Companies with up to 250 employees in travel and transport are regularly sending and receiving mobile messages day-to-day for liaising with suppliers and managing customer relationships. Message content usually relates to confirmation of deliveries, vehicle tracking, and progress updates between field and office based staff.
‘We use SMS for vehicle tracking from the traffic centre out to the drivers - information about routes and pick up times’
Technical Support, Logistics Company
Telephone interviews were carried out with business managers in organisations across a variety of sectors and locations to assess attitudes to using mobile messaging within a business context. The Travel and Transport sector made up 10% of the total sample. From a base of 250 active mobile users, 36% of respondents were heavy messaging users, sending in excess of 21 work related mobile messages per week.
Generally, attitudes towards using mobile messaging for business were found to be extremely positive within the SME sample. 45% of respondents claimed that the technology offered considerable cost and time saving benefits for their own particular organisations.
‘We text instructions to our drivers, a lot of them are on night shifts so we can send information without disturbing them’
Organisations actively making the most use of person to person, business related mobile messaging tended to have between 11 and 50 employees. Wider usage also appeared to be directly related to mobile phone provision for employees – 62% of respondents all had company owned mobile phones and were active mobile messaging users.
Mobile Message Usage
Heaviest users of mobile technology were found in Transport along with the Healthcare and Social Work, Real Estate and Construction sectors, who are all using the technology to enhance their operations and, in some cases, for communicating with customers and patients too.
‘We can contact our customers all over the world and update them on travel information if there are any changes - it’s cheaper than making a call and a mobile message can’t be missed.
Sales Manager, Travel Agency
Most organisations (75%) use mobile messaging for internal communication and, where this is the case, actual usage tends to be low with individuals sending less than 5 messages per week. In contrast, where organisations are using the facility as part of their overall operation or for customer service/purchasing and ordering communication, usage is much higher with more than 21 messages being sent per week.
‘We use SMS as bulletins for staff i.e. transport updates, customer special requests’
Director, Transport Company
Types of Message Sent
100% of respondents to the market research study actively send text messages and 14% send picture messages.
‘We use picture messaging for health and safety and security - pictures are sent in as a visual record’
Technical Support, Operations
‘We are rolling out 60 GPRS devices which will be used for receiving delivery lists, locations and goods, these will have signature capture on them so images can be passed back’
Company Accountant, Transport
Location & Devices Used
Clearly the research highlighted that location and message purpose determined the type of mobile messaging being used. 86% of field based respondents were found to be using mobile messaging for making contact with another mobile user, whereas office based personnel often used machine to mobile facilities for group messaging to customers, colleagues and consumers and, in some cases, their superiors too.
‘When a customer books a job on-line, a job file is created on our system and an SMS is automatically sent out to the driver, who confirms the job with the office’
Board of Management, Transport
The key benefits of mobile messaging for the SME sample interviewed were that it saves time, that it can be accessed globally and that it is an extremely cost effective way of communicating.
‘Any traffic accidents are sent out to our drivers so that they can plan ahead’
‘The XDA system is great because its signature capture means records are updated in real-time’ Administration Manager, Transport Control Centre
Areas of Improvement
47% of respondents suggested a number of areas for improving mobile messaging facilities in the future including:- making it easier and cheaper to send mobile messages, providing more space for message content and written confirmation of messages sent and received.
‘The ability to type messages faster would be useful’ Company Accountant, Transport
The MDA’s research study into how the SME sector is using mobile messaging clearly indicates that the facility has a raised profile and is being widely used for informal and brief business communication internally, as part of an organisation’s operation and for liaison with suppliers, and customers.
‘It’s instant - a very good method for getting simple information out’
‘Operations staff use Blackberries to communicate between our three international offices. They also use picture messages if there is a problem on a shipment to get advice from the main office’
IT Manager, Operations, Transport
Whilst e-mail remains the favourite communication tool for more formal and detailed business communication, evidence suggests that mobile e-mail take up by the SME community is growing fast. Offering the same flexibility as sending a text message, mobile e-mail can overcome the 160 character space restriction on message content and also the perception associated with text messaging being an informal form of communication.
‘Our drivers are directed from our distribution centre via text, whereas our managers have Blackberries and 3G cards on their laptops so they can pick up e-mail and log into our servers on the move’
PA to Chairman, Transport Company
Motivated by making potential savings and generating income, SME organisations now have the opportunity to improve their efficiency and profitability, and can adopt more creative and innovative ways of communicating. Looking ahead, organisations need to be aware of the full potential mobile messaging has to offer and to retain the technical knowledge and capability for successful implementation of the wide variety of business related mobile applications currently available.
‘Mobile messaging really is the way for the future with all it can offer’
Technical Support, Transport