Connected business – bringing field workers and managers closer together

Jun 15, 2014 • FeaturesFleet Technologyfleet technologyTomTom Telematics

Ahead of his speech to delegates at the 2014 Service Management Expo Giles Margerison, TomTom Telematics’ Director UK & Ireland, considers the impact of technology on the changing face of field service management.

The activities of field workers have traditionally been managed as separate, distinct, operations to those of the back office – but times they are a changin’.

The face and pace of service business is being revolutionised by innovations in mobile workforce management.

The field is increasingly being brought into the fold with technology forging end-to-end connections between vehicles, field hardware, mobile workers, the back office, management and other departments. The value of this cannot be underestimated with data generated by field service fleets proving invaluable to numerous areas of a company – from customer relations to HR, sales and accounts.

What’s more it is becoming easier than ever to connect business hardware and software with fleet management technology. Out-of-the-box integrations mean back office systems are seamlessly connecting with vehicles and mobile workers without the need for expensive IT consultancy.

Harnessing big data to boost business performance

By using connected technologies to make smarter decisions, informing advancements in operational processes, radical improvements can be made to business performance and the bottom line.

Business connectivity is already having a major impact in the back office, where the integration of CRM, ERP, workflow planning and other software platforms has allowed companies to achieve significant efficiency gains.

Fleet management systems that have open APIs are now extending integration capabilities to the field – helping businesses harness the potential of big data to cut costs and achieve unprecedented levels of customer service.

The telematics gateway for M2M efficiency

Using an in-vehicle telematics unit to transmit field data to the back office, signature capture devices, for example, can now make use of job and GPS positional data from a fleet management platform to prove a delivery was made to a specific location at a particular time by a designated driver.

Similarly, mobile printers, paired by Bluetooth to an in-vehicle telematics box, can now print receipts or invoices enriched with this same information.

Accessed via fleet management software, all field data can be shared with back office software, including routing and scheduling and workflow management systems. By doing so, managers can ensure jobs or deliveries are completed punctually and customers notified in advance of precise arrival times, with work schedules planned in the most efficient manner, taking into account factors such as traffic or proximity.

Tomorrow’s world

Innovations such as TomTom Telematics’ PRO 8275 driver terminal extend field service capabilities even further, combining the capability of mobile hardware, satellite navigation and mobile business applications on a single device.

Bespoke apps for use on such terminals are now being developed, enabling it be tailored to meet specific business and service requirements – from conducting and submitting vehicle safety checks to recording proof of delivery.

Managers and drivers, as a result, are now being brought closer together than ever before with new M2M processes catapulting field service into a bold new era,