The Future of Mobile Computing

The following article, by VP of Operations Eric Rausin, is from the November ESC Newsletter. You can subscribe to the monthly newsletter by clicking here and filling out the short form.

They say change is inevitable. I believe this to be true (unless you’re dealing with vending machines) and a lot of interesting changes are sweeping the mobile landscape right now. Just three years ago Apple changed the mobile playing field with the introduction of the iPhone. A few months ago sales of iPhones were eclipsed by sales of Android, Google’s phone operating system. Now Microsoft and Blackberry have both released new phone based operating systems. With all these choices, it can be difficult to determine which mobile solution will best meet your needs when it comes to integrating with ESC. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you exactly what we’re doing so you can make an informed decision.

Let’s start out with the new technology. A few months ago we converted our existing Mobile Web product to work on both the iPhone/iPad and Android operating systems. While this initially didn’t add any features, it allowed us to radically overhaul the interface to make it much prettier and touch screen friendly. In the most recent versions of those apps we were able to take advantage of the power of the devices and added the following features:

  • Attach pictures – you can now take pictures with your phone and attach them to the dispatch itself. This is a huge time saver and a great way to document the work you’ve done.
  • View attached documents – view and recall a complete list of documents attached to the customer’s location from your phone. You can recall and view any document your phone can open but you will not be able to make any changes to them. This is a perfect way to view previous pictures or letters while in the field.
  • GPS Integration – using the built-in GPS on your phone you can now see your technician’s trucks appear directly on the map in your Electronic Dispatch Board. No more guessing who the closest tech is to a call, now you can see it instantly.
  • Turn by turn directions – So the tech doesn’t know how to get to the customer’s site? No problem. We’ll send the address of their next call to the devices built in mapping application so they can get exact directions to the customer’s location from where ever they are.

Dispatch Detail The android and iPhone apps also allow you to create and email invoices in the field.

Speaking of which, the Windows Mobile 7 client will feature full invoicing capabilities, as well as the ability to take payments and even authorize credit cards (in conjunction with QuickBooks Merchant Services). Once the invoice is saved it can be emailed to the customer, sent to an email enabled printer (see my review of one in next month’s newsletter), or printed out at the office and mailed to the customer.

The Mobile 7 client doesn’t currently have the ability to attach pictures, view attached documents or integrate with the built-in GPS but, just like the invoicing features are coming to the iPhone and Android clients, these features will be added to the Mobile 7 client over the next couple of months. We plan on keeping the feature set for all three of these clients as similar as possible.

These clients are the future of mobile computing at dESCO, and now that the price of these devices and software is so affordable – there is really no excuse not to go mobile. As you can see, we’ll definitely be there for you – now and for a long time to come!

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