Sunday, April 04, 2010

Network-Centric Warfare and Network-Centric Field Services

Last year I published an article on Ulitzer called Network-Centric Field Services. This article discussed the way the US military uses mobile data collection, satellites, drones, M2M and many other data collection tools and techniques to create an accurate and real-time picture of their work environment. This approach enables the users of this system to see where their assets are located, where they are needed and how best to manage them at all times.

I believe this approach has great value for field service operations and many other areas and is worth studying in detail. The ability for a company to know in real time where their fleet of vehicles is located, where their human resources is located, where their jobsites are located, the status of their jobs and where their equipment and mobile inventories are located is critical to effectively managing field services. Equipment and mobile inventories can be better shared across projects, and the right people can be used on the right projects at the right time.

In a plant maintenance environment, equipment can be constantly reporting its status and maintenance needs either in a connected or disconnected mode to a plant maintenance team. This data can alert when there is a problem, or automatically schedule itself for maintenance. This is especially useful when maintenance experts are responsible for multiple plants and remote and/or mobile equipment. It enables experts to see a far bigger picture and be at the right place at the right time.

In a field service operations environment - all of the high value mobile resources can be connected wirelessly to a centralized management application. Wireless data collection is now easily available. The bigger challenge is integrating all of this data into a management application that has the business intelligence capacity to recommend how best to use all of the incoming data for optimal efficiencies.

I gave several examples of organizations using this network-centric approach in the article Street Parking and Mobile Data Solutions. One example was of a city using sensors in street parking sites that wirelessly report when they are available. The reports could be viewed on iPhone applications. Another example was of the giant cement company in Kenya called LaFarge that was implementing a SAP solution and mobile appliction to provide better tracking and visibility into materials coming in and inventory going out to the customer.

If you would like to discuss the concept of network-centric field services in more detail please contact me.

Kevin Benedict
Author of the report Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions, 2009
Mobile Strategy Consultant, Mobile Industry Analyst and Web 2.0 Marketing Expert

***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.