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The On-Demand economy Leads to a new generation of field service

Feb 12 • Features, Management • 1607 Views • 1 Comment on The On-Demand economy Leads to a new generation of field service

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Michael Blumebrg, President, Blumberg Advisory Group explains why the on-demand economy has become a very attractive value proposition for both FSOs and their customers…

I recently marked a significant milestone in my career. This year marks 32 years since I began work as a management consultant in the Field Service Industry.

I was a newly minted MBA when I started and wondered how I could possibly help clients solve their field service challenges. One of my mentors at the time told me that the key to my success was to just keep at it.

Eventually, I’d have enough experience to solve any challenge presented to me; even those that people were dealing with for the first time. Not just because I’ve seen these issues before but because I would be able to anticipate them.

Looking back, I find these words of wisdom to have been spot on. The Field Service Industry has changed so much since I began working in it.

Much of what we anticipated would happen has happened.

I used to sit around the lunch table with my colleagues and discuss how technology would change the service delivery model and how service would become a utility just like electricity, water, or gas

Oldsmobile, a now defunct car manufacturer, had a popular commercial jingle on television in the United States when I began my career…” this is not your father’s Oldsmobile… this is the new generation of Olds”. I feel the same way about Field Service. We have entered a new generation of field service.

The field service industry has changed so much such much since I started working in it. Interestingly, much of what the experts at that time predicted would happen with respect to field service has happened.

Back in the good old days, I used to sit around the lunch table with my colleagues and discuss how technology would change the service delivery model and how service would become a utility just like electricity, water, or gas.

It would always be available when you needed it, you would consume it frequently, and pay for what you use. In other words, we were describing the basic elements of the on-demand economy. We just didn’t know it at the time.

What exactly is the On-Demand Economy?

Tech Insider Magazine defines it as the economic activity created by technology companies that fulfil consumer demand via the immediate provisioning f goods and services. Uber, eBay, Lyft, and Airbnb are classic examples of the On-demand economy in practice.

Field Service is also rapidly becoming an On-Demand economy business. Over the last twenty years there have been several industry trends and developments that have made this possible.

Here are a few examples of how Field Service Organisations (FSOs) are leveraging technology to become On-Demand economy businesses:

  • Dynamic Scheduling provides real-time information on technician availability which permits FSOs to immediately commit to their customers when a Field Engineer (FE) will arrive on site.
  • GPS Technology provides real-time visibility of FE location which enables immediate updates as to when the FE will arrive on site
  • Freelancer Management Systems provide FSOs with the ability to source, train, and dispatch freelance technicians. As result, FSOs can scale their workforce on-demand.
  • Advanced Technology such as IoT, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence provides the technical platform for delivering on-demand diagnostics to FEs and end-customers reducing resolution time and improving first time fix.
  • 3D Printing Technology enables FSOs to produce parts on-demand. Thus, they can reduce their investment in spare parts inventory, improve fill rate, and lower their logistics and transportation costs.
  • Servitization Business Models where manufacturers charge for usage of their product on a subscription basis, such as Rolls Royce’s “power by the all”; the ultimate example of an on-demand economy business. Customers pay for what they consume, when they consume it.
  • On-demand consulting platforms like Si2Partners provide a collaborative platform for Field Service Leaders to access subject matter experts to validate thinking, solve problems, challenge assumptions, and formulate new approaches as needed.

The On-Demand Economy is no longer a concept of the future as far as the Field Service Industry is concerned. It represents a very attractive value proposition for both FSOs and their customers.

There are numerous case studies and data points available that demonstrate how the advancements identified above have helped FSOs improve the efficiency, agility, and economics of service. It will only be a matter of time before Manufacturers and FSOs develop and market on-demand value propositions to business customers in the same way that Uber or Airbnb have done with consumers.

There will obviously be leaders, followers, and those left behind when it comes to On-Demand. The question is where will you company reside on this spectrum.

Given current trends, FSOs will need to give serious consideration as to whether they should develop on-demand, “uber-like” service offerings for their customers. It is likely that customers will expect these offerings just as they have come to expect other types of services that have become standard within our industry.

There will obviously be leaders, followers, and those left behind when it comes to On-Demand. The question is where will you company reside on this spectrum. Will your company be first to market or will you wait to see what happens? The choice isn’t easy.

Ultimately the answer comes down to whether your company and your customers are ready for On-Demand.

If my experience offers any wisdom, then it’s that entry into any new service or market requires a good bit of market research, analysis, planning, and execution.

On-demand consulting platforms like Si2 Partners can certainly be a critical resource to field service leaders as they formulate their own on-demand service strategies.

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One Response to The On-Demand economy Leads to a new generation of field service

  1. tclaeys@mobicorp.com' Travis says:

    Great Article! Delivery always involves increasing fuel and vehicle expenses, road network awareness and large amounts of buffer time to guarantee arrival at the right place at the right time. If your business includes deliveries, you know that managing these costs has a direct impact on your company’s overall profitability. With technology, we are given the ability to use software that can increase our knowledge of how our fleet is operating. Being able to take the GPS data from delivery vehicles and transform it into realtime data can help structure a business to find key issues and improve upon more effectively to create a more on demand environment.

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