Manuel Grenacher, CEO Coresystems, takes a look at two separate ways in which Augmented Reality is set to radically change the way we approach field service delivery...
In my last article I examined the technologies that will likely play a major role in driving exponential growth of the field service market over the next few years, with one of those technologies being augmented reality (AR).
In this piece, I’ll go more in-depth into the most impactful ways in which AR can revolutionise the field service industry over the next few years and beyond.
I mentioned this in my last article, but it bears repeating: enterprise use cases for augmented reality are on such a fast track to implementation that ABI Research predicts that 21 million AR units will be shipped by 2020, with sales reaching $100 billion.
Clearly there is a huge market opportunity for organisations looking to enhance their field service businesses with AR technologies.
There is a wide range of ways in which AR can support field service organisations, but I’d like to focus on the two that I predict will have the most immediate impact. The first one is probably in your pocket, or somewhere within arm’s reach, as we speak: the camera in your smartphone.
Here’s how it would work: when an issue occurs with a customer’s machine or device, a field service technician would connect remotely to that end user’s/customer’s smartphone via an app.
Once the technician and the end user are connected, that user can point the phone directly to the problem at hand, so the technician can gain a clear view of the issue and walk the user through fixing the problem, step-by-step.
This remote troubleshooting capability has the potential to greatly reduce the number of onsite visits between field service technicians and their customers, which would save a huge amount of time and resources on both parties’ ends.
But what if a technician is indeed needed onsite?
The AR app would be able to notify the end user of the status of their request in real-time.
This status update would include the exact location of the technician (via GPS), as well as notifications that can be pushed to the end-user’s device, so the customer can know that technician’s estimated time of arrival, down to the minute.
Again, time and resources saved.
AR glasses have the potential to be a tremendous asset for the field service organisation in another way: by streamlining training.
Through the glasses, the technician – who undoubtedly is more skilled than the user at fixing technical issues – can walk a user (or a less skilled technician) through the fix.
While the AR glasses and the AR app for the smartphone both deliver significant benefits to the customer and technician, the AR glasses have the potential to be a tremendous asset for the field service organisation in another way: by streamlining training.
In a scenario in which a customer needs onsite support, it behooves the field service organisation to send its less skilled – and therefore less costly – technicians to actually carry out the fix.
And this could be possible through the use of the AR glasses, as the more skilled technician could remain at HQ and remotely direct the less skilled technician through the fix by using the glasses.
This way, the customer still receives the top-notch service thanks to the senior technician (literally) overseeing the process, while the field service organisation is able to execute the service call while training its less skilled technician in a real-world scenario.
This is, as the saying goes, killing two birds with one stone.
So there’s an overview of the two ways that AR can most immediately have a positive impact on the field service industry.
However, the potential is perhaps even greater than we can imagine.