Worldwide Business Research (WBR) held its Field Service 2017 conference at the end of April with over 450 service leaders from top manufacturing and service companies in attendance.
With so many service leaders in one place what better opportunity to find out what five key areas field service companies are focussing on? Michael Blumberg, was on hand to find out...
1. Leveraging IoT to drive service efficiency:
There has been a lot of buzz lately in the media and among industry analysts about the value of IoT in improving the efficiency of field service operations. No wonder it was one of the key themes of Field Service 2017!
IoT offers several benefits to field service organisations (FSOs) including the ability to remotely monitor machine performance, make proactive adjustments to improve machine life, predict when a machine is about to fail and provide proactive service, and remotely diagnose problems when the do occur.
As a result, FSOs can gain better control over costs and resources. While IoT holds great promise, many conference participants have not fully implemented end to end IoT solutions. Field Service 2017 provided them with an opportunity to gain new perspectives from Field Service leaders who have already achieved these outcome.
2. Embracing digital transformation to create a “Uber” like service model:
Today, many Field Service leaders are asking themselves if their service businesses are ready for uberization?
This question stems from the growing trend of companies to offer services through an always on, always connected, always visible, and always available business model. Technologies such GPS, mobility, optimisation software and innovative approaches to sourcing labour (think - gig economy jobs, crowdsourcing, contingent labour) have helped to facilitate these models.
Given that these technologies and labour models are also available to FSOs combined with the fact that consumers have grown to expect an “uber”-like experiences in general, Field Service leaders believe it is only a matter of time before they need to implement similar business models.
3. Creating and finding a new workforce:
A common challenge facing the field service industry, regardless of the technology supported, is the shortage of skilled field service engineers (FSEs). Let’s face it, the younger generation does not view field service as a “sexy” profession. Given other career paths, why would anyone want to fix broken products when they can be building the next “big-thing”.
On the other hand, there are a ton of good people out there who can perform field service jobs.
The problem is they either prefer to work freelance and/or lack the appropriate level of training or experience.
Field Service 2017 provided attendees with the opportunity to learn how Crowd-sourcing applications and Freelance Management Systems can provide access to a broader labour pool, and how Augment Reality tools can help less experience FSEs overcome any knowledge gaps they possess.
4. Optimising service parts management:
Managing service parts is the costliest aspect of field service management after managing labour.
Not only do customers expect their FSEs to arrive in a timely manner, they also expect them to resolve their issues right the first time. Having the right spare parts available at the right time is critical.
However, FSOs can’t afford to have too many parts sitting in many locations for too long as it causes a drain on profits. Optimization of spare parts, in other words, making sure you have just the right amount of parts at just the right number of locations is critical. Although this seems like an age-old problem facing FSOs, it is nice to see the topic on the agenda at Field Service 2017 since Field Service leaders need to continually refresh their knowledge of this subject.
5. Nurturing an environment of customer first:
This topic is also a long-standing issue facing Field Service leaders. It has gained renewed attention as companies place greater and greater focus on improving the customer experience.
However, there are still a great deal of high-tech companies who remain focused on putting their products first, customers second, and service third.
Competitive trends, technological developments, and market requirements are continually forcing companies to rethink this paradigm.
If Field Service leaders are serious about creating at customer first environment and want their service organisations to play a more key role in this shift, they must be able to influence their management teams to invest in the strategies, tactics, and tools that make this transition possible.
Learning about best practices and similar experiences from peers at Field Service 2017 helps facilitate this outcome.