Bill Pollock extrapolates some of the key findings from a survey focused on remote expertise.
In January, 2020, Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM) conducted its inaugural Remote Expertise Survey among its outreach community of more than 20,000+ global services professionals. Total responses for the 2020 Remote Expertise Benchmark Survey are 225, and it is among this respondent base upon which the survey analysis is based.
The greatest incentives cited by respondents for embarking on a Remote Expertise journey are to:
- 65% Improve customer satisfaction
- 64% Be able to exceed customer expectations
- 62% Diagnose problems faster and more accurately
- 58% Run a more efficient services operation
- 50% Minimise equipment downtime and customer wait time
- 50% Reduce travel times and costs
The survey results also reveal that while nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondent services organisations are currently operating service as an independent profit center (or as a pure, third-party service company), there are still more than one-third (37%) that are operating as cost centers. This percent reflects a slight downtick from the 65% to 68% range reflected in SFG℠’s 2018/2019 annual Field Service Management (FSM) surveys; however, this shift may be largely attributable to the higher number of call center services operations included among the overall survey universe.
Presently, a majority (55%) of services organisations are already using Remote Expertise capabilities in support of their field service operations, with another 21% planning to implement within the next five years. As such, within this five-year period, the percent of Field Service Organisations (FSOs) incorporating Remote Expertise into their services operations is expected to increase to between 76% and 85% (i.e., depending on the final distribution of the “don’t knows”).
"The top two potential obstacles that services managers are likely to face with respect to moving to a Remote Expertise services delivery model are related to costs..."
It is also noted, that among those organisations which are presently planning to build Remote Expertise into their services operations, there is likely to be a fairly strong push to implement within the next 12 months (54%), to 24 months (77%). These percents, again, may also actually be somewhat higher as one-in-six respondents (16%) remain uncertain as to the exact timeframe for implementation. In any event, these respondent-provided planning forecasts reflect a much faster timeframe than what we are normally accustomed to seeing in surveys of this nature.
Gary York, CEO , Help Lightning, the leading Augmented Reality provider of Virtual Interactive Presence, agrees with these findings, saying that, “We’ve seen quicker turnarounds with respect to the adoption of our technology over the past year or so, and the services industry’s embracing of the technology couldn’t be stronger. Once a services manager sees how impactful the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Merged Reality (MR) are in terms of helping to lead the technician through the repair, combined with the added resource of our telestration, or visual overlay tool, they are sold on the concept and can’t wait to implement”.
Overall, a greater than three-quarters majority (79%) of FSOs claim to currently be using a Field Service Management (FSM) solution to power their respective services initiatives. Between one-quarter and one-third of respondents are also using Predictive Maintenance (35%), Enterprise Resource Planning (35%), Predictive Diagnostics (34%) and the Internet of Things (IoT) (30%), among others.
The top two potential obstacles that services managers are likely to face with respect to moving to a Remote Expertise services delivery model are essentially related to costs – first, primarily with respect to the cost of introducing new technologies; and, second, with respect to other key financials such as Return-on-Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). In fact, these two factors are cited by 47% and 36% of respondents, respectively, as the greatest obstacles they have faced, or expect to face, when implementing a Remote Expertise service delivery model.
Two things are also interesting to note: first, respondents believe service technician “buy-in” may be a somewhat more difficult “sell” (i.e., cited at 30%) than management “buy-in” (i.e., cited by 25%); and, second, there are five potential obstacles that receive zero responses, including: (1) lack of a corporate services mentality/philosophy; (2) cost of embarking on a Servitisation Journey; (3) lack of a full understanding as to what exactly is the Servitisation Journey; (4) ability to convince customers that the Servitisation Journey will lead to better, more cost-efficient, services delivery; and (5) senior management unwillingness to change the existing business model which has been relatively successful so far. This strongly suggests that the market is mostly ready to move – without the burdens of these zero-cited factors.
"More than three-quarters of respondents (80%) indicate that they believe Remote Expertise represents, or will represent, a fundamental shift in the way they deliver service and support to their customers..."
Presently, roughly two-fifths of respondents (40%) report that a majority of the customer equipment they support in the field is connected (i.e., via the Internet of Things/IoT). This leaves 60% for which less than half of the equipment they support is presently connected. However, these percentages are expected to flip-flop dramatically over the next five years (or sooner), as by 2024, a majority of the equipment supported in the field is projected to be connected as cited by nearly three-quarters (72%) of the current survey respondents.
Respondents overwhelmingly believe in the degree of “helpfulness” that Remote Expertise can bring to the table with respect to the ability for a remote expert to virtually “reach out and touch” what their service technician is working on via a standard tablet, smart phone or other device (93%); similar percents are also cited for ability to support the organisation’s service technicians – and customers – on a “live” basis in real time via Virtual Human Interaction (94%), and the ability to view the entire help session on a mobile device or Web browser (91%).
From a marketing perspective, Kevin Johnson, Director of Marketing at Help Lightning, believes that, “once a prospect actually sees Remote Expertise executed in a real-life example, it practically sells itself. The visual nature of the tool, coupled with the ease of operating, makes it a natural consideration for just about any services organisation.”
Finally, the most common responses cited when respondents are asked for their thoughts regarding the main incentives for moving toward a Remote Expertise services delivery model typically focus on (1) cost / financial / ROI issues; and (2) business cases / success cases. Conversely, the most commonly cited concerns typically focus on (1) cost / time to implement; (2) lack of IT resources already in place; (3) network bandwidth; and (4) the need for change management and monetisation.
Nonetheless, more than three-quarters of respondents (80%) indicate that they believe Remote Expertise represents, or will represent, a fundamental shift in the way they deliver service and support to their customers. Even better, their respective confidence levels are fairly high with respect to those believing that their current (and planned) technology investments are sufficient to support Remote Expertise (61%); and that their business, headcount and service apparatus can support Remote Expertise (65%).
As such, the findings from SFG℠’s 2020 Remote Expertise Benchmark Survey clearly reflect a strong level of receptivity and acceptance of Remote Expertise, whether the respondents’ organisations are currently using, or planning to implement at a later time. Further, once any of the stated obstacles are addressed and brought under control, and buy-in is gained from both the service technicians and senior management, the path forward to Remote Expertise appears to be inevitable.
As a result, SFG℠ strongly believes that the adoption of the Remote Expertise service delivery model – and the drive to move toward that business model in a well-planned and expedient manner – will continue to accelerate throughout 2020 – and beyond.
For more information on Help Lightning’s Remote Expertise offerings, you may visit the company’s Website at www.helplightning.com.
To download a copy of SFG℠’s companion Analysts Take report, or to access the archived Webcast recording, please click here: http://tiny.cc/remote-expertise-webcast.