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The Smartphone: Your New Best Friend in the Field

In my last blog, I talked about the many ways organizations benefit when they partner with systems integrators who are certified on the video surveillance solutions they provide. If you missed that article, you can read it here:

Why Certify? It’s Good for Everyone’s Business

In this next post, I want to take a closer look at what happens after a systems integrator invests in technical certification, because training – whether completed online or in a classroom – is only the start. And while in the past it took a fair bit of dedication to stay up-to-speed on the latest product updates and improvements, with new mobile technology and emerging applications, your smartphone is quickly turning into your new best friend in the field.

Smartphones

The Way It Was

We all know how fast things change in our business. There are always new software versions with new features that you should learn so you can demonstrate them to your customer, and new product releases to replace previous generation hardware. The best technicians are those that keep current on the latest product updates and service information.

As many of you will recall, staying informed was traditionally a bit more of a challenge. You probably travelled to a classroom setting and joined several other technicians for a series of training sessions. Once that training was complete, you walked away with a large binder filled with your notes. And you carried that binder with you on the job…or at least in your company vehicle.

More recently, USB sticks have replaced the binder. They’re easier to carry and let you search for the content you need quickly on your laptop. But even that information does not remain current for long.

The good news is that smartphones have been growing in size, and their larger screens and more intuitive interfaces make it ideal to read documents or web pages while on-site. This updated technology is moving the goalposts on post-certification training. And if you’re not using your phone as a key resource already, here’s what you are missing on.

The Way it Can Be

Once you have been trained on a particular portfolio, you can now remain engaged in continuing education using your smartphone, or cellular-equipped tablet for that matter – from any location, at any time.

This is pretty remarkable if you consider what’s possible. For example, you can have instant access to a partner portal, website and even a learning management system (LMS) – all while working on a particular install at a customer site. Faced with a new software release? Using your smartphone, you can simply access the release notes to understand what’s changed and what you need to know before installing the version or configuring the newly available features. Need to troubleshoot? Just access the latest online FAQ You can even watch tutorials or videos and for an instant update on the new features and hardware devices released by a vendor and applicable in that moment.

It’s all real and possible today. Plus, the ability to access content using a wireless device means that there’s no need to fire up your laptop or ask the customer for access to their network.

I’m proud to say that, at March Networks, we’ve fully committed to making it as easy as possible for our partners to get the information they need in the field. We introduced the industry’s first smartphone application for technical support – called March Networks GURU – about a year ago. Available as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, GURU allows our certified partners to use their smartphones to access product information and warranty status, initiate express RMAs, view technical tips and video tutorials, and use an interactive LED utility to troubleshoot our hybrid NVRs.

What’s more, we put QR codes on the front panel of our new 8000 Series Hybrid NVRs to make product information even more accessible. Techs can simply use the GURU app to scan the unique QR code on any 8000 Series recorder to instantly call up that product’s serial number and additional information. No more searching for the serial number sticker or manually punching in the right number – it’s all there for our partner technicians in one easy scan. On the training side, a recent update of the LMS means our certified partners can now view newly-posted courses from their mobile device.

So, what are the takeaways from all of this?

  • If you aren’t using your smartphone already to help you work – and learn – in the field, it’s time to start
  • Ask about the apps available to you from your vendor and take the time to download them and investigate their value
  • Ask your colleagues about other smartphone apps or tools they are using and why
  • Remember that technical certification is key to offering your customers top-quality installations and support, but it’s just the beginning

That’s my take on technical certification. What are you seeing in the field? What mobile apps do you use to help you on the job? Share your comments here.

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