Research update: Mobility in field service

Mar 30 • Features, Hardware, Research • 4182 Views • No Comments on Research update: Mobility in field service


Field Service News is currently undertaking a research project into what types of mobility tool are being used by field service companies. What types of hardware and software are being used? How are companies selecting the right solution for their engineers? What feedback are their engineers giving them and what benefits are being delivered through digital mobility solutions? 

The survey is coming to a close at the end of this week so if you want to make your voice heard and enter the survey now by clicking this link. All respondents will get a full copy of an exclusive white paper based on the findings of this research and also thanks to our sponsors Advanced Field Service we are also offering three x £50 Amazon vouchers for those who opt to enter our prize draw.

Types of devices being used in the field

It is perhaps no surprise by now that most companies are using some form of digital device. We have been going through a digital revolution across the last decade and no industry has felt the impact of this change as keenly as field service.

Indeed out in the wider world of industry the emergence of Enterprise Mobility as a definable, and eminently sizeable industry that will ultimately dwarf the size of the field technology sector considerably, has now firmly taken root.

The field service industry, which has more complex needs than it’s younger cousin of Enterprise Mobility, is also a far more mature market in general.

However, the field service industry, which has more complex needs than it’s younger cousin of Enterprise Mobility, is also a far more mature market in general.

In fact our research indicates that the majority of companies are using a mix of differing digital devices, with 50% stating this is the case. This would make sense as many field service organisations are now in their second, third or even fourth generation of digital device being rolled out to their field engineers.

However, when it comes to those companies that have rolled out just one device to their mobile workforce the results so far certainly raised a few surprises. Perhaps the biggest of this is that despite the high profile increase in tablet computing, of those companies responding to our survey so far only 4% are using tablets exclusively.

This is only fractionally greater than those companies using PDAs exclusively which was just 3%. However, if we think that PDAs were the dominant mobile device in the not so distant past it is interesting to see such a dramatic decline as these devices essentially become faded out to obselition.

Of course the natural successor to PDAs is the smart phone and the number of companies relying on smart phones only as their field service engineers’ working tool was a relatively sizeable 14%.

The most frequently provided tool in isolation remains the laptop with 32% of companies providing only these to their field engineers.

However, despite the rise in prominence of the smart phone as a valid tool for field engineers, the most frequently provided tool in isolation remains the laptop with 32% of companies providing only these to their field engineers. Of course an argument could easily be made that laptops have been around for a much longer timeframe than both tablets and smart phones and many of those companies that currently provide laptops to their engineers may well move towards either smartphones or tablets eventually. However, for those engineers whose reporting is reliant on much manual data input there are still clear benefits of having a physical keyboard and the research certainly indicates the laptop is a long way from retirement.

Of course as alluded to above, many companies are using multiple devices, and it is highly likely that these companies are using more modern devices (i.e. smartphones and laptops) so this should also be taken into account in assesing the most common devices being used, however the trends of declining PDA use and increasing smartphone use certainly align with other industry reports.

The last few days of pen and paper

There are of course in any industry sector laggards that remain behind the industry trends. However, when it comes to the application of mobile technology amongst field engineers this group (i.e. those using no digital medium) now stands at just 3%.

Not only the is the group now just a very small minority but our research also indicated it is set to completley dissapear within the next tweleve months.

Of those companies still manual systems 100% of the respondents admitted that they felt they were at a disadvantage

Of those companies still using pen and paper 100% stated they are considering moving to digital mobile platform within the next twelve months. The reasons for this are of course clear, as are the benefits of moving to a digital medium, including increasing productivity and streamlining a field engineers workflow. The fact is that those companies still relying on pen and paper are in danger of falling significantly behind their competition.

In fact of those companies still using pen and paper 100% of the respondents admitted that they felt they were at a disadvantage, with 50% stating that they felt that disadvantage was significantly impacting their ability to remain competitive.

What about you?

How does this tally with your own situation? Let us know by taking five minutes to help us with this research by completing our online survey here.

And if you would like to know more about the findings of this research, which also looks at the types of software being used in the field, whether BYOD is taking hold, rugged vs. consumer technology and what types of decisions are being made in selecting the right digital mobile solution – then remember every respondent will receive copy of an exclusive white paper reporting these findings. PLUS you could also win of three fifty pound prizes!

The survey closes on 2/4/15 at 23:59 GMT so complete the survey now to make sure you get your copy of the white paper and a chance to win.

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