Thursday, September 30, 2010

SMS, Human Capital Management and Mobile Applications

It is easy to think that high value mobile applications need to be complex and sophisticated, but that is not always the case.  This morning I read about a solution that helps firefighters manage their human resources and schedules by interacting with their staff via SMS.  The solution, called ClickRoster, will automatically create the roster for every fire station and every shift for both full time and part time firefighters, allocating individuals to specific roles based on skill requirements and the Watch Managers’ decisions.

Part time firefighters have the flexibility to receive and send shift confirmation directly to ClickRoster via SMS. This saves time and money by eliminating the need for individuals to visit their station to confirm their availability or non-availability for work.  ClickRoster is developed by SAP's mobility partner ClickSoftware.

The complexity and sophistication of this application is not on the mobile device, rather the mobile device is a data input and data viewing tool.  Mobile micro-applications also follow this model.  They can interact via a smartphone or other mobile device with sophisticated ERPs where all of the computing happens.  The mobile devices are mainly used for collecting data, queries and simple data exchanges.

There is a lot of complexity built into ClickRoster application itself.  It will, in advance, proactively alert Watch Managers of any potential shortfall in appliance and service coverage. ClickRoster will then identify and recommend relevant resources from neighboring stations that can be contacted and used to cover any shortfall, allowing the service to remedy the situation before a shift begins and before it becomes a problem. 
The new system will also improve visibility and control of real-time operations by automatically providing dispatchers with an intuitive graphical view of actual appliance coverage in the field.

The value of this model (simple mobile applications connected to sophisticated software solutions in the office) is the ability to collect important data from the field, in real time, in order to accurately compute complex planning and scheduling models.  As GPS and other data collection components become increasingly integrated with smartphones, the value to back end systems that can utilize this data in their planning models will exponentially increase.

M2M (machine to machine) solutions that involve wireless sensors, vehicle tracking solutions, etc., also fit this model.  Think about having every fire truck and every high value asset reporting their location and maintenance status to a central system that can use this data in their planning models.  The potential in unlimited.

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Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.