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Mobile Web vs. Hydrid App vs. Native App: Best Technology Option for Field Service Management

by (December 6, 2013)

Field Service Management“One in every five people in the world own a smartphone and one in every seventeen own a tablet” – Business Insider India. And according to Gartner research, by 2018, 70% of mobile workers will use a tablet or a hybrid device that has tablet-like characteristics. With rapid advancement in technology and mobile landscape, needless to say, to achieve high profitability, enterprises should adopt a mobile strategy into their business strategy & roadmap.

As mentioned in our earlier blogs, field service management is relevant to most industries i.e. retail, logistics, manufacturing, medical equipments, telecommunication, construction, automobile etc. which provide after-sale service. Most field service management solutions include some kind of mobile/tablet application to connect field service technicians with their co-workers and customers. However, each mobile application varies in terms of features and functionality enabled in the app.

Mobile Technology Options

There are mainly three mobile technology optionsMobile Web, Native App and Hybrid App to build any sort of mobile application, likewise in field service mobility. In this article we will discuss the key options which can be used to implement field service management solution and why native app might be more advantageous for enterprises to deploy field service management solution.

1. Mobile Web App Approach

In this type of approach, field service executives will access the application from a web browser using their mobile device, which is similar to visiting any website using the mobile device. Different mobile phone support different mobile OS and browsers which render elements of the website in different style. This affects the user experience due to slow loading time and impacts productivity. Access to data from corporate systems is also dependent on Internet connectivity. Therefore, if field service technician is an area where network connectivity is poor, they will not be able to use the field service application through mobile browser. And the purpose of implementing the mobility solution is lost.  Mobile Web App is usually preferred where large reach is required such as HR management application or employee directory app.

2. Native App Approach

Field service management is most useful to service technicians to view daily tasks, look up service history and part details, search customer site, schedule appointments based on location, capture instant signature, generate online invoices, communicate with peers, manager and customers in real-time through emails/video/audio/chat and many more.

A native application is developed for smartphones and tablets. This type of application is created using code specific to a device platform. Popular mobile operating systems include iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.  Every device platform has special set of features enabled in the mobile device. Device-specific functionality such as camera for video conferencing, bar code scanning, QR code scanning; and GPS to view maps, find directions; and offline capability to access data during non-internet connectivity is best achieved through native application. The field service applications build on native platforms will have the capability to synchronize data between server and client when Internet connection is available. The offline capability is the biggest benefit for field service executives since it gives them the flexibility to work from anytime, anywhere.

Another advantage of native app is that, it provides better User Experience. The UI is designed specific to the device types and smartphone screen size.

3. Hybrid App Approach

There is another technology option i.e. hybrid mobile app. Hybrid apps run inside a native container, and leverage the device’s browser engine. Similar to native apps, this runs on the device and is written with web technologies such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. The app comprises of mix features of those in mobile web (ex: ability to access app from any device – browser based) and some of those in native app (ex: offline capability). However the user experience is not as rich as that of a native app.

Conclusion

Implementing a field service management app for your organization is a choice you need to make. This can generally be decided by analyzing four main parameters which include – number of field service staff in your organization, type of devices used by your field service technicians/ IT Managers, location of your customer (whether they are beyond network connectivity such as in rural areas), and device-specific features are needed in your field service management mobile app.

Nevertheless, mobile web option will be good only for small sized team of about five to ten service technicians and for a solution which requires only basic features like service request view/daily task updates/scheduling customer appointments. Hybrid app even though it supports offline capability it does not give the rich user experience required by field service executives.

Over a long-term, to get a superior quality app with higher performance, where productivity is critical and device control is possible i.e. field service management or warehousing applications, it is best for you to invest in native app development starting with Android or/and iOS and then extending to Windows Phone. Even the features within the app can be added in iterations, since the user experience will be seamless and solution will be cost-effective.

If you would like to know more on this topic or learn about developing enterprise mobility solutions write to us at contactus@rapidvaluesolutions.com

Kavyanidhi Narayan

Marketing Manager, RapidValue Solutions

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