In the third and final part of our exclusive interview with Telogis UK General Manager Sergio Barata, we find out what Sergio's thoughts are on the impact of smart phones on field service software and what he thinks is the next stage for the field service industry...
FSN: Given your such a fan of the iPhone, do you think that the consumerisation of mobile devices has led to a major shift in the design of the interfaces you and your competitors are designing?
SB: Telogis never really developed heavily in a Windows Mobile development - we just never felt it was right for us. Our belief was that these things would take care of themselves.
There were companies that would have 20 engineers just developing an environment [for Windows mobile]. We just felt that this was never a model we could get behind, however, we were always happy to partner and integrate and take a more open approach.
Now with the newer iOS and Android systems we can take advantage of the situation and have some pretty compelling technologies. Just downloading an application and updating it now is completely seamless whereas previously companies had to throw thousands of pounds at project management to get an update out to the field. So we are big believers in what’s happening with the mobile handsets and tablets.
FSN: What is the biggest trend in solutions that you are seeing come to the market? What are your clients most commonly looking for today that they weren’t asking for two years ago?
SB: Today the market is asking for our platform. Two years ago we were pushing a platform and the benefits because we believed it was the right way forward, even though the market wasn’t necessarily asking for it. There were some organisations that were interested in that conversation - today we are finding that most of the market is asking for it.
One objection I have heard on a number of occasions is why would I deny the company the opportunity to have best of breed in all particular elements?
That’s an interesting discussion in that a large part of our platform, if you took it individually, is best of breed anyway. ABI Research last summer rated us as the most innovative telematics solution you can buy anywhere today. Even if we ranked third or fourth in each of those disciplines, it’s all about leveraging the data that each investment creates, rather than the sum of each of those pieces.
Now customers know what they are trying to achieve and ask us to present our platform. Often they may have a requirement for one of the elements, but it is now a very easy conversation to show the benefits of the whole holistic approach.
FSN: What do you think the next biggest technological advancement in field service will be?
SB: I think that bringing more Big Data to the field service individual, to the actual agent, is something we will see. I have seen it with driver behaviour for example. The traditional driver behaviour solution is that you put a unit in my vehicle, I drive and if I violate the rules then my line manager prints it out, confronts me and then hopefully I improve.
We have a solution called Telogis Coach, which has all of those same elements but does it in a very non-confrontational way. It gets the driver to buy into the process through a portal on his phone, which just creates a different dynamic and environment for him to digest the information. I personally think treating agents in this way will engage them more positively.
People are ready for more information as long as it is done in a way that the employee can say, “okay this is positive, it’s not big-brother, they’re not policing me”. The trends towards more efficiency will probably add more benefits for the agents as well, whether profit sharing or incentives.
FSN: What is the biggest difference between when you started in the industry and today?
SB: I think the biggest difference between when I started and today is now we have new devices and tools to deliver the level of information required, which along with more platforms mean you can bring more and increasingly diverse data together and interpret it better. As a result we are seeing greater understanding both from agents working in the field and in the central offices alike, helping organisations work smarter and better.