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The Future State of Field Service Management

Mar 10 • Features, Future of FIeld Service • 1389 Views • No Comments on The Future State of Field Service Management

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Bill Pollock, President, Strategies for GrowthSM guides us through how he sees the future of our industry shaping up in the next few years…

As we enter the uncharted waters of 2017, it becomes increasingly important for Field Service Organisations (FSOs) to understand the specific impact that the next 12 months (and beyond) will have on the quality of their field service operations.

In fact, the future state of Field Service Management (FSM) will depend largely on what strategic actions global FSOs plan to take in the next 12 months or so.

The future state of Field Service Management (FSM) will depend largely on what strategic actions global FSOs plan to take in the next 12 months or so.

Since these actions will be directly linked to the multitude of drivers that are most likely to influence decision making within the global services community, this would be a good place to start.

The results of Strategies For GrowthSM‘s (SFGSM) 2016/17 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey reveal that the top drivers cited as influencing FSOs today may be categorised into three main areas:

  1. Customer demand and/or preferences
  2. Need to improve service workforce utilisation, productivity and efficiencies
  3. Internal mandate to drive increased service revenues

When asked to cite the top three drivers currently influencing their ability to effectively manage field services operations, 56% of respondents cite customer demand for quicker response time, and nearly one-third (32%) cite customer demand for improved asset availability.

However, the need to improve workforce utilisation and productivity is also cited by a majority (51%) of respondents as a top driver, followed by the need to improve service process efficiencies (39%).

An internal mandate to drive increased service revenues is then cited by 31% of respondents as one of their top three drivers.

Once the key market drivers are firmly identified, FSOs need to create – and implement – the most effective strategic planning actions to address them head-on.

As reported in the SFGSM survey, the most commonly implemented strategic actions, currently, are:

  • 48% Develop and/or improve KPIs used to measure field service performance
  • 40% Invest in mobile tools to support field technicians
  • 36% Automate existing manual field service processes and activities
  • 31% Integrate new technologies into existing field service operations
  • 30% Provide additional training to field service technicians and dispatchers
  • 26% Improve planning and forecasting with respect to field operations
  • 25% Increase customer involvement in Web-based service process
  • 24% Provide enterprise-wide access to important field-collected data

These data strongly suggest that there is a pattern of synergy among the top four cited strategic actions that builds a foundation for all of the other actions that will ultimately be taken by the organisation; that is, that nearly half of the FSOs comprising the global services community already recognise the need to build and/or improve their KPI ¬-measurement program – this is essential!

This is the first step!

However, along with the development and/or improvement of a KPI program, nearly as many organisations also recognise the need to invest in state-of-the-art mobile tools to support their technicians in the field, while concurrently, automating their existing manual field service processes and activities to provide an enterprise-wide foundation for collecting data and information, and disseminating this process to field technicians (and, in many cases, to their customers) on an as-needed basis.

About one-third of FSOs recognise the need to integrate new technologies into existing field service operations to make it all come together.

Further, about one-third of FSOs recognise the need to integrate new technologies into existing field service operations to make it all come together.

This synergy is built on, first, ensuring that there is an effective KPI measurement program in place, and using that program to establish a benchmark, or baseline, for measuring the organisation’s current field service performance.

Second, there needs to be a comprehensive internal effort to bring the technical aspects of services operations into the current (and future) timeframe – this can be done mainly by investing in an effective package of mobile tools to support the field force.

Finally, it will be the integration of these new technologies (e.g., mobility applications, the IoT, wearables, 3D printing, Augmented Reality (AR), etc.) into the overall mix of resources and tools deployed by FSOs that will empower the field force do their jobs more productively and efficiently.

The desired results, of course, would be the improvement of service delivery performance and the resultant improvements in the levels of customer satisfaction (and retention). Even the concept of Servitization, or the “transformation process in which a manufacturer shifts from a product-based business model to a services-based business mode”, could not exist in its present form without the power of the IoT behind it. In fact, it may be argued that there would be no Servitization without the IoT!

Among the many benefits that an IoT-powered Servitization model brings to the table are:

  • Provides a competitive advantage with respect to the organisation’s ability to offer a state-of-the-art, differentiated, services offering that may also be “branded”, thereby providing an additional means for marketing and promoting its services to a hungry-for technology services marketplace.
  • Yields increased margins for the services organisation, resulting both from improvements made on the supply side (e.g., by cutting the costs of delivering services through remote means) and the demand side (e.g., the ability to charge a premium price for premium services); etc.
  • Provides the ability to more evenly forecast, predict and realise revenue streams through the implementation of remote diagnostics and predictive modeling.
  • Fosters more meaningful partner relationships with customers through the sharing of equipment service data/ information, and allowing customers to be more proactive in the ultimate service and support of their installed base of equipment (e.g., initiating service calls, ordering parts, tracking problem resolution, etc.).

The future looks particularly bright for the global services community! How do we know that?

Because the future is already here – especially among the more progressive – and aggressive – FSOs that will likely lead the rest of us through these uncharted waters in 2017 and beyond.

It just looks like now may be the time for all of us to follow their lead!

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