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Managing tens of thousands of field service tasks per day in numerous locations requires enormous human resource capacity and generates significant costs. Additionally, with more than half a million network elements and thousands of employees engaged in the service delivery process, management of incoming issues is complex and time-consuming. MegaFon was looking to streamline these operations, minimize income losses resulting from network and service downtime, and improve field service quality. To reach those business objectives, Comarch implemented its Field Service Management system.
With the on-premises application of Comarch Field Service Management and the Comarch FSM Mobile app, the daily, paper-based responsibilities of engineers, managers and administrators have been digitized. In addition, subcontractors’ employees can now access the system and use its capabilities. As a result, field work management has been unified and centralized, which was crucial for the company.
Deployment of the software enabled MegaFon to automate field workforce management, optimize planning and scheduling, and introduce real-time reporting. With these features, the company is now able to manage tasks efficiently in connection with emergency incidents, planned works, customer complaints, energy systems and infrastructure problems from mobile and fixed networks.
“The implementation of the Comarch FSM solution in MegaFon is another opportunity to share our experience in the telecommunication sector and advise our client on how to optimize their processes. This project allowed us to build a strong presence on the Russian market,” says Szymon Uczciwek, Head of Field Service Management Consulting in Comarch.
MegaFon is one the leading telecommunication service providers in Russia, claiming 29.5% of the market share in 2017. The company and its subsidiaries operate in all Russian regions, along with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Republic of Tajikistan. Their subscriber base exceeded 77 million at the end of 2017.
Megafon’s company offer covers all telecoms market segments. Services include voice, mobile data, fixed-line telecommunication services, digital TV, IP telephony and innovative solutions such as mobile TV, OTT video content, M2M, mobile and financial advertising and cloud services.
MegaFon’s shares have been traded on the Moscow Stock Exchange since 2012, and on the London Stock Exchange since 2014.
Comarch is a global supplier of software and services for enterprises. It has over 20 years’ experience designing, implementing and integrating IT solutions for some of the world’s largest brands, including BP, Deutsche Telekom, Diageo, KPN, Orange, Telefónica, Unilever and Vodafone. Comarch has a specialist telecoms unit providing IT solutions to telecoms operators around the world. It builds technology solutions to meet the key requirements of telecoms companies, namely to increase revenue, grow business efficiency, simplify systems, cut costs, enhance the customer experience, build new services and shorten their time to market.
Comarch IT solutions for telecoms have been consistently listed in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report, while its IoT offer has been evaluated positively by Berg Insight, IHS Markit and Gartner, who also named Comarch a “Vendor to watch” in the 2017 Market Trends: A Comprehensive Approach to CSP IoT Platform Selection Will Enhance Market Positioning.
The company has also been recognized for its work in the telecoms industry by other analysts, including Forrester, Informa and Frost & Sullivan.
Wearing a Mixed Reality headset, an engineer can share what they see and communicate with another engineer miles away. They might also be able to simultaneously call up manuals or other information through a heads-up display and view details provided by their assisting engineer.
Last month saw the launch of Hololens 2, the much-improved successor to Microsoft’s mixed reality headset Hololens. Microsoft is not a lone voice in the dark, with a plethora of other companies working on technologies with similar applications. Nreal and Zappar are just two of the start-ups trying to cash in on this emerging market. Are their investors just taking a gamble or are there good reasons for their investments?
This makes one wonder – is Mixed Reality just another gimmick or could it bring major benefits to Field Service operations? I suspect the latter, and here is why:
The adoption of new technologies tends to follow the S-Curve. As a product or technology gains traction in the market, its market begins to grow. At first, the growth is slow, almost imperceptible. It then develops more rapidly as consumers begin to adopt the technology. As the market expands, that growth continues. Finally, a host of factors cause the growth rate to decline and then gradually growth tapers off as it becomes a replacement market.
"The adoption of new technologies tends to follow the S-Curve..."
So where is Mixed Reality on the S-Curve? In his much quoted “Diffusion of Innovation”, Everett Rogers terms the first group to adopt a new technology as “Innovators”. Innovators are characterised by a willingness to take risks, have the highest social status, have financial liquidity and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Their risk tolerance allows them to adopt technologies that may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures. I would suggest that the US military, who have just placed a large Hololens order, fits squarely into this category.
The next stage of adoption belongs to the early adopters. Early adopters have a high degree of opinion leadership as well as high status and financial liquidity. Whilst facts and figures are still sparse, anecdotal evidence suggest that we may already have started to move into this phase. The companies I hear about who are investigating Mixed Reality are in niche markets, very profitable and their engineers are highly skilled. They are happy to take some risks and try innovative solutions. This suggests that we may be about to accelerate fast up the S- Curve, but what benefits can we expect?
Well, wouldn’t it be nice if we could bottle skills and experience. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and wherever we look we encounter skills shortages. Be it HVAC, Gas Central Heating or High-Speed Printing; in Cornwall, London or Scotland – companies struggle to recruit experienced engineers. In niche sectors it is the worst. When baby boomer engineers are retiring they the take their skills with them and it’s hard to replace them. Would it not be great if a senior engineer could guide the engineer on site through fault-finding and repair from the comfort of the office (or even from home), in real time? How many senior engineers could you retain this way?
But then, do we need to stay with the traditional model of service visits. In many sectors it is common that the first visit is about identifying the fault and the parts required to fix it. We may try to do this over the phone but often without success. How often could this be done by customer staff with guidance from a skilled engineer delivered remotely via Mixed Reality? I imagine it would be a lot, if it was easy enough. How much would that improve engineer productivity and first-time-fix rates and fix-times? And what about inaccessible locations or when the fault occurs off-shore or on a ship? The benefits of Mixed Reality for fault finding and assisted repairs are massive. Of course sometimes it’s as simple as getting a second opinion about a tricky issue.
Then there is training. Ever simulated a fault and waited forever whilst six trainees take turns resolving it with their heads in a confined space? Wearing Mixed Reality headsets, they could be right there with the trainer inside the machine.
These are just a few examples. As technologies expand and become cheaper, their applications multiply. Just think what you could do with a mobile phone 10 years ago and what we use it for now. No wonder some industry analysts expect shipments of Mixed Reality devices to exceed five million in the next three years.
So, yes – I see Mixed Reality changing the way we do service, and soon!
Danny Wieder is a Field Service Consultant at HSO.
SigmaDots blockchain-based solution enables protection for IoT and IIoT systems.
SigmaDots blockchain-based solution enables protection for IoT and IIoT systems.
SigmaDots, a cyber-security startup and subsidiary of Essence Group, has partnered with Telit, a global enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT), to expand IoT security and strengthen business continuity leveraging SigmaDots technology. Essence Group is a market leader in developing LTE-based connected devices and IoT platforms.
SigmaDots has developed the first embedded, blockchain-based cybersecurity solution for IoT and IIoT systems. Telit, recognizing the need for enhanced solutions, is working closely with SigmaDots to improve resilience to cyberattacks. The companies are collaborating on the use of blockchain technology for routers, control panels, IoT gateways, and a host of IoT devices, drastically reducing device vulnerability to cyberthreats.
“The ubiquity of IoT devices makes them attractive targets for cyber mischief,” said Alon Segal, SVP of Software & Services, Telit. “Our collaboration with SigmaDots adds another layer of security and communications resiliency using distributed technologies to offer advanced, secure infrastructure solutions for our customers.”
SigmaDots software-based solutions harness the power of serverless architecture, bringing blockchain-based cybersecurity to the IoT ecosystem. With a scalable, interoperable, and secure platform uniquely adapted to the limited resources of IoT, SigmaDots empowers connected ecosystems to accelerate the machine-to-machine economy.
“IoT is finally delivering on its promises of complete connectivity – wearables, mobile apps, home safety, smart meters and in industry – generally anywhere” said Itsik Harpaz, General Manager of SigmaDots. “However, this connectivity brings significant threats – an attack on a single device can spread throughout the entire network.”
IoT devices without strong cyber protection can easily become part of a botnet to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks or fall prey to IoT-focused attacks like man-in-the-middle, data and identity theft, and device hijacking.
“SigmaDots technology was developed out of the need to strengthen the security of our IoT devices,” said Dr. Haim Amir, CEO and founder of Essence Group. “We’ve been creating innovative connected device solutions for more than 25 years, so we fully understand the challenges and the necessity of creating airtight cyber protection.”
Established for 50 years, Thetford International is a founder member of CHEM, the Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association. The company has become a market leader in the design and manufacture of all types of compaction equipment, supplying to a diversity of sectors, from the print industry and supermarkets to industrial complexes, recycling centres and refuse transfer stations.
Thetford uses JobWatch, the BigChange solution for managing mobile service operations using live-connected mobile devices running a multi-functional app to replace all paperwork, integrated with vehicle tracking to monitor the fleet and drivers. As well as replacing nine A4 carbon-copy installation and service forms, the JobWatch 5 in 1 app is also used for engineer time sheets, risk assessments, driver vehicle checks and the management of parts.
Thetford carries out routine maintenance of compactors but the majority of work is reactive and requires a fast response due to the safety concerns of potentially dangerous equipment. Job details are sent to the assigned engineer to complete with JobWatch managing the entire process from start to job completion.
“We had been on the lookout for a suitable system for a numbers of years but nothing seemed to exist that really combined the tracking and field service reporting needs,” says Andrew Goddard, Service Manager, Thetford International. “The BigChange solution is very flexible and adaptable and we were able to tailor it to meet our needs.”
JobWatch has been integrated with Thetford’s own bespoke IT system called Onsite providing asset register synchronisation and the seamless interchange of data between the systems. According to Thetford, the biggest benefits are financial and in particular with regard to invoicing.
“Previously it could take up to 3 weeks to raise an invoice. Now we do it next day and potentially we could do it the same day,” explains Goddard. “JobWatch ensures invoices are accurate and are in line with what the customer is expecting and as they are received soon after the job, there are many fewer queries and payment is always quicker.”
Thetford’s engineers cover the UK working from their homes. With vehicle tracking fitted to the fleet of Ford Transit vans, BigChange provides an automated ‘clocking in and clocking out’ system. With van often stocked with thousands of pounds of parts, it also offers added security and driver monitoring and rating has also encouraged safer driving; important as engineers travel as much as 40,000 miles a year.
JobWatch has also been developed to manage Thetford’s stock control with engineers using their tablets to record parts used. With around 400 individual parts, the system automatically replenishes stocks with deliveries to engineer collection points.
“Previously the vast majority of information was held in people’s heads and by introducing BigChange we have brought all that knowledge into one place. It all works very well and seamlessly with our other systems. The whole service operation just runs a lot more smoothly and our customers – and the company Accountant – are a lot happier!” Goddard adds.
By utilising the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools from AI innovators, Inawisdom and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Drax Group has transformed its data insight and customer intelligence to personalise the services it provides to its customers, through its B2B energy supply businesses Opus Energy and Haven Power.
As a leading light in the renewable energy market, Drax Group is passionate about providing innovative and sustainable solutions for customers and has a mission to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. As part of this initiative, Drax wants to identify any anomalies in energy usage, to help demonstrate to customers that it really understands how they’re using their electricity. Drax Group partnered with Inawisdom to deploy state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence across its data and has since been able to provide a much higher standard of customer service.
“Our relationship with Drax Group has been a success story from the start,” said Neil Miles,CEO and co-founder of Inawisdom. “The utility sector is one of our core industries where AI and ML is proving a powerful instrument. Together with AWS, we were able to use our rapid deployment model to quickly find the real value in the data Drax held and help it to achieve goals effectively and efficiently”.
“Our partnership with Inawisdom and AWS has enabled us to draw insight and intelligence from our data, which was previously too complex to see,” reported Bjoern Reinke, Smart Director from Drax Group. “We can now immediately identify unusual usage and respond accordingly, providing many benefits for our customers and in turn Drax Group’s B2B supply businesses. The speed this capability has been provided is a revelation”.
Scope AR, the pioneer of enterprise-class augmented reality (AR) solutions, today launched at Augmented World Expo 2019 (AWE) an upgraded version of its highly-touted WorkLink platform. With the addition of session recording, WorkLink becomes the industry’s only AR knowledge platform to offer real-time remote support, access to AR work instructions and the ability to record sessions simultaneously in one application. With this, workers can now easily capture, retain and share knowledge like never before. Scope AR also announced new enterprise customer, medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson, as well as expanded use of its integrated AR platform with Lockheed Martin.
“This is an exciting time for the AR industry. Adoption is growing and expectations among users are shifting towards more comprehensive, enterprise-ready solutions,” explained Scott Montgomerie, CEO of Scope AR. “With the latest WorkLink platform, we’ve added even more ways for workers to collaborate and quickly get the knowledge they need to successfully do their jobs. With the addition of session recording, businesses can now better capture and retain knowledge for future use and training purposes, while taking compliance, quality assurance and accuracy to the next level.”
The updated WorkLink platform can be customized with varying sets of functionality depending on customers’ needs. It can also be deployed across all major platforms and select industry wearables so organizations can use their device of choice. The platform is built to help make anyone an instant expert with seamless access to a variety of features including:
Session Recording to capture important knowledge delivered during live support video calls for retention, future sharing and new insight into additional training needs and how processes can be improved. Either the technician or remote expert can record a live session so real-time knowledge becomes a reusable asset that can be accessed by others in the future.
Beyond its latest product innovations, Scope AR has also experienced continued customer acquisition and growth on the heels of its $9.7 million Series A funding round in March 2019. Becton Dickinson, an American medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagants, is the newest addition to the company’s already impressive client roster. Becton Dickinson will use WorkLink at the company’s Automation Center for Enablement to deliver AR instructions across the organization.
Additionally, Lockheed Martin is now expanding its use of Scope AR’s technology after its highly successful implementation of WorkLink to improve workforce training and spacecraft manufacturing procedures. They are now deploying Scope AR into all four of their business units across a broad variety of use cases.
Lockheed Martin’s Emerging Technologies Lead Shelley Peterson added, “Creating AR work instructions with WorkLink has enabled our Space team to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency and accuracy, as well as reduced manufacturing training and activity ramp-up time by 85%. Scope AR's platform has proven to be so valuable that we have expanded our AR adoption into even more manufacturing applications within the Space division, as well as leveraging the technology in other areas of the business."
In November last year, Mactavish published a report entitled ‘Cyber Risk & Insurance Report’, which identified eight common flaws in cyber insurance policies. This includes, for example, cover being limited to events triggered by attacks or unauthorised activity and excluding cover for issues caused by accidental errors or omissions.
Another flaw is only providing systems interruption cover for the brief period of actual network interruption, as opposed to the more significant knock-on revenue impact during the period after IT systems are restored but the business is still disrupted. In the last two weeks alone Mactavish has reviewed cyber insurance policies for a large British business and a medium sized business. Both of these policies had three or more of the flaws. Mactavish warns that despite insurance industry denials, the eight flaws are widespread.
Bruce Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer, Mactavish, commented: “Many in the industry have challenged our findings but we continue to find these issues affecting the actual policies we review that are being offered to UK businesses, and we will be publishing a second paper on the sector next month providing more details on our findings. “However, in the meantime, we are calling on brokers to challenge insurers more on the quality of the cyber cover they provide and push for improvements. If they can’t achieve this, they need to warn their clients of the omissions in their policies to give them a better understanding of what they are buying.”
Mactavish has issued a challenge to insurers and brokers to guarantee that the eight common flaws it has identified in policies will never be used as reasons to refuse pay-outs on cyber insurance claims unless they can show that a client has been informed but decided not to buy the additional cover. The eight flaws outlined in the Mactavish Cyber Risk & Insurance Report are:
1. Cover can be limited to events triggered by attacks or unauthorised activity – excluding cover for issues caused by accidental errors or omissions;
2. Data breach costs can be limited – e.g. covering only costs that the business is strictly legally required to incur (as opposed to much greater costs which would be incurred in practice);
3. Systems interruption cover can be limited to only the brief period of actual network interruption, providing no cover for the more significant knock-on revenue impact in the period after IT systems are restored but the business is still disrupted;
4. Cover for systems delivered by outsourced service providers (many businesses’ most significant exposure) varies significantly and is often limited or excluded;
5. Exclusions for software in development or systems being rolled out are common and can be unclear or in the worst cases exclude events relating to any recently updated systems;
6. Where contractors cause issues (e.g. a data breach) but the business is legally responsible, policies will sometimes not respond;
7. Notification requirements are often complex and onerous;
8. Businesses are forced to choose IT, legal or PR specialists appointed by their insurer.
The first 5G cellular IoT modules will become available to developers this year, enabling early adopters to create the first IoT devices based on the standard. Based on the experience of previous introductions of new standards, 5G will however not be an instant hit. By 2023, Berg Insight forecasts that 5G will account for just under 3 percent of the total installed base of cellular IoT devices.
“5G still has some way to go before it can become a mainstream technology for cellular IoT”, says Tobias Ryberg, Principal Analyst and author of the report. “Just like 4G when it was first introduced, the initial version of 5G is mostly about improving network performance and data capacity. This is only relevant for a smaller subset of high-bandwidth cellular IoT applications like connected cars, security cameras and industrial routers. The real commercial breakthrough will not happen until the massive machine type communication (mMTC) use case has been implemented in the standard.”
mMTC is intended as an evolution of the LTE-M/NB-IoT enhancements to the 4G standard. Since NB-IoT has only just started to appear in commercial products, there is no immediate demand for a successor. Over time, fifth generation mobile networks will however become necessary to cope with the expected exponential growth of IoT connections and data traffic.
The report identifies homeland security as an area where 5G cellular IoT can have a major impact already in the early 2020s. “5G enables the deployment of high-density networks of AI-supported security cameras to monitor anything form security-classified facilities to national borders or entire cities”, says Mr. Ryberg. “How this technology is used and by whom is likely to become one of the most controversial issues in the next decade.”
TruTrac's re-designed TruLicence system enables operators to validate, monitor and control key driving licence and CPC compliance information.
The software combines driver licence verification and validity checks with tachograph and general compliance data for complete control. The dashboard includes widgets and alerts to highlight licence issues and potential at-risk drivers with areas of concern.
The firm made the announcement at this year's Commercial Vehicle Show where they also launched CPT Licence Check; the same effective and TruLinks - an API suite which gives developer access to key data, while removing the need for manual intervention or data duplication.
Commenting on the newly introduced products, TruTac’s Commercial Director, Jemma James said: “This was a great show for us and we were delighted to see so many friends – old and new – come along to see for themselves the wide range of operational and commercial benefits our latest compliance control solutions have to offer. Launching our third product in partnership with the CPT has also made it a show to remember.”
Conker has agreed to the partnership to enable 42Gears to support the management of fleets of Conker devices for UK enterprises, and to refer and resell 42Gears’ unified endpoint management (UEM) software. A key driving force behind the development of this partnership is Conker’s customer base, as it discovered that they not only seek business rugged, fit-for-purpose devices, but that they also require an even greater degree of control, management and security across their devices.
James Summers, CEO and founder, Conker, says, “As a fast-growth British technology business, we’re constantly evaluating ways in which we can deliver even greater levels of business value to the market, coupled with the best possible fit-for-purpose mobile devices. This partnership with 42Gears is an important milestone in realising this goal.”
He continued, “After discussions with 42Gears, it became clear that it shared the same vision and ethos as Conker about enterprise mobility. We’re pleased to agree to this partnership, as it means that our business rugged devices are not only fit-for-purpose and adaptable to different business scenarios, but that organisations can be assured that they have total control and security of their devices.”
Kaushik Sindhu, Associate Vice President, 42Gears says, “Business-owned devices in the field are insecure and prone to misuse. Also, managing large fleets of devices have been challenging for IT admins. This partnership will serve to address these issues through easy device management, and with enterprises gaining a greater degree of control over their devices. It’s a mutually-beneficial association and we’re glad to have become a part of the Conker partner ecosystem now.”
Conker plans to expand its channel partnerships during 2019, as it seeks to further enhance its enterprise mobility offering for UK and global organisations. This complements Conker’s drive to provide its range of Android and Windows-based business rugged tablet, touch screen and mobile devices, along with its consultancy and support services.
After evaluating several providers, Conker concluded that 42Gears offered the most compelling best-of-breed technology, that enables the combination of its secure software with Conker’s secure hardware, to ensure even more productive business processes.