Was the Qwerty Keyboard Right for Field Service Mobile Apps?

Blog, Field Service, Mobile App & Checklist, Technology Trends

Last updated Nov 2, 2023 at 7:24PM | Published on Jul 12, 2019 | Blog, Field Service, Mobile App & Checklist, Technology Trends

There was a time when the slide-out Qwerty keyboard was the next latest thing to come out of mobile technology. It made sense in an age of text messaging, as it gave people the same computer keyboard they were accustomed to, but on a smaller scale. Over time, however, the slide-out keyboard has gone the way of the dinosaur and touchscreen mobile devices are everywhere. Did field service mobile apps miss the boat on this convenient technology, or has field service management gone beyond Qwerty keyboards?

Mobility is entrenched in field service management. That’s because the correct mobile device is key to any mobile strategy’s success. A survey conducted by Aberdeen Group said that 80% of field service management companies use mobile devices as part of their activities. It’s one of the top investment opportunities for field service businesses. And the focus in field service has turned to field service mobile apps and the devices technicians use.

But does that include the Qwerty keyboard? Technicians are filling out work orders, checklists and completing notes, so it would seem like a full keyboard on the job site would be of benefit. Unfortunately, Qwerty has seen its share in the mobile market plummet, and touchscreen devices are reigning supreme. And for very good reason as well.

All-access field service mobile apps

In today’s field service management landscape, the focus is on the ability to access all information available. Furthermore, technicians want to access it all from one screen on one device. That’s where Qwerty falls behind, and touchscreen phones pull ahead in the race. If all technicians were doing was filling out work orders, then yes, using a Qwerty phone would be exactly what they would need. But technicians need to access more information from the mobile device than ever before. And field service mobile apps are growing in ability that can’t be matched by these slide-out phones.

It’s not just about the work order any more. It’s about every work order in the company’s service history, training videos, parts and inventory levels, and GPS tools. Today’s technician is using their mobile device for every aspect of their job, from work to education. So, it’s about getting the most up-to-date, real-time information available in the field. According to Aberdeen’s survey, 59% of leading field service management businesses are using field service mobile apps to share accurate information across business functions in real-time.

That’s what makes touchscreen devices appealing today, as you can open multiple screens on one device. And technicians want the ability to get everything they need on one device, without having to switch screens.

Bring Your Own Device mobile strategy

Have you thought that maybe the Qwerty keyboard is what your technician likes? It’s what they are used to in their everyday life? As long as it can support the field service mobile app, it’s the perfect solution. It has led many to adopt a mobile field service management strategy around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This strategy allows technicians to bring their own phones and use them for their job. Considering field service mobile apps can be downloaded on most devices, this strategy lets the technician decide.

When it comes to a mobile strategy, it can be hard to get technicians to buy in. Technicians could be turned off by putting a new device in their hands that they have never used before. It’s the Apple versus Android debate, and some mobile users are loyal to their brand of mobile device. So, don’t make them choose. Let them use the device that is comfortable to them. This will limit training time, and increase the technician’s desire to use the field service mobile app.

With touchscreen technology having the largest market share for mobile devices, technicians are already used to typing on touchscreens. A full keyboard is no longer needed to excel with a field service mobile app. From text messaging to emailing to general browsing on the Internet, our lives revolve around the touchscreen. So, Qwerty has seen its days come and gone in offering convenience. Especially when technicians are bringing their own devices to the job site.

Evolve with mobile technology

It should be apparent that the Qwerty keyboard is well past its prime. At one point, field service management was pushing it as the next great device to use. However, mobile strategy has evolved so much over the last decade that if you aren’t deploying the best mobile devices, you’re missing out on key functionality. And that is what this blog is really about, the functionality of today’s field service mobile apps and how they have advanced. Today, field service mobile apps are tracking our movement in the field. They offer technicians insight into the business and are being deployed with third-party vendors.

Your mobile strategy, like anything field service management related, must evolve, and that includes upgrading devices. Getting stuck with a device from 10 years ago isn’t going to provide you with the same real-time information. And using the same process from a decade ago for field service management isn’t going to automate and optimize your business, like field service mobile apps can today. The Qwerty keyboard was right for field service at one point. Technicians needed to fill out forms fast and the full keyboard allowed it. At one point, paper-based work orders were also the process every field service business used. Today, powerful field service software is available to handle the work order process. And field service mobile apps have replaced clipboards and pens in the field.

Keep your field service mobile apps in style

Choosing the right field service mobile app is like choosing the right phone. You need the functionality; the features and you have to keep the future in mind. As the Qwerty keyboard went out of style, so too did small touchscreen devices. Now it’s about larger screens with more room to type and watch a video. Design your mobile strategy around a field service mobile app that won’t go out of style in a short timeframe. And one that will give your technicians the ability to complete jobs faster and have greater access to information.