I don’t know about you but math(s) was not my favourite school subject - and algebraic equations were a pet hate. I was okay, but the subject never really excited me. Which probably explains why the title of this blog post owes more to English than to maths!
So, what on earth does it mean? Let me explain.
I imagine you have a pretty good idea who you have in your teams, who is on-shift today and available to work. You will also know what they are doing. Or, rather you won’t - you will know what they are supposed to be doing and that is not the same thing. And, all the time everything is going right, then that is fine, you do not need any more. Debriefing information on what did happen can follow later. Paper job sheets sent in the post would be a perfect, and low-cost solution, to job reporting if everything went to plan.
Inevitably though, things will go wrong in the delivery of any kind of mobile service. Despite appearances, it is not a straightforward business to be in. Many of the factors that influence outcomes, good or bad, are outside your control. For example - the weather, traffic conditions, and if customers are even there when you visit. Plus, that carefully constructed plan, which looked so promising at the start of the day, can be shattered by a couple of emergency calls, or jobs that simply overrun.
To keep control, and any hope of satisfying customers, you need more high-quality information. Plus the tools to visualise and interact with it in a way that can support you - and keep your service performance on track. And, perhaps most importantly, you need it quickly enough to make a difference today and now.
You know who and what. Do you know exactly where? Possibly, since you know the location of the assigned work. And, do you know exactly when? Well, you will know when the worker reported that the milestone was reached, or the task finished. That ‘contextual’ information is important and can be critical to delivering peak performance, and avoiding waste.
For example, a worker completes a task, jumps into their van and starts to drive to their next call 20 miles away, forgetting to update the system to signify completion. Arriving at the new location, they remember to send in the update and only then do you know they are clear of the previous call - and should be available to attend the newly-reported ‘priority 1’ call just around the corner from their last work location. Far from being the nearest technician, they are now 20 miles away, and might be second, or even third choice for the emergency visit.
Later, when you have missed the Service Level for that priority 1 call, you rightly ask “why did this go wrong?” and you cannot easily find out, because you do not have the right information recorded in your system. You need the mobile application to take care of reporting that context-aware data, without relying on the worker to remember or manually input it.
Strictly it might not be ‘Big Data’, but it is certainly more data - a more granular Activity-Based Workflow and rich data that together give you a full picture of what is happening. In all of its subtlety and complexity.
You need to know Who, What, Where and When, in order to answer the Why question. Which may not be good maths, but it can lead to brilliant service delivery and happy customers.