Within three years, mobile workers will occupy one-third of the global workforce, researcher IDC estimates. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) wants to help manage them.
A business version of its Maps software called "Google Maps Coordinate" purports to show dispatchers where workers are, in real time, to make most effective use of on-the-go resources for serving customers.
This idea isn't new. Repair service teams often use logistical software and devices to coordinate efforts. Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN ) has been particularly active in this area, while shipping specialists such as UPS (NYSE: UPS ) has an entire business dedicated to logistics planning and consulting. Can Google really make a difference in a market crowded with big names?
The short answer is probably "yes," if only because the Google Maps interface is so familiar to drivers.
The long answer isn't much more complicated. Google's advantage in providing software and services isn't just familiarity but also cost. Users either pay a small fee or nothing in exchange for granting the search king access to data. Here, Google is charging just $15 per user until Sept. 1, Computerworld reports. Small businesses should benefit from the low pricing.
Other benefits include a programming interface for integrating Google Maps Coordinate with client systems for managing fleets. Additional customizations will allow dispatchers to track workers while indoors and create historic job files for repeated visits to familiar sites.
Interestingly, Google isn't the only potential winner here. Tablet and phone makers Asus, HTC, and Samsung also stand to gain, since Google Maps Coordinate requires an Android device.
In the end, Google Maps Coordinate is probably no more than a nice-to-have feature. But on a larger scale, it's also one of the first-use cases for outfitting an entire business with Android tablets rather than iPads. The search king needs more wins like this.
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