Having conducted exclusive research into the use of Cloud based Field Service Management Systems in 2015, Field Service News and ClickSoftware have once again teamed up and returned to the topic one year on to see just how their predictions based on last year's findings have borne out.
In part one of this series we looked at exactly what those predictions last year were as well as some of the headline findings of this year's research. In part two of the series we explored the trends have emerged year on year plus Marina Stedman, Global Field Marketing Director, ClickSoftware offered her expert view as to what these trends mean for field service organisations.
Now in the third part of the series we look at whether security remains the biggest barrier to adoption for those reluctant to move to a Cloud based FSM solution and Paul Whitelam, VP of Product Marketing, ClickSoftware, offers his expert view on the survey as a whole also...
The question of security:
So it seems that we are indeed seeing a continuation of the trends uncovered within last year’s research - in that the shift towards Cloud becoming the prevalent platform for FSM systems is continuing to gain momentum.
But how does this correlate with general perception around Cloud computing and in particular around security concerns - which were the key barrier to adoption for those who were reluctant to move to a Cloud based FSM in our previous research?
To answer this question let’s start by exploring how general perceptions about Cloud computing have changed, if at all, across the last twelve months.
In 2015 and 2016 we asked our respondents ‘Which of the following best sums up your perception of the Cloud in business?’
We gave our respondents a choice of four options:
- I believe it is the future of enterprise computing
- I see its benefits but still have some concerns
- I wouldn’t trust placing sensitive data in the Cloud but would use for general applications
- I think we should be keeping everything on premise, there is too much risk in the Cloud
This year we saw the number of respondents who stated they saw “the Cloud as the future of enterprise computing” rise to over half (56%) of all respondents, an increase of 7% compared to the 2015 results.
[quote float="left"]The number of respondents who stated they saw “the Cloud as the future of enterprise computing” rise to over half (56%) of all respondents, an increase of 7% compared to the 2015 results.[/quote]We also saw a five point increase (i.e. from 35% to 40%) amongst those who stated that they could see the benefit of the Cloud but still had some concerns.
However, it is at the other end of the spectrum, where the responses offered had more negative connotations, that perhaps the greatest shift is apparent.
The number of those who stated they “wouldn’t trust putting sensitive data in the Cloud” has reduced from 13% in 2015 to just 6% in 2016 whilst the admittedly small (3%) section of respondents in 2015 who stated they felt we should be keeping “everything on-premise as there is too much risk in the Cloud” has completely disappeared within this year’s results.
It is also interesting to note that when we drill down further into the findings and look at the responses from companies based on the size of their mobile workforce that there is further evidence of a growing confidence in Cloud computing across the board.
To begin let’s take a look at those companies within the largest bracket of mobile workforce, i.e. those with 801 or more field service engineers/ technicians.
Indeed, in this bracket of companies 100% replied positively when we asked for their overall perception of the Cloud.
Over half (53%) of the field service professionals within this company size bracket stated that they saw the Cloud as the ‘future of enterprise computing’ whilst just under half (47%) stated they whilst they may have some concerns they ‘could see the benefits’ of the Cloud.
Similarly when we look at the responses to this question from those representing companies within the smallest bracket of mobile workforce (i.e. 50 field engineers or less) once again there certainly appears to be a perception of Cloud is not only improving but that this is happening across companies of all sizes.
But how does this correlate to the separation between Cloud apps that are used mainly be consumers (e.g. Google Drive or iCloud) and those designed specifically for business users?
[quote float="right"]Almost half (48%) of the service professionals that participated in our research now stated that high profile breaches in security in the consumer sector have no impact on their perception of enterprise level Cloud security[/quote]In response to the question ‘Have high profile breaches in consumer privacy influenced your opinion of the Cloud in enterprise?’ We saw a move of 7% from the previous year’s results towards responses that accepted that ‘there are far more security protocols in the business world’ and that such security breaches in the consumer world didn’t impact their thinking around enterprise level Cloud security.
In fact, almost half (48%) of the service professionals that participated in our research now stated that high profile breaches in security in the consumer sector have no impact on their perception of enterprise level Cloud security - an increase of 8% more than in 2015.
Expert View - Paul Whitelam, VP of Product Marketing, ClickSoftware
Something that comes through clearly in this research is the increasing benefit that respondents are seeing from moving Field Service Management to the cloud. When comparing respondents’ view on the main benefit of moving to the cloud in the 2014/15 survey with this year’s research, “greater flexibility and scalability” was still the number one cited benefit, growing by 6% from 79% last year to 86% today. In addition, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents ranked both “easy remote access” and “less reliance on the IT department” in equal second in terms of benefits gained, similar values to last year.
Our experience as a software vendor in the field suggests that the priority given to “flexibility and scalability” not only reflects the ability to control operational costs but also that field service companies are prioritising customer satisfaction – and want to flexibly tune their cloud-based software solution to meet user requirements in this area. As products become more commoditised, service delivery becomes the differentiator. Companies need to improve their customer experience while keeping operational costs in check, servicing the needs of the business and the customer.
[quote float="left"]“The ability to rapid introduce new applications and services across an entire field service operation, without having to rely on the availability of the right IT infrastructure, plays a critical role in empowering field service engineers and delivering fast service differentiation...”[/quote]In many cases today, a customer’s only engagement with the supplier of their goods or services is when they need something fixing. In the retail space for example, it might be a field service visit to repair a washing machine, in the utilities industry it might be when a central heating boiler breaks down. That field service engagement may be the only opportunity to impress the customer during the lifetime of a product that might last five, 10 or 20 years.
The ability to rapid introduce new applications and services across an entire field service operation, without having to rely on the availability of the right IT infrastructure, plays a critical role in empowering field service engineers and delivering fast service differentiation. Real-time communication via smart devices between field service professionals, dispatch teams and customers increases efficiency and enhances customer service. Examples of these include using traffic monitoring systems to direct engineers to each job as quickly as possible and on-line tracking to keep the customer updated on when they will arrive.
Embracing the latest cloud and mobility technology helps companies to develop a far more collaborative, immediate and customer-focused infrastructure and to enable a culture where customer service is the priority. One where a mobile network of technicians and engineers are both enabled and encouraged to put the customer first and, as brand ambassadors, are driving customer loyalty and potentially identifying opportunities to sell more products and services to the customer while on-site.