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UK/Europe Field Service Organisations (FSOs) continue to invest in new technologies and analytics

Jun 15 • Features, Management • 1324 Views • No Comments on UK/Europe Field Service Organisations (FSOs) continue to invest in new technologies and analytics

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Bill Pollock, President Strategies for GrowthSM takes a look at some of the findings of their 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey to explore the degree to which UK Field Service Organisations are  investing in new technologies and analytics…”

Each year, Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM) conducts a series of Benchmark Surveys directed to the global services community. The preliminary results of the 2017 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Survey clearly reflect that UK/Europe Field Service Organisations (FSOs) are continuing their focus on addressing the top market drivers that impact their geographic marketplace – and in many cases, at a significantly higher rate than their global respondent counterparts!

For example, UK/Europe FSOs currently place their greatest emphasis on dealing with such key market drivers as:

  1. Customer demand for quicker response time;
  2. Internal mandate to drive increased service revenues;
  3. Need to improve workforce utilisation and productivity; and
  4. Need to improve service process efficiencies.

In fact, the 2017 results clearly show the increased importance of making process improvements compared to just one year earlier when process efficiencies did not even place among the top three market drivers. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that UK/Europe FSOs are continuing to invest more in new technologies – most notably, the Internet of Things, or IoT, and mobile tools – in support of their respective field forces.

It’s no longer simply about field technicians being at the right place at the right time with the right parts, but also about them being empowered to excel in the service that they offer and to provide additional services – Susannah Richardson, mplsystems

Susannah Richardson, Account Director, mplsystems, concurs with these findings stating that, “We’ve seen our customers increasingly asking about what further functionality they can add into mobile applications to improve effectiveness of their field force.It’s no longer simply about field technicians being at the right place at the right time with the right parts, but also about them being empowered to excel in the service that they offer and to provide additional services.”

“We’re also seeing organisations looking at ways to better manage the planning of their workforce in real-time. Typically planners spend lots of time managing exceptions, such as: emergency jobs; customer changes or job overruns and delays; even if they have scheduling in place, too often these are not flexible enough to handle live situations. We are seeing lots of interest in our new scheduling algorithms to handle real-time changes and IoT feeds (AESOP) and so improve efficiency in both planning teams and the field workforce.”

However, one of the greatest differences reflected in the UK/Europe survey results is in the percent of services organisations that are currently developing and/or improving the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) they use to measure service performance; (i.e., cited as a top strategic action by 65% of UK/Europe respondents, compared to only 47% overall.

Richardson agrees that, “Business analytics are a large part of all of our customers’ field services and business operations, which is why it is such an integral component of our solution offerings. Traditional measures don’t offer service performance, as they are operationally focused and don’t reflect customer experience. However, now we’re seeing our clients using our analytic tools to develop their own dashboards as they have become increasingly focused around KPIs specific to the service and experience that they are delivering to their customers.”

Another key factor that may be used to explain the heightened focus of UK/Europe FSOs for stepping up to improve their lot is that they continue to lag slightly behind their global counterparts with respect to service profitability (mean average of 35%, or slightly lower than the 38% attained among the overall respondent base, both in 2015/16 and 2017 surveys).

In addition, at a mean average of 81%, UK/Europe FSOs are also currently falling somewhat below the global survey population with respect to attaining desired levels of customer satisfaction (i.e., 83%). However, the research also strongly suggests that the market recognises the importance of stepping up to the challenge of improving their performance for these two key metrics.

Planned strategic actions by UK/Europe services organisations through 2017 reflect an even more dynamic, rather than static, approach to the field services marketplace

Based on these survey findings, and other corroborating research, it is not surprising that the UK/Europe field services community also recognises that it will need to increase its investments in mobile tools and new technologies to compete effectively in an expanding global marketplace. In addition, it also understands the importance of building an effective Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, program to measure the impact that its strategic actions, technology investments and resource acquisitions will actually have on the organisation’s performance moving forward.

While UK/Europe services organisations cite current investments in mobile tools to support field technicians as somewhat lower (27%) than the overall survey base (40%), future plans (i.e., over the next 12 months) for integrating new technologies are reported virtually at par with the rest of the world (i.e., 35% in the UK/Europe, compared with 37% for the global survey base). Accordingly, these data suggest that the adoption of new technologies in the UK/Europe may be roughly only one year behind that reflected by the general survey population (which is mainly comprised of respondents from the Americas).

Planned strategic actions by UK/Europe services organisations through 2017 reflect an even more dynamic, rather than static, approach to the field services marketplace. For example, 54% of respondents plan to develop and/or improve their use of field service KPIs, or metrics; and just as many plan to improve planning and forecasting activities with respect to field operations (54%).

What these data primarily show is that the UK/Europe field services community recognises the need to take specific strategic actions to enhance and improve existing service processes and operations, and that these actions begin first and foremost with the need to develop and/or improve the use of service metrics and KPIs.

The greatest impact on the future of Field Service Management is most likely to come as a result of the growing acceptance of Cloud-based technology

These actions are then complemented by the need to invest in the right mobile tools and technologies to empower their resources both in the field, and in the back office;, to improve existing processes; to meet the growing needs of customers; and make greater contributions to the organisation’s bottom line.

However, the greatest impact on the future of Field Service Management is most likely to come as a result of the growing acceptance of Cloud-based technology. Among those UK/Europe organisations currently planning an FSM implementation in the next 12 months (or considering doing so in the next 12 to 24 months), a Cloud-based solution is preferred by 40% of respondents, compared to only 20% citing a preference for Premise-based – basically, a 2:1 ratio in favour of Cloud.

However, roughly two-out-of-five respondents (40%) remain undecided at this time (compared to only 33% for the general survey population). Still, Cloud-based FSM solutions appear to be the dominant preference, regardless of global geography.

In 2017 and beyond, the focus will likely be even stronger on the customer in terms of striving to meet (and exceed) their demands, preferences and expectations – or “back to the basics”. UK/Europe FSOs will continue to plan to accomplish this mainly by improving the processes they use for delivering their services; the KPIs they use to monitor their improved performance over time; investing in new tools to support both field technicians and customers; and integrating new technologies into their existing FSM or Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) systems.

Richardson and the team will be attending Field Service Management Expo next week where mplsystems will be unveiling a new genetic algorithm based scheduling tool, to find out more visit them on stand N650 and for those unavailable to attend you ca contact Richardson directly at susannah.richardson@mplsystems.co.uk

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