Dead Zones: The Great Unmentionable in Field Data Collection
Great strides have been made to get widespread 3G and 4G networks across the world, with Statistica reporting a projected 42 percent penetration rate in 2015. However, universal coverage is many years away, resulting in mobile dead zones. A dead zone is an area either mostly or entirely without a mobile data signal. This is caused when locations don’t have 3G or 4G coverage, or if a building’s construction uses materials that impede reception.
Field teams need to adapt to a variety of environments, including those with dead zones, making it essential to use apps that feature offline modes. An accessible wireless network will sometimes supplement dead zones, but you can’t count on ideal circumstances when collecting data in the marketplace.
How Field Data Collection Apps Function in Dead Zones
Field team management needs apps that adapt to the reality of dead zones, instead of impeding processes and creating obstacles within workflows. By using cloud-based field data collection apps with an offline mode, users never lose full functionality. In the case of GoSpotCheck, field teams can view missions and locations. Once the mobile device regains access to Wi-Fi or a mobile data signal, the app syncs with the cloud server to obtain any updated information and to upload the collected data.
Why Offline Mode Is a Requirement
Field data collection apps that don’t feature offline functionality cause major issues in the workflow. Even if a field team agent has signal when entering the store, the agent may not retain the signal as he or she moves around. Instead of having access to the app, the offline field team member would have to manually enter the data and submit it after leaving the location. A lack of offline functionality reduces productivity and runs the risk of introducing data errors into the reports. Thus, an offline mode allows field data collection to proceed seamlessly, increasing the amount of data collected and the number of locations a field agent is able to visit.
Other Offline Mode Benefits
Offline apps benefit the field team even if they do have signal in specific locations. Being able to use an app offline allows team members to avoid roaming fees and mobile data usage. Instead, they can go to the store, collect the data, and sync with the server when they’re on a Wi-Fi connection without impacting their mobile data allocation.
If the field team agent is in the field for a long period of time without having access to a charging station for their mobile device, battery life is also a concern. Turning off mobile data, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other wireless connectivity features greatly increases a device’s battery life, reducing the field agent’s downtime. They can handle more locations and improve their overall field productivity.
Your field team can’t be restricted by access to mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection. Store environments are too diverse for your company to use an app that isn’t as flexible as your team. An offline mode improves your work flow, increases effciency, and also cuts down on mobile data costs. Whether you’re seeking the benefits of a highly productive team, or you want to improve mobile battery life so the team can stay out longer, there’s no downside to implementing an offline mobile data collection app.