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Mobile technology in field customer service: Big improvements with small changes

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Purpose ‐ The paper aims to look at the development of a mobile information system for a tobacco wholesaler in the Baltic region, focusing on understanding the issues involved in deploying a new system into a traditionally operating work force in a transition economy. Design/methodology/approach ‐ To overcome the problems in billing cycle in the case company, an action research approach was used to develop a new process for sales documentation and employed advanced mobile technologies in the process. The research approach followed an action research cycle of diagnosis, action planning, action taking, evaluation, and specifying learning. Findings ‐ The findings highlight the importance of the change in the mind-sets of the employees when using a new technology, and the obstacles of the use of advanced mobile technologies. They also stress the problems encountered while considering more or less experimental technologies for day-to-day operations of a business. The key finding is that new technology is much easier to take into use, when it is accompanied with a small but visible enhancement in both the work routines of individuals and the operations of the organization. Practical implications ‐ The Amer case highlights the importance of considering technological implications of mobile technology already in planning stage of the new solution. Furthermore, there are special features related to mobility including, for instance, usability of advanced mobile technology, reliability, transmission mode, level of auxiliary devices and user adaptability. Originality/value ‐ This paper describes a unique case of business use of mobile technology in connection to re-engineering field sales processes, and can be of use both to practitioners as well as researchers and students in the field.
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Keywords: Action research; Baltic States; Customer relations; Mobile communication systems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 13, 2007

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