The Getac Z710 Android 4.1 rugged tablet has been officially certified by AirWatch – a global leader and innovator in mobile security and the largest Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) provider – for compatibility with its Mobile Device...
The Getac Z710 Android 4.1 rugged tablet has been officially certified by AirWatch – a global leader and innovator in mobile security and the largest Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) provider – for compatibility with its Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.
The assessment of Getac’s Z710 fully rugged tablet completed by AirWatch's quality assurance department included ensuring the device was able to fully handle asset tracking, commands, profile configuration, application management, Secure Content Locker™, AirWatch Browser and push services. The accreditation confirms that Getac’s tablet solution can be managed successfully by a systems administrator using the AirWatch platform.
Peter Molyneux, President at Getac UK, welcomed the announcement saying “The rugged construction of the Z710 Android tablet makes it an ideal choice for businesses needing field-based computing power in critical working environments, allowing them to push out updates, change settings and manage security without having to recall units. The new AirWatch accreditation means that our customers can be reassured that the Z710 can be managed remotely using one of the world’s leading industry standard platforms.”
Mr Molyneux added “The AirWatch platform features industry-leading MDM and application management, and gives businesses the confidence to use Android mobile devices in the field knowing they will continue to perform, and be secure.”
Ian Evans, AirWatch Managing Director for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region commented further saying: “The accreditation of Getac’s rugged tablet means businesses operating in demanding environments now have access to an industry-leading EMM solution that will optimise functionality while reducing costs and minimising downtime. We are confident this new partnership with leading rugged computing manufacturer Getac will enhance our joint solutions offering to field users across the UK and Europe.”
Gamestec, the largest gaming and amusement machine operator in the UK, provides services for over 35,000 machines in 10,500 locations. With many decades’ of experience, the company prides itself on the level of service it offers its customers...
Gamestec, the largest gaming and amusement machine operator in the UK, provides services for over 35,000 machines in 10,500 locations. With many decades’ of experience, the company prides itself on the level of service it offers its customers which include pubs, leisure venues, clubs, bars and service stations. They provide an end to end solution for the operation of the gaming system with 364 days per year customer care facility and over 1000 field based teams to ensure local experts are on hand.
Managing field workers and field service
As part of their commitment to customer care, Gamestec embarked on a project to replace their legacy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and improve customer service levels. Having evaluated many CRM options they chose to work with mplsystems to introduce a pioneering solution, utilising mplsystems’ iMobile technology that would not only provide a CRM solution but would also offer call and email handling, manage bookings and engineering visits and provide visibility of, and communications with, field workers.
Working with mplsystems, Gamestec devised a solution that was unique in that it collapses the service desk, planning and dispatch functions into a single ‘intelligent’ agent desktop, thereby enabling the contact centre to communicate directly with engineers’ smart phones. The desktop integrates Gamestec’s asset management; ordering and stock control systems and provides a mobile workforce management tool. iMobile smart phone app allows the company’s in-house contact centre to communicate directly with engineers’ PDAs, automatically allocating jobs according to the engineers’ skill, location and current workload. Should emergency appointments come up or clients change their bookings, schedules are dynamically optimised based on field engineers’ current locations and loading and real time updates sent to the appropriate engineer.
The custom agent desktop is designed to provide a single view of everything that the agent needs to resolve Gamestec client requests. It provides the agent with a complete view of the client’s service history, specific assets, locations as well as managing service bookings and schedules. This integrated approach has allowed Gamestec to change the way customer service is managed; previously, all service requests were passed through a number of separate departments, opening up the opportunity for errors and delays. The new desktop solution brings these teams into a cross-functional role covering help desk, customer service and planning. Now, requests are dealt with by one person who dispatches the request immediately out to the field. This real time view, along with other process improvements, has enabled service response times to decrease by 28%, or 44 minutes over the 12 months.
Providing real time customer updates: when a customer calls to check the progress of, or change to, a service request, the agent can provide an immediate update from a live map on their desktop showing in real time all engineers’ locations (via GPS), their skill sets and current loading.
End-to-end service request reporting improves customer satisfaction: management is provided with real time monitoring of service requests, escalations and SLA adherence. Using hour by hour and day by day reports, aged issues can be captured quickly, escalation effectively managed and communicated to both field staff and customers advising them of completion timescales.
Prior to the iMobile deployment, Gamestec had needed separate contact centre technology, CRM and handheld devices to maintain communications with engineers. These systems required multiple licenses and were expensive to maintain and support and were proving to be inflexible. By deploying the new solution to cover all 3 functional areas, Gamestec has experienced an 88% reduction in on-going IT costs and has enabled increased efficiency across the organisation in how service and field workers are deployed.
Many of the UK’s courier businesses are small to medium sized operations, frequently employing fewer than 10 staff. For smaller firms like this operating in a highly competitive space, service reliability and customer satisfaction is everything...
Many of the UK’s courier businesses are small to medium sized operations, frequently employing fewer than 10 staff. For smaller firms like this operating in a highly competitive space, service reliability and customer satisfaction is everything and couriers understand the importance of having the right technology to achieve a competitive edge. Scheduling and proof of delivery systems are essential elements for any courier company but in addition, social media offers an opportunity to both improve competitive advantage and build a compelling brand offering.
As well as helping to create a distinctive brand, social media activity has a direct impact on the effectiveness of a search engine optimisation (SEO) programme, since, properly done, it signals to Google and other search engines that you are communicating relevant content on a regular basis with your community. This will inevitably improve search rankings and mean your website is more likely to be found by prospective customers looking for courier services.
One of the issues with social media is that although entry costs are low and anyone can set up a Twitter or Facebook account, the process of communicating itself can be time and resource intensive. Given how important it is for SEO and inbound lead generation - how can courier companies and especially the small to medium sized providers - incorporate social media into their business offering?
Don’t delegate to the most junior person
The first point to understand is that regardless of how small a company is, they should be dedicating some time and thought to social media. The second point is that social media is important and should not be relegated to an activity controlled by someone very junior at an organisation, even if they are an expert on Facebook or Twitter. Would you let a trainee loose with your most important customers? Probably not, so why let them be in charge of your company’s social communications? Whilst it is unlikely they will create a social crisis, their industry knowledge is probably lacking and this won’t help you to build credibility amongst customers and industry peers. Instead ask them to share their knowledge of techniques and combine this with your deeper knowledge to create more compelling content.
Plan the content calendar to balance quality with quantity
Next, decide what to say and what content to share. Planning needs to be done on a weekly basis and involves creating a spreadsheet detailing what messages are important and on what platforms they will be shared. Working this way means you won’t overlook key messages and also means you can be more time efficient because it becomes possible to schedule announcements. When compiling a content calendar for the week, be mindful of the quality vs. quantity balance. It is more worthwhile to make two or three valuable updates a day than be ‘twittering on’ about something inconsequential.
Demonstrate your industry expertise with blogs
For an effective social media strategy, relevant content is everything and having regular, well written blog posts to share is essential. As a courier firm using social media, your primary goal should be demonstrating expertise and the fact that you are more knowledgeable about your industry than competitors. This strategy will enable you to differentiate your offering more easily and win a regular following.
One of the top ways to demonstrate expertise is by posting relevant blogs. For a courier, this could be on topics such as e-commerce shopping trends, delivery efficiency levels or industry statistics - all of which would feature relevant search terms or keywords. Having keyword optimised blog posts means that they will be found easily online and become an important source of traffic to your website.
Introduce social customer service
Social media offers a chance to engage directly with customers expecting deliveries and parcels. Many couriers rely on text messages and emails, directing customers to a website for real-time updates. Social media is also a real-time and very visible medium so why not communicate via Twitter or Facebook to confirm delivery times and gain feedback on your service? Certain customers will prefer this to more traditional channels, so by adapting your approach to suit their needs, you will help to build stronger brand loyalty.
Be analytical to determine what works well
Finally, measure everything you do with social media to understand what works and what is less effective. Be prepared to see a wide range of results from different activities and be open minded enough to accept when a strategy is less effective and change the approach.
A cursory scan of the social media activities of different courier companies shows that whilst some are actively using Twitter and Facebook for instance, a larger number have yet to take the plunge. There is also a wide difference between the tactics used by those using social media already and some couriers are using it very effectively to communicate with customers whilst others are taking a less interactive approach and using it for one way communication primarily.
Top tips for creating interesting blogs
Ten ideas for potential blogs relevant to courier companies, which provide keyword rich content.[unordered_list style="bullet"]
- Any interesting / unusual parcels delivered on time and in perfect condition?
- Celebrate important new contracts won with customers
- Discuss the latest technology and how it is of commercial benefit
- Discuss how technology helps job scheduling and miles on the road
- Highlight any use of bio-fuels or green vehicles
- Contrast regional trends in customer behaviour, e.g. popular delivery times, delivery to home or business addresses
- Comment on industry developments – mergers, funding, new launches
- Fundraising and work in the community undertaken
- Highlight important media coverage and include links to the articles
- New personnel who have joined the company and further expansion plans
For any field service organisation there is often one simple key objective, to deliver excellent customer service whilst working as effectively as possible.
For any field service organisation there is often one simple key objective, to deliver excellent customer service whilst working as effectively as possible.
However, we are working in a market place where both economic pressures and customer demands have risen to greater levels than possibly ever before and sometimes it may seem like this ‘simple’ objective is becoming increasingly unachievable. Yet at the same time we are seeing technology at our disposal moving forward in quantum leaps, as we witness technologies emerge that can and will literally change the shape of the field service industry as we know it.
Multi-person video conferencing enabled by increasing mobile internet speeds is now a common place reality when not so long ago it was the domain of science fiction. The field engineer facing on site who doesn’t have the requisite knowledge to deliver a first time is now able to access a wealth of information and advice direct from his handset, he can see where the nearest parts he requires are and if their not readily available he can order them and schedule the appointment with Mr. Bloggs there and then. (First of course checking that Mr. Bloggs account has the correct privileges and if he doesn’t than the engineer can is perfectly placed to up-sell!!)
Then there is the Cloud… Many of the initial fears around cloud based computing, a large number of companies were hesitant to move business functions into the cloud with security worries at the top of the list of peoples reasons for hesitancy, are now being allayed and the reality is that cloud technologies offer an incredible opportunity for the service industry.
If having fast mobile devices is the key, then having knowledge bases, communications platforms and even central systems in the cloud, is the door that opens the way into a whole new world of service excellence.
Even better, unlike the majority of technologies, which are prohibitively expensive when they first emerge, the cloud is in fact the opposite. Suddenly expensive and complex service management systems that were once the exclusive domain of the enterprise organization are now available as Software as a Service, bringing the cost per person down in some cases to under $100 a head.
In a period of continuing economic uncertainty, where Service is a major battle field in all manner of industries, the combination of ever improving mobile data speeds and cloud computing is a clear example of how technology is changing the shape of the industry today.
Of course, not every company is able to or indeed should invest in every new piece of technology and software that comes along. Indeed what is cutting edge today could well be obsolete within a few short years, and no matter where we see similarities in service departments, and we see them in wide and diverse industries, the simple truth is no one service story can ever be the same. Companies, like individuals require a solution that is geared just for them.
However, having an understanding of the technologies available and the advantages they may bring to your service department is a core responsibility of every field service manager.
It’s vital that field service managers understand what the options available to them are, whilst taking the time to understand their own needs and weaknesses and then find the system or systems that are fit for purpose
There is plenty of good information out there (including of course this very website!) and another source of good and refreshingly impartial advice is Service Max’s new ebook “A Definitive Guide to Modern Field Service Management”. Which we are very pleased to be able to offer to you for free when you subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter.
Drawing on research from Gartner, Aberdeen, The Service Council and Forrester as well as a real life case study this ebook gives insightful and concise advice on how technologies such as cloud, SaaS, big data and analytics, smart phones and tablets and optimised scheduling engines can be brought together to empower organisations to adopt a fully 360° view of the service they deliver.
Whilst building a service business entirely from scratch might seem like a dream for many Service Managers when facing the trials and tribulations that are often the result of many legacies, it is none the less a daunting task and certainly no...
Whilst building a service business entirely from scratch might seem like a dream for many Service Managers when facing the trials and tribulations that are often the result of many legacies, it is none the less a daunting task and certainly no mean feat. However, for Daryll Brown, Operations and Service Manager with Bürkert Fluid Control Systems this was exactly the task he was employed to do. In this exclusive interview he explains just how he has approached building a service division from a standing start...
FSN: Building a service business from scratch must be both a daunting and exciting proposition, what was the approach you adopted in taking the first steps to achieving this goal?
DB: Our approach to building a service business from scratch is to first of all define what can be thought of as service in our industry.
Fluid controls are a very complex business and there is not a clear description of what is traditionally known as service work. We need to define what we class as service work and then develop products that would be attractive to our customers.
Some of our definitions of service include Installation of Bürkert products and systems, continuous service of Bürkert products and systems, planned maintenance and breakdown cover for Bürkert products, installation and commissioning, consultancy, design, calibration and training. As things stand most of our products do not lend themselves easily to service maintenance. This is because there is not always what you would call spare parts that need to be replaced. Also a lot of our products are designed for one time use and they may last for years. So we need to be very creative with our offering.
FSN: What approach have you taken to scheduling software, are you using a manual, automated or optimized system? Why did you take this approach? Which provider are you working with and what made you choose them?
DB: This is unique for us as we do not necessarily need scheduling to cope with high volume demand we need it more to manage our complexity. Having had experience in implementing field service software in my previous company I knew that the generic service software packages out there were not going to be as flexible as we would like.
Most offer an out of the box solution which never seems to do exactly what you need. You then seem to spend time (and money) on modifying the software to meet your needs. I think a lot of software companies fall into the trap of thinking all service businesses are alike.
For us this isn’t the case so we have decided to develop our current quality and asset management software (Q-Pulse) to be able to manage our service work. This has the added advantage as we are already very familiar with the software and we have a lot of scope to develop and modify to suit our needs.
FSN: What logistics solutions do you have in place to ensure that your field engineers can get the right parts as soon as possible?
DB: As mentioned our service work is quite complex and some visits have to be planned months in advance. This gives our logistics team time to plan when and where our parts can be delivered and stocked. Bürkert’s UK core business is mainly distribution of product from our Plants in Germany and France so we are already well versed in managing the logistic supply chain. When the business grows we will need to think of innovative ways of supporting our service teams with some of our faster moving items. Again from past experience I have found that having a partnership with a flexible logistic partner is worth its weight in gold.
FSN: How are you monitoring driver behaviour? What tools are you using (GPS, telematics etc)?
DB: Roads in the UK are becoming busier and this presents a challenge for any service business. We have put a lot of thought into using the outside of our service van to market our business and products so we do not want our drivers to give us a bad name. So we have had all those who drive our van read our companies driver handbook and then sign a declaration that they will comply.
We have also made this an agenda point at our Management review as ideas have been raised regarding advanced driver courses. This would have the added advantage of potentially lowering insurance costs.
We do not have this issue of needing to know up to the minute the location of our Engineers. Nor do we currently have any trust issue which would warrant GPS tracking.
FSN: Who else within the organisation do you liaise with when making decisions that will impact upon how the service department operates?
The Bürkert UK business is ran by a small Management team of five members. These represent areas such as General Manager, Logistics, Finance, Quality and Sales. Due to our business structure and all of these areas need to be involved in the decision making process. As we are only a small business here in the UK every action has a reaction and this means all departments have to work closely together. As past experience has taught me this is no bad thing. For me even in larger organisations if all departments are working closely together and not in silos key decisions revolving around the service business are made more quickly and effectively with less risk.
FSN: Have you been able to integrate the service division with other divisions within the organisation such as sales or client services? What challenges did you face?
DB: We are still in the early days of developing our service business. For now our project engineers are also doubling as our service engineers. This is not necessarily a bad thing as we are starting with our service already integrated into other areas of the business.
For me all areas of the business working closely together is critical. All processes tend to cross over into different areas of the business and often this is where most processes come unstuck. If ran as a process and not a interlink of different activities in different areas the service business will run a whole lot better. For instance in the past I have often been called to meetings with the logistics departments to complain about the amount of stock in the service business.
If managed as a process then the logistics teams who are setup to manage other needs of the business can account for the service business. This will help them to adjust themselves to meet the completely different demands of service.
FSN: You personally also have a wide skill set holding an advanced certificate in Sales and Marketing (Institute of Marketing Management ILMM 2007). What led you to a career as a service management professional? What are the key skills that you think are required to be a good service manager?
DB: I spent 24 years with my pervious company and I worked in several different departments including operations, quality, sales and customer service. This gave me a good understanding of the overall business and a good grounding in organising teams and coping with different demands. For this reason I think the senior management thought I may be a good choice as a service manager. Service has been by far my biggest challenge as it seems to involve so many variables and crosses over more boundary lines then I had seen before. In my old business service was managed as part of the sales business. If I were still there today I would have definitely recommended managing service as a separate cost Centre. This is because the needs of a service customer are completely different to that of other customers. This should be managed by a focused service team with no distractions and to key performance targets that are service related and not just sales related.
FSN: What are the biggest challenges you think the field service industry faces and how have you set up the service business at Burkert to overcome these challenges?
DB: Of course there a different types of service businesses which will face different challenges. However, there are challenges that are generic and affect all service businesses.
For me one of the biggest challenges is the modern lean business trends. This drives a cost cutting culture in all industries which makes customers demand more for less. When you are selling service there tends to be a lot less overhead to play with. One extra day on site due to an unforeseen issue and your margin disappears. So at Bürkert our way of overcoming this issue is preparation (and lots of it).
Planning needs to accurate, costing needs to be accurate and the timing needs to be spot on! This is of course easier said than done. So to endeavor to make this happen as mentioned before we have developed our software package to effectively manage our service business. Our logistics are integrated with our service offering so that we have the parts available when our customers need them. All areas of our business are part of our decision making to facilitate us managing our service as a process and not as a group of individual activities.
However, we know we cannot afford to sit still we need to look for ways to continually improve our service offering. For this reason our marketing team is working closely with our customers to keep up with the latest developments in our market. We have put together key performance indicators that are based on areas that our customers value. We hold regular improvement events to review the feedback that these items give us so that we can continue to develop our business to be customer focused and deliver value.
Bürkert at a glance:
Industry = Fluid Controls
Number of Field Engineers UK only = 3 (these also double as Project Engineers).
Number of Dispatchers = None (not set up as yet)
Average number of jobs per Engineer = 1 (our work is quite technical)
More and more extreme weather events are occurring around the globe and the UK in particular has experienced a strengthening in the severity of extreme weather over the past few years. In recent days we have seen terrible and tragic after-effects...
More and more extreme weather events are occurring around the globe and the UK in particular has experienced a strengthening in the severity of extreme weather over the past few years. In recent days we have seen terrible and tragic after-effects of severer weather in The Philippines and Sardinia. Only a few weeks ago we saw southern England brought to a standstill as hurricane-force winds and torrential rain battered the region with gusts of almost 100mph ripping up trees, causing flash flooding and leaving at least 220,000 homes without power.
The severity of extreme weather events varies. Sometimes the damage is limited but in some cases, and indeed following today’s events, there is widespread damage such as flooded basements, broken gas lines, impassable roads and interruptions in cable and phone service.
There is a lot of pressure on field service organisations to respond to these disasters. Road-clearing crews and utility workers, for instance, get dispatched as soon as the situation permits. Plumbers, electricians, construction workers and HVAC technicians are sent to the scene to reconnect services and rebuild damaged structures.
Telematics, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, GPS and cellular communications have been playing an increasing role in guiding field service teams, tracking progress and assigning workers in the aftermath of extreme weather events where safety is a concern. As an increasing number of organisations take advantage of these technologies they are becoming more sophisticated, offering new ways to be efficient and responsive.
Field service technology for the unexpected
An increasing number of Field Service organisations are adopting next-generation workforce management solutions which leverage Fleet Management technology and GPS data to deliver real-time information about worker and vehicle locations and the progress of their work. It provides dynamic scheduling tools to optimise in-day and scheduled work, and performance analytics that help make on-the-spot resource deployment decisions as well as prepare for future events.
The technology provides dispatchers and managers full visibility into work in the field so they can better plan and track the work. Centralised consoles and dynamic GIS maps offer real-time visibility on crew locations. A dispatcher knows exactly when a worker(s) arrive at a job, how long they spend there, and when they leave. So when an assignment is completed, the dispatcher can send the crew to the next task in a smarter, more efficient way and, rather than sending a crew across town for the next assignment, the dispatcher looks on the digital map to see where the nearest job is. Shorter distances between jobs mean less time traveling and more time restoring service.
The technology also collects data on the experience and preferences of workers. If a field worker is more familiar than others with a certain area of town, it makes sense to send that worker to assignments there because the worker already knows back roads, shortcuts and the general lay of the land. In addition, next-generation workforce management solutions feature self-learning tools that “learn” workers’ preferences on geography and types of tasks, which helps fine-tune the assignment of workers to needed tasks. It also helps to reduce overtime costs, travel time and missed assignments.
As the workday progresses, managers and dispatchers receive a constant stream of information on GPS location coordinates and the amount of time spent on each assignment. If certain roads are impassable, dispatchers can plan alternative routes to avoid delays. Using fleet management, dispatchers can route drivers around roads shut by fallen trees or flooding. This helps optimise routing and worker productivity, while improving worker safety.
When workforce management is in use, an exception management tool takes note of when tasks are at risk of being missed and a customer may be in danger and not receiving critical service. Alerts are sent to dispatchers about such situations and other scheduling issues so that they can react and reassign field teams as needed.
Beyond field situations, workforce management delivers analytics about the performance and responsiveness of each worker and team. Organisations compile the data into reports for review to spot trends and the need for improvements. For instance, if crews took too long to arrive, managers can better plan standby crews for future situations.
Use of analytical data helps improve productivity, making it possible to complete more jobs per day, and helps control costs. For field service organisations, squeezing more jobs into one day in the aftermath of a disaster accelerates the resumption of operations, which helps to minimise lost revenue and bring employees back to work more quickly. It also creates goodwill among customers, who often get frustrated when service restoration takes too long, especially after a storm or strong winds.
Workforce management increases accountability as well, by collecting accurate, reliable information on field operations and associated costs. Managers are better equipped to make the right decisions regarding resource deployment during emergencies and on a daily basis. Beyond that, organisations that base decisions on accurate, meaningful information that reveals historical patterns, trends and metrics can respond more effectively to not only day-to-day tasks but to the next storm, flood, heat wave or blizzard.
The municipal utility in Anderson, IN, USA has adopted Trimble Field Management, a GPS-based field services management technology. Before that, when ice storms, blizzards or thunderstorms pulled down power lines in Anderson, the utility department tracked its crews by making phone calls and writing their positions on a chalkboard. “When there were storms, the board looked like a chess game. Now, we know exactly where each vehicle is and can schedule repairs by a truck’s proximity to the outage,” says Jason Tuck, GIS consultant and former GIS Manager for Anderson Municipal Power & Light Division. “We can see our trucks real-time on a map and make faster and more confident decisions because we know their locations are more accurate.”
The public works department in Brookline, USA, can immediately respond to stranded crews by tracking their progress constantly. “Now if there’s a snowstorm and a truck breaks down, we know exactly where to find it and the driver,” says Mark Parece, the town’s fleet manager.
At White Mountain Oil & Propane, North Conway, NH, Trimble Fleet Management technology has proven invaluable in such cases. “Managers can receive off-hours service or emergency calls (when dispatch is closed), log in, and in a minute know exactly where the problem is and send help,” says Todd Miller, the company’s manager of administration. This can be lifesaving when power outages from an ice storm or blizzard leave the elderly or families stranded in freezing temperatures without heat.
The company that is seen as a leader within it's field in the UK has opted to utilise Paragon’s Fleet Controller system and integrate this with a live vehicle tracking feed, provided by 49 TomTom PRO 9150 navigation units, taking advantage of the systems's advanced vehicle routing and scheduling software. The result is a real time plan versus actual performance information delivered to the Agrii transport and customer service teams, also enabling customers to receive updated ETAs using Fleet Controller’s text messaging facility.
“By integrating Paragon and TomTom technology we are able to plan and manage deliveries of more than 350 orders a day, which given the location and type of customers we serve would be a logistical challenge if we didn’t use this solution,” said Tony Frain, Agrii’s Logistics Manager.
“The software allows us to offer customers the opportunity to place orders up to 10.30 pm and we’ll guarantee delivery if stocks are available by the next working day in three slots: before 9am, before 12pm or next day.”
Paragon also provides timed web-based reporting to Agrii customer services, with scheduled route timings updated every few minutes based on the live tracking information. This informs the customer service agents of real-time delivery activity and allows them to prepare customers to receive their deliveries. With the nature of their business meaning many deliveries require a forklift to unload the vehicle , this efficiency allows for streamlining the delivery process saving valuable time for both Agrii and their clients alike.
With the TomTom units providing intelligent navigation and live traffic information to help drivers avoid congestion Agrii are able to make further savings in both time and money and the all-in-one business tool combines navigation and GPS tracking in one single, portable, device is an major benefit.
Other benefits of the system are it's flexibility - Agrii's operation is heavily seasonal so the versatility of the solution means that the company can increase and reduce the size of the hire fleet without the cost of installing and removing hardwired equipment, and also the well documented benefits of monitoring driver behaviour including duty of care obligations. Also drivers can accurately report their working time by entering their ID into the device, tapping the screen to record when they start and finish work which in turn is automatically fed back into Agrii’s payroll system.
Agrii’s Alconbury depot is supplying 6,000 customers who range from small farms to large commercial operations growing products for supermarkets. They are located as far north as the Humber Estuary and south to the Thames Estuary, along the coast of the North Sea in the east and west to the M40 corridor. The drivers deliver the orders direct to the farm’s chemical storage facilities, the locations for which have been located accurately using the GPS vehicle-tracking units. This ensures that each store is mapped on the system.
“By plotting the X and Y coordinates for the chemical stores our drivers can navigate directly to the site,” added Tony Frain.
“This streamlines the delivery because using a postcode alone would only take them to within a kilometre of the location. If we can get the driver within 10 to 20 metres of the store, it improves our performance and the level of service we offer our customers.”
With a fully integrated product across the two companies customers are set to benefit from one integrated contact centre solution based on Intelecom Connect and Verint Impact 360 workforce management Software. The offering is available in one...
With a fully integrated product across the two companies customers are set to benefit from one integrated contact centre solution based on Intelecom Connect and Verint Impact 360 workforce management Software. The offering is available in one flexible cloud-based deployment model.
Intelecom Group AS, a provider of cloud contact centre technology, have announced the availability of Verint Systems's Impact 360 workforce management and optimisation software as a cloud-based solution integrated into Intelecom Connect. This follows the organisations commencing their relationship earlier this year in May 2013 and is impressive in the speed at which they have ben able to collaborate as well as the depth of the proposition. Adding to Intelcom's contact solution, Verint are prominently placed in a field they define as "Actionable Intelligence" solutions and their product line already includes a suite of award-winning workforce optimisation software as well as an analytics tool Voice of Customer Analytics.
The closer alignment of service to other divisions within an organisation is one that is often cited as a critical steep in moving from cost centre to profit centre, or at the very least in increasing efficiency and reducing costs simultaneously. Of course one of the most obvious and simplest divisions for alignment to the service centre in in many cases is the contact centre as often they fulfil many similar if not overlapping functions.
An integrated, cloud-based solution will help multi-site, multichannel contact centres capture a full range of customer interactions for quality, compliance and customer intelligence that can be used to enhance operations, improve performance and heighten the customer experience. It also opens the doors wide to operational transparency which is key to the successful operation of an efficient service division.
When we then add in the more standard service management-esque elemeents to the solution which can help organisations automate workforce management, including staff forecasting and scheduling, and the ability to track agent adherence, while providing performance management we are starting to see yet another example of the more holistic platform approach to software that Sergio Barata referred to in his recent feature .
Torkel Engeness, CEO of Intelecom comments, “An increasing number of our customers using our cloud-based contact centre are placing more focus on enhancing the customer experience. There are clear benefits in using a robust and well-known workforce optimisation technology, deployed in the same flexible cloud model as our core product. Verint, with its proven portfolio of WFO and VoC Analytics solutions, makes it an ideal partner for Intelecom.”
Nick Nonini, Senior Vice President Sales, Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions™adds, “Verint is committed to working with select partners to deliver our portfolio of solutions in the cloud. Our customers and the industry at-large continue to recognise Verint as the market leader and innovator in deploying WFO applications in a variety of environments, from on-premises to the cloud. With this partnership, Intelecom’s customers have access to a fully-integrated, cloud-based WFO solution.”
Intelecom Connect is at the time of writing as close as any other offering to being the complete contact centre solution available in the cloud. Of course the fact that it follows the SaaS model also provides a number of other benefits including being affordable to those companies for whom such technology may previously been prohibitively expensive to obtain.
The flexibility of the Connect application programming interface and Web Services allows seamless integration into third-party software environments. This partnership not only provides Intelecom customers with advanced workforce management technology typically associated with on-premise licensing, but also makes it available on an integrated in-the-cloud, pay-as-you-use basis from a single supplier. Offering customers flexibility in deployment, it also can help them meet their business requirements as they evolve.
Verint’s Impact 360 Workforce Optimisation suite enables organisations to capture, analyse and act on customer, business and market intelligence, and gain a complete multichannel view of customer interactions and experiences. Again the type of technology at the top of a lot of field service managers wish lists currently.
Using tools like this companies can identify opportunities to refine and enhance products and services; maximise information and workflow across functions; learn about competitive and other changing market dynamics; fine-tune internal business processes; enhance staff sales/service delivery; reduce operating costs; and realise new revenue opportunities. All extremely commendable in its own right.
Brought together these options certainly make for a compelling package and it's good to see such strong collaboration yielding impressive initial results.
The explosion of mobility and connected services means that fully integrated fleet management, route and job allocation is now a compelling option. Sergio Barata, General Manager of EMEA at Telogis explains.
The explosion of mobility and connected services means that fully integrated fleet management, route and job allocation is now a compelling option. Sergio Barata, General Manager of EMEA at Telogis explains.
Traditionally fleet management systems, navigation, route optimisation, workforce management and job allocation are different disciplines, provided by a different set of vendors, and used by different functions within the enterprise. Typically these systems didn’t talk to each other, creating silos of data. However, with the current proliferation of remote working, reliable connected services and affordable mobile devices, enterprises are now starting to recognise that the systems should be integrated and, indeed, there is no reason for them not to be integrated.
Maintaining a piecemeal approach to mobile resource management is a huge overhead in terms of both resources and cost, individual solutions lack scalability and at best provide a patchy service in terms of meeting the objectives of the organisation. A lesson that many enterprises are now learning and a situation that many are looking to rectify with a fully integrated location platform approach.
One-stop-shop, global visibility
Recently developed, a platform approach to location intelligence means that one company provides everything to do with managing mobile resources, whether vehicles, equipment or personnel. This supports enterprise-wide strategies for handling mobile IT. A single platform reduces costs, risk and overhead. A platform approach can be rolled out across disparate regions, giving international visibility across the entire organisation.
A single platform giving scheduling, route optimisation and fleet management in one place is able to provide a dashboard to cover all, customisable to the individual user so that they see exactly what they need to see in order to do their job most effectively. With one system, users log in just once to see everything on one screen.
Cloud delivery, faster ROI
Delivery via the Cloud brings a whole host of additional benefits. Faster return on investment (ROI) is often the initial attraction, but longer term reduction in maintenance overheads, and a total lower cost of ownership, are also significant cost factors. With no upfront capital costs, cloud solutions eliminate the need to purchase or upgrade servers, operating systems or database versions. Cloud services minimise costs by leveraging existing IT investments, so expenditure on infrastructure and the staff to maintain it is minimised. Business benefits include access to a global solution, full integration between disciplines enabling better operational planning and execution, and business decisions taken based on fact.
In addition, cloud solutions are continuously updated, so you get the best. Cloud solutions provide new and valuable capabilities through the lifetime of the service, ensuring that your solution keeps pace with business requirements and changing technology.
Harness technology, empower staff
A cloud delivery model coupled with hardware agnostic solutions, enables organisations to use existing kit, with no need to upgrade or replace devices already installed in vehicles or issued to staff. When all you require is a web browser, there is no need to standardise on hardware and in many cases enterprises are able to take advantage of the consumerisation of IT and ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trends. Subject to some restrictions due to security considerations, staff can use devices of their choice. This keeps staff happy and can reduce hardware spend.
Improved access and mobility means staff are freed up to concentrate on the next job, rather than spending time going back to base. Workers have constant access to real-time data which support decision making. Supervisors and managers can ensure that the best person in the right location with appropriate skills and equipment, is allocated the job.
One version of the truth
One system, one version of the truth, updated in real time enables enterprises to streamline business operations and drive efficiency. The ability for multiple people to work on one cloud-based solution helps to drive efficiency with one-time data entry. Managers/supervisors/workers can capture job/work allocation information, using smartphones. Field updates are reflected instantly for all to see allowing users in multiple locations to collaborate.
The real time nature of cloud solutions means that (restricted) access can be given to subcontractors or even third parties, when working in collaboration.
The case for a platform approach delivered via the Cloud is compelling in terms of ROI on the systems in a replacement/technology refresh situation, however, the operational benefits from such systems are also highly attractive:
Workforce Efficiency – routes are optimised, staff are allocated jobs based on equipment, skills, location, and any other criteria required
Fleet management – vehicles are maintained, service requirements monitor, mileage accounted for, including out of hours usage
Fuel savings - Analysis of information from accounts/fuel receipts, mileage, routes taken, ensures best value
Driver behaviour – in-vehicle telemetry alerts to poor driving behaviour such as harsh breaking/acceleration, sharp cornering, driving without seatbelt etc, enabling training to be given to ensure safety is maintained
Better customer service – knowing the location of staff and resources means information can be given to customers on estimated time of delivery/arrival, helping to improve customer relations
For more information about how your organisation could benefit from a Location Platform approach please visit: www.telogis.co.uk