For executives who envision the creation of a mobile workforce, or for those who mistakenly believe they already have such a thing, I have some cautionary news. Any so-called mobile workforce is mobile, yes, since employees are physically on the go, but it is not mobilized: People may have smartphones and tablets, and they may very well use those devices to do job-related assignments, but each employee is within his or her own self-contained bubble; there is no real-time communication, no back-and-forth dialogue – the transmission and receipt of intelligence – between that worker and a manager at a corporate office. So, all the promises of having a mobile workforce, which include enhanced productivity, convenience (workers can pick and use the devices they prefer), security and savings, all of these not-so-grandiose ideas are, alas, not complete.
The good news is that the last piece in this chain of command – the unification of workers and managers, through and by innovative technology – is available, affordable and effective — today! But first, let me clarify the characterization of these ideas as something short of greatness: I purposefully use that description because building a mobile workforce is not the dream of some fantasist, nor is it the stuff of 1950s science fiction, with strangely named “Binary Relay Communicators” and “Intelligence Shifting Relay Operators”; it is science fact, accessible to millions right now and easy to use, period. The next step, therefore, involves articulating the shape and purpose of a truly mobilized workforce.
I write from personal experience and professional expertise. For, in my role as Vice President and Senior Consultant for DigitalDispatcher.com, I have first-hand knowledge of what this workforce looks like, how it operates, the information it provides and the solidarity it fosters. The process is, at its core, very straightforward: Workers may use their own mobile devices, thus saving companies the cost of outfitting thousands of employees with iPhones or iPads, (or variations of multiple Android tablets and phones), and a single application can link everyone – drivers, technicians, deliverymen, messengers, couriers, and any and all people in the field – so now the entire field workforce, their routes, work orders, inventory levels all can be displayed on a visually detailed map, which a manager can run from the comfort of his or her desktop, laptop or tablet.
In other words, you can see where your employees are, what they are doing (or have done, like transferring a specific commodity to a client), where they are going (and how long, on average, it takes them to get there) and when they finish their workday. Even better, real-time intelligence tells you how many workers you need, compared to how many workers you have. It shows you where routes may overlap, requiring one driver, not two or three. By reviewing that data over the course of a week or month, you can draw definitive conclusions – that that single driver suffices, in lieu of an existing group of workers – and instantly save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The elimination of these redundancies, where two drivers (in terms of the cost and fuel for each vehicle, along with salaries, health insurance, benefits, workers' compensation, liability coverage and legal expenses) are no longer necessary, translates into a conservative figure well in excess of $250,000. All of which demands an additional qualification: Real-time intelligence of this sort is the friend of workers, not its enemy, because, while every company has a right and a responsibility to save money without compromising service, the best companies function as a team.
In that case, a driver who has an accident, gets a flat tire or experiences any difficulties – their work orders automatically get color-coded (in red) indicating an issue or disruption to their work status. This enables a manager to provide immediate help (by sending roadside assistance or a tow truck to the scene), and quickly redistribute their work load to neighboring field workers to balance the work load, to help their fellow employee, to maintain a higher level of customer service and to finish the jobs and the day in a way that helps everyone get home on time, all without the need for voice communications. This of course helps employee morale while helping the company finish the jobs — on time and on budget.
Also, real-time intelligence is a way to reward productive employees. These individuals may be exceptionally efficient, but individually reserved and averse to office politics, where personality trumps performance. Technology showcases and reveals the truth, earning these workers bonuses and raises without playing the game, so to speak. By these standards, real-time intelligence is the exact opposite of Big Brother; it is Chief Advocate of the best workers, speaking on their behalf with numbers and facts, not pleas, demands or ultimatums.
Real-time intelligence is a boon for all executives, in all manner of field service and delivery industries. Making this resource a reality is practical, quick and undeniably informative. To see and calculate employee productivity is a chance to boost morale and streamline operations. Welcome to the famed mobile workforce of tomorrow — today!
Bill Stomp is Vice President and Senior Consultant for DigitalDispatcher.com, a mobile field management software solution for various product delivery industries.