Nov 09, 2018 • Features • Management • Asolvi • mobile workforce management • Cloud computing • field service • field service management • field service technology • SaaS • Service Delivery • Service Management • Software as a Service • Tesseract • Small to Medium Enterprises • SMB
The advent of Cloud computing has had a profound effect on field service management.
Indeed, there is no denying that the emergence of Cloud computing has been a core driver in the ability for smaller and medium-sized field service companies to be able to compete with their larger competitors - and such competition has raised the bar for service delivery in all corners.
Anecdotally, how often have you heard someone comment (or indeed thought to yourself) ‘how is it that say my local florist is able to give me a detailed overview of where the flowers I have sent to my wife are at any given point within their delivery and are able to give me a 30 minute window for when they will arrive, yet the multi-national organisation that provides one of the key widgets that is essential to my businesses productivity can only tell me that an engineer will be with me at some point between 8 and 5?’
Of course, the truth is that the delivery of flowers is far less demanding of expertise than that expected of a highly qualified engineer capable of fixing said widget – which of course means that the scheduling requirements are also equally less complicated for the local florist.
In addition to this, the local florist will, largely by definition, only be serving a local area – whereas the B2B provider of the widget will almost certainly serve a national market, if not an international one.
So it is unfair perhaps to compare one to the other, accusations of seeking the similarities between apples and oranges are in this instance somewhat understandable. Yet, ultimately in today’s connected world, we must remember that we are no longer competing solely with those companies within our direct vertical sphere.
"Today, we are competing very simply against the best service experience our customers have ever had, whether that be within their consumer or their corporate lives..."
Today, we are competing very simply against the best service experience our customers have ever had, whether that be within their consumer or their corporate lives.
However, what this anecdotal example does highlight with true clarity is how smaller service organisations, be they florists, electricians, HVAC engineers or any of the other array of small entrepreneurial companies that help keep our day to day lives running, have been able to harness the power of modern FSM solutions.
This development is mostly the result of the introduction of SaaS-based subscription-style licensing which makes access to such systems possible. It seems like a long, long time ago that Tesseract, an Asolvi product became the first company in the world to offer their full FSM solution in the Cloud and on a SaaS model. Indeed, today almost all FSM providers now offer their solution in such a manner.
This means that smaller companies can have access to tools like scheduling, stock and parts management and mobile work management applications for their field-based staff to access via a mobile device. Yet, they also have the advantage of being more agile, more streamlined and less weighed down by legacy systems and processes that their larger peers undoubtedly face.
"In a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenario keeping on top of MDM can sometimes feel like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – by the time you finish at one end it’s time to head back the other way and start all over!"
Many, many aspects of introducing an FSM solution can become more challenging the larger an organisation is.
Optimised scheduling engines need to be ‘taught’ the rules under which they are to operate – the larger the workforce and the more diverse the skill-sets within that workforce, the more ‘lessons’ that need to be fed into the scheduling system for it to operate as intended.
Also, let’s consider the devices that are being utilised by the field workers – mobile device management (MDM) is a challenge that few IT departments will relish.
In a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenario keeping on top of MDM can sometimes feel like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – by the time you finish at one end it’s time to head back the other way and start all over!
Even in an environment where devices are provided by the organisation, there may be a mix of options within one company, with different devices being provided that meet specific roles within the organisation – such as rugged devices for field-based technicians.
This can result in a mix of iOS, Android and Windows operating systems (possibly even more) which all need to be factored into the MDM equation.
Again, this is a challenge that becomes magnified by the scale of the workforce in question.
Of course, another challenge magnified by the scale of the workforce is the simple fact that the introduction of any new business technology, including an FSM solution, is inherently a change management project – and as any change management consultant will inform you – good change management is about people. It is a simple equation to understand that more people mean more effort and complexity when undertaking such a task.
In terms of FSM solutions, the shift to the Cloud has absolutely changed the competitive dynamics within various industries in favour of those smaller companies who are savvy enough to embrace cloud-based FSM and unencumbered by challenges such as the above which larger companies may face.
This has given smaller organisations to flourish and thrive in the modern business eco-system, but this increased competition has resulted in huge organisations like Thyssenkrupp or ABB further driving innovation as we have showcased in these pages previously.
Our sector is going through a huge evolution with non-competing companies pushing each other to achieve more through service delivery and the cloud has played a major role in that allowing us to do so.
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