HP Readying Solutions For Field Workers In Construction, Insurance

HP Inc. is readying a host of new solutions designed to help field workers in a variety of industries to get more efficient and productive across a variety of important tasks.

Called Forms, the new set of solution is aimed at the construction, insurance, real estate and other sectors where field technicians and other remote works bear significant responsibility, but are often hindered by outdated systems, bad data and non-existent analytics.

Brett Faulk, director of workflow transformation, emerging compute solutions at HP, said at The Channel Company’s 2018 Best of Breed Conference in Philadelphia that the solution’s field service management capabilities will be first to market. It'll be followed by capabilities tailored to the healthcare, transportation, logistics and other industry sectors.

The solution today is focused on job sites and handles duties including inspection, repair and reporting of field service jobs. Those duties can range from managing SLAs, work order generation, scheduling, dispatch, routing, billing, invoicing and inventory, Faulk said.

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HP is bringing the field services solution to market first, Faulk said, because the company recognized "a lot of pain points, including aging workforce dynamics," where older, more experienced workers are retiring before younger workers have gained expertise in their fields.

The solution provides field technicians with an "inbox" of assigned jobs, securely documents on-site inspection and repair, captures additional measurements as needed, and documents performance of equipment after repair. The complete system includes software and hardware including laser measurement devices and a thermal camera. Using a smart phone, field technicians can even get environmental data straight to devices, including smart phones, laptops and tablets. The system connects to the cloud using an API developed by HP.

The system also uses augmented reality to allow experienced technicians to remotely walk newer workers through complex repairs, Faulk said.

In addition to increased efficiency for workers themselves, the new system will help companies significantly streamline their operations, Faulk said.

One customer that's been working with HP has its workers pick up SD cards from the office. Those workers plug the cards into their phones in order to take pictures in the field. At the end of the day, they put the SD card in a bin and someone in the office goes through all the SD cards and matches the photos to the jobs manually.

"It sounds crazy, but that's what they do," Faulk said. "You can imagine that company, the person who has to go through all the SD cards, extract all the photos and put them into whatever electronic filing system they have, it's pretty time-consuming. That's pretty poor ROI."

"We hear from customers that there's a lot of time wasted on trying to manage data manually instead of through a form-solution like this," Faulk said.

Phillip Walker, customer advocate leader at Network Solutions Provider, a San Pedro, Calif.-based MSP, said as much as 20 percent of his customer base includes field workers like those being targeted by HP. "My plumbing companies, my termite companies, my home health nurses, my teachers who are doing in-home assessments. It's happening," Walker said. "Everything is going to the customer, and this is one of those building blocks that's just going to be really powerful."

"It's a great evolution of what we see in the field," Walker said. "It's solving a problem of hardware and software in a way that only an OEM can do. The amount of time it would take us to find a manufacturer, do the APIs, an MSP doesn't have that skillset. You need an OEM to develop something that we can resell."

Faulk said HP will begin piloting the system next month and plans to go live with it in the second quarter of 2019.