In a perfect world, a field service technician would receive his schedule first thing in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, and go about his day handling each appointment through the end of his shift.
Unfortunately, things aren't so simple. Customers cancel, jobs take longer than expected, and vehicle accidents happen. This means schedules must be updated on the fly, the information from the home office pushed quickly to handheld devices to save money and protect customer satisfaction. Looking to help companies close the gap between back offices and road warriors, ClickSoftware has unveiled a standalone Mobility Suite.
Moshe BenBassat, chief executive officer of ClickSoftware, says mobile capabilities have been part of the company's ServiceOptimization Suite for several years. ClickSoftware realized, however, that some customers didn't need an entire workforce optimization offering. "That was a market need we needed to address," he says. "The investment into more optimization afterward would be minimal because all of our products are part of the same software environment."
"There are two typical types of customers," BenBassat explains. "One interested in optimization and another one that says it may need [the feature] in the future, but for now just needs mobility for what's going on in the field." ClickSoftware, he says, can now offer customers the best of both worlds — and gain an easy entry point to "land and expand" with customers who only select the Mobility Suite.
The release of a standalone edition was important to ClickSoftware, says William McNeill, a research analyst at AMR Research. "That's how we're seeing companies making the decision to invest in mobility," McNeill says. "They might be willing to consider a mobile application…from a vendor it uses for CRM or [enterprise resource planning] already, but we're still seeing a lot of organizations going to others for a mobility suite."
According to information provided by ClickSoftware, system administrators can configure the system to comply with any business requirement without extensive coding or programming skills via visual configuration tools. The new offering can help to connect historically siloed parties with regard to field service -- back offices, field technicians, and customers -- in the following ways:
- mobile workflows;
- the ability to update billing systems;
- optimized routing;
- parts inventory recorded in real time;
- assets tracked with geographical information systems;
- easily accessible customer information; and
- time and attendance recording.
In short, McNeill says, the Mobility Suite delivers two critical features: visibility and efficiency. "It's about getting to where technicians are, what they're doing, the parts they're using," he says. "By having this, you can make better decisions, which affects efficiency. Send out a request to a technician to fulfill a job, and you can tell through the mobile device if he has time to do it or not.... You're solving a problem you couldn't [solve] before, without this kind of application in place."
Increased efficiency can also mean a quicker start to the billing process -- potentially reducing what were 30-day-to-45-day cycles to as little as two or three days. "That will resonate really well if buyers go to their chief financial officer[s] and explain they can bill faster with this application," McNeill says.
Echoing BenBassat's land-and-expand strategy with the standalone mobile offering, McNeill says this is another smart move on the vendor's part to continue growing market share. "This will get [ClickSoftware] into more deals where companies that were looking at best-of-breed mobility vendors couldn't consider [it] before, because its mobility functionality wasn't standalone," he says. "It's a great move.... I think this mobile application will resonate really well and result in more deals. It's a nice piece of functionality."
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