypad