Wireless FSA Is No Longer New, But It Still Makes News

(Originally published in the April 2002 edition of Field Force Automation's Mobilizer e-newsletter.)

By William K. Pollock

Wireless technology has finally come of age. It is not confined to just one or two vertical segments, nor is it merely a fad looking for an application. It is real, and it provides real value to field service applications, both old and new.

However, wireless technology, by itself, does not make field service automation work. Gartner, Inc. defines a "complete" Field Service Automation (FSA) system as one that is comprised of five components and their respective application modules, including customer service, workforce management, logistics, communication and business intelligence. While the firm claims that "not all modules may be required in all systems or markets", it does affirm that "wireless connectivity is necessary to reap all of the benefits of some field service applications" as long as users "let the needs of the application drive the wireless decision". We believe this to be especially true with respect to delivering state-of-the-art FSA solutions.

While wireless FSA solutions are no longer news to the services industry, what is news, however, is how easy they are to implement, and how quickly the benefits of going wireless begin to pay back. When you think about it, all it really takes is (1) the appropriate suite of mobile and dispatch software brought to the field via handheld computers, (2) dependable and cost-effective wireless data communications, and (3) access to the Internet, to enable services technicians in the field to do their jobs, and instantly get the necessary data to/from the central administrative office. In this way, a wireless FSA solution can provide a fast and accurate exchange of information, and eliminate all of the bottlenecks and delays that are historically inherent in telephone and paper-based communications.

Wireless FSA vendor FieldCentrix suggests that in the past, field technicians had to rely on outdated tools, such as pens, clipboards, pagers, and cellular phones, to service their customers. However, many of the new wireless-based FSA solutions not only facilitate, but also enhance field-to-office communications; automate and streamline processes; and eliminate paperwork and lost work orders. As a result, we strongly believe that wireless FSA solutions can reap nearly immediate returns simply through the automation of otherwise costly, time-consuming, and paper-intensive processes historically associated with field service.

Why then is wireless FSA still big news? Because it can ultimately result in increased service technician productivity, heightened customer satisfaction, reduced operational costs, and improved profitability. In the services business, that's always big news.

William K. Pollock is president of Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM), the Westtown, Pennsylvania-based services consulting firm specializing in strategic business planning, services marketing, CRM consulting, market/survey research, and customer satisfaction measurement and tracking programs. Bill may be reached at 610-399-9717 or via e-mail at wkp@s4growth.com.

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