Picture Credit: Vigilantpress.comAs the workforce becomes more distributed, organizations are faced with daunting tasks with respect to workforce management, security, etc.. Location services and SaaS come very handy for organizational managers to manage their mobile workforce in a centralized way. As more and more organizations of all sizes and shapes start using smartphones, organizations can tap into the inbuilt GPS to enforce accountability in the distributed workforce and making them more efficient.
Xora, a company founded in 1999 and based in Silicon Valley, is using location to offer mobile business applications, specifically mobile workforce management (MWM) applications. Xora applications use the GPS capabilities of employees’ wireless phones to streamline the exchange of information between the office and the field. Location, captured through the phones, then sent to the Xora Web application where supervisors can view a timely picture of where employees are and what they are doing. Some of the use cases include
  • Include real time visibility of workers including historical location data
  • Remote timesheet management
  • Optimize service and delivery routes and provide a more accurate ETAs
  • Integration of such location data with payroll, accounting, etc. to have a more seamless and efficient business process
etc.. SaaS makes the management and analysis of the workforce data more streamlined. Xora has been serving industries ranging from construction to healthcare to transportation to government services.
One of the finest use case for such a system is emergency management. Today, Xora announced that Santa Rosa County Emergency Management Division in Florida has used Xora to track the flow of oil off its coast from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico that began in April.  Data captured by emergency teams with the Xora application was used to speed response activities, thus limiting the ability of the oil to drift into local waterways and estuaries. 
According to the company
Armed with GPS-enabled Sprint HTV EVO™ 4G mobile phones running Xora, Santa Rosa County emergency management teams on patrol boats scouted for oil.  When product was found, team members used the Xora app to take a picture and fill out a form noting what type of oil product was found.  The photo was attached to the form, and both were submitted via the Xora app to Santa Rosa County’s Emergency Operation Center.
 
The Xora app automatically captured the oil’s GPS coordinates, giving the EOC real-time location data and details about the spill.  The information was used to make important decisions including how to respond and what resources were needed based on the type of product found.  Pictures were easily forwarded to other command areas to dispatch appropriate equipment.
Clearly, Xora’s case emphasizes the power of cloud and mobile combination to not only solve the needs of enterprises to manage their increasingly distributed workforce but, also, in helping governments across the world respond better to emergency situations. I would love to hear more about companies tapping into the cloud and mobile to solve such interesting problems. Please get in touch with me if you have an interesting story to tell.
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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