Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Situational Awareness, Enterprise Mobility and Field Services

 I read an interesting article this morning titled, Afghanistan Creates Proving Ground for UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) Capabilities.  Here is an excerpt from the last paragraph of this article, "They (UAS) are providing the kind of situational awareness that wasn’t even imagined a generation ago,” Singer said. “The sea change that’s happened is that they have gone from being unimagined to an expectation.”

I am on a Delta flight as I am writing this article, connected to the Internet, and keeping up with my workload.  I also have situational awareness as I am connected into all of my business and banking systems.  I can communicate and receive updates from my clients and customers.  This capability, was also unimagined a few years ago, but is now an expectation.

After reading the article I referenced above, I pondered how this technology could help the field services industry.  I came to the conclusion that most field services organizations will not be flying drones overhead, but perhaps they will begin to incorporate more use of real-time video feeds between service technicians and the central office.  Perhaps senior managers can ask their junior technicians to activate their headlamps and video feeds so they can see the equipment being serviced and assist remotely.  Most of the popular smartphones today provide these real-time video feeds (face time or similar functionality), but I have yet to see significant enterprise processes built around them.

Yesterday, I visited enterprise mobility vendor DSI in their Kansas City, Missouri office.  They were celebrating their first appearance on Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms and wanted to brief me.  They have new headquarters and have set-up all of their audio visual contols on iPhones and iPads.  All of the giant monitors in all the rooms are controlled via Apple TV.  Each of their conference rooms have iPads mounted to the walls and connected to Outook so the rooms can be reserved via their calendar systems. DSI has offices in Australia, the UK, Singapore and other locations all set-up with state of the art video conferencing systems.  All of these functions enable managers to utilize mobile technologies and video conferencing to have situational awareness and M2M (machine to machine) control of their environments.  Very cool!  Their glass doors even slide shut with a shhhhhhhhhh sound just like on Star Trek.

During my tour of DSI's new offices, Scott Lutz,  Global VP of Marketing, showed how a mobile app on his iPhone could control the lights, window shades, monitors and many other things in the room.  It was an awesome example of an M2M system in action.  I can see how mobile video feeds, M2M controls from your tablets and smartphones can become the "expected" in the near future.

Kevin Benedict, Mobile Industry Analyst and Mobile Strategy Consultant
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Full Disclosure: I am a mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.