Our world is changing.
Field service technology is evolving at breakneck speed. The role of field service within the wider business has grown from cost centre, to profit centre and is now rapidly shifting towards being the primary revenue source as companies leave behind them traditional break-fix models and adopt outcome based service solutions. SLAs are becoming replaced with guarantees of uptime. An asset in the field can request it's own maintenance call in advance of failure. Expertise no longer needs to be flown in it can now simply be dialled in.
So what does all of this rapid change within the field service sector mean for the field service engineer of the future? What exactly will the field service engineer of 2022 look like and how will he differ from the field service engineer we are accustomed to today?
With an ageing workforce crisis looming large as the existing last of the baby boomer workforce reaches retirement, it is perhaps one of the most important question field service organisations must address
With this in mind Field Service News is working in partnership with field service management provider ServiceMax from GE Digital on a research project that is seeking to establish what field service professionals believe the requirements will be for field service engineers and technicians in the not too distant future.
Now as we reach a half way point through the research we reflect on the interim findings and at the same time to turn to any field service professionals who have yet to take part within our survey and ask you to help us build an even more complete picture of what the field service technician of 2022 will look like?
Findings so far:
1. The predicted ageing workforce crisis amongst field service organisations is very much real
When we hear talk of an 'impending crisis' it may be only natural to think that there is a healthy dose of hyperbole within the headlines. However, in this instance an ageing workforce is certainly a looming problem and unless companies address this issue now it could indeed be a crisis for some.
Indeed, 81% of field service professionals that have participated in our research so far have indicated that the for their organisation an ageing workforce will pose some threat to their service delivery across the next 5 years.
Within that 81% of respondents 13% feel that the threat their company faces is severe stating that it is a 'major issue we are facing that could put our field service operations at risk.' Meanwhile, 45% of those who stated an ageing workforce was a concern stated that the risk was significant and stating that 'unless we address the issue quickly we are likely to face major disruption to our field service delivery.'
The same amount of respondents also stated that they see it [an ageing workforce] as 'a possible issue that we need to be aware of', whilst just 17% of field service professionals that have responded to the survey so far believe that the risk to their business is limited.
2. People skills are becoming increasingly more important in field service technician recruitment
The old cliche of a field service engineer being a reclusive creature often found in dark corners more happy in the company of his tool kit than with those dreaded customers who always just seemed to get in the way of him doing his job are now very much a thing of the past.
54% of respondents to our survey stated that they 'absolutely place people skills at the top of their list when recruiting new FSEs'.
So it is perhaps little surprise that we see that 54% of respondents to our survey stated that they 'absolutely place people skills at the top of their list when recruiting new FSEs'.
In fact, alongside those that put people skills at the top of their list of skills for new techs a further 43% stated that they 'certainly pay more attention to people skills today than they would have done a few years ago,' whilst just a nominal 3% of respondents replied that 'whilst people skills are nice to have, technical skills are the major facet they are looking for in new field service engineers."
3. There can be little better for training new field service engineers that the experience of older engineers
Indeed, it seems that this is the accepted wisdom amongst many field service organisations with 59% of our respondents confirming they have programs in place for older technicians to support younger technicians.
Further to this an additional 16% of our respondents stated that they are currently devising such a strategy whilst just under a quarter of companies stated that they didn't have anything in place to harvest the knowledge of their older technicians before they walk out of the door.
How does this compare with your own experience? If you haven't done so already please do take just a few minutes to complete our research survey.
PLUS! not only will you help us build an even clearer picture of what the key thinking is around what the field service engineer of 2022 will look like, but thanks to our partner on this project ServiceMax by GE Digital, we have a number of prizes to give away including three £50 Amazon vouchers plus a number of free tickets to Maximize Europe conference (worth $215 each!) - but you can only find the entry for the prize draw at the end of the survey so if you want to win - you better complete the survey ASAP!*
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*Prize draw available only to field service practitioners and dependent entry is dependent on consenting to T&Cs