Everybody knows that the smart phones we carry around today can do a lot of amazing things. From keeping a calendar to checking email to helping us find the hippest restaurant in town, the designers continue to find ways to pack more and more capability into this handy little devices.
One of the questions we hear a lot is whether or not a business could simply use their employee’s cell phones to keep track of them over the course of the day. On the surface, this seems like a good way to avoid buying a bunch of products and services to keep an eye on everyone, and save a little bit of money.
And in some cases, it may work just fine. Every major cellular service provider offers some version of cell phone tracking for a relatively small fee, which could provide an “off the shelf” solution for the business owner that just needs to occasionally locate their employees. And we are really impressed with the work Google is putting in to their mobile applications. Under the right set of circumstance, their combination of mobile chat, location services, and navigation can go a long way towards keeping everyone connected over the course of the work day.
But of course, as with most technology, there are trade-offs that need to be considered before picking a solution for your business. If you are in the market for a GPS tracking solution, here are a few questions to ask yourself before you settle on a smart phone solution.
- Privacy: This is always an area that needs to be addressed when employees are being tracked, especially if the tracker information is available during the employee’s time off.
- Reliability: Smartphones have off buttons, tracking applications can usually be disabled, which means that someone who
is doing something that they should not be doing during work hours can defeat a smart phone tracking system with the push of a button.
- Battery Life: Enabling the GPS chipset on a smartphone will dramatically decrease battery life, and can reduce the standby time on the device less than one day in some cases.
- Bandwidth: Be sure you understand how much data is being used by your application, especially if the device is sending in a constant stream of tracking information or web based navigation.
- Asset Tracking: Oftentimes a business is more interested in tracking a vehicle or piece of equipment than the operator.
Clearly, location services is one of the capabilities that a smart phone offers to a business owner. Just be sure that you understand the trade-offs and limitations of this approach, or you could end up with a solution that falls far short of the return on investment that can be generated by a purpose built solution.