3 ways the mobile workforce landscape is evolving
The evolution of the mobile workforce management landscape can be charted in parallel with the emergence and rise of technology. The more technology that becomes available, the more businesses will use it to their advantage by automating and managing workforces.
Research shows the mobile workforce is set to increase from 1.52 billion in 2017 to 1.88 billion in 2023, that’s 43.3 per cent of global labour. Coupled with the rise of digitisation, workforces are under pressure to transition to mobile technology while still meeting safety, compliance and budgetary requirements.
1. The role of mobile workforce management apps and software
The arrival of mobile workforce management apps and software has enabled businesses to streamline tasks from job assignment through to invoicing. By automating the planning, scheduling, managing and tracking of jobs, workforces are improving operations, saving time and enhancing productivity.
Using cloud-based software, handheld devices and GPS positioning, businesses can monitor the progress and location of employees in real-time. Software and apps also reduce paperwork and enhance the quality, speed and security of data access. 37 per cent of organisations state mobile apps alone have allowed them to drive enhanced revenue, but the importance of the hardware they are run on cannot be understated in the modern working environment.
2. The criticality of device selection and the docking dilemma
88 per cent of buyers now say device ruggedness is important when considering new purchases for workforces. This makes it crucial to select the right device in the right form factor to run software effectively in challenging environments for extended periods of time. Smart phones are convenient, portable and cost-effective, but won’t provide the reliability rates needed. Conversely, ultra-rugged devices are now protected to such an extent that they can be used in any environment without fear of breakage or failure – although they can seem expensive initially. With a full understanding of the use case, a balance between portability, size, protection, performance and cost can be struck, enabling the right device to be specified.
For applications requiring usage in and outside of vehicles, mounting is the most effective way of optimising safety, security and accessibility. However, many workforces still leave their devices free in vehicles, creating a safety risk to both the hardware and workers. Lockable mounts deter and prevent theft, while a consultation with the vehicle’s crew will determine the best place for installation. Additionally, vehicle mounts provide an effective means of keeping devices charged between shifts.
3. Eyes on the future: New devices and sustainable strategies
The mobile workforce isn’t finished evolving, not by a long way. Technologies including IoT, big data and sensors look set to enhance operations even further, at unprecedented rates. To keep pace with the landscape, it will be interesting to see whether new and emerging technologies, such as foldable smart phones and voice-assisted computing, will include ruggedised models. This would allow field workers to benefit from new technological advancements, while still ensuring fit for purpose solutions.
As the world moves towards a more eco-friendly approach to business, the mobile workforce will too. 97 per cent of businesses state devices sustainability is important, while 41% say they will implement sustainable strategies over the next two years. These will include extending operational life, improving energy efficiency and reducing power consumption. So for now, rugged and customised devices look like they are here to stay.
Research from Gartner identifies workforce management as an area under a constant state of transformation. Predicting a cloud-only future in which all data is delivered in real-time, Gartner suggest that some truly disruptive, next generation platforms are right around the corner. With all this in mind and from what we see on a daily basis, we believe the technology landscape and how it impacts the mobile workforce is one to keep an eye on, especially with some innovative solutions just over the horizon.