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Feb 20

Written by: J. Gerry Purdy
2/20/2013 

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 More than 117 million US workers are mobile at least some of their typical workday and, of these, 39 million are always mobile. Really big companies like FedEx or UPS can afford to build custom handheld devices, software and services to support their mobile workforces.

But, for 10 million mid-size US enterprises, managing a mobile workforce is a huge challenge. Designing, building and deploying custom hardware and software solutions for such firms for their mobile workers simply isn’t cost effective. As a result, many of these organizations are looking for a turnkey system they can customize for their own needs.

Companies with always-mobile employees are typically looking to meet the following requirements:

  • Getting visibility into mobile worker locations
    • Understand where their field team is located, where they’ve been, and their status  
    • Keep track of vehicle information as well
  • Managing employee & job time
    • Gain better control over payroll and job costs
  • Dispatching and managing jobs 
    • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the mobile workforce
  • Capturing field data dynamically
    • Cut down on paper forms and the data entry overhead
    • Expand the role and value of field employee to capture more data
  • Strengthen decision making
    • Leverage more data on field operations to expand business insights

The best mobile workforce management solutions meet the above requirements, and also are also fully configurable and cloud-hosted, eliminating the need to build a custom mobile workforce management solution, and having low IT overhead/requirements. One of these is from Xora, a Mountain View, CA-based company that offers a product – Xora StreetSmart – that supports mobile workers and enables their employers to operate more efficiently and effectively than before.

Xora, the market leader in mobile workforce management, has created a suite of configurable mobile apps that run on standard smartphones and tablets to meet the needs of these companies and their mobile workers. Their flagship product, Xora StreetSmart, includes a mobile app that can be used on over 175 mobile devices – from Android, iOS and BlackBerry to traditional feature phones.

Xora StreetSmart also includes a web-based management application that is accessed by managers and dispatchers to help them oversee the work being done in the field, to analyze performance through reporting and APIs to integrate with back-office systems such as payroll and accounting. This is shown in Figure 1.

Xora helps companies decrease operational costs and increase mobile employee productivity. With Xora, companies can streamline operations and reduce manual processes for field employees. Xora turns standard smartphone and tablet devices into a field productivity tool by reducing paperwork, optimizing field management, eliminating paper-based time cards and reducing gas and mileage expenses.

Meanwhile back at the office, administrators interact with the cloud-based application to see where all the company’s workers are located and have complete visibility to operations in the field. The system enables easy capture of photos in the field to verify work that was done, getting signature accepting completion of work and asking the customer to complete a survey on the completed work.

All of the data collected in the field is automatically transmitted to the Xora management application by the mobile device. The Xora system also keeps managers up to date on alerts and action items via email, in case they are away from the management application. 

Xora can be integrated into the company’s back office systems from payroll and accounting to ERP and CRM. Customers have integrated Xora with products from a wide range of companies including ADP, Paychex, Great Plains, Intuit, Salesforce.com, ESC and WennSoft.

Xora supports a number of different vertical markets but some example markets served include:

  • Field Services
  • Public Sector
  • Construction
  • Health Care
  • Transport & Distribution
  • Communications & Utilities

Here are some use cases of current Xora customers:

Roto Rooter – the nation’s largest plumbing and drain cleaning service equips their technicians with Xora to handle location and daily shift information as well as job dispatch and close-out. In addition to saving about $140K annually just by eliminating paper forms, the dramatic time savings in job close out, which went from 20 minutes to 90 seconds, means technicians can now complete more jobs every day.

R&J Construction – a luxury new home builder and remodeler adopted Xora to get a better handle on the activities and locations of their workers in the field. Adding up the savings from paperless time reporting, jobs trends analysis and automatic mileage reporting, Xora helps R&J save around $200,000 a year. The company is also able to do more accurate job costing for clients, because it has precise historical data on how long projects typically take.

Healthcare Receivable Specialists, Inc – a firm that provides receivables management services to healthcare providers equipped their team of 70 field reps with Xora. By leveraging location data to better design and manage territories, they’ve doubled the number of appointments their reps can make each month – increasing revenues by $6,000 per rep per month.  They’ve realized additional efficiencies and savings by leveraging mobile forms to automate mileage expense reimbursement and to gather job details and results, so office workers can answer customer inquiries faster, without having to track down the field rep.

To see an interview with a customer using Xora to better manage the operations of their landscaping and snow plowing business, check out the video AT&T put together on Lawn Ranger of Minnesota. Watch the Video

The next time you have someone come by your home to provide service and they use their smartphone or tablet to manage the job, they most likely are going to be using a system like Xora StreetSmart to manage the work and to verify your satisfaction.

Xora is a great example of a mobile company that started out with a few customers in one market and slowly built their software and partnerships so that now they are a successful company with over 16,000 customers and working closely with the major wireless operators to both sell and support new clients every day. Visit the Xora web site to learn more


Written By:

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.
Principal Analyst
Mobile & Wireless
MobileTrax LLC
[email protected]
404-855-9494

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column.  If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time.

 

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