Recent surveys have pointed to a rise in fleet managers using smartphone applications. Why the sudden upsurge in smartphone use and will this trend have a significant impact on how fleets are managed?

More specifically, could smartphone applications help with your day-to-day tasks? What are the real benefits of an iPhone or Android app compared to your existing web-based solution? What tools are currently available for mobile workers and fleet managers?

Smartphones – How useful are they for fleet managers?

Smartphones aren’t new, but innovative ways to use them in business are being discovered daily. As processing power increases, usability improves and the number of productivity applications grows and managers are reconsidering the smartphones role in the workplace. Where fleet owners may have seen these devices as time-wasters or frustratingly unusable in the past, or as dangerous distractions for drivers, they are now noticing the trend towards mobile applications is driving a sea change in the industry.

But is it just marketing hype? Smoke and mirrors? A ploy for workers to use their phones for ‘work’ while secretly hitting triple word scores playing WWF? The secret to making them work for your business may be in making sure you are clear about the role they play, and choosing the right applications for your mobile workforce.

The benefits of using smartphones as part of your fleet management toolset include:

  • Portability — Most modern smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S3 or iPhone, can easily slide into your pocket, which makes them extremely portable. Take them wherever you go – the job site, while driving, to client meetings; some employees even sleep with them – you won’t find that level of portability (or attachment!) with any other technology device. Even tablets need to be carried.
  • Versatility — Ever since Steve Jobs made his now-famous comment about combining a digital music player with a phone during the launch of the first iPhone, smartphones have had a reputation for bundling several functions into a single device. Today, smartphones combine several features that fleet managers and drivers can find relevant to their jobs. High-definition cameras, video chat, internet browser, voice calls, GPS and location-aware features make the smartphone indispensable to many professionals.
  • Usability — Smartphones have advanced considerably since the difficult days of clunky user interfaces that were better suited to large screens rather than the 2.7″ windows many early smartphones offered. Nowadays, usability experts have brought together developments in larger screens, more responsive touch screens and thousands of hours of lab testing to offer users a much friendlier and productive experience.

Technology is converging to the point where there is now a very solid business case for mobile workforces to consider running applications on iOS or Android devices, which offer the added benefit of a free operating system, potentially saving an enterprise from another huge technology investment. Running on these widely available operating systems are a whole new generation of applications that are revolutionizing mobile fleet management, and Telogis is investing heavily in developing these types of applications.

New smartphone applications — fueling the growth

With the infrastructure in place (the majority of workers already have a smartphone in their pockets) the time is right for rolling out a new generation of fleet management applications. The increased availability of smartphone applications (such as Telogis Supervisor) is driving the increased adoption by fleet managers (put by one study as around 300 percent in just seven months) who are now using their iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone to monitor and manage their fleets.

The lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of smartphones compared to traditional hardwired devices, their ability to be upgraded and their versatility to run multiple applications is making it more appealing for fleet owners to look at ways to implement them within the workforce.

These applications are also specifically designed for mobile workers. Stripped-down functionality, clean user interfaces and minimal interaction make them ideal for employees on the go, staff in the field and supervisors who need an uncluttered view of their crew’s real-time activities.

Telogis’ smartphone applications (including Telogis Supervisor) all synchronize with the fleet’s central database allowing mobile enterprises to capture and use data in exciting new ways. A driver marking a job or delivery as complete on their smartphone can be setup to automatically trigger billing or customer confirmation. A worker arriving on a job site can start the clock on their timesheet.

Smartphones in fleet management — is the time right for you?

With one survey suggesting that over half of all fleet managers were considering adopting smartphone use in the workplace, maybe it’s time you considered it for your fleet. If you want to talk about what Telogis can do for your mobile workforce, we’d love to hear from you.