What are the trends that will have the most impact on field service in 2016? John Cameron, general manager, Trimble Field Service Management, reveals his top six.
Field service organisations have reached an unprecedented transformative stage, as an array of advanced tools continue to storm the market helping businesses to transform the way that their field service organisation operates.
Last year saw the expansion of the Internet of Things and the widespread introduction of advanced analytics tools to tackle Big Data. These trends will continue into 2016 along with the need for greater integration. Furthermore, with technology development moving so quickly and companies continually having to modernise their solutions to keep up with the competition, 2016 will see an increase in businesses entrusting one provider to deliver all the functionality and modularity they require to manage their work, workers and assets out in the field.
- The Internet of Everything – The IoT has been on service businesses’ radar for a while, so the trend isn’t exactly new heading into 2016, but as more businesses invest in connected technology, we’ll see it become an established industry best practice. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 26-billion devices other than smartphones, tablets and computers to be connected via the Internet of Things. For field service organisations, connecting equipment with technicians’ mobile devices and the back office in real time is a necessity. Information captured in the field provides diagnostics and performance metrics that mitigate certain issues as well as tracks patterns and trends for long-range planning. The goal is to ensure an intelligent and preventive—not reactive—approach.
- Predictive Maintenance Will Fuel Field Service Automation – With the predictive power of connected devices, the field service industry will not only take a more predictive/ proactive approach to service, they’ll begin to automate the field service process. For example, sensors in a piece of equipment could automatically trigger a service call when it needs something repaired or it’s due for regular maintenance. Connected devices take the idea of proactive service work — the service business has enough insight to let the customer know when a machine needs a repair before it fails — and automates the process.
- Making sense of data for improved intelligence – With the majority of field service organisations deploying a vast range of different technologies out in the field, from GPS and vehicle tracking systems to fleet and work management solutions, many are challenged by the vast amount of data they’re collecting back. The ability to analyse and act on this data will continue to trend in the evolution of field services technology. Advanced analytics capabilities will allow organisations to execute on information generated from the field to become more efficient and productive. Deploying workforce management solutions with sophisticated analytics tools will enable managers to improve operations with real-time visibility into their operations. Data gathered from smarter mobile apps and equipment sensors will provide insights on performance, tasks, service quality, and new products that will enable field service managers to not only keep up with the competition but to step ahead. Analytics will be embedded and pervasive. After all, the value of analytics is in the answers, not the data.
Advanced analytics capabilities will allow organisations to execute on information generated from the field to become more efficient and productive.
- Greater Integration – As back office, telematics and workforce management solutions become more integrated with mobile devices, the opportunities to increase efficiency and productivity are growing exponentially. Field service managers can make real-time decisions remotely by accessing vehicle tracking, scheduling and routing on their mobile devices. This allows organisations to mitigate reckless driving incidents, control wear and tear on their fleet and decrease maintenance costs, all from a handheld. Mobile apps will continue to provide critical information such as daily tasks, customer histories, billing, and the locations of nearby teammates on demand for field service technicians. This access to real-time information empowers the technician to make strategic decisions, recruit help from teammates, and complete jobs on-time the first time, resulting in lower operational costs and higher customer satisfaction.
- The Power of Mobility – The right mobile architecture can solve many of the tactical challenges field service organisations face today: latent customer needs, increased competition, unmitigated churn and worker productivity. To be successful with any mobility deployment, organisations must choose the best field service solution and adopt the implementation best suited for their operation. Gartner has made the following predictions for the state of mobile in field service by 2016:
- 2/3rds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
- 40 per cent of the workforce will be mobile
- Field service organisations will purchase 53 million tablets in 2016
- Approximately 56 per cent of smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe will be Android devices
- As more and more organisations use mobile to automate the service process and eliminate duplicate data entry, those who stick with paper methods will get further and further behind
- One solution, one provider – With technology development moving so quickly and companies continually having to modernise their solutions to keep up with the competition, 2016 will see an increase in businesses entrusting one provider to deliver all the functionality and modularity they require to manage their work, workers and assets. To achieve that, they need robust and flexible end-to-end platforms backed by a reliable provider.