Speaker Interviews

Discover more about the topics and technologies to be discussed at this year's conference, via a series of exclusive interviews with a selection of our expert speakers


Gary Lee, chief revenue officer, B2M Solutions

Gary Lee, chief revenue officer, B2M Solutions, UK will give a presentation titled Delivering on the promises of mobile devices and applications.


Describe your presentation.

Mobile devices in the hands of your workers have become critical to the success of your business. Whether used to scan packages, receive customers’ signatures or process payments, it is critical to ensure that each mobile device and app is always up and operational. However, today the sad state of the industry is that mobile devices often fail, resulting in huge, sometimes hidden, costs to the business. My presentation will outline the latest findings on problems and solutions to ensure mobility is able to deliver on its promises for the business. I will also leverage case studies to highlight solutions.


Why are mobile devices critical to post and parcel companies?

Mobile devices are now being used throughout post and parcel to do everything from scan inbound packages, to sort packages for delivery, to ensure delivery is recorded with customer signature or other means. Additionally, post is beginning to use mobile in innovative ways such as the pilot project from Royal Mail [for letter carriers] to check on, and record, the health of the elderly along their routes. We’ve quickly evolved as an industry from mobile devices being used in niche locations, to mobile in the hands of virtually every employee delivering to a customer. And as part of that, we’ve also evolved to a ‘mobile only’ world, where there are no paper backup systems to be used if mobile devices and apps should fail – especially in the field. Mobile is business critical – the business depends on it to get the job done.


What happens if these devices fail?

Mobility failure is a huge cost to most businesses, and much of the cost is hidden to the finance department. A survey we are releasing on October 1, which surveyed over 500 US companies, shows over 50% of workers reporting at least one failure monthly that impacts their ability to do their job. With these failures causing downtime of 30 minutes or more, the costs to companies in lost productivity, lost revenue and even lost customers can be quite high.

Furthermore, as devices age, their propensity to suffer issues with batteries not capable of supporting a worker through an entire shift becomes common. And older devices at times are more likely to have issues running custom applications that run fine on newer devices, but create failures for end users attempting to run them reliably on older devices.

Unfortunately, most of these failures are hidden to the support personnel and IT departments support mobility and these end users who depend on their mobile devices. Our research shows that on average, IT and support teams see around 5-10% of their end users having problems each month. They see this as end users report problems by opening trouble tickets or otherwise asking for help with their mobile devices. When we speak to the actual end users, however, they report a much higher issue rate than this, with over 50% of all end users saying they have problems at least once per month which impacts their ability to do their job. The difference is largely because end users don’t report every issue (especially when they’ve reported it once, it recurs again, etc). This difference is significant, as it means the quantity of problems end users are having monthly is far greater than the numbers reported from IT, and if each problem results in productivity losses, the cost to the business is quite high.

Additionally, the loss of productivity for end users is often not ‘seen’ by the finance director since there is no way to track this on the financial reports. Yet we know if a mobile device fails, and the worker cannot do their job, there is a drain on productivity and there is a soft cost to the business. We also know from our research that end users are reporting lost customers and lost revenue they see from mobile failures – numbers which are likely never reported to finance. We’re even seeing workers admitting they take sick time monthly due to the stress and anxiety of not being able to do their job due to mobile failures!

Our research, combined with our True Cost of Ownership models developed with the analyst firm VDC shows there are significant hard costs (replace mobile devices as they break) and soft costs (productivity, support costs, sick time, etc) related to mobile failures.

Our own Total Cost of Ownership model shows that out of the total costs of setting up and running mobility over a five-year period, 80% or more of the costs can be attributed to device and application failures. The cost savings potential is huge, and at a time when post and parcel companies are being asked to reinvent some of their business models while also investing in technology, the savings should be discussed.


How can post and parcel delivery companies safeguard against the failure of mobile devices?

There are new solutions on the market from my company and others which grant a real-time view on the health and utilization of mobile devices. These views allow for immediate spotting and troubleshooting of any issues with a mobile device hopefully before the end user is even aware. These new solutions allow the support of mobile to switch from reacting to problems after they occur, to being proactive, preventive and even predictive around failures – helping to eliminate downtime and many of the costs discussed above.
The solutions are software driven and simple to deploy. And the payback period can be extremely short.


How can technology be improved to ensure mobility is a solution and not a problem?

Mobility was intended to improve productivity for parcel and post. As shown above, however, it’s common for productivity to take a hit daily as workers cannot do their jobs due to mobile device failure. It’s odd that despite mobile being a business-critical asset to drive productivity and results, we’re not managing it that way. Where other business-critical assets like the equipment used to provide desktop phone service, or email and data access, are monitored for any issues 24/7 and repaired immediately, mobile is still being managed in a reactive fashion where we wait for end users to have failures and then react to try and fix the failures. We now have simple-to-deploy solutions to turn this around and eliminate downtime for end users, improve productivity, boost revenues and lower costs.


Can you tell us about one case study and what solutions were found?

For one customer with over 3,000 mobile devices, my company’s real-time visibility solution allowed them to:
1. Isolate network issues with field personnel – something that had been difficult to do in the past and required manual site surveys. With our visibility over mobile devices, we have been able to isolate issues by mobile operator, SIM card technology and even device type to isolate problems and promote solutions.
2. Eliminate battery waste. Our visibility into battery issues has allowed this customer to only replace batteries when absolutely needed, and properly troubleshoot all other device issues in a much more cost-effective way. Our solution can easily decide between mobile devices requiring a new battery, and ones having battery issues related to poorly performing apps, network connectivity issues, etc.
3. Quickly troubleshoot end-user problems with mobility to limit downtime and even prevent downtime in the first place.
4. Improve their internal customer satisfaction score by two points in a few short months by eliminating many of the problems their mobile workforce were repeatedly having with mobile devices.

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