2017 Year in Review: Innovations in Field Service

Jan 25, 2018 • FeaturesAugmented RealityCoresystemsFuture of FIeld ServiceGig Economymanuel grenacherIoT

It’s been a whirlwind year in terms of technology development impacting the field service sector and the breakneck pace of development shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems takes stock of the rapid technological advances we’ve seen across the last twelve months and outlines what we can expect in 2018...

Just as automation gave rise to more advanced machines over the past decade, so too has field services evolved.

The analog process of collecting and sharing information about customers and devices has now become automated, and in some cases completely digitalised. Service executives are continuously pushing the envelope of what’s possible with field service management software, and 2017 was a great example of that drive towards innovation.

As discussed previously, the growth of the Internet of Things and its real-time connectivity has led to a massive spike in consumer expectations for instantaneous customer service. As a result, organisations have been forced to rethink their customer service delivery strategies, including their workforce resources and supporting technologies.

In field service, we see a future in which for-hire field service technicians can connect This year, pioneering companies (for example, Airbnb) have continued to lay a blueprint for other industries to follow using a gig economy model. In field service, we see a future in which for-hire field service technicians can connect – through technology tuned for the gig economy – to organisations that need extra manpower for their field service teams.

At Coresystems, we understand the challenges organizations face when field service requests greatly outnumber that company’s field service technicians. By leveraging independent workers in the gig economy, organisations can deliver the real-time service that customers now demand. By introducing technology that enables the crowdsourcing of field service to independent, for-hire field service technicians, FSM software providers can help their customers find those field service technicians anywhere and anytime. This would check organisations’ critical box of providing real-time customer service.

In 2017, virtual and augmented reality (AR) technologies became more prevalent in many industry sectors, including field service.

There’s a huge market opportunity for organisations looking to enhance their field service businesses with these technologies – and you can find more on that here. Essentially, a specialised AR headset would boost the first-time fix rates and average repair time by allowing technicians to view, search and digest any information they need for an installation and/or repair on a heads-up display (think manuals, checklists and more).

AR would also connect on-site technicians with more experienced engineers back at HQ, who can visually supervise and troubleshoot more difficult technical issues, thus benefiting staff training and mitigating skills shortages.

Looking ahead to 2018, we believe the customer touchpoint will become a point of focus. Put simply, customer touchpoints are the various ways in which a customer encounters your company and products. This can be before, during or after purchase, and can be through social media, your online help center or word-of-mouth conversations.

Rather than selling a new machine through traditional methods, we’ll see companies handle the customer touchpoint better and more effectively Amazon Alexa and Google Home, for example, are perfect illustrations of successful customer touchpoints: they can meet their customers’ demands quicker than others because they understand their customers better, thanks to the use of smart home devices.

Alexa already knows which brand of water you prefer, and how many bottles you usually order, and with a short command you can place your order and have it on your doorstep within hours.

In contrast, in a traditional retail setting you need to go through several clicks to begin the delivery process.

To translate that to field service, rather than selling a new machine through traditional methods, we’ll see companies handle the customer touchpoint better and more effectively. For many companies, service is considered last. In my mind, that’s backwards – it should come first. Before you start digitising machines, you should think about how to digitise the service.

The evolution of technology has propelled us into the age of digital transformation, and it’s fundamentally changed the way we interact with technology and even the way technology interacts with itself. That shift will continue in 2018, at least in field service, with innovations such as crowd service platforms and AR headsets gaining further traction.

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