SOTI MobiControl Review

We're able to connect with our drivers at a moment's notice, support them in the field

What is our primary use case?

We're a mobile refueling company. We go out into construction sites where they have fleet trucks. We do about 650 million gallons of fuel a year, and we have about 180 fueling trucks in the Midwest, east of the Mississippi. We use the Zebra MC67 devices, with software that we've purchased to control the truck when it distributes fuel to a semi or a reefer trailer or a large earth-moving piece of equipment. We do deliver to trains. All the fuel delivered is real-time to the end customer.

For us to manage that we have MobiControl, not only for setting them all up and connecting them, but also for managing and synchronizing files, and for our logistics center - which is the call center - to help the drivers change routes online in real-time. We remote into them and we make changes, or we make changes on our side and then we can watch what happens on the handheld. We walk through issues with the drivers, if they have issues on the handheld.

How has it helped my organization?

The tool has become incredibly valuable for us in terms of helping the drivers.

It was the tool of choice. We had the tool, we owned it, but as we got better at using it, its success became self-evident. The ability to remote into the device, help the drivers, set up devices in the field, all that pooled together into being critical. 

And now, with its growth in other environments, our IT department is exploring other uses for agents and remote access. We're not a really big company in terms of the corporate level, so it takes a little time for us to get traction on stuff. But it is certainly the key to the logistics side of our business. We couldn't have our call center without some remote access tool. Our decision to stay with SOTI was, initially, a default decision, but then it grew into all the capacity.

It is the key component in our logistics center. Every one of our logistics personnel is trained on SOTI as an end-user, to be able to help people in the field. It's as simple as that. It's the primary tool when it comes to assisting drivers in the field.

What is most valuable?

For us, the ability to connect with the driver at a moment's notice and support them in the field is paramount.

On a side note, it helps me set them up and manage them remotely. Without remote management, I'm not sure we could execute that, with that many trucks in the field. Our market area is Wisconsin, Michigan, all the way down to Florida. There's no other way, at this point in time, that I could think of how we would do it, other than having remote software. 

We stay with Mobi because of the functionality. It's amazing software.

What needs improvement?

We're not using MobiControl to its capacity. We're not driving the ports out of it, we are just starting to enter it. It's a function of time and personnel, in getting to all the other attributes it has. At this point in time, until my staff and I can really dig into MobiControl and take it to another level, I don't think it would be fair for me to talk about improving anything. And right now, I probably couldn't tell you what to improve.

We're at a level that SOTI MobiControl can far outdo what we're using it for right now. I would not be doing MobiControl justice if I said they have to improve something, because I'm not working from a position of being a super-user, I'm just becoming one right now.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable. I rarely have any issues with it. Even with the patching of the servers, it's all Microsoft Server-based, it's not running on Linux. If the patching failed - which it hasn't - but if the patching failed, the restore is really straightforward.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very much scalable to our needs. It's a function of devices out there. We acquired 220 device licenses, and we float between 200 and 210. I do have spare devices, I still need that room. Then, depending on our company strategy, if we're going to provide another device - we're looking at the tablets - if we do that, then we acquire as we need. If we're willing to pay for them, we can get as many as we require.

How are customer service and technical support?

SOTI's customer service is top-notch. We have asked for and have received incredible customer service.

We recently signed up for SOTI Enterprise Support. It was worthwhile to do it, with the additional training, and the call testing. It's a huge opportunity for us to continue to explore the functionality of SOTI in a contained environment.

The customer service has always been excellent. I've never had bad customer service. And I've called. I'll say, "How can I do this in here?" and they'll run through some scenarios. SOTI MobiControl also works with our partners like Zebra. Zebra was on the phone with tech support from SOTI and it took four minutes to figure out what I wanted to do between the two, and I got a solution. They helped me out when I needed it. How can you put a price on that?

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had no previous solution. 

How was the initial setup?

The part I can speak to is the version updates. The initial installation went quite well. We had five users five years ago. Now we've got 50 users. How we used devices five years ago is way different. We did not have a call center at the time, and now we have a call center. The version update is what I can talk to you about because I pushed for it, to get the latest and greatest version, and they were incredibly helpful.

We had older servers it was running on, so we had to update the servers. The quality of the technical people at SOTI was phenomenal, it didn't take much to figure it out. We were able to import our stuff from an older server to a newer server and connect to the database with minimal impact.

Once that happened, all consecutive version updates are basically pushing a button and letting it chug and it's done, it's up. We have a really solid platform for what we're doing right now.

We were on version 9 or 10. Once the servers were updated to the most current servers that support version 14.3, after that, it was straightforward. It took 15 minutes to do the last two updates that came in. MobiControl was already up, and all we had to do was update the agents. I had no issues with the devices in the field connecting. So as far as I'm concerned, it was a 20-minute window.

In terms of updates, we haven't had any bugs. As soon as the device comes online, I can do a global Agent Upgrade within 24 to 36 hours, and the handhelds all update. I haven't had an issue with an agent. It just works.

What was our ROI?

Time is money. I have a truck out there, a $450,000, 5,000-gallon steel truck that's automated out there, and I'm paying a very qualified driver to run it. These guys have commercial driver licenses, and every hour they're not pumping is an hour of cost.

For every shift, there are five or six hours man-hours we have to have put aside to process those customers, to get them into our system, so their information is available, and that, of course, is manual time. If a truck's not running, not moving, not pumping, it's costing us something.

If you're running around with a half-million-dollar asset, or even a $350,000 asset, it needs to make money. It needs to be pumping fuel to make money. So, yes, we have return on investment with this solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's a reasonably priced tool for what we're using it for. To be fair, I don't have much to compare to. But being in IT for 20 years, I thought it was really reasonable. When you take into consideration the maintenance cost on it, it's is very low. There's a one-time license fee for a device. But you can call support under standard support, which I had up until about two months ago, and it has been excellent. All that updating I mentioned was done under our standard license.

What other advice do I have?

When you get customer service tied in with a reasonably-priced service and product, there really is no other reason to go anywhere else.

At this point in time, I would give it a ten out of ten. The reason I say that is because it's not just the software, not only the stability of the software, but it's the customer service. You get somebody on the line and you're not waiting 40 minutes. Call Oracle once and see how fast you get somebody.

I'll give it a ten in my world because, when I call and reach out to support, or if I call to reach out to my technical rep, or if I call and reach out to my account manager, I get a response. I may leave a message, but he'll call within a couple of hours. I always get an answer very quickly. They have automated voice menuing but it's not eight layers deep, and each layer's not ten layers of options. It's quite refreshing.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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