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How Does GPS Technology Fare? - Copy


The tech news for the last few weeks has focused heavily on the inconsistencies in Apple Maps that have come along with the new iOS 6.

The trouble with the mapping product has even brought out an apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook, something that would have been extremely hard to come by from his predecessor.

Maps and turn-by-turn directions are quite vital in the management of field service. The use of maps, directions, and traffic or other data can greatly impact the speed of service and customer satisfaction. More so, mapping and other location-based capabilities can also serve as inputs to improve the scheduling and routing of service routes to maximize field worker utilization. In a recent Aberdeen Group survey of over 220 field service organizations, 55% of businesses surveyed indicated that increasing workforce utilization and productivity was the top goal for investing in mobile resource management solutions.

Second on the list, with 51% of respondents, was the need to improve customer satisfaction. To further connect the dots between timely arrivals and customer satisfaction, an integral factor contributing to customer angst is poor onsite arrival performance (the first is poor resolution performance). Beyond facing a unhappy customer, tardy onsite arrival performance can have significant financial implications if tied to a time-based service level agreement.

To improve field service performance, Best-in-Class service organizations (as determined by their performance in utilization, productivity, customer retention, and profitability metrics) are prioritizing real-time visibility into their mobile resource statuses. For these leading organizations, resource visibility is more than just a point on the map.

It’s about understanding the true availability of these assets and resources to be incorporated into service execution and planning models. Gone are the days when technician or resource location was only used to ascertain whereabouts to ensure appropriate usage of company time and property. That still happens, but leading organizations are much more concerned with integrating vehicle information into their scheduling and planning processes; this  while also looking to improve the safety and security of their drivers and vehicles.  

In a recently completed research effort on Fleet Management (in combination with a broader effort on Mobile Field Service),  62% of 135 respondents indicated that they were currently monitoring at least a proportion of their service vehicles remotely to aid in field service processes. On average, respondents indicated that they were currently tracking 43% of their service vehicles remotely with intentions of raising that proportion to 59% in 12 months.

While location information was the most important data point being captured from these vehicles, vehicle speed, idle time, hours of service and other parameters were also being tracked by service organizations. The major reasons for accruing this information were to ascertain service fleet whereabouts (57% of respondents), to improve driver safety (38% of respondents) and to reduce overall fuel costs (28% of respondents).  These goals were consistent across all organizations, whether Best-in-Class or otherwise. However, the areas where the Best-in-Class were distancing themselves from other organizations were tied to the use of location information, as these businesses were focused on:

  • Driver safety improvement
  • Planned vs. actual reporting
  • Determining optimal routing and scheduling for drivers
  • Improving maintenance or replacement decisions on service vehicles

With the aid of this approach, leading organizations were able to experience significant returns from their fleet management automation decisions and significantly return a greater than 80% level of vehicle utilization.

To learn more about the research results, or to access the Field Service 2012: GPS and Fleet Management document, please visit:

Sumair Dutta is the Vice President and Principal Analyst for Service Management at the Aberdeen Group. His coverage areas touch upon customer service strategy, customer experience management, and field service. He can be reached at or @Aberdeen_CSO on Twitter.

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