Skilling up for Digital

Jul 07, 2020 • FeaturesDigital TransformationField Service Engineer TrainingSi2 partnersManaging the Mobile Workforce

Competencies needed to get your workforce digital ready refer not only to technology, but more importantly to people’s skills. In short, Digital Transformation is less about technology and more about people writes Julia Moeller of Si2 Partners...

“Technology is always about doing more with less, yet that combination is effective only, if you pair technology with the right human skills.”

- As quoted in the recent article by Harvard Business Review: “Digital Transformation Is About Talent, Not Technology”


Why Do We Need Digitalization?

The storing and processing of data is increasingly being deployed by companies to increase productivity and/or revenue to build competitive advantage. It is not only about building technology capability, but normally leads to new ways of working.

This may lead to resistance from Service Engineers who have been in the field for decades, happy with the way things have been handled.

This makes it critical as you embark on your change programme and brief your team, that you clearly describe your reasoning, the „why“ behind new technology, explaining how it is not only a new way of working, but help them do a better job in a safer environment.

Why will this help the Field Technician to do a better job? If you as an employer can answer this question, your staff will be much more likely to be intrinsically motivated to not only carry new hardware, but also gladly use it. New hardware or new technology could mean the Field Service Engineer gets information needed for a warranty or repair job easier and faster, maybe find a sales brochure or digitally sign off service reports and new orders.

In order to best support your Field Technician, you as a company have to be set-up for digitalization as well. Not only does it include equipment and training for all staff, but also organizational support and the digitalization of internal processes. Most importantly, when using new tools, the Field Technician needs to be able to rely on it. There is nothing worse than standing in front of a broken machine, not being able to use your shiny new tool.

The answer is the organization has to think about the whole application up front (customer happy with access, HSE, connectivity etc). Often, I have found that a trial is essential in proving the solution to be workable.

Furthermore organizational support needs to go hand in hand with what is being promoted. For example for a client who wants to have documents signed digitally, the organization must have the processes and authorization that enables this process.

Concerning the necessary skillset needed for employees, according to the World Economic Forum the Future of Jobs Report states that active learning and learning strategies as well as creativity, originality and initiative will be more important in 2022 than they were in 2018. What is striking is that complex problem solving, critical thinking and analysis are becoming less important as more and more equipment has built in diagnostics and the capability for remote analysis. What we see is that behavioral skills such as using emotional intelligence to be able to sense what the customer needs, are being values which are on the rise.

Screenshot 2020-07-05 at 11.11.19Source: Future of Jobs Survey, World Economic Forum


Another, new, skill – Technology design and programming- suddenly ranges in the top 5 for 2022, however wasn’t mentioned at all in the list of important skills for 2018. Nowadays the hard skill of coding becomes very relevant, because software is contained in all technology and devices used today.

To successfully leveraging digital tools, field technician’s competencies can be summarized in three major areas: Character, Technology and Experience.

  • Character; especially curiosity for learning new things and soft skills such as initiative in helping a client are important.
  • Technology; in particular the interaction of mechanical, electronic and control systems is becoming increasingly critical for FSEs to understand.
  • Experience; cannot always be substituted by training. Training and working with your team will be key to raising their proficiency in using your digital tool set. Although generation X and Y tend to be more pro digitization; what many fail to understand is that this group will still have to be trained in order to be successful in the field. The only difference between this generation and more experienced personnel is the way we train them.

The ‘modern learner’ appreciates peer-to-peer interaction and sharing experiences more than bosses preaching from the top. What is more; in order to get important information across, keep in mind the modern learner won’t watch videos longer than 4 minutes, unlocks their smartphone up to 9 times an hour and gets interrupted as often as every 5 minutes. Easy to understand, the modern learner is impatient and easily distracted. (Bersin and Deloitte)

In spite of this 80% of workforce learning happens via on the job interaction with peers, teammates and managers. Here, a clear vision is needed. This provides your team with clear expectations of the technical & behavioral skills they need to develop, and different learning options that suit the specific needs of team members. Often this leads to a personalized training matrix for each team member, which should be reviewed on a yearly basis.

In conclusion: Lead by example, share experiences, give sufficient organizational support and of course the right hardware you will give your Field Service Engineers the right competencies needed to be digital ready!

If you would like to know more about how to get your Field Service team ready for the digital age, then please contact Julia Moeller @

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