Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More on Mobility and 4D Field Services

I wrote an article a few months ago titled, Mobility and 4D Field Services, in which I shared the four dimensions of mobility and field services.  These dimensions are similar to the GPS coordinates (length, width, height),  plus the addition of time.  This weekend I was reading a book titled, Stray Voltage, War in the Information Age, by Wayne Michael Hall.  In this book he takes a concept I wrote about, 4D Field Services, and adds two more, cyberspace and cerebral.

Here is a quote from Hall, "Information superiority is firmly connected to making decisions that are superior to an adversary's and combines information technology and intellectual power to create conditions with which to make better decisions."

Hall is making the point that with mass volumes of data that is collected in the field using remote sensors, data collection technologies, M2M and mobile solutions we need to improve our operational strategies and ways of thinking.  The data can provide us with real-time "situational awareness," but can we understand it and use it to make better decisions for our businesses?

More from Hall, "Human beings will need to improve their thinking capabilities to cope with the increasing complexities of the world...people will depend more on visualization to help understand complexity quickly.  Visualization will fuse data and information and display the result in a multimedia format.  Visualization will allow the integration of data, information and knowledge from all sources and will allow for the integration of numerous contributors."

There is power in taking all of the real-time data inputs that you have, integrating them, analyzing and displaying it visually on a map with powerful info graphs in real-time.  This can help us quickly understand what is happening in the field.

In my mind I see a field services manager using an iPad.  He can look down at his iPad at anytime and see the location of all his assets, resources, work crews, jobs (past, present and future) and equipment.  He can see bright yellow circles for all job status that are running over their estimated times, he can see work crews in transit and he can see all locations of upcoming jobs on a map.  In one quick glance the manager can understand where there are challenges, trouble spots and customer issues.

The visualization of this information allows for rapid and good decision making.  This is a true competitive advantage.  How do you estimate an ROI on that?

Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.