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Mobile Strategies, PIOs, Optimized Intersections and Patterns of Life

Several weeks ago I introduced, in an Enterprise Mobility and Performance Impact Objects, the concept of PIOs (performance impact objects) how they can be used by enterprise mobility solutions and their role in managing a mobile workforce.  Today, I want to expand upon the concept of PIOs and introduce two additional concepts, 1)optimized intersections, and 2) an emerging concept from the intelligence community called “patterns of life.” We will then explore how these can be useful to an enterprise seeking to maximize efficiencies and the value of their enterprise mobility solutions.

Let’s first review the concept of PIOs. PIOs are objects that can impact the performance and productivity of a mobile workforce.  Let’s take a look at a few examples of PIOs.

  • Qualified personnel
  • Parts/Supplies/Materials
  • Tools
  • Job/work locations
  • Equipment
  • Transportation
  • Vendors
  • Subcontractors
  • Jobsite access
  • Permits/Approvals

For any particular job, the required PIOs must all come together at the right time and place (read Enterprise Mobility and 4D Field Services) in order to optimize productivity and efficiencies.  In most cases today, only one or two of these PIOs are being managed in  an automated manner.  Most are still being organized via phone  calls, notepads, SMS and emails.

The concept of optimized intersection is where all of these items meet in the most optimal manner.  To optimize your productivity, you can employ enterprise mobility solutions, GPS tracking devices, M2M solutions, real-time business intelligence and shared dynamic schedules that will continually estimate the “optimized intersection” for each job.

One of the biggest challenges with trying to automate the management of PIOs is that they often involve third parties.  Most often you do not have full control of the technology solutions that your vendors, suppliers and subcontractors use.  So how does an enterprise actually implement this strategy?

Utilizing HTML5 mobile applications on smartphones with GPS tracking and date and time capturing capabilities are a big step in the right direction.  Integrating HTML5 apps with your scheduling and work/project management solutions to develop your “optimized intersection” is a step in the right direction.

Why HTML5?  Pure HTML5 mobile apps will allow you to support the widest number of mobile devices in the most efficient manner possible.  Especially if you want your third party subcontractors and vendors to use your mobile apps on their smartphones of choice so they can participate in your “optimized intersection” efforts.

Let us now take a look at the concept of “patterns of life.” In the intelligence community, patterns of life refers to the study or analysis of the patterns observed in a person’s or object’s life. For example, a building may be observed over time through the camera of a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and people can be seen entering and leaving the building at particular times.  The people leaving the building drive specific vehicles and come and go from specific locations.  These people and vehicles can also be tracked and analyzed.  Over the course of time, patterns of activities will emerge that offer valuable information for analysts.

A company is unlikely to own and operate a UAV that enables them to observe “patterns of life” from the air, however,  GPS and workforce tracking solutions, customer behaviors, data capture technologies and smartphones enable you, over a period of time to observe the patterns of life of your workforce, vehicles, equipment and customers.  Here is a list of pattern of life examples:

  • Hours equipment is in operation, moving and sitting idle.
  • Workforce driving habits.
  • Route speeds between delivery points at different times of the day.
  • Locations where company vehicles are most often refueled.
  • Places where service technicians most often purchase parts, materials and supplies.
  • Driving time vs. billable work time.
  • Ideal locations for company warehouses, suppliers and sales offices based upon proximity to work and customers.

Once tracking data is collected and analyzed, patters of lifecan emerge that were never before recognized.  Often these patterns are not truly understood until they are projected onto a map.  Barry Barlow, a Director at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) says, “If you go into any operations center today you will see people using a Google Earth representation of what’s going on in the world.”  Just seeing the patterns and activities visually represented on maps can often provide insights that data alone does not.

Patterns of Life only emerge if you have visibility into operations in the field.  Today, visibility can be provided commercially through GPS vehicle and equipment tracking, M2M (machine to machine) embedded wireless chips, smartphones or other mobile wireless devices.

I teach the mantra, “Mobile technologies without strategies is wasted.”  This article just hightlights a few areas where mobile technologies, if you have the right strategies in place, can benefit your organization.  Understanding how you can use mobile technologies to meet your business objectives, is the key to understanding what technologies you need.

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