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“The driving force of all nature”

Posted by Emily Mason on October 10, 2014

That’s what Leonardo da Vinci called “water” – and who am I to disagree with a genius?

Truth be told, I actually do not know that much about water, beyond the fact that it streams out when I turn the tap (faucet?) and an unreasonable amount of it falls on the UK in a typical year!

Of course, there is a massive industry at work behind the scenes, ensuring that customer demands are met and there is continuous availability. Just as there is for all of our utilities (electricity, gas, etc.). And, an important part of those companies, which provide our energy and water, are large field-based workforces – precisely because their infrastructure has to reach every factory, office and home in the country.

Now, just the mention of a “mobile workforce” in the Cognito office is enough to get everyone interested – it’s our specialist subject. We know a whole lot about communicating with them, recording what they do, and improving their performance. It’s what we do.

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“Drive safely, darling!”

Posted by Emily Mason on October 8, 2014

Are those the last words you hear when you leave for work each day?

Cognito customers operate in many different industries and provide many different kinds of services. One thing they all share is that they deliver those services to different places, with employees travelling between sites - usually by driving some kind of vehicle.

Which makes driver safety a hugely important topic.

Earlier this year, Volvo Cars UK launched a new initiative aimed at business drivers, particularly in SMEs. Entitled “Co-Pilot”, it is part of a vision that...

“...by 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”

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The problem with service

Posted by Emily Mason on October 2, 2014

It never fails to astonish me how some businesses fail so completely at providing even just a basic level of good service.

On a recent visit to a well-known hotel chain, I walked into the impressively large reception area to be ‘greeted’ by “do you want to check in?” No ‘hello’ - not even a smile. The place was huge and there were many doors to which could or could not have led to my room, so I dared to ask which door I might take. The answer was simply “over there” and a vague pointing of the finger to what could have been one of three options.After struggling to find the staircase at all, I finally made it up to my room, somewhat perturbed by the reception I’d received, but glad to see my room was up to a good standard. I later ventured down to the spa, where the staff were friendly and the facilities helped me wind down for the day.


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What does ‘M2M’ mean to you?

Posted by Emily Mason on October 2, 2014

Everywhere you look, it seems the world of field service is talking about only two topics - the Internet of Things or “wearable” technologies. And sometimes, both!

I have written previously in this blog on the topic of Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, its history and identified some of challenges around widespread and rapid adoption of this kind of connectivity. Ian Mapp also contributed some comments to the current issue of the UK-based Field Service News magazine.

As well as articles and conversations inside the industry, they have become topics of general interest and appear in mainstream media too (see here and here for two recent examples). It is easy to see the appeal, but the coverage is often characterised by more emotion and hype than solid information or informed commentary.

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Posted by Emily Mason on September 26, 2014

“If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

What would it take to become the number one in the world at what you do? For example, how long would you need to train a winner of cycling’s most famous - and gruelling – race, the Tour De France? How would you even begin to plan for that?

The Accumulation of Marginal Gains is a strategy to do precisely that, credited to Dave Brailsford, Performance Director of both British Cycling and Team Sky. And one which has undoubtedly played a huge part in the successes of recent times for Team GB.

As well as the obvious factors such as the nutrition of riders, their weekly training programme, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tyres, Brailsford and his team searched for potential improvements in areas so seemingly insignificant that they were overlooked by almost every other team. From discovering the pillow that offered them the best sleep and ensuring they had it with them whilst staying away, to testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. Every possible area that could be improved, by even 1%, was targeted.

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