Friday Dec 05, 2014

Field Service Management Top Ten: Talking the Talk by Tori Ballantine

As with any industry, there is a lot of lingo involved when talking about field service management. Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the terms: we’re here to help. Here is a glossary of the top ten words and phrases that are frequently used in field service management.

1. Field Service Management

Field service management is the practice of organizing, scheduling, and routing mobile employees. This sort of management is critical to the success of businesses in a wide variety of industries and typically includes a dispatch or call center as well as a field workforce. Field service management is used by companies of all sizes, from smaller organizations with ten mobile employees to large companies with tens of thousands of staff providing services all across the globe every day.

2. Field Technician / Mobile Employee 

A mobile employee, referred to as a technician in some industries, is a member of an organization’s mobile workforce. These staffers perform services in the field – at customers’ homes, places of business, or in isolated areas far from population centers. These services are wide-ranging, and can include:

  • Delivery
  • Service and repairs
  • Safety and security
  • Installation
  • Maintenance

3. Mobile Workforce 

The mobile workforce collectively refers to an organization’s mobile employees. Mobile workforce sizes and types vary greatly between industries and specific companies. For example, some businesses employ only their own field staff while others rely completely on subcontractors. Many rely on a hybrid model, comprised of both direct and third-party mobile employees. One common theme that impacts all mobile workforces is the need to effectively schedule appointments and plan routes so that customers receive the best service possible.

4. Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing refers to a method of storing information on remote servers that are accessed through the Internet. When data is stored and processed in the cloud, it can be accessed by any authorized user who has an internet connection. This makes the information globally accessible. The opposite of cloud computing is storing data locally on a personal machine or an in-house server.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a model of accessing software via the cloud. All of the data and capabilities of the software are stored in the cloud. Users access the programs and information through the Internet. Simply, SaaS is cloud-based software. It provides an alternative to storing information on individual machines or local servers.

6. Web-Based Application 

A web-based application, or app, is accessed through the Internet. The opposite of a web-based application is a locally installed application: one that is downloaded onto a phone, tablet or other device. A good example of this is Gmail, which is Google’s email application. If you visit to access your email, you are using a web-based application. If you download the Gmail app to your iPhone via the iTunes store and then access your mail through the app, you are using a locally installed application.

7. HTML5 

HTML5 is a coding language used by developers when they create websites. HTML5 is the newest version of HTML, which is the primary programming language of the Internet. One of the most important elements of HTML5 is the connection it provides to the hardware, enabling access to the camera, GPS chip, storage and other functionality. Another significant feature is its ability to present multimedia content. This content can be successfully accessed and viewed by people who use different browsers and different devices to access the Internet. HTML5 helps preserve formatting and other important aspects on web pages – and helps provide the same experience to diverse users. Many modern web-based applications are built using HTML5.

8. Device Agnostic 

Programs and applications are considered to be device agnostic when they function equally well across all devices. This includes iOS, Android, and Windows phones; different tablet brands; and desktop / laptop computers. Web-based applications that support HTML5’s rich feature set–which provide enterprise-level security–are also device agnostic. This is the fundamental foundation of a device agnostic application.

9. Predictive Capabilities 

In software, predictive capabilities refer to the program’s ability to “learn” from data that is put into the system. Some field service management solutions, for example, are able to predict how long a job might take, based on factors like the how long each unique individual requires to perform a certain task and what inventory is available in each technician’s vehicle.

10. Context Aware 

When a program is context aware, it means that it provides users with precisely the right information they need – right when they need it. For example, on an iPhone, when a user has the option to input a URL or an email address, the phone offers a ‘.com’ button. This button is available when a URL or email address is requested; it isn’t there when a URL or email address isn’t in use. This capability shows an awareness of context.

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Thursday Jun 14, 2012

Seizing the Moment with Mobility

Empowering people to work where they want to work is becoming more critical now with the consumerisation of technology. Employees are bringing their own devices to the workplace and expecting to be productive wherever they are. Sales people welcome the ability to run their critical business applications where they can be most effective which is typically on the road and when they are still with the customer.

Oracle has invested many years of research in understanding customer's Mobile requirements. “The keys to building the best user experience were building in a lot of flexibility in ways to support sales, and being useful,” said Arin Bhowmick, Director, CRM, for the Applications UX team. “We did that by talking to and analyzing the needs of a lot of people in different roles.”

The team studied real-life sales teams. “We wanted to study salespeople in context with their work,” Bhowmick said. “We studied all user types in the CRM world because we wanted to build a user interface and user experience that would cater to sales representatives, marketing managers, sales managers, and more. Not only did we do studies in our labs, but also we did studies in the field and in mobile environments because salespeople are always on the go.”

Here is a recent post from Hernan Capdevila, Vice President, Oracle Fusion Apps which was featured on the Oracle Applications Blog

Mobile devices are forcing a paradigm shift in the workplace – they’re changing the way businesses can do business and the type of cultures they can nurture. As our customers talk about their mobile needs, we hear them saying they want instant-on access to enterprise data so workers can be more effective at their jobs anywhere, anytime. They also are interested in being more cost effective from an IT point of view.

The mobile revolution – with the idea of BYOD (bring your own device) – has added an interesting dynamic because previously IT was driving the employee device strategy and ecosystem. That's been turned on its head with the consumerization of IT. Now employees are figuring out how to use their personal devices for work purposes and IT has to figure out how to adapt.

Blurring the Lines between Work and Personal Life

My vision of where businesses will be five years from now is that our work lives and personal lives will be more interwoven together. In turn, enterprises will have to determine how to make employees’ work lives fit more into the fabric of their personal lives. And personal devices like smartphones are going to drive significant business value because they let us accomplish things very incrementally. I can be sitting on a train or in a taxi and be productive. At the end of any meeting, I can capture ideas and tasks or follow up with people in real time. Mobile devices enable this notion of seizing the moment – capitalizing on opportunities that might otherwise have slipped away because we're not connected.

For the industry shapers out there, this is game changing. The lean and agile workforce is definitely the future. This notion of the board sitting down with the executive team to lay out strategic objectives for a three- to five-year plan, bringing in HR to determine how they're going to staff the strategic activities, kicking off the execution, and then revisiting the plan in three to five years to create another three- to five-year plan is yesterday's model.

Businesses that continue to approach innovating in that way are in the dinosaur age. Today it's about incremental planning and incremental execution, which requires a lot of cohesion and synthesis within the workforce. There needs to be this interweaving notion within the workforce about how ideas cascade down, how people engage, how they stay connected, and how insights are shared.

How to Survive and Thrive in Today’s Marketplace

The notion of Facebook isn’t new. We lived it pre-Internet days with America Online and Prodigy – Facebook is just the renaissance of these services in a more viral and pervasive way. And given the trajectory of the consumerization of IT with people bringing their personal tooling to work, the enterprise has no option but to adapt. The sooner that businesses realize this from a top-down point of view the sooner that they will be able to really drive significant innovation and adapt to the marketplace. There are a small number of companies right now (I think it's closer to 20% rather than 80%, but the number is expanding) that are able to really innovate in this incremental marketplace. So from a competitive point of view, there's no choice but to be social and stay connected.

By far the majority of users on Facebook and LinkedIn are mobile users – people on iPhones, smartphones, Android phones, and tablets. It's not the couch people, right? It's the on-the-go people – those people at the coffee shops. Usually when you're sitting at your desk on a big desktop computer, typically you have better things to do than to be on Facebook.

This is a topic I'm extremely passionate about because I think mobile devices are game changing. Mobility delivers significant value to businesses – it also brings dramatic simplification from a functional point of view and transforms our work life experience.

Hernan Capdevila

Vice President, Oracle Applications Development


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