The CEO and VP of Marketing of Airclic, a software-as-a-service provider of Mobile Resource Management (MRM) solutions, came in to brief us recently. One of the stories that caught my attention was how one of its customers, a waste collection company, uses the company’s solution.
The problem the customer was experiencing was that its drivers would go to an industrial dumpster, empty it, and move on with their route. However, some of their customers were unscrupulous. They would immediately go out to the dumpster and fill it up again, and then they would call the waste collection company and claim that their trash had not been picked up yet.
The waste collection company was trying to deal with this situation by having its drivers take digital pictures of the dumpster once it was emptied and take notes about the stops. At the end of their route, the drivers would drop off the digital camera and the notes at the office. Customer service and accounts receivables personnel would then try to reconcile complaints with the notes and pictures. This was a manual process, fraught with errors, and subject to time delays that made resolution less effective.
So, the waste collection company turned to Airclic which created a MRM solution aligned with the needs of the waste services industry. Like most MRM solutions, this solution uses GPS to help dispatch trucks and track the status of their work. What Airclic added was the ability to integrate digital pictures, which are time stamped and geocoded to provide the precise time and location of where the picture was taken. And this information is provided in real time. So, if an ethics-challenged customer calls in with a fraudulent claim, a customer service representative can pull up the address in their CRM system, tell them what time the trash was picked up, and even send them a digital picture to confirm the dumpster was emptied.
I found the story itself interesting. But what is also interesting is the growing number of data streams that MRM solutions are starting to use to provide innovative, industry-specific solutions. These data types include GPS, barcode scanning for item-level tracking, signature capture, digital photographs, engine sensor data, trailer sensor data, temperature or humidity sensors (often attached to RFID tags), and the ability to add data via a computer keyboard. So, couriers may need GPS, scanning, and signature capture capabilities, with appropriate workflows and dashboards that fit their industry, while frozen food distribjutors might require those data streams plus temperature/humidity sensors and scanning that also tracks batch-level data.
Technological advances in hardware, falling network costs, and better software tools for building process flows and business intelligence/analytics dashboards are all leading to a new generation of more compelling MRM solutions.