High-Tech Horizons to Smarten Up Security Service
Smarten up your service with cutting-edge mobile technology.
You see wearable technology being promoted everywhere today. You keep hearing the term BYOD (bring your own device). You can wrap a device around your wrist that tracks both your health and appointments. There are smartglasses that will blend what you really see with Web information that you virtually see.
How much of this new technology is hype, novelty or reality? And what are some of the practical applications that can help a field technician or project manager? While perhaps not “wearable” in the way the new Apple Watch might be, remember that mobile devices can be in your pocket or bag at all times. So let’s take a brief look at some helpful technologies that can be accessed and incorporated into your daily operations.
Make Paperless Operations a Reality
Technicians often are faced with trying to know about all products they service. In the past, if a tech needed additional reference he would have possibly gone to that cabinet in the back of his truck for hard paper copies of the most popular installation manuals. If that failed, then he was on the phone with a product expert trying to interpret his problem and deliver verbal instructions. Today the primary mobile tech support device is either a technician’s smartphone or tablet. If you as a manager want to stay competitive, at a bare minimum these devices should be incorporated into your operation.
Tech Talk Tool Tip
The foundation of any modern company using mobile electronics in field technical service support is a good PDF viewing and editing program. To facilitate this, try the PDF-XChange PRO software package from Tracker Software. It will allow you to handle, create and edit electronic PDF files with ease and flexibility – all for less than $80, according to the company. Tracker Software also offers a free “Lite” version to aid you in getting comfortable with the concept of a paperless office. SDK (software development kits) are also available.
Tracker Software says new features of its PDF-XChange PRO include improved image conversion and improved image text character conversion.
Field paperwork should now be paperless with all customer data secure and readily available for system testing and installation. A good example is the enterprise Millennium Management accounting and service tracking software system from Micro Key Solutions. It was one of my 2014 Top 30 Technology Innovations picks. If you handle your electronic documents properly you should have to only enter critical information such as the customer’s name, address, etc., into a company database once. Time and money can then be saved by not having to enter the data redundantly.
More than just in the field, one goal for 2015 should be to make your entire operations virtually paperless. When at the jobsite all support documents should be able to be pulled up electronically on a smartphone or tablet. Your electronic forms can be created and use the common data previously mentioned. The popular format standard for these documents is PDF (portable document format), which was created in 1993 by Adobe Systems. Adobe officially released it as an open standard in 2008. Almost any document that can be scanned or printed can be converted to a PDF file using driver utility programs sometimes referred to as “distillers.” The documents can be made secure from outside altercations by encrypting them with passwords. One popular PDF editing program is the PDF-XChange PRO package from Tracker Software (see Tool Tip).
Online Manuals, Video Calls Enhance Access
Sometimes it can be challenging finding old tech manuals, even online. One solid resource for finding these is Jim Rojas’ Tech-Man Web site. While there is a fee associated with using this library of manuals you can often cut a deal if you have some old alarm documents Rojas may be looking for. The service can be a big time saver if you or your techs have to hunt down an old product manual and are able to quickly pull up the information on a mobile browser.
When field tech support is needed, more can be done these days than just making a phone call. It can often be difficult to identify and solve a technical problem through verbal communications. But now it’s relatively easy to implement mobile video communications via smartphone or tablet. Live, two-way streaming video support can be used with online services such as Skype, Google Chat and Apple FaceTime. Dedicated field service video support systems such as the Lookout Camera from with Vidcie (see opening photo) can provide hands-free live mobile video. This can be a valuable tool for the documenting and training of critical field service missions.
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