• January 26, 2010
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Here, There, and Everywhere

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Sidebar: Hunting Down Disease

How Sense Networks’ mobile-tracking service is helping to fight tuberculosis

Infected patients being treated at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg are asked to opt in to the program, permitting Sense Networks to track their travel patterns—all while the individual remains anonymous. By monitoring their movements, the system can determine where the individuals travel to most often and whether there are any commonalities in their patterns. In doing so, Sense Networks can identify highly probable locations where an outbreak might be occurring, allowing the medical team to send aid to those regions much more quickly. 

“If you can find and identify an outbreak just one week earlier,” says Greg Skibiski, chairman and chief executive officer of Sense Networks, “you’re saving thousands of lives.”

Sidebar: Time to Clear the Pipes

A location-based tracking solution keeps Roto-Rooter technicians flowing smoothly

Xora provides mobile resource management (MRM) solutions prevalent in the “guys-in-trucks verticals”—service technicians, for example, or food-and-beverage delivery personnel. Companies use the technology to keep track of their workers, vehicles, and other assets in order to optimize service delivery. Moreover, the solution unchains employees by enabling them to activate their time cards via mobile devices—a concept also referred to as “punch to paycheck.” 
Fleet management may be old news but, according to Dominique Bonte, practice director of telematics and navigation at ABI Research, more companies are trading their dedicated devices for mobile handsets and running applications there. Along with many other benefits, the shift has made it easier for smaller companies to take advantage of location-based services. 
With Xora’s etrace, a time-tracking solution built on the global positioning system, plumbing company Roto-Rooter was able to optimize the performance of its 1,800 field service technicians. Armed with location data on every technician, the service provider can now monitor job performance and ultimately decrease customer wait time. 
Since implementation, Roto-Rooter has been able to dramatically reduce its call centers from 60 to three. Moreover, job close-out times have been reduced from 20 minutes to 90 seconds by using the etrace SmartTalk voice menus that have pricing databases and business rules to streamline invoices. Point-of-sale capabilities allowed workers to collect payments directly from customers, thereby eliminating paper forms for an annual savings of $140,000.

Sidebar: Collision at the Intersection of Real Street and Digital Avenue

Emerging technology maps individual movement patterns onto a social graph.

As creatures of habit, people reveal a lot about themselves based on where they go, what they do, and who they interact with. At the 2009 Where 2.0 conference, Alex “Sandy” Pentland, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and cofounder of Sense Networks, demonstrated technology that maps individual movement patterns onto a social graph. 

Pentland’s presentation, “Reality Mining for Companies: How Social Networks Network Best,” pointed to applications of the service with regard to corporate strategies (Why isn’t customer service involved in discussions to improve the customer experience?), employee satisfaction (increasing face time among employees has been shown to increase productivity, especially creative productivity), and even community development (high rates of interactivity among neighbors have been associated with prosperity). 

“The fundamental [objective] is moving from [a] static view of the world to a dynamic view of how an organization really works,” Pentland said. 

As a final thought, Pentland emphasized the ongoing concern of privacy, reiterating points delineated in his company’s “New Deal on Data.” Nevertheless, regulations have yet to be explicitly defined. “You should all be creeped out,” Pentland said. “If you’re not, you weren’t listening.”

 Contact Associate Editor Jessica Tsai at jtsai@destinationCRM.com.

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