There have been a number of articles which highlight many of the upcoming labor shortages.....wait, what labor shortage? Aren't there millions of people who are either out of work or underemployed?
Sure, this is absolutely true, but in North America, there is an extreme labor shortage in many key areas such as Engineering, some trades and many areas of Science. Companies are finding themselves so short on staff that they are missing deadlines, unable to take on new work or constantly over budget on projects given overtime wages etc.
While M2M solutions cannot help with some aspects of it (I mean, I don't know of an M2M solution that can swing a hammer, perform certain scientific test or operate heavy machinery....maybe next year?), it can definitely help to ease the labor shortage by increasing the amount of work that key people are able to do. It can also help by allowing them to make time-saving decisions, based on real-time data that they were not able to do in the past.
Here is how M2M solutions can help:
Spend time in the field, not in the office doing
Ok, I hate paperwork, as do most people. It is a necessary evil, unfortunately, but it does make financial sense for companies to reduce the amount of time that their key people spend doing it. M2M solutions allow for automated entry of many key items, such as what work was done and the amount of hours that need to be billed. To really gain for the use of these solutions, forward-thinking companies are taking the extra step of integrating this information directly into ERP systems (such as SAP, Oracle and salesforce.com) to allow the information to be shared with other departments. This may include Customer Service (to provide better real-time information to their customers), Inventory (to ensure that they are able to have the correct parts sent out) and Operations (to provide feedback about possible system-wide issues).
Not much good work gets done while looking out a
windshield (unless you are a bus driver!)
A great employee is not as valuable when they are stuck in traffic. As well, the problem becomes worse if you made that employee spend extra time in the car when one of their colleagues was much closer to respond to the call. Fleet Management solutions allow for remote staff to spend less time in the car by optimizing dispatch and reducing driving time (as people don't get lost as often). This means that the right people are there, and they are there in less time. As well, many M2M solutions allow for over the air resets and updates of remote equipment, which reduces the amount of calls where you have to dispatch someone in the first place. This ensures that your customer's equipment is down for much less time (if at all), while also ensuring your valuable assets (like your people) are only sent when needed. Simply said – it allows you to do more with less.....smart!
Get the information to your team when they need it,
where they need it
I remember working on a project back in 2001, where we equipped about 120 police cruisers for a regional police force with one of the first 1xRTT-based solutions to look up key pieces of information from the field. Now, those connections seemed like snail-pace, but it was revolutionary compared to the technology that they had at the time. When I spoke with the Police Chief, I asked him what his reasoning was behind making this investment. He said that he was able to keep his officers in the field for up to 33% more by allowing them to look up what they previously had to head back to the office to get. This allowed him to offer a greater presence in the field without the cost of recruiting and training more officers. As well, I received a note from a Staff Sergeant from the same police department a year or so later, telling me how he believes our system may have help to ensure the safety of an officer. It seems that since he had quicker access to records, the officer decided to do a more detailed search upon pulling over a vehicle for a routine violation, only to discover that there was a warrant for someone who may be traveling in this vehicle. The officer called for backup in advance of approaching the vehicle, in which they found 3 armed suspects, all with outstanding warrants.
This story always stuck with me, as it showed how valuable it can be for your team to get the information out in the field. Now, you may ask, "Isn't that an extreme example? My team does not deal with armed felons." While this may be true, many people in the field deal with things that are either life-threatening or can have impacts on people's well-being (such as large water pipes, high levels of electricity and interaction with patients in their homes). How many decisions do you ask them to make on a daily basis, and how much better would they be able to do their job with the best information that is available?
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection. You can visit our web page at www.novotech.com. As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).