Mar 07, 2018 • FeaturesFuture of FIeld Servicefuture of field serviceJan Van VeenMichael BlumbermoreMomentumBill PollockBlumberg AssociatesStrategies for Growth

In the Big Discussion, we will take one topic, bring together three leading experts on that topic and put three key questions to them to help us better understand its potential impact on the field service sector...

This issue our topic is the what to expect in 2018 and our experts are Michael Blumberg, Blumberg Advisory, Bill Pollock, Strategies for GrowthSM and Jan Van Veen, moreMomentum

So let's tackle the first question...

What is the biggest challenge facing field service companies in the next 12 months?

Bill Pollock: The biggest challenge facing field service companies in the next 12 months will be keeping up with customer expectations for service delivery as they continually raise the bar with respect to performance. This is not necessarily a “new” challenge – it actually has been one of the main challenges for field service companies year-after-year. However, the current environment of constantly improving technology and its availability through both the traditional, “tried-and-true” FSM solution providers plus the introduction of several new technology-based solution vendors makes this challenge particularly daunting for many field service managers.

Selecting which technology to implement is not the only challenge, however; field service companies must also be able to choose the right solution vendor to help them design, implement and support their newly acquired technology. Some of the most challenging questions may be, “If we’re already using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for our CRM solution, should we also use Microsoft Field Service?”; similarly, “If we’re already using Salesforce for our sales and marketing management, should we also use their Field Service Lightning solution?” Other questions may include, “Should we use one of the traditional FSM solution providers, such as Astea, ClickSoftware, IFS/Metrix, ServicePower, etc., or one of the newer providers?”; or “Should we use a UK-based solution provider, such as Fast Lean Smart, or Kirona, etc., rather than an off-shore-based provider?”

The choices are many – and no less challenging than they have been in the past!

Jan Van Veen:  Most manufacturing companies and their service units struggle to innovate and change quick enough.

Technology is developing at an increasing pace; adoption of new technology has never been so rapid. In the digital era, we can expect competition from new entrants like innovative data- and algorithm-driven businesses.

So, the name of the game now is ‘Adapt and Thrive’ (or ‘Stagnate and Die’). The winners of the next decades will be those who can maintain a high speed of business innovation and change, and can cope with a high level of uncertainty and unpredictability.

What is holding most manufacturing companies back is;

  • Slow change, whether it’s small change or bigger change
  • Stuck in business-as-usual: innovations are predominantly incremental improvements of the status quo
  • Lack of influence: individuals at all levels and in various departments see the threats, opportunities and the lack of progress, which frustrates them

I believe that one of the biggest challenges right now is to increase momentum for rapid and fluent change from the inside, and empowering employees at all levels to take ownership.

Michael Blumberg:  In the short term, field service companies must also find ways to balance service quality and productivity with their financial goals and objectives (think costs and profits), all while striving to maintain exceptional levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This objective holds true for any 12-month period under consideration whether the year is 2018, 2008, or 2028.

The challenge lies in developing and implementing a winning strategy based on current financial and operating constraints that each company faces.

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