Aly Pinder outlines how the growing trend for connected products is set to revolutionise the way we approach service...
What is the value of a connected product or asset? Some might argue, connected products allow a manufacturer to capture a wealth of product data which can be used to make better products in the future.
Others might state, connected products open a window into customer usage data which can help manufacturers and sales teams target customers more effectively driving increased revenues.
These are two important use cases and show some of the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected products.
But I think there is an even more impactful area of value from the ability to connect to products – field service.
Now you may be thinking, of course, it’s all of field service, as you peruse the articles of Field Service News. But even if I am preaching to the choir, the impact that connected products can have on the ability for manufacturers to transform the way they deliver field service and customer support is not necessarily a given.
However, as more products and assets are connected I believe there is a real opportunity to see great leaps in field service and the transformation of the way manufacturers interact with the end customer.
Three opportunities, in particular, jump out as big wins for the future of field service as a result of data captured from connected products and equipment:
Finally, predict and not react
The journey from reactive field service to proactive and predictive persists for many manufacturers. I don’t think this is necessarily a battle which will ever reach a state of 100% predictive service, and nor should it.
But I do think there is a great opportunity to take the volumes of data being captured in real-time to make smarter decisions in field service which can lead to a different balance of reactive, proactive, and predictive support.
Also, data gleaned from connected products can help make reactive service calls more valuable and efficient as a technician should have the answers to the issue without having to guess or lean on gut-feel.
Service without a truck roll.
As noted in recent IDC research, by 2020, 50% of global OEMs with connected service offerings will have incorporated augmented service execution and/or remote management thus improving service margins by up to 30%.
The ability to resolve issues remotely or to utilize a centralized expert to help a customer solve a problem can be transformative for field service. This type of model could help service leaders allocate their seasoned technicians to the most complex problems as opposed to just an issue within their geographic footprint.
Connected products enable a manufacturer to know what is wrong in advance of a response and ensure the right response is the one scheduled for a scarce set of resources.
Focus on the value of the human interaction.
When we think about the negatives associated with the rise of the machines (i.e., Terminator), we often miss something.
This should be an opportunity not a threat.
Connected products which ‘talk’ to each other provides an opening for field technicians to focus on the humans while they are on site as opposed to spending time looking for information, turning wrenches, or filling out paperwork.
Obviously, this will mean manufacturers and service leaders will need to train their technicians on a new set of skills and activities. But as the workforce and economies evolve, the skill of interaction will be in more demand and provide more value in the customer relationship.
And manufacturers which leverage connected product data to have their field teams focus on the customer will succeed.
The promise and value gained from connected products is more than just additional data points.
As manufacturers look to transform their organizations and teams, connected products should be the catalyst for a journey of new ways of delivering value to customers and not the end result of a technology investment.
Field service should be the aspect of the business which sees the biggest gains from connected products and equipment.
The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to seeing where manufacturers take this technology as it extends beyond IT and engineering to the field.
Aly Pinder is Program Director - Service Innovation & Connected Products, IDC Manufacturing Insights
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