1st Touch Mobile Platform
1st Touch Innovates across Multiple Platforms and Devices
1st Touch has traditionally developed mobile technology for the mobile workforce utilising Microsoft technology. Whilst this is still core to the ongoing development of 1st Touch technology, 1st Touch will also offer support for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. The new version will bring the industry-renowned flexibility and reliability of 1st Touch software to the latest mobile devices. This innovative technology from 1st Touch is the outcome of significant R&D investment and delivers unique multi platform mobile technology for the enterprise, in response to increasing and evolving market demand and the growing variety of devices which are available.
1st Touch 4.5 will support key features which have made 1st Touch so successful, meaning that new customers can enjoy the benefits of a well-proven best in breed mobile workforce management application whilst being able to choose their favourite device. 1st Touch 4.5 will also operate using the same offline working model, whereby only small bursts of data are transmitted and received. Crucially, users of 1st Touch 4.5 are able to log on to the application and start completing forms even if there is no signal available.
Robert Dent explains “At 1st Touch we believe in providing a consistent environment. So, for existing 1st Touch customers, any forms designed in the 1st Touch Management Studio to date can be deployed to a wide variety of devices without redesign, including any custom formulas. For new customers this means that their platform and device choice can be completely flexible, now and in the future, supporting the 1st Touch ethos of facilitating customer choice. 1st Touch are very excited by this new development but recognise that the large-scale deployment of consumer-style mobile devices may not be for everyone - particularly if there s a need for high quality signature capture, comprehensive remote device management or semi-rugged devices“.
In terms of the overall strategy for 1st Touch development moving forward, 1st Touch believes that Microsoft continues to supply the most comprehensive platform for mobile workers, encompassing extensive support for device management, data security on the device, integration into the corporate environment and stable platform components. As such, 1st Touch will continue to actively develop and support the full 1st Touch Mobile Workforce Management suite running on Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 devices and in the future on Windows Embedded 8, in line with Microsoft’s overall strategy for the corporate enterprise mobile workforce.
However, 1st Touch acknowledges the importance of customer choice and will keep a close eye on industry trends and market requirements to consistently offer leading edge, best of breed software for the mobile workforce.
1st Touch Technology
Whereas existing proven 1st Touch applications deliver best practice functionality for specific markets, the highly-scalable 1st Touch Mobile Platform is designed to deliver new or enhanced applications, extending back office solutions. The 1st Touch Mobile Platform can be used to provide applications for any company that needs to control and support the activities of field-based or remote operatives such as tradesmen, service engineers, knowledge workers or salespeople.
The 1st Touch Mobile Platform provides a range of components which together enable the configuration of best practice mobile applications:
Web Document Portal
Field Report Generator
Job Point/GPS Tracking
Diary and Scheduling
- Integration Toolkit
The 1st Touch Mobile Platform utilises advanced web services to deliver a complete integrated mobile solution; providing consistent and secure synchronization between multiple existing back-office systems such as CRM, billing or scheduling and mobile device applications on PDAs, laptops or toughbooks. This unified approach means that organisations are never constrained by partial, function-specific mobile systems which may not be able to deliver the full enterprise-wide functionality of a dedicated application-friendly mobile solution.
Smart Client Technology
Of particular note, is the system’s high speed data gathering and transmission technology which enables operatives to communicate faster and more accurately with customers and managers alike. To achieve this, the platform utilises the latest low-airtime usage, “Smart Client” technology to automate the communication links between the mobile operative and the organisation’s back-office, its depots and warehouses.
This ensures that the handheld or mobile device is always available but not always on as with other, more costly to run, systems. In contrast to these, 1st Touch’s mobile solution can work with or without a signal, transmitting encrypted, secure data in periodic small bursts. 1st Touch believes that this innovative approach, typically reduces communication costs of an organisation by up to 75 %; helping to generate a typical audited payback of less than three months.
The collection of data is rapid too as the resilient but flexible system enables easy, programming-free solutions to be created which are tailored to handheld devices. Any type of electronic forms can be generated, replicating current working practices without any need for Business Process Mapping. It also ensures that any future changes or updates required by the organisation can be incorporated without any code changes to the applications used. This reduces potential ongoing costs for the customer as requirements will inevitably change and grow over time.
The forms which can be pre-filled from back-office systems, with details such as customer name and address, are then electronically sent to field-based users’ PDAs or laptop to collect additional information. All the system’s functions, together with information received or entered on the worker’s mobile device, are operated and accessed via simple drop down menus and tick boxes to ensure optimal usability and consistent data quality.
As visits to head-office locations, depots, material stores and customers are all allocated and sent electronically, the amount of travel mobile operatives undertake is significantly reduced. Ongoing appointments can also be scheduled or updated, in the field, by the operative. This reduces head-office administration and creates an enhanced customer interface. 1st Touch also believes that the staff morale of mobile workers is improved, as their role is simplified and head-office administration seems more consistent and responsive.
A field report generator allows the PDA or laptop to automatically generate one or many field reports from a single data-capture exercise. Access to the field reports and the data collected is via a web portal to ensure maximum field usability. This has been designed to be completely configurable so that users can only see their own data and yet are able to share the results with customers easily, should they choose. Management reporting functionality is also available and reports can be viewed via the document portal or through export to a third party reporting system.
The system also incorporates full GPS Mapping. Each operative’s position is captured and viewable on a map at key points in the job process. Clicking on an individual operative on the map will bring up the full, current location information on each appointment or job. The GPS mapping ensures Lone Worker Safety as the system pinpoints the exact locations of each operative and other operatives who may be nearby. A panic button facility signals an alert to head office so that immediate action can be taken.
All the functionality of the field-based device is controlled, maintained and backed up by a robust, comprehensive and flexible back-office administration suite. The administration functions are also accessible via a web browser; enabling management to view data anytime, anywhere.