The Value of Building Mobility into Processes

The Law refers to the value of products increasing with mobility. If your job doesn’t have anything to do with a product, you may wonder if the Law applies to you.

In short, the answer is yes.

To help demonstrate the value of mobility in everything, think about these simple examples of how companies have mobilized processes and by doing so have created competitive advantage that others in their industry have been forced to follow.

Think about car rental. These days we take for granted that when we return our car, a return agent will come to us at our car and will complete our transaction while we collect our luggage. We simply take our receipt from them and leave. But it wasn’t always that way. It used to be that when you returned your car, you had to write down the mileage, go into the company’s office building, stand in line, and eventually pay for your rental. (Does anyone remember this?) At some point in time (my memory thinks it was about 10 years ago), one of the rental car firms (Avis? – they always try harder…) realized that they could clearly differentiate themselves if they took something in their business that was fixed (the car return process) and mobilized it – brought it where you are instead of making you come to where they are. Today, I wouldn’t even consider using a rental car firm that didn’t have this process mobilized!

Think about package delivery. We’re not at all surprised today when we’re asked to sign on a mobile computer when we receive a package from UPS or FedEx or any of their competitors. But there was a time when we’d actually sign a piece of paper on a clipboard. In this case, the interaction hasn’t moved any closer to us, but the collection of data has been mobilized. Because of that, we take for granted that we can track the very precise, very detailed, and very timely progress of our package from origin to destination. When we wonder why our package hasn’t yet arrived, we can check online and see that it was actually delivered to our neighbor during that 15 minutes when we stepped away (we can actually see their signature if it was required!) I now get frustrated when I’m anxiously awaiting something and it’s been shipped using a method without this precise tracking. Whoever first mobilized this process undoubtedly created tremendous competitive advantage that forced their competitors to follow.

This week I spent some time with a company called Agilis Systems. Agilis makes software to capture the power of mobility in field service processes. The example they gave was another with which I could really relate.

One of the modules in their product suite is called SmartRoute. It creates a list of customers that the field service tech needs to visit each day and then it updates that list throughout the day.

For example, let’s say you sign up for new local telephone service and the Bell tech needs to visit your house to turn up the service. You might be told that he’ll arrive between 7am and noon. So you take half a day off work. In reality, he runs into some complexities at one of his stops and doesn’t really arrive until 1:30pm. Your whole day is shot and you aren’t too pleased when he finally arrives. Sound familiar?

Agilis’ solution includes the ability to call you when you’re the next one on the tech’s list. You’ll be asked “Press 1 if you can meet the technician in 15 minutes, press 2 if you want to be pushed to later in the day, or press 3 if you want to reschedule for another day.” Based on your response, the technician will either proceed to your house, or his route will be recalculated with you either removed from that day’s list or pushed to later in the day.

Imagine how much happier this would make you as a customer than having to hang around all day waiting for the tech to arrive. Now also realize how this allows the service provider to more efficiently manage their resources and thus save money and/or increase revenues.

So, are you starting to get the picture? You may not be in the rental car, package delivery, or telephone installation business, but I’m sure there are ways you can think of to build mobility into your processes to improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase revenues. And who can’t afford to do any of those?

3 Responses to “The Value of Building Mobility into Processes”

  1. […] Kindle, Musco Lighting, TeleNav), services (PODS, Montclair State University), and processes (Avis). Taking revolutionary steps to change the rules of competition sounds like an overwhelming task, […]

  2. […] and since the cost of building mobility in is dropping, we believe that businesses wll look to build mobility into every service they offer, to create new value for their customers, and to build mobility into every process to […]

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