Our exclusive research project sponsored by Advanced Field Service looks at the types of solutions being used by Field Service companies in 2015 and how those companies select the right solutions to meet their needs. Across the next four weeks we will present you the findings of this research…
There is also a white paper accompanying this series, with even further insights, which you can download here
Field Service News has recently completed a research project, sponsored by Advanced Field Service, into what types of mobility tools are being used by field service companies. What types of hardware are most commonly being selected for our field engineers? What software is being used out in the field? How are companies selecting the right solution for their engineers?
What feedback are those engineers giving? And what actual benefits are being delivered through digital mobility solutions?
In total 122 field service professionals responded to our survey which ran across February and March with respondents from companies with mobile workforces ranging from less than ten field engineers through to over 801 engineers and with an even number of representatives across the spectrum with no obvious spikes, the research offers insight into trends across field service as a whole.
Types of devices being used in the field
It is perhaps no surprise by now that most companies are using some form of digital device.
We have been going through a digital revolution across the last decade and no industry has felt the impact of this change as keenly as field service.
Indeed out in the wider world of industry the emergence of Enterprise Mobility as a definable, and eminently sizeable industry that will ultimately dwarf the size of the field technology sector considerably, has now firmly taken root. However, the field service industry, which has more complex needs than it’s younger cousin of Enterprise Mobility, is also a far more mature market in general.
In fact our research indicates that the majority of companies are using a mix of differing digital devices, with 46% stating this is the case. This would make sense as many field service organisations are now in their second, third or even fourth generation of digital device being rolled out to their field engineers.
However, when it comes to those companies that have rolled out just one device to their mobile workforce the results revealed some further insight into the trends now appearing amongst field service companies.
“It appears the rumours of the death of the laptop have been greatly exaggerated”
Of course every action has a reaction, and the rapid growth of smart phones as a tool for field service engineers has resulted in an equally rapid decline in the use of PDAs. In fact now just 5% of companies are using these devices – the smallest percentage of any device being used within the field.
One myth however that the research helps debunk is that Tablet computing his having a similar impact on the laptop sector as smartphones are having on PDAs.
Whilst it seemed at one point that the trend for tablet computing would see the laptop being edged out of both the consumer and rugged markets it appears the rumours of the death of the laptop have been greatly exaggerated.
In fact our research outlines that in terms of the devices being used on there own, both tablets and laptops have an equal share of the market at 14%.
However, we should also consider the fact that of those companies who provide more than one device to their engineers, a large proportion of companies are likely to offer a laptop as one of those devices, largely due to the fact that having a built in keyboard makes any significant manual input much easier.
So whilst it is likely that ultimately the traditional laptop will become replaced by the convertible or even the detachable laptop, the keyboard remains an important part of the field engineers mobile technology kit.
The last few days of pen and paper
What the research presents clearly is that the masses in field service have moved towards the new digital dawn.
There are of course in any industry sector, laggards that remain behind the trend.However, when it comes to the application of mobile technology amongst field engineers this group (i.e. those using no digital medium) now stands at just a nominal 3%.
Not only the is the group now just a very small minority, but our research also indicates that this group is potentially set to disappear completely within the next twelve months.
Of those companies still using pen and paper 100% stated they are considering moving to a digital mobile platform within the next twelve months.
The reasons for this are of course clear, as are the benefits of moving to any digital medium, including increasing productivity and streamlining a field engineers work-flow.
The fact is that those companies still relying on pen and paper are in danger of falling significantly behind their competition.
In fact of those companies still using pen and paper 100% of the respondents admitted that they felt they were at a disadvantage, with 50% stating that they felt that disadvantage was significantly impacting their ability to remain competitive.