Why Zerion?

Why Zerion? Mobile Data Solutions and Beyond

Technology and mobile solutions are more available and accessible than ever before.

Not long ago, the only choice most field service teams and organizations had when collecting data was working with a pen and paper. From there came the tedious process of manually entering data into a digital format, where it could be sorted, scrutinized and reported on. The process took an incredible amount of time and energy and often produced less-than-desirable results.

From there, things began to evolve. The rise of mobile devices and mobile technology began, and solutions began cropping up that seemed to simplify certain processes. While they certainly made collecting data in the field easier in some ways, they complicated it in others.

Today, many businesses are still in that place. They have a variety of solutions available to collect and work with data, but they face a common set of frustrations. Many solutions designed to help organizations gather information are “one-size-fits-all,” meaning customization and flexibility are challenges. Those that are customizable are often difficult to work with or overly expensive. Then, once data has been collected, it must still be manually sorted, analyzed and reported on to become as valuable as it should be.

If you’ve ever stopped and thought “there has to be a better way,” today is your day. The solutions you’ve been searching for have arrived.

While many mobile data solutions promise the ability to collect and work with data efficiently, what matters most is mobility, flexibility, security and an end-to-end solution that minimizes human effort and maximize results. This is the basis for the Zerion Way.

By thinking outside the box, it is possible to imagine a better way and to truly harness the power of better data.

You Don’t Have to Be Alone: Different is BETTER

The problem with tackling a new solution? Finding the support to make it happen.

The data your team needs to make a difference likely requires a deeply integrated, possibly complex process to enact. While many mobile data solution providers promise a smooth transition, reaching that goal often requires expensive add-ons, unexpected costs and delays.

Good news: full-service solutions are here, and they’re designed to make your team’s life easier. This buyers guide isn’t a sales pitch for Zerion. But, when comparing multiple providers, it’s important to understand that not all solutions are created equally.

While most solutions offer service plans to facilitate success, Zerion offers full-service support … really.

From dedicated customer success managers to an engineering team devoted to your team’s success, we ensure you receive the support you need without an extra cost. What’s included in your proposal is what you can expect: no surprises, no additions.

We believe that there’s a better way, and that it starts with an inclusive price you can count on. Before eliminating a solution based on “base” price, be sure to compare details before moving forward.

Full service makes all the difference: take the leap.

Are You Willing to See the Bigger Picture?

Far too often, we fall into a pattern relating to many business processes. These processes have been in place for a while; we may look for ways to upgrade platforms and solutions, but we have a hard time seeing past what already exists.

This is why many businesses fail to achieve their full potential.

Unfortunately, many data-related solutions facilitate this lack of growth. They help you collect data faster, or with more efficiency … but beyond that, everything stays the same.

The businesses able to break out of this pattern, are those that dare to imagine… those willing to dream big, and to work with solutions providers willing to get to know their current situation and setbacks personally, then help make it happen.

Unless a mobile data solutions provider is willing to listen, and to adjust and customize their solution to meet your business’s unique needs, even the “best” solution will fall short.

Imagining a better way, even if you’re unsure of how to get there, is critically important. Are you ready to start a new journey with better data as the foundation?

Mobile Data Solutions are More Important than Ever

Data is likely one of your company’s most valuable assets. Unsure of whether this is true or not? Think about large social networks … like Facebook. Facebook is valued at over $200 billion dollars. Their biggest asset? Customer data. They have no products to sell, nothing that provides tangible value; the value comes from data, from information.

Authentic, timely data allows companies to make better decisions, to grow based on accurate reports and forecasting and to respond to situations in the field that need attention before they spiral. Good data separates average businesses from those who truly stand out and make a difference.

But, without the right mobile solutions in place to gather and work with that data, businesses are bound to fall behind the competition.

The right mobile solutions remove common business barriers, reduce the reliance on manual labor and provide accurate information—ranging from inspection results and surveys to trend gathering and forecasting—in real-time.

Unfortunately, many businesses are falling behind. In fact, 61% of companies in the US are not using mobile solutions to collect data, yet, 59% claim to collect and rely upon business insights to make decisions. They understand the importance of efficiently collecting data, but they’re working with inefficient processes and solutions. They’re falling short.

Companies who operate with the latest solutions, derived from new and constantly improving technology, will pull ahead of the competition. It’s a given. Data is valuable, but only when collected and analyzed efficiently and accurately.

Ways businesses commonly work with data gathered in the field:

  • 52% product improvement and development
  • 49% consumer preferences
  • 43% process improvement
Ways businesses commonly work with data gathered in the field: 52% product improvement and development; 49% consumer preferences; 43% process improvement

Digital Transformation: SAMR Model and ROI

The SAMR Model used to evaluate the adoption of Digital Transformation in business initiatives is a good scale to reference the Return On Investment and the language used by organizations who are progressively and proactively implementing a digital transformation strategy.

SAMR Stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The stages of SAMR correspond directly to the phases all projects evolve through. Those looking beyond the paper form are able to see exponential growth and opportunity with the Zerion platform.

It is helpful to see SAMR in action through a tangible example. We’ll share a classic example of how a customer starts by substituting a paper form with iFormBuilder and then transforms the way they do business. First, let’s say a business wants to replace their paper facilities inspection form that is used in their twenty plants across the country.

Substitution: The business uses iFormBuilder to take every element on the paper form and substitute or translate it into the iFormBuilder platform. It’s a very vanilla form that collects the data and provides raw output of data in excel or a PDF document. There is marginal value created for the organization by eliminating the paper form and eliminating double entry or clerical mistakes by capturing the data digitally.

Augmentation: The business uses iFormBuilder to build all the existing elements of the paper form however now the forms have added functionality because the platform permits it. The form builder now add photo widgets so that each element that “Fails” a photo is required to demonstrate and document what was not up to code. Skip logic is built into the form allowing users to answer only those questions that pertain to the facility being inspected, calculations are being performed right on the device and validation messages pop-up when the data collector keys in a wrong value or inconsistent data. All known facility information is pre-populated into the form so when the site location number is entered, the address, plant manager, phone number, date of last inspection and all know details are entered in saving the data collector hours of manual data entry.

The process is now enhanced and good data is being collected. Data is standardized and the form reduces data entry errors and streamlines how data is captured in a consistent manner. Additionally, the business also knows, who, what, when and how that record was captured because of the meta-data capture with each record by the device. More value is created for the organization.

Modification: The business launches a new form with the pictures, the validation, the skip logic and calculations and data collectors go out to perform facility inspections. On one inspection, there were a series of lightbulbs out in the hallway. The location was documented and as soon as the record was submitted an email was triggered to notify the maintenance team that there were issues that needed to be addressed.  By leveraging the iFormBuilder Scoring feature the facility is given a quality score which is recorded on the admin control panel giving management a score to improve upon. At the completion of the inspection, a PDF is created automagically and shared with levels of management based on the score to have immediately address or coach towards the standard.

Now company leadership is able to see the inspections, make business decisions off of the quality scores created, view photos of the entire inspection process and transform the way they do business. It brings their data to life.

Redefinition: Businesses that leverage the Zerion Software Platform and its features to completely redefine their workflow reap the biggest rewards. These groups start asking questions and making hypotheses about what good data can do for their organization. The data becomes a valuable asset and combined with other institutional or organization data can create tremendous value, new business lines and create competitive advantages. The original task is completely redefined through the evolution up the SAMR ladder.

The process is identical to the on device changes in the “modification” phase, however, now the customer leverages and relies on the iFormBuilder API to make their workflow dance. They have a scheduling web service that sends a notification to the inspector and assigns the proper inspection form that is pre-populated from the company ERP system. Once the inspection is completed, the results are integrated with a dashboard where leadership sees real-time quality scores for each of their plants. They are able to leverage the GPS locations and metadata for each record to see exactly where, when and how the inspection was completed, adding to the data integrity. Visualizing the information captured on a map allows leadership to get a deeper understanding on the adoption of certain practices across their US plants. Inspection data combine with asset data and financial data creates a tidal wave of opportunity for the business to be able to influence the future. They don’t just know what happened they are not asking questions about what is possible or what could happen.

The SAMR Model will also allow businesses to think differently about how they realize value. It goes well beyond the cost of the technology or the time or paper saved. Businesses from start-ups to the Fortune 100 are learning from the data, influencing behavior change, redefining how the field teams works and how organizations approach and use data.

Data Collection is Just the Beginning: End-to-End Solutions Matter

Here’s the thing. Data collection is only the beginning, as is made clear in the SAMR example above. What happens next is what makes it powerful, allowing it to work toward a specific purpose.

Think about it. If your field team goes out to gather data and fills out 300 forms. That’s great. But, until something happens to pull the information together, to paint a bigger picture, the information is useless.

Data collection is critical. But, it’s just the beginning of the story.

Unfortunately … that’s where many solutions end, leaving businesses to rely on additional products, services and manual labor for sorting, analyzing and reporting on the data that’s been collected.

Unless a solution is fully customized to allow for automated workflows, sending data through specific funnels and actions to produce reports, documents and other end-results that can be delivered to those who need it, in the format that makes sense for their needs, it will fall short.

An end-to-end mobile data solution (backed by full service support) provides the insights and information necessary to make raw data powerful and useful, overcoming traditional data collection challenges and providing a competitive edge.

Five Challenges of Traditional Data Collection

When a team goes into the field equipped with a pen, paper and clipboard, or even with a less-than-ideal digital solution, common challenges and trends begin to emerge.

While these more dated options were as efficient as they could be, serving a purpose at one point in time, they no longer meet the needs of most organizations.

Today, organizations relying on field data require timeliness, accuracy, efficient collection methods, complete data sets and customizable options that meet specific needs. Each of these is a drawback associated with traditional data collection, as outlined below.

1. Timeliness

Frequently, information collected in the field must be manually entered and processed to become valuable. This means that the time it takes to produce reports, often invalidates the reports, forcing companies to make decisions based on outdated information.

When data collection solutions are in place that provide end-to-end processing and reporting, information gathered in the field can be sent via automated workflows to charts and dashboards that provide instant, streaming information, no manual effort or time required. If delays were eliminated, what would your business be able to accomplish?

2. Accuracy

 The potential for error increases each time a human effort is required to enter or manipulate data. Whether that means transcribing information from a piece of paper to a spreadsheet, copying and pasting spreadsheet fields or sorting information to report on it, each “touchpoint” increases the likelihood that a dataset contains errors.

When data is entered in a digital format, using a mobile solution, then sent through a pre-set workflow, the need for transcription is eliminated, along with all other human “touch points.” This decreases the potential for errors and increases the chance that a dataset is as accurate as possible.

3. Efficiency

It’s a fact: when manual data entry and reporting take as long as a field inspection or data-gathering initiative, efficiency is reduced.

When pre-customized forms are in place that auto-populate certain fields while collecting metadata, along with “smart” technology that ensure a form cannot be submitted until it is completed, efficiency increases.

When a field team is equipped with state-of-the-art mobile solutions designed specifically to decrease duplicate efforts, time in the field, along with time spent working with data post-collection, are reduced. This decreases billable hours and increases the speed at which data is collected.

4. Missed Data Points

When data is missed during collection, a second inspection or repeat site visit is often required. This cuts down on time that could be spent collecting additional data or performing additional inspections.

Using mobile data collection solutions that prohibit the completion of a report until required fields have been filled, field teams can be sure that each form is complete, without the need to repeat efforts or revisit inspection sites. 

5. One-Size or “Out of the Box” Solutions

One-size or “out of the box” solutions may sound appealing, simple to deploy and ideal, especially as they relate to specific industries or purposes.

Unfortunately, these solutions don’t allow the flexibility that most organizations require. Over time, data collection and reporting needs change. What worked in the beginning may not work moving forward. When a solution isn’t flexible, this means a new solution must be sought whenever changes like this are required.

Likewise, one-size solutions may cause data overflow, forcing field teams to collect data that may not be relevant, taking up extra time and complicating the reporting process.

No two businesses—even in the same industry—are the same. Therefore, no solutions should look identical. Instead, customizable, flexible forms that are designed to collect targeted business data are ideal. They allow for stronger, more accurate reports and put the control where it belongs: in your hands.

These are just 5 drawbacks of traditional data collection solutions. You have likely experienced other frustrations as well. The first step toward moving past these challenges? Moving beyond pen and paper data collection.

How to Move Beyond Pen and Paper Data Collection

Moving beyond pen and paper data collection is clearly necessary. But, what’s it look like in action? How does an organization take the leap?

It starts with finding the right mobile data solution.

To start, think about your team’s needs. What’s your current process? What seems disjointed or too laborious? Outline your frustrations.

Once you know your pain points, you’ll be better prepared to research potential solutions.

As you begin to search for solutions, start with form building and data collection. These are central to every data-related endeavor. If a solution cannot allow your team to collect the data you need, on the tools that work for them, it will be ineffective.

After narrowing down your options, begin to look beyond form building and data collection, toward the way a potential solution will transform raw data into the format that makes the most sense for your business’s needs. Your solution should simplify processes, not complicate or confuse them.

Moving beyond pen and paper data collection requires researching potential options and asking critical questions. In the following sections of this guide, we’ll provide an overview of key mobile data solution functions, along with questions to ask as you begin the process.