Mobile Workforce Management Apps: Is Anyone Innovating?

Jan 23, 2014

When it comes to mobile workforce management solutions, the most recent bold technological leaps have come from an interesting set of participants.

First, let’s define MWM: This application category encompasses software solutions that use wireless and location technologies to locate, track, and/or manage mobile field workers and their tasks. Think grey-collar workers such as maintenance and repair techs, pick-up and delivery drivers, home healthcare workers, etc. The solutions are used on smartphones, tablets, and ruggedized devices. The better ones have progressed beyond Big Brother to optimize work processes and enrich customer engagement.

Who’s creating these solutions? First up, are the mobile-centric MWM app developers who entered this space a decade or so ago with prepackaged apps targeted at small and mid-sized businesses. Then there are the traditional field service management providers who saw the light and began mobilizing access to their own desktop products.

Typically, in any given year, we can point to significant new MWM capabilities originating from the mobile-first developers. However, 2013 witnessed more product refinement than grand technological advances from this group. Which, in retrospect, makes sense. It was time to catch up and make the “small” improvements, including making solutions more user-friendly, expanding device support, updating locationing technology, and layering in complementary offerings from the channel partners (in most instances, this was the wireless carrier).

While logical, this focus on incremental improvement did leave space for the traditional field service management solution providers to tout some striking and innovative offerings.   These included Astea International’s sophisticated scheduling options, ClickSoftware’s ClickButler context-aware intelligent assistant capability, and TOA Technologies’ predictive algorithms for tech arrival times.

And, based on a few peeks at 2014 road maps, the traditional desktop vendors will be introducing additional MWM advancements during the next 12-18 months.

Hopefully, this is motivating the mobile-first app developers to come out swinging with their own innovations. They’re attempting to move up-market into the larger enterprise sector, while the desktop vendors move down-market into mid-size businesses. As a result, MWM competition is heating up, customers are becoming more educated and demanding, and any provider that stands still for too long is going to be left behind.

We talk more about the Mobile Workforce Management market in two related and recently-published studies: “Mobile Workforce Management Markets: Prepackaged Mobile Field-based Worker Applications in North America” (NC4B-65) and our survey-based report “Mobile Workforce Management Solutions Market Insight: 2013 Feedback from North American Businesses” (9838-114).

Jeanine Sterling


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