It’s difficult to imagine leaving the house these days without at least one device that can connect us to the digital world. Whether it’s locating yourself on a map, or sharing your deepest thoughts in under 140 characters, information and interaction seems to be constantly within reach. Yet in the world of field engineering, this kind of mobile connectivity continues to be a challenge for many companies.
Appsbroker has been working with a number of large UK based distributed companies, such as leading utility and transportation providers, to solve this very problem; how can they connect their mobile workforce to the essential data that they require in the field?
Uncovering a Hidden World of Information
Mobile connectivity can often be misunderstood; while many companies offer BYOD (bring your own device) policies and the ability to work from home, some companies have employees that are constantly on the move and require access to up-to-date data streams and analytics from anywhere in the country.
Our first steps to understanding the real requirements of mobile connectivity for our customers is to send one of our Business Analysts (and on occasions a Cloud Customer Engineer from Google) to spend time on-site with key people in the organisation, and identify potential smarter working solutions.
For example, many of the challenges that face utility companies revolve around their mobile engineers and technicians, who work out in the field investigating technical issues and supply problems. Critical information about job and site history is needed when they travel to, or reach their destinations, but this is not accessible from their existing technology.
Over the last year we’ve been working with one of the largest UK utility providers on a mobile workforce project. During a visit to their head office, we witnessed reports coming in that a hospital had lost water supply, as had a nearby school and a number of residents. It turns out that a field engineer visiting the hospital had shut off the wrong valve:
“There was a period of confusion as reports were coming in, but the office could not reach the engineer, nor work out what had happened.”
The Art of the Possible, Now!
In this example, during the discovery phase it quickly became apparent that several Google technologies could be leveraged to connect the utility company with their widespread workforce.
In response to the challenges uncovered, we developed a simple employee dashboard that presents data from several existing systems, and used Google Search to enable employees to quickly locate the information critical to them. Additionally, by using a Google login, these valuable insights are accessible on any device, anywhere. This dashboard was then extended, enabling additional lightweight business applications and additional business reports to be added over time.
Flexing the Muscles of the Google Platform
Appsbroker have now deployed more than 50 lightweight business applications onto the employee dashboard for our customer, all of which leverage Google Cloud technologies such as Drive, Docs, Sheets, Hangouts, and Maps.
Throughout the rolling deployment, our customer has transformed not only the technology they use and rely on, but the service that they are able to provide to their customers. The challenges that come with a mobile workforce still continue, but they now have an infrastructure that is accessible in the field, that will scale with new technology and wider connectivity.