Resource: 21st Century Field Service: The impact of the Internet of Things on Field Service

Aug 12, 2014 • FeaturesFuture of FIeld Servicewhite papersWhite Papers & eBooksInternet of Thingssolarvista

Resource Type: White Paper
Title: Resource: 21st Century Field Service: The impact of the Internet of Things on Field Service
About: In our latest white paper 21st Century field service: The impact of the Internet of Things, we look at how once again technology will reshape the way field service operates. The following is compiled from extracts of that white paper
Download: Download the white paper by clicking here

We are living in the most exciting of times:

In the first decade of the twenty first century we saw technology change the way that field service operates.

When GPS arrived in the mid nineties devices such as TomTom’s GO & Garmin’s Street Pilot Range soon became commonplace and today just 5% of companies see routing software as an urgent purchase simply because the market has reached saturation.

The options for mapping software come in a number of options from one of which being on yet another device that has had a huge impact on field service technology – the smart phone.

The purpose of this brief jog along memory lane?

Just try and think of how your field engineers could function without either of these technologies today? Sure they got by, but these tools, along with a number of other breakthroughs made field service that much more efficient.

Thinking of how we worked in the early nineties seems like stepping back into the dark ages. Yet, the technological advances of the twenty first century and are set to be completely eclipsed as the evolution of field service moves ever onward.

In many experts eyes the biggest of these advances is the Internet of Things (IoT)

The benefits of IoT are clearly defined and tangible to field service, and whilst the concepts may seem futuristic in reality in many of the elements of IoT can be harnessed already using existing technologies.

Internet of Things 101

The term Internet of Things was first coined some 15 years ago having been proposed by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton and largely does what it says on the tin. In a famous article for RFID Journal Ashcroft outlined the concept explaining:

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost.”

If we give the ordinary items that surround us the ability to essentially communicate with the world without the need for human input, the world would run just that much smoother.

 The idea itself is fairly simple. If we give the ordinary items that surround us the ability to essentially communicate with the world without the need for human input, the world would run just that much smoother.


With RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) essentially the ability has existed for a while for such data transfer although other tracking technologies such as NFC (near field communications) digital watermarking, low powered Bluetooth, QR codes and their humbler, older cousin the barcode can also provide the same solution.

The Internet of Things in the consumer realm

In the past it was often enterprise level technology that led to a consumer counterpart, in the twenty first century we are beginning to see something of a reversal of that trend and in the world of IoT we are once again seeing this to perhaps be the case.

Major consumer grade electronics developers have entered the race to conquer the emerging ‘smart-home’ market this year with Samsung, Apple and Google all being connected with the increasing M&A activities in the ‘smart-home technology’ sector across recent times.

So with a competitive market place opening up it seems the futuristic smart home, one of the most tangible elements of IoT, could be with us much sooner than we think.

Now this is all well and good but what does it mean for field service?

Internet of Things and Field Service

There are obvious benefits for field service in a world where all of our household devices and business appliances are smart and able to communicate when their own parts are beginning to deteriorate or faults are beginning to appear.

This leads to proactive preventative maintenance, which will in turn see first time fix rates soar. Such solutions could also see the lines between product sales and service sales potentially blurring, as service becomes an intrinsic, built in function of all devices in the future.

Rolls Royce’s Power by the Hour:

However, this isn’t a necessarily new concept. A great example of such an approach is the way in which Rolls Royce pioneered their ‘Power by the Hour’ service solution. The British firm actually first coined the phrase way back in the 1960’s and the concept is essentially a simple one.

Their customers pay for the engines that power their aircraft measured by the time that the planes are actually in flight.

In practice this is a complex and sophisticated blend of contract that incorporates service and product seamlessly and today uses the latest technology available including Big Data and Machine to Machine (M2M) diagnostics to allow Rolls Royce to proactively monitor the status of each and every engine they have in operation and to be able to undertake proactive maintenance when and where required.

Essentially achieving everything that IoT based field service solutions promise to deliver.

Costa Coffee: Saving twenty first century offices from mediocre coffee

Another British company that are using the tools of the twenty first century is Whitbread’s Costa Coffee Chain, the second largest in the world and who recently announced the launch of their digital baristas.

Vending machines with IoT capabilities that can collate and interpret data that can be utilised both in service and sales.

Such an intelligent machine again offers many field service benefits like being able to predict when it needs maintenance, what the likely faults are, even what type of priority level it should be attributed given its predicted sales revenue.

The revolution is upon us...

Preparing for the IoT revolution is not a question of why, but more a question of when and as our white paper reveals the early stages of IoT adoption in field service are already underway, so surely the when needs to be now.

Download the white paper to find out more by clicking this link and completing the brief registration form.