Directions Magazine (DM): Let's start with a basic overview of TCS Workforce Locator as a mobile resource management solution and how it can be deployed to a company. Is this a solution for Tier 1 carriers as well as those with a typical fleet of 25-100 vehicles? Is this a complete work order management system that allows both dispatcher and driver to update orders in real-time, change time windows and provide statistics on fleet efficiency?
Drew Morin: TCS Workforce Locator is a white label application sold to any size business through mobile carriers. It is currently deployed at Sprint and Vodafone Spain, with additional global carriers following soon. Unlike other mobile resource management solutions, Workforce Locator does not require integration into the business's back-end system, nor does it require downloading anything to the mobile phones. It is an inexpensive, Web-based, hosted solution. This ease-of-use is becoming more important to businesses as they look to reduce costs, including integration with back-end systems and services. It is a great complement to any mobile workforce to know where they are in real-time, and having a history of their location drives greater efficiencies.
DM: Is the Tracking Scheduler functionality of TCS Workforce Locator based on a system where drivers are assigned tasks by the type of work needed, as well as their proximity to the job site? For example, are vehicle groups assigned a series of task orders based on skill set, or are groups a function of location, or both?
Drew Morin: Workforce Locator is a basic application that allows business owners, managers or dispatchers to locate and track mobile workers on interactive maps. Capabilities include:
- On-demand locating or scheduling automatic tracking over self-defined timeframes
- Organizing workers into groups to locate and determine relative proximity or distance to target destinations (workers can be grouped by skill set, business department, regional teams, etc.)
- On-demand downloading of location history reports or scheduling reports to be sent via email at regular intervals
- Ability to SMS text workers directly through the web-based application
- Routing workers with static driving directions via text (Spanish supported)
- Local search for nearby resources, types of businesses or specific addresses and save them as landmarks to be referenced quickly
- Delegate other managers the administrative rights to access and use the application to locate workers
Workforce Locator does not provide: work order management and forms, statistics on fleet efficiency or engine diagnostics, payroll or time stamping of arrival/departure, or other vertical-targeted features that require additional software or back-end systems integration.
DM: You stated in the press release: "It's easy for carriers to implement because, as a standards-based solution, it [TCS Workforce Locator] offers seamless integration with existing infrastructure and is simple to manage. It fills a market demand which makes it easy to sell." Can you provide more details on the specific standards to which the solution adheres and what infrastructure the carriers can leverage?
Drew Morin: It supports ParlayX and CDMA-based standards for location enabled services. It is also integrated with TCS' Location Gateway which enables companies to manage privacy and schedule access to the service during business hours only. The Location Gateway can be utilized by carriers to extend consistent privacy policies to all LBS applications.
DM: Can you explain the communication between the resource manager and the driver? Is a portable navigation device involved as part of the solution or does the carrier simply "white label" your service and provide its own navigation services?
Drew Morin: Communication between the account administrator and the mobile worker is done via SMS text (i.e. driving directions). Depending on carrier implementation, TCS Navigation can be tied directly into the Workforce Locator offering. TCS also offers a developer SDK/toolkit of APIs for integrating elements of LBS into third-party applications.
DM: What is your estimate of the average cost savings that your clients realize by using this solution?
Drew Morin: Because carriers' business subscribers vary greatly in size and use cases, it is difficult to provide an average cost savings. Customers save money and increase revenue in many day-to-day efficiencies that add visibility to their workforce, such as:
- Reduced errors in self-reported work hours and job stops
- Improved efficiencies in communications with the mobile workforce
- Optimization of routing due to provisioning of directions to and from local resources
- Optimization of basic dispatching due to visibility of workers' relative locations
- Increased customer satisfaction for on-time delivery and quick response times
- Safety reassurance of workers in the field
DM: How important is reporting a fleet's carbon footprint and how would you document this?
Drew Morin: Downloading and analysis of location history reports from tracking a worker throughout the day may provide some visibility to a business's carbon footprint.
DM: Does the system have a way to automatically look at both the more efficient and the underperforming drivers/routes?
Drew Morin: Not currently. Some analysis can be achieved by downloading the location history reports that indicate the drivers' locations in increments.
DM: What's next for TCS Workforce Locator? What additional efficiencies can you build into the solution that will continue to provide fleets with better management and lower total cost of ownership?
Drew Morin: We plan to quickly expand the basic feature capabilities by providing a client-optional version for geofencing and ongoing tracking, as well as providing account holders increased control over members' privileges.