One thing’s for certain: the mobile workforce is here to stay. In fact, it’s expanding at very fast rate. A forecast released by International Data Collection (IDC) predicts that 60 percent of the U.S. total workforce will be mobile workers by 2024. Marinate on that for a second … 60 percent. And that’s only accounting for the U.S. workforce.
The expanding mobile workforce is impacting all industries. Employers are tasked with adopting new processes and tools to keep their mobile teams productive and successful. In this blog, we’re highlighting the two categories of modern mobile workers and important considerations for selecting a mobile forms app or other data collection software to accommodate both groups.
Category One: Frontline Mobile Workers
The IDC release mentioned earlier outlines frontline and information as the two specific categories of mobile workers. Let’s start with IDC’s definition of frontline mobile workers:
A worker who performs client-facing or operational activities onsite or in the field that require distributed, mobile access to data, content, applications, and workflows. Examples include store associate, nurse, lab technician, construction worker, field service worker, and hospitality worker. The two primary types of mobile frontline workers are mobile field workers and mobile on-location workers.
Frontline workers make up the majority of the mobile workforce, and they’re also most likely to encounter IT issues that can impact productivity. That being said, there are a few key things to consider when selecting a mobile data collection application for your frontline team.
Considerations for this category:
- Does the tool work offline? If you need to collect data from frontline workers in remote locations with no WiFi connectivity, you need a mobile forms app with offline functionality.
- Is it user-friendly? Consider the varying technological skills of your frontline employees. You’ll want to find an application that’s easy-to-train and easy-to-use.
- Can you incorporate intelligent form fields? You not only need fast data capture, you need accurate data. Mobile form capabilities such as answer validation and image attachments will help reduce data entry errors from your field teams.
- What’s the storage capacity? While there are a lot of mobile data collection apps on the market today, some of them structure their pricing by capping or charging for storage. Look for a solution, such as Device Magic, that offers unlimited forms, submissions and data storage starting from the free, entry-level plan.
Category Two: Information Mobile Workers
Now, let’s look at the information mobile workforce. IDC defines this category as follows:
A knowledge or office worker who typically works from a single location, has dedicated computing resources, and tends to create, transform, and distribute data and/or content using productivity and enterprise applications. Examples include programmers, business analysts, marketing specialists, researchers, billing clerks, lawyers, accountants. This category of mobile worker includes those who may also be physically mobile during their workday, including mobile professionals, occasionally mobile workers, and mobile non-travelers.
The information mobile workforce has become more of a mixed bag, including formerly office-based employees who have transitioned to home-based amidst the pandemic. For this blog, let’s focus on the information mobile workers who are responsible for collecting and distributing data across your organization. This may even be you. There are a few additional items to consider to meet the needs of this group.
Considerations for this category:
- Does the tool integrate with your existing systems? We can’t stress this enough. Find an application that offers robust integrations and/or works with your current software systems.
- Is the mobile form builder easy-to-use? Experienced programmer or not, most of us don’t have time to deal with a complicated application. A low-code, drag-and-drop app builder allows for quick and easy creation of custom mobile forms.
- Who’s receiving the data? In many cases, multiple employees and departments need to receive organizational data. However, not all of them need to receive all the data. That’s where forms automation comes into play. With mobile forms automation, processes that used to take days to complete are reduced to just minutes.
- Do you plan to customize the tool as your own company app? Organizations do this for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it makes the app more recognizable to current employees and customers. If this is on your wishlist, it’s important to find a tool that offers white label services.
Next Step: Calculate the ROI of Switching to Data Collection Software
We are big advocates of transitioning to a digital data collection process. However, it’s always important for businesses to find the right data collection software, as well as estimate the return-on-investment before onboarding a new tool. Calculating the ROI of switching to mobile forms starts with gaining full visibility to the financial impact of your current process, and how that compares with the savings and benefits you stand to gain by onboarding new software. You have a handy software selection checklist. Now all you have to do is crunch some numbers using our ROI calculator.