Empowering field workers with business-ready tablets

08.12.2014

Michael Taylor
Senior Vertical Marketing Manager, Intel

I recently spoke with Speak Magazine’s Rebecca Gibson to discuss how Intel® processor-based tablets help to improve productivity in the mobile workforce. With the explosion of mobile workers and new devices available in market, now is a great time for retailers to consider taking advantage of new opportunities.

What does the mobile workforce look like today?
IDC’s Smart Mobility 2013 report on the worldwide mobile field worker estimated that almost 1.3 billion employees will make up the mobile workforce by 2015, accounting for 37%of the total workforce. According to the IDC study, US-based mobile field workers will increase by 70% to reach 212million by 2015, comprising around three quarters of the country’s total workforce. Adoption rates will also increase in emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, adoption will occur in segments that have previously lacked connectivity or had very limited technology.

What tools do mobile field workers need to have to be effective?
In general, mobile field workers have had to rely on pen and paper, or old ruggedized laptops that are tethered in vehicle, or consumer-based tablets with ruggedized cases. One of the many downsides to using a consumerized tablet for enterprise is that it cannot be effectively managed or secured through existing IT investments. In addition, they have an inability to run enterprise class and legacy applications critical to the business processes. All field workers need real-time access to data or the expertise to effectively respond to the customer. Equipping remote employees with tablets allows them to deliver increased value for their companies and customers.

What advantages do mobile devices offer to field workers and business managers?
Mobile devices make it easy for field workers to collaborate, engage, collect and analyze data accurately in real time. This improves communication with other field-based or office based colleagues, regardless of their location. Employees can also gain real-time access to historical customer data, maintenance or repair logs, and safety and training manuals, which enables them to resolve issues as they arise. This is known as first-time-fix and is a growing metric that demonstrates field employees’ ability to resolve the issue without having to return the job site. The devices can also be used to educate the customers about products and services, creating upsell opportunities and making it easier to transmit customer approvals or arrange payments. This increases engagement and enhances customer service.

What benefits does this have for the enterprise as a whole?
Mobile devices can be integrated into critical business applications and databases, enabling enterprises to streamline workflows, automate and share operational process, increase staff productivity, and reduce the burden on accounting or administrative staff. Companies are also able to increase profitability by resolving issues quickly and complying with federal or state regulations more easily. This helps them to provide an enhanced and innovative customer service, as well as to leapfrog above their competitors.

Why is the rate of mobile device adoption increasing?
There are a number of sophisticated and affordable hardware options available in today’s marketplace, as well as an expanded ecosystem of independent software vendors offering a range of different application solutions that drive operational efficiency. Companies can also incorporate tablets into their existing IT infrastructures easily, making them easy to manage.

In addition, Microsoft has launched a number of initiatives to accelerate tablet and Windows 8.1 adoption, including introducing buy-back programs for non-Windows devices and monetary incentives for users that are still running Windows XP. It has also introduced pilot programs for Windows 8.1, low-cost Windows devices and reseller partner incentives.

What do enterprises need to consider when moving to a mobile workforce?
Mobile devices and tablets are a game changer, but moving to a more mobile workforce requires enterprises to adopt a different mindset. Enterprises need to look at business challenges and see how new technology, particularly mobile devices, can be used to solve these issues, rather than just how the devices can improve the IT infrastructure. It’s clear that field workers, IT managers and line of business managers can all benefit from various Intel®-based tablets.

Follow Michael Taylor:
www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-taylor/2/515/517
@mataylor67