Understanding Digital Transformation in a Connected, Mobile World

Aug 17 • Features, Fleet Technology • 1064 Views • No Comments on Understanding Digital Transformation in a Connected, Mobile World

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In a new series, fieldservicenews.com is pleased to bring you a selection of articles taken from the recently released limited edition of Mobile Resource Management for Dummies, which is presented by Verizon Connect.

fieldservicenews.com subscribers have already been given access to this excellent resource but don’t worry if your a field service professional you can still access the eBook by applying for a complimentary industry subscription on the link below and we will send you access to the resource as thanks for your application.

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Modern Challenges in Managing a Mobile Workforce and Assets

Digital transformation has become imperative for many businesses today that find they must reinvent themselves, or face the possibility of extinction in an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving market landscape.

Amazon, Netflix and Uber are three modern examples of companies that have used disruptive technologies to transform entire business models.

Beginning in the 1990s, Amazon challenged the status quo in the bookselling market (remember when Amazon only sold books?!). Today, Amazon has become a colossal market force befitting its name. Retail booksellers like Waterstones, Borders and Barnes & Noble have either disappeared altogether or are struggling to hold on. Beyond books, Amazon has transformed the entire retail industry. Amazon has also transformed distribution and logistics. Perhaps most excitingly, Amazon has taken a novel idea to sell excess compute capacity in its data centres and completely revolutionised computing as we know it today. With the launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, Amazon helped to usher in the cloud computing era.

Netflix is another example of a company that used digital transformation to completely reinvent the film rental business, and crush the Blockbuster chain of video rental stores. Today, Netflix is transforming the entire entertainment industry as it produces original films and television programming, largely bypassing the traditional Hollywood entertainment moguls altogether.

The factor that unites all of these success stories is a user-centric experience that gives end-users what they want, now.

Finally, Uber is challenging traditional taxi companies by leveraging an intuitive mobile app to connect drivers with passengers using global positioning system (GPS) location services and crowdsourcing to replace inefficient dispatchers. Uber uses cashless transactions to safely and efficiently collect and pay fares.

The factor that unites all of these success stories is a user-centric experience that gives end-users what they want, now.

For businesses and industries that manage large mobile workforces and assets – such as fleet vehicles, heavy equipment and specialised tools – plus field service organisations, and construction and repair services, innovative uses for technology are driving exciting new opportunities, as well as complex challenges.

Among these challenges, the evolution of the many disparate solutions to manage the mobile workforce has limited the potential of MRM deployments. Different applications and functions – such as route optimisation, navigation, telematics and mobility – operating in independent silos with little or no data connectivity or integration between them create a complex environment that doesn’t adequately support real-time operations (see Figure 1-1).

FIGURE 1-1: Siloed applications and technologies add complexity.

 

A rapidly changing landscape

Not surprisingly, technology is driving a rapidly changing industry landscape. For example, electric cars – once considered science fiction – are now very much a reality. The UK is the latest in a growing list of countries, along with France, to outline plans to halt the manufacture of petrol and diesel cars, announcing that it will ban their production by 2040. For any business that relies on fl preparation for this transition starts now. MRM solutions are key to this, having been shown to lead to significant cost savings through efficient route planning and reduced idling time and fuel waste.

Just as technology is driving this change, it also offers the solution to the challenges it presents

But just as technology is driving this change, it also offers the solution to the challenges it presents. In the US, record numbers of businesses are turning to advanced MRM systems to collect vital information on their staff, vehicles and assets to ensure that they can keep pace with inevitable changes to business processes, regulation and reporting. C.J. Driscoll and Associates project that the total number of MRM units installed on fleet vehicles, commercial trailers, heavy construction equipment and personal mobile devices used in the field will grow to more than 14 million units in the US by 2019.

Naturally, data plays a key role in any business transformation – especially when upgrading vehicles to new technologies or transitioning to new systems and processes. The more data you collect, the easier it is to adapt. With this in mind, the choice facing business fleets is simple: get ahead of the game now, or spend precious resources catching up in the future.

The technologies of tomorrow are here today

In other areas, there’s simply no time to get ahead of the game – tomorrow’s technologies are already integral to the way we work and live. This is particularly true of the Internet of Things (IoT). Just like the cloud before it, the IoT is most definitely here to stay, with various industry analysts predicting anywhere from 20 to 30 billion IoT connected devices by 2020.

The natural progression of this vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is, of course, the autonomous vehicle

The impact of this trend on fleets is potentially enormous, as greater connectivity allows vehicles to interact with one another and collect data on vehicle environment, condition and performance. Most fleets already collect information on speed, fuel use and driver behaviour, but the technology exists to go much further. Businesses can automate previously labour-intensive or manual processes such as routing, payroll and reporting, through comprehensive MRM systems, connecting the vehicle, the people and the work seamlessly – potentially improving efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line. The natural progression of this vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is, of course, the autonomous vehicle. Uber launched its first fleet of autonomous taxis in 2016, and the likes of Google, Apple, Tesla, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are investing millions in the space.

Vehicle connectivity and standard fitment of hardware will become increasingly widespread, enabling live updates of current vehicle health, GPS positioning and traffic and weather feeds. The speed of change is phenomenal, and businesses need agility and flexibility to survive and thrive in the market.

Change today or pay tomorrow

With any new technological development, the last to adapt pays the heaviest price. Progress waits for no one and the companies that thrive are those that embrace it. In the current climate, doing nothing is simply not an option – change is happening, and it is happening now.

As technology continues to infiltrate the way we work, we create more data than ever before. At best, this leaves companies in a position where they have more data than they know what to do with, and therefore fail to take advantage of the potential opportunity that it offers. At worst, businesses waste precious time and resources analysing that data, which can make it feel like more of a hindrance than a help. In such an environment, implementing a system that can analyse this data for you, help to automate key processes, and future-proof your business is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Your customers are used to technology as an enabler, and they will go to whoever can give them the best and most convenient service possible!

Your customers are used to technology as an enabler, and they will go to whoever can give them the best and most convenient service possible!

MRM technology can do this and more: giving you a clear picture of your business every minute of the working day, and enabling you to make the best use of your people, your vehicles, and your resources – potentially saving you time and money, and providing a better customer experience and competitive advantage.

The companies that now lead the world all used technology to carve out a niche and disrupt the norm, changing the industries they now dominate forever. Who remembers the companies they crushed along the way?!

Leveraging Cloud and Mobile Technology

Cloud computing takes mobile resource management to new heights. The cloud enables businesses of any size to leverage massive computing and storage capacity without committing capital expenditure or requiring entire IT departments to operate and maintain it. Cloud services are typically provisioned on a subscription basis in which customers only pay for what they use – much like public utilities. Business can easily and automatically scale their cloud environment up or down as business needs dictate.

One of the most popular cloud computing service models is software as a service (SaaS), in which a cloud customer uses an application that’s hosted in the cloud, but the customer is not responsible for maintaining the software application (such as updates and security patches) or the underlying infrastructure (such as servers, databases and network equipment).

The cloud also enables near real-time access to data – critical to many mobile resource management applications. Rather than connecting back to a server in a corporate network that may have relatively limited network bandwidth, some MRM applications exchange data in the cloud, which supports more robust data centres located around the world and is equipped with massive computing and storage capacity, as well as network connectivity.

Like the cloud, mobile innovation has changed our world today. Smartphones are everywhere – and they’re getting smarter.

Like the cloud, mobile innovation has changed our world today. Smartphones are everywhere – and they’re getting smarter. Increasingly powerful and intuitive applications create new possibilities for solving complex mobile workforce and resource management challenges.

As 5G cellular technology begins to be deployed by 2020, ubiquitous connectivity – practically everywhere – will become a reality. In addition to ever greater network speeds, 5G technology will enable near real-time communication between devices, applications, and users in harsh and remote environments that are not possible today, such as at sea, in the air, or in remote mining areas. 5G innovations will enable certain types of Internet traffic to be prioritised so that mission-critical applications – such as for autonomous vehicles – are delivered reliably and quickly. 5G will also overcome many current structural challenges, such as interference in metropolitan areas and tall buildings.

As 5G networks become a reality, the power of cloud computing and its applications for telematics and mobile resource management will continue to drive digital transformation in every industry. Additional information on vehicle hardware (as standard from 2018 on new model launches) will improve vehicle connectivity and information gathering.

fieldservicenews.com subscribers have already been given access to this excellent resource but don’t worry if your a field service professional you can still access the eBook by applying for a complimentary industry subscription on the link below and we will send you access to the resource as thanks for your application. 

Apply for a complimentary industry subscription to fieldservicenews.com now!


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