In 2015 Field Service News and leading FSM software provider ServiceMax teamed up on a research project to assess the appetite for IoT as a tool for improving field service delivery.
One year on we followed up with a fresh research project into the area to see what trends have emerged and now in a four part series we bring you the findings of this latest research. In part One of this series we explored the headline findings of this year’s research against the context of the previous year’s results.
Now in part two we dig deeper into the study to explore what additional technologies are sitting amongst companies either planning to, or actively using IoT as a tool for field service delivery as well as what the cultural impacts of implementing IoT are and whether these are being considered by organisations…
Other technologies being employed:
However, deciding to implement an IoT strategy is one thing, but the process is of course far more complicated than just flipping a few switches.
In fact, in the last issue of Field Service News we ran an article which highlighted the fact that there is a clear need for an underlying technology set to be in place before field service organisations can realistically take advantage of IoT – regardless of their appetite.
Just how ready are field service companies, in terms of their technological maturity, to implement an IoT solution as part of their field service operations?
Well based on our respondent set it would seem that many organisations are indeed in prime position to take advantage of IoT.
We asked our respondents ‘does your company already utilise any of the following technologies in managing your field engineers?’ Providing them with a comprehensive list of the regular tools being used in field service operations.
Here we saw that on the main most companies had what we would consider a baseline of field service management technologies with 58% having an actual FSM system, 30% having a dedicated dynamic scheduling engine, and 29% using telematics systems.
It was also interesting to see a relatively large number of companies using more emerging tools such as knowledge bases and engineer to engineer communications tools, with 31% and 36% of field service companies using these respectively. On the other hand, Wearables and Augmented Reality appear to be technologies that sit very much in the realm of hype over substance at present, with just 6% and 1% of companies using such tools respectively.
Another point of note was that almost half of companies (49%) are using Cloud based systems. One could build a strong argument that one key reason for what seems like a rapid adoption of IoT is that the path has been paved by the Cloud – with initial fears around Cloud based security slowly diminishing, so are the perceptions around similar security based fears with IoT.
The one technology that has been most widely embraced by field service companies is of course mobile solutions, which over three quarters (77%) of field service companies are now using to manage their field workforce.
Indeed, the impact of mobile solutions in field service has been truly transformative, with those companies who have yet to make a switch to mobile widely acknowledged to be at a significant disadvantage commercially.
But will IoT have a similar impact on field service as the mobile revolution?
15% stated that the ‘changes we are seeing emerge are unparalleled’ at the moment
Whilst 15% stated that the ‘changes we are seeing emerge are unparalleled’ at the moment 35% still feel that the impact of mobility i.e. ‘the shift from manual processes to a digital workflow had a greater impact’. However, for many it is simply too early to make the call with just shy of half (49%) of respondents stating that it is ‘too early to tell just how big the change will be.’
The cultural impact of IoT:
As mentioned previously, the adoption of IoT is currently heavily tied with/linked to the shift towards a more proactive approach to field service delivery. But this shift involves more than just the implementation of new technology, there are also significant cultural shifts that need to be taken into consideration.
To find out if field service organisations were taking the cultural impact of IoT into consideration we asked those who indicated that they have already implemented an IoT solution if they were prepared for it’s cultural impact, as well as those who were currently either in the planning or implementation stages if they were factoring in internal cultural changes within their change management planning.
Of those that had already implemented IoT into their field service operations in total over half of companies (58%) stated that they had planned for the impact on the culture within the organisation – although of this section almost two thirds (60%) felt that the change caused more disruption than they had anticipated.
Meanwhile, of those that are currently in the planning/implementation phase of an IoT project, over two thirds of companies haven’t made any allowance for the impact on organisational culture that such an implementation would have – with just under a fifth of these companies (19%) believing that there will be no impact at all.
At the other end of the scale, just over a tenth (12%) of companies planning/implementing an IoT project think that they have all the bases covered stating that they ‘will be fully prepared for the cultural impact IoT could have on their business’ whilst just under half of all respondents have considered the issue and pragmatically ‘expect the shift to be disruptive.’
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