Mobilizing the Field Worker
I recently had the opportunity to host an industry panel discussing the business transformation that occurs when mobility solutions are deployed for field workers. Generally speaking, field workers span a spectrum of industries and currently operate in the four following ways: pen & paper, laptop tethered to a truck, consumer grade tablet or a single function device like a bar code scanner.
Intel currently defines this market as 10 million workers divided into two general categories - hard hat workers and professional services. Hard hat workers generally function in a ruggedized environment – think construction or field repair teams. Professional services includes real estate appraisal, insurance agents, law enforcement, and many others.
Field teams are capable of improving customer service, generating new revenue streams, and actively driving cost reductions. A successful mobile strategy can enable all three. Regardless of the industry, field workers need access to vital data when they’re not in the office.
The panel of experts consisted of system integrators as well as communication, hardware, and security experts. Together, we discussed the elements required for the successful deployment of a mobile solution.
The panel was comprised of; Geoff Goetz from BSquare, Nancy Green from Verizon Wireless and Michael Seawright from Intel Security. They brought a wealth of information, expertise and insight to the panel. I have tried to share the essence of this panel discussion – I am sure I will not do it justice as they were truly outstanding.
The field worker segment represents a great business opportunity. By the very definition the field worker is on the front line delivering benefits and services to customers. They are reliant upon having the right information in a real time manner. Frequently, this information is available only through applications and legacy based software running back at headquarters. In planning for a successful deployment the enterprise must consider how they connect the field worker to this information. Hardware, applications, and back-office optimizations must all be considered.
Geoff Goetz from BSQUARE shared the perspective of both a hardware and system integrator. BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software and customized hardware solutions. They enable smart connected systems at the device level, which are used by millions every day. BSQUARE offers solutions for mobile field workers across a spectrum of vertical industries. They have worked closely with Microsoft to develop a portfolio of Windows 10 based devices on 5, 8 and 10” form factors. What was interesting to me was the 5” Intel-based handheld capable of running Windows 8.1 and soon Windows 10. The Inari5 fills the void for both field workers and IT managers. The Inari5 is a compelling solution that doesn’t comprise on performance or functionality. Geoff and his team truly understand the value of having the right device for the job as well as the software and applications to accelerate an enterprise while achieving the full benefits of mobilizing their field teams.
Nancy Green from Verizon Wireless highlighted the advantages of utilizing an extensive network to deliver connectivity right to the job site. Verizon Wireless offers a full suite of software solutions and technical capabilities to accelerate mobile programs across industries. Verizon delivers upon the value proposition for both the Line of Business manager seeking a competitive advantage, as well as the IT manager looking to easily manage and secure the devices in the field. As I mentioned before, one of the most critical requirements for field workers is access to information. Verizon has worked with numerous companies to unlock workforce optimization by reducing costs, simplifying access to remote data, and increasing collaboration. I was very impressed with the extensive resources Verizon can bring to bear in designing a mobile solution for field workers.
Michael Seawright from Intel Securities is an industry advocate who has been successfully leading business transformation with Intel’s fellow travelers for more than 20 years. In a hyper competitive market, the field worker has the opportunity to drive customer good will, address and fix problems the first time all the while driving sell-up.
Meanwhile, many companies are struggling figuring out the right level of management and security for their mobile workforce.
One advantage in deploying Intel-based mobile solutions is the built-in security at the processor level. Ultimately, the device security is only as good as its user’s passwords. The Intel Security team is working to address the vulnerabilities associated with passwords.
Ultimately, mobility is a business disruptor offering a chance to transform business processes and gain a competitive advantage. A successful program requires the IT department and its vendors to think beyond the device. It requires a solution approach to successfully manage the development, implementation and rollout. In addition, it may require back-office optimization. The following image depicts my attempt to highlight the architecture framework that should be considered for mobile program.