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@ThingsExpo: Article

Code Halos - Tracking the Mobile Workforce, Equipment & Other Variables

There are many different objects and variables that can impact the performance of a mobile workforce

I write and speak often on the need to have a thoughtful Code Halo strategy in addition to your mobile and digital strategies. Code Halos is the term for the information that surrounds people, organizations, and devices. Many companies consider Code Halostrategies only for marketing, sales and customer service, but a well thought out Code Halo strategy for work done in the field like maintenance, repairs, asset management, construction and engineering is also important. Let me try to make the case here.

There are many different objects and variables that can impact the performance of a mobile workforce, especially in the services industry. In my enterprise mobility workshops I call these things PIOs (performance impact objects), and PIVs (performance impact variables).

Examples of PIOs:

  • People
  • Parts/Supplies/Materials
  • Tools
  • Job locations
  • Equipment (and availability)
  • Transportation (and availability)
  • Vendor (and availability)
  • Subcontractor (and availability)
  • Jobsite access
  • Permits/Approvals

Examples of PIVs:

  • Schedules (dependencies)
  • Qualifications
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Weather
  • Traffic
  • Condition of equipment repair/maintenance
  • Sickness/Health
  • Funding

Each of these items must come together at the right time and right place to optimize the performance of a field service technician. I think of PIOs and PIVs in the context of building the first transcontinental railroad in 1869. In order to be completed and functioning, all the PIOs/PIVs had to come together at the right physical place and time. If pieces were missing, or misaligned the entire system was delayed or fails.

In an ideal world, we would have full situational awareness.  All of the data from each PIO and PIV would be instantly available to our management system so predictive analytics and artificial intelligence could align all the variables for optimized service delivery.  Full situational awareness does not happen by accident.  It requires a great deal of strategy, planning and execution.

All of the PIOs and PIVs need to be tracked and monitored. Sensors (IoT), GPS vehicle tracking and smartphones all play an important role here. The data that is needed to make right decisions, either by a human decision maker or an artificial intelligence system needs to be collected, and as data has a shelf-life, it needs to be timely. Those on the Titanic knew they were in trouble, but only when it was too late to prevent the trouble. They would have appreciated good information a few minutes earlier.

Let me provide a scenario for consideration. A customer calls in and requires repairs to a specialized, expensive piece of equipment. The repair requires specialized training and skills, certifications, special parts, special tools and experience. Knowing just the schedules and locations of your field service technicians is not good enough. You need to know information concerning each PIO and PIV. In order to optimally provide service to your customer, you need to know and monitor all relevant information, and since most field services teams are mobile, that means mobile technology and wireless sensors must be integrated with as many PIOs and PIVs systems as possible in order to provide the necessary data and visibility to maximize productivity.

When PIOs and PIVs are all connected via a shared network that provides visibility to network members it is called a Network Centric Operation. A full network centric operational environment may not be economically feasible for 25 service technicians, but for 25,000 service technicians yes.

If you have an available field service technician without the right experience or qualifications, then that doesn't help. If you have a qualified, experienced and available field services technician, but without the right tools, equipment, parts or their location is too distant to be of service, then that also doesn't help.

PIOs/PIVs are most often not in one location for easy management. They are located in many different locations and accessed via many different systems. Enterprise mobility, sensors, connectivity, integration, dashboards, dynamic scheduling, HCM (human capital management), GPS tracking and event/project management, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence are all required to bring all of these pieces, data and variables together to provide optimal productivity. Ideally these would be brought together under a considered Code Halo strategy for collecting, analyzing and using data to optimize productivity.


Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Editor
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
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Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

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