In a volatile economic environment, companies are looking to enterprise IT systems to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency. Location-enabled mobile phones offer a great series of management applications that can be integrated through enterprise IT systems. GPS receivers on smart phones and Web-based applications are making these technologies much more accessible to the smaller enterprise.
Location applications already have a reputation for saving large enterprises money. Yet the type and breadth of these applications-and their capabilities-continues to be unclear. This is in large part because GPS-enabled smart phone systems are only now becoming widely available, and software has been complex and expensive.
This article features five empowering tips for using location-based services to your advantage, based on my personal experience running two location-based services companies. Investment can be significant, depending on the size of the enterprise. But any cost or operation-oriented GPS application should provide return on investment well within six months.
The following five tips will help you better leverage your enterprises' existing smart phones for innovative, location-based enterprise applications.
Tip #1: Companies Can Save Money
Companies save millions by using GPS tools to help reduce fuel costs and increase productivity. Fuel costs have become an absolute nightmare in the past few months in the United States. The cost of keeping vehicles on the road is increasing at an unprecedented rate.
A GPS tracking solution can save companies money by reducing unauthorized evening and weekend use of vehicles, optimizing job assignments based on location, reducing discretionary time and overtime hours, and monitoring to ensure that the most efficient routes are being used. In addition to gas costs, consider the fact that less mileage equals less vehicle maintenance.
Additionally, companies can use GPS to identify nonperformers through a location trail of assets, including employees who are not making efficient runs. This allows companies to explore better efficiencies for work force management.
Tip #2: Improve Customer Satisfaction
Many enterprises deploy mobile installation and repair work forces. Customers can be alerted when support is within a certain distance, rather than wait during a lengthy window. Jobs can be done more quickly, as employee on-the-job calls are reduced (that is, they don't have to report in their location and ETA). Likewise, dispatchers can manage bigger groups of resources by not having to make inefficient voice calls to individuals regarding their location.
Tip #3: Peace of Mind
There is great relief in knowing that employees and assets will get to a destination safely and on time. Enterprises can know immediately when employees are speeding, are late to a destination, or are simply driving in an irresponsible manner. Employees can have access to a "panic button" should an emergency occur. Employers will instantly know where to provide immediate assistance, whether legally required to do so or not. If your company provides services to end users, think of the power of location when needed in an emergency and the value-add to your company's offering.
Tip #4: Security
From appliances to equipment, if it is portable, it can be stolen. Companies can easily monitor their assets, as well as recover stolen or missing items, using GPS technology. GPS technology allows you to create virtual fences and alerts you when something leaves an area. Security guards and video cameras are expensive and only partially helpful. You will never have to waste money on replacing missing equipment when you can simply track it down.
Tip #5: Minimal Investment
Take full advantage of your existing mobile assets with no additional investment. Mobile phones are carried daily and everywhere; they're a piece of hardware the employee already owns or the company has provided. Without having to purchase an entirely new, expensive product, companies can easily use a mobile tracking application for its GPS devices. For a small monthly fee, companies can keep their employees safe and their assets secure, while improving overall efficiency.
Jaap Groot is CEO and Founder of Potomac Falls, Va.-based FindWhere, a global leader of real-time GPS location tracking. A serial entrepreneur, Jaap Groot has decades of wireless experience and is regarded as a LBS (location-based services) expert. He founded Roadshow Europe, a leading player in the routing and scheduling industry and the first to market with maps on computers. He also founded Triptech International, which focused on the Transport and Service management industry, with state-of-the-art tracking and mobile work force management solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.