Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Oct 09, 2020 • FeaturesBill PollockLeadership and Strategy

The differences betweeen Yesterday, Today and Tommorrow as they relate to the services industry are just as disparate now as they were back in 1965, however they’ve been amplified due to the literal ‘life and death’ nature of the COVID19 pandemic, as explored in this article written by Bill Pollock...

Even Paul McCartney wrote about the differences between “Yesterday”, “Today” and “Tomorrow”:

  • Yesterday (1965) – “All my troubles seemed so far away!”
  • Another Day (1971) – “At the office where the papers grow”
  • Tomorrow (1971) – “When we both abandon sorrow.”

Of course, John Lennon also echoed these sentiments in “Tomorrow Never Knows”. But, what did the Beatles know about the COVID-19 pandemic that we still don’t know?

The differences between “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” as they relate to the services industry are just as disparate now as they were back in 1965 - 1971; however, they’ve been significantly amplified due to the literal “life and death” nature of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.


One thing to be sure of, however, is the fact that the services industry has already been hit many times before, resulting in a succession of “yesterdays, todays and tomorrows”, but has always risen to the task, performed over and above the call of duty, and aspired to the next levels of “hero-style” performance. World War ll, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, 911 and – oh, yeah – a number of recessions, terror attacks, natural disasters and economic downturns – have all tested our strength and leadership; and yet, here we are, once again, called to the frontlines because that’s what we do – and what we do best!  

The question on the table now, however, is “How do we do it this time?

The answer may not yet be readily apparent, so we may have to “wing it” for a while until things start to settle down. What this means, though, is that we all will quickly need to have a plan in place (that is, if we don’t already) to guide us through the foreseeable uncharted territory, until we can once again gather our bearings on the other side in a new and different world. 

The plan will need to be flexible (i.e., as all plans need to be); however, it will also need to be more fluid, agile and able to turn-on-a-dime in order to successfully address everything that is thrown our way in the interim. From this perspective, planning has never been more important – nor more complicated!

Are we all up to the task? The proper answer is “You bet!” So …, where do we get started? The following highlights from Strategies For Growth℠’s (SFG℠’s) 2020 FSM Benchmark Survey Tracking Update will hopefully provide some guidance in terms of where we should be focusing as we deal with these current existential disruptions.

Nonetheless, field services managers are increasingly being faced with multiple future challenges, with the top challenge essentially reflected in satisfaction with respect to the anticipated ROI of the selected FSM solution (i.e., cited by a plurality of survey respondents at 43%).

However, the second most cited challenge is not cost-related, focusing more on identifying the required functionality of the software solution (33%). Integrating new technologies into the existing FSM solution platform (33%), the cost of the technology acquisition (29%); and identifying the most appropriate devices to support field techs (25%) also appear among the top five factors. Selecting the most effective FSM solution falls just a bit lower at (24%).

Accordingly, some field service managers may also find themselves deluged with additional challenges, many of which relate directly to selecting the right solution/vendor, and the rest to functionality- and implementation-related issues, among others.

However, the benefits of successfully addressing each of these challenges are also multi-fold. For example, when thinking about the overall customer service experience, the single-most commonly cited reason for moving forward on the Journey is centered around the ability to meet (or exceed) customers’ services expectations, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction (i.e., cited by 41% of respondents as the top benefit)


"It will be the adoption and implementation of new technologies that will allow yesterday’s leading services organisations to maintain their respective positions among tomorrow’s leaders...."


Several of the other top-cited benefits are clustered in the 25% to 33% range, including ability to run a more efficient field service operation (33%), establish a competitive advantage (31%), improve field technician utilisation and productivity (27%) and provide an end-to-end customer experience relationship (25%).

Marc Tatarsky, SVP Marketing at FieldAware, a cutting-edge, cloud-based, mobile field service management platform that empowers companies to transform their field service organisation through automated processes and streamlined operations, agrees that, “It will be the adoption and implementation of new technologies that will allow yesterday’s leading services organisations to maintain their respective positions among tomorrow’s leaders.

Further, it will be the same process for those services organisations just beginning their aspirations toward Best Practices performance by enabling them to utilise the same technologies and tools used by the market leaders. All services organisations now have the same opportunity to compete head-to-head against all others”. Tim Andrew, CEO and Co-Founder of Localz, a global provider of real-time customer communications and service tracking solutions for field, collection and delivery teams, concurs that, “Rapid changes in customer expectations should be seen as an opportunity for service providers.

By taking advantage of readily available technology, companies can increase satisfaction while also driving down costs. We have designed our offering to help organisations deliver a competitive experience – all without the need to rip-and-replace existing systems.”

New technologies are also playing a big role in helping services organisations to move more quickly from a “yesterday” scenario to one that is more focused on “tomorrow”. To bear this out, the 2020 survey results cite that currently, just over one-quarter (27%) of services organisations are using Augmented Reality/Merged Reality (AR/MR) in support of their field service operations, and that within five years, the percent of FSOs incorporating AR/ MR into their services operations is expected to increase to more than 50%, or more than twice the existing reported level.


"As Servitisation continues to transform the field services industry, so, too, will the way in which services will likely be offered to the global services community..."


Similarly, just over one-quarter (28%) of services organisations are currently using Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) in support of their field service operations, and this percent is also expected to grow significantly over the next five years to more than 50% or, again, more than twice the existing reported level.

Finally, a majority of services organisations (51%) are currently incorporating Predictive Diagnostics / Predictive Maintenance into their field service operations and the percent usage is expected to increase to an estimated ±85% range, if not higher.

But, the adoption of new technologies is not the only factor that is moving the services segment along the time continuum. As Servitisation continues to transform the field services industry, so, too, will the way in which services will likely be offered to the global services community. For example, today, 91% of service contracts are built on the basis of traditional Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that focus on such parameters as on-site response time, number of scheduled preventive maintenance service calls, guaranteed uptime (i.e., with vendor sanctions for non-compliance), and the like.

However, within the next three to five years, this percent is expected to drop by nearly 20% to less than three-quarters (72%) of all service contracts. Conversely, the percent of FSOs offering SLAs/contracts based on Uptime, is projected to more than double, from 16% today, to 40% by 2022 - 2024. Further, the use of Outcomes-based SLAs is projected to rise from a virtually non-existent 0% today, to at least 16%, or one-in-six, by 2022 - 2024. As such, this represents a rapidly-moving reversal of the way SLAs/contracts will be offered in the not-too-distant future.

The bottom line for FSOs in the current era of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the data derived from the SFG℠’s 2020 FSM survey make it clear that if your services organisation already finds itself behind the curve with respect to

  1. Its ability to meet (if not exceed) its customers’ demands or requirements;
  2. The automation of its existing field service management processes (or lack thereof);
  3. Its ability to support its field technicians and customers with real-time data and information;
  4. Its ability to deal with escalating costs associated with running its services operations; or
  5. Its ability to gain management “buy-in” for new technology acquisition, this gap will likely only get larger over time – unless it considers implementing a new, more state-of-the-art, Field Service Management (FSM) solution (that is, one that incorporates “new” technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR)/Merged Reality (MR), Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML), predictive diagnostics/maintenance and/or Remote Expertise).

For some FSOs, the pandemic has dampened their ability (or inclination) to acquire these new technologies; however, for others, it has had the opposite effect, fostering a belief that now is the best time to upgrade its technology base to one that is both state-of-the-art, and can be used to manage the wellbeing of the services organisation as it transitions from “survival” through “sustainability. It will be among the latter organisations that are likely to be the most successful as they re-emerge in a post-COVID-19 scenario.


For more information, or to download a complimentary copy of the companion SFGSM Analysts Take paper that contains an Executive summary of the firm’s 2020 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Tracking Survey, please visit either the FieldAware or localz websites.


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