Earlier this year Telogis launched a new mobile application 'Spotlight' at the CV Show. Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News, caught up with Sergio Barata, Telogis, General Manager, EMEA to see find out more about the application and to see how it has been received in the initial months after launch.
Telogis can often be a somewhat confusing organisation to pin down in terms of where their offering sits exactly. The easiest place to pigeon-hole them for many is simply alongside other telematics software solutions such as Microlise or their new(ish) stable mates Fleetmatics. But when you scratch the surface there is a lot, lot more to the Telogis platform that resembles much of the capabilities of field service centric solutions. Then there is the big, and growing focus on mobile.
This is something that Barata confirms when we speak commenting that the general trend for Telogis in terms of innovation in their solution across the last few years has seen "a big, big drive towards mobility enablement."
And this is really where Spotlight, the latest app from Telogis sits. As Barata explains:
"We started with some simple things [in terms of mobile applications] like vehicle inspection apps and driver behaviour coaching apps etc but what we have seen is that companies want to drive mobile adoption not just on those tactical business initiatives, we are actually seeing our customers wanting to engage less and less with most applications on a computer and they actually prefer to engage with a mobile app."
"I've certainly had this experience myself, I used to log onto my online banking on my computer all the time and now I rarely do it - maybe occasionally, for something very specific, but a mobile app will get me through about 80% of my requirement and it is just so much more convenient - and in my opinion secure because of technologies like fingerprint identifications etc."
"Our customers are going through those same experiences and creating their own similar expectations of our technologies. Spotlight really brings us a big step closer to delivering that experience."
So what exactly is Spotlight?
Barata describes it as "a mobile app that essentially brings all of the key metrics and key data for any fleet manager or operations manager into a single mobile experience." The application experience itself can split up the information it presents into all of the key areas of interest whether it be safety, efficiency, job execution, productivity, fleet utilisation etc. Which could certainly give handy at a glance insight to field service managers, especially those that are often on the road themselves. As Barata comments 'it is almost replacing the need to create automated reports and alerts and having to log into to web browsers each time you want to review some aspect of your operations."
Whilst having this information easily to hand could be of use, there is a danger that it could be useless unless configurable not only to specific organisations needs but also to specific needs based on the job function of who is using it. So how configurable is Spotlight and does it have the same full functionality as a browser based dashboard type of tool we have become accustomed to? Is it configurable from the app or does it need to be set up online?
"Data metrics that come out of these systems can be overwhelming, there is a lot of data these days" Barata comments "therefore the key to the app being impactful and simple is that you go into the web portal and set up the configuration and essentially define the experience you are looking for on the mobile in the back end."
"A lot of the key users of our systems are typically quite operational themselves. There may be a field line manager who himself is managing 20 service techs, but has to physically be in the field himself, so is in that mobile state all the time."
"Having the ability for him to identify that job execution i.e knowing his engineers have hit there jobs and there planned schedules for the day, is a top priority whilst having things like driver safety, speeding or vehicle efficiency etc as a secondary priority and then having the app set up so they can the metrics that are important to them immediately as they log into the app - that is what makes it the data valuable for them. With that in mind the web portals and the solutions that we have for all our dashboards are very configurable, we have very comprehensive hierarchies and all the typical options you would expect allowing you to carve out the data for the right person. Spotlight is then a natural extension of that, that takes the concept of putting the right data directly onto the right persons mobile device."
I think the real value for someone in the operational world is more around questions like 'are we hitting our plan, are we hitting our jobs, our customer service metrics'
"A lot of other companies are able to providing similar applications that are providing that sort of information, I think that is certainly true," replies Barata when our conversation turns to this point, "there are some solutions out there that offer similar capabilities, but the way we have always geared our proposition, as a full platform, means we are not just offering a vehicle centric view of the business. We have got scheduling, planning, planned-versus-actual capabilities and that similar operationally focussed metrics as well. So yes, whilst on the one hand we are providing our clients with the core vehicle metrics if that's what they are looking for, which some other companies may also do, I think the real value for someone in the operational world is more around questions like 'are we hitting our plan, are we hitting our jobs, our customer service metrics' and only with a full platform you gain that sort of insight and get that sort of view."
The goal is to give the field management a holistic perspective of what is going on in their businesses. I doubt many are looking at safety and and speeding metrics all day, every day,
The question I mentioned in the opening of this article was just how do we view Telogis? Should we see them as a provider of a fleet management tool with some field service management capabilities or a field service management tool with advanced fleet management capabilities?
Perhaps with Spotlight Telogis have answered in some way that question - as the tool allows the Telogis platform to be a useful vehicle maintenance tool (especially when aligned to vehicles provided by OEMs Telogis have partnered with) for the fleet manager, whilst simultaneously surfacing the right operational data that is important for the field service manager. Could the answer be simply that the Telogis platform is capable of being both fleet management and field service management and doing both well?