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Location-based services, only one part of the big (data) picture

Big data, one of the main buzz topics of 2012, is still attracting a lot of attention. Not least because one of an organisation’s most valued assets is its data, but also because of the possibilities it allows for insightful analysis.

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Yet, despite the attention it is receiving there are still organisations not utilising data to its full potential in identifying trends and improving service, and ultimately making cost savings. For example, for many service-based organisations, collection of data is still largely restricted to in-vehicle location-based services (LBS), providing information on where a worker’s vehicle is located.

However, collecting in-vehicle geographic data forms only a small part of the service picture, with the optimum view being achieved by combining job, parts, worker, customer and geographic data all in one system. This geo-location data becomes much richer when correlated with other elements of the field worker’s ability to do the job. In any instance, vehicle location data alone is not necessarily that useful as it may not always be consistent with the exact whereabouts of the field service operative (once they leave the vehicle they can be anywhere) and it cannot give insight into what the worker is doing or how they are performing on a customer’s site. When this data is correlated with other elements, for example, the customer service rating, it becomes more meaningful.

In a comprehensive workforce performance management system, dashboards monitoring a broad range of service KPIs are used to show areas that are in balance and areas that are out of balance. All of which can be updated in real-time, ensuring that service departments can act on information immediately. The dashboards also give the ability for managers to drill down into information, which is a key consideration for improving service performance.

In essence you are able to efficiently work in what we call a ‘top down/drill down’ mode. The main message is that an organisation should not allow such rich data to go unutilised. Use some of the above suggestions (there are many more) to interact with your data, a valuable asset, in a manageable way.

You may need to convince the wider business of the benefits of being able to track a worker’s location in context with the fuller service picture. By explaining that collecting geo-location data is not about having a ‘big brother’ mentality, but about being able to improve working conditions, expectations, processes and customer service, (whilst making cost savings), you should face an enthusiastic reaction.

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