As we approach the half way point of our current research project being run in partnership with ServiceMax and PTC that is looking at how those in field service feel around the Internet of Things and it's likely impact on the field service industries Field Service News Editor-in-Chief takes a look at the findings so far and what are the initial emerging trends...
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Reactive vs. Proactive
There has been a lot of discussion for quite some time around the need for field service companies to move towards a more pro-active model of working, moving towards a more preventative maintenance model instead of the traditional reactive break-fix -approach which has been adopted by service companies for decades.
By moving to a more preventative approach field service companies can of course begin to schedule in jobs to allow for optimum efficiency in terms of routing and planning. However, a regular planned maintenance schedule may mean a lot of wasted hours visiting sites where a device is perhaps underused and maintenance is unnecessary.
one of the big potential drivers of the Internet of Things in field service management is the ability to remotely monitor device performance and automate service requests from the device itself
To assess if this type of approach would be suitable in field service we first of all asked our respondents if they were working on a reactive basis or preventative or a mix of both. Our findings so far show that a mixture of both reactive and preventative call-outs is very much the way most companies operate with 36% of companies stating they “operate a proactive strategy where possible but are still mostly reactive” whilst the same amount state their “service is half proactive and half reactive”.
This would certainly suggest that one of the big drivers of utilising IoT in field service management is definitely, i.e. the trend towards preventative maintenance model of service delivery is already clearly identified as a means of improving efficiency within service delivery and so the potential introduction of IoT tools to improve this would likely be well received.
In terms of field service management the Internet of Things is very much being talked about as the next big technology however for it to be utilised as effectively as possible it could be argued that it is imperative to have other underlying technologies in place. For example in the earlier section we looked at how moving to a preventative maintenance model could be really enhanced by IoT and we saw that indeed many companies are adopting this approach.
In terms of field service management the Internet of Things is very much being talked about as the next big technology
In fact the research supports the notion that IoT is part of a vanguard of new technologies being seen as the next generation of field service management tools which will be complimentary to and in addition to those technologies many companies having already invested in such as mobile computing, field service management solutions and telematics solutions which were being used by 63%, 51% and 25% respectively.
Views around IoT
Indeed the interim results of this research certainly seem to show a great deal of confidence in the Internet of Things as a field service management tool.
In fact 44% of companies think that the Internet of Things “will have the biggest impact on field service operations within the next five years?” whilst just half (49%) believe that “IoT will become a fundamental part of field service operations in the future.”
What is particularly interesting however is that having asked “When do you think IoT will become common place within field service operations” over two thirds of respondents (34%) said they felt it already is beginning to happen and also debunking the myth that IoT in field service management is the realm of only the largest enterprise companies, 68% of our respondents felt that the benefits of IoT could be felt by companies of all sizes.
Meanwhile almost a third of companies were planning an IoT strategy whilst a further 32% had either implemented or were implementing an IoT field service management strategy.
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