What technology will drive field service evolution the furthest? Part One

Oct 13 • Features, Future of FIeld Service • 5043 Views • No Comments on What technology will drive field service evolution the furthest? Part One

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Field Service has long been an industry open to embracing the latest innovations, but what technology will have the greatest impact in the long term on field service operations? In Part One of this two-part review, FSN’s Editor-in-Chief Kris Oldland gives his opinion on what technology will be the most important driving field service technology forward.

As technology becomes ever increasingly intertwined with the evolution of business in these early decades of the twentieth century, the importance of identifying the right technologies that can drive a business forward.

As opposed to those that may be either just passing fads (such as the clamour for Google Glass perhaps?) or technologies that become so over-hyped, that we see unrealistic expectations laid at their door, so when initial Beta versions are launched they ultimately seemed doomed to failure making it harder to win over sceptics once the technology finally does mature enough to be significantly deployed (once again… Glass anyone?)

We have seen huge examples of companies backing the right technology, embracing it, building it into their DNA and becoming massive successes.

Salesforce saw the potential of the Cloud and reinvented the global CRM marketplace; MAN Truck and Bus UK embraced telematics to create the Trucknology generation and saw revenue grow by 1000% within a decade.

Then there is Amazon who through a studied focus on developing Big Data based technologies and algorithms, have evolved from being an online shopping portal with ‘a smile on the box’ to being not only the online shopping portal, but also the name in enterprise Cloud solutions, and perhaps the only real competitor to the Apple and Google duopoly of digital music and film distribution via their impressive Prime service.

It is not only the household names that can take advantage of technology…

But it is not only the household names that can take advantage of technology.

Take Service2 for example, a local HVAC and Gas Appliance maintenance firm based in the North of England who were a Field Service News case study earlier this year. Through the implementation of field service management software they are now in a position to have far greater grasp on their P&L, deliver a superior level of service to their customers, and are perfectly primed for rapid expansion. For them, field service management technology is a massive enabler and key driver for their business.

Another fantastic example was shared with us by Nick Frank, Frank Consulting on a recent Field Service News webinar. Nick described how Northern Irish business LISTO who have been able to combine an understanding of customers’ needs, some out of the box thinking and using existing technologies have been able to help SME’s help shape not only their own futures but seriously disrupt their relative markets whilst doing so, causing new benchmarks and customer expectations and again being empowered by technology.

So in such an environment where technology can be a genuine key differentiator for companies both big and small, the technology analysts such as Aberdeen and Gartner play a huge role in helping us assess what technologies we should be exploring, researching and investing in to help us become leaders in our field.

Indeed the annual Gartner hype cycle has become one of the most hotly anticipated publications within industry, as a barometer initially of which technologies were gaining the most attention across global media and businesses alike and now also incorporates an indication of maturity for each technology listed as well to help us further understand where such technologies sit in the road map for future business operations that Gartner predicts we should potentially be adopting.

However, the rapid evolution of technology in what many are referring to as a golden age of information, is progressing at such a rapid speed that even Gartner are unable to keep up sometimes it seems. Having dominated business technology conversations for the last two years, Big Data disappeared from the company’s 2015 Hype Cycle entirely. The reason, according to Gartner Analyst Betsy Burton is that “Big Data has quickly moved over the Peak of Inflated Expectations and has become prevalent in our lives”.

Big Data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, but nobody really knows how to do it.

And whilst this is almost certainly true, the fact is that Big Data remains a mystery to many outside of the Data Scientist illuminati who are redefining the way business operates today.

As Dave Hart, ServiceMax Vice President of Global Customer Transformation commented in a previous Field Service News podcast, “Big Data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, but nobody really knows how to do it.”

Yet the fact is the ability to build easily configurable dashboards, that give field service directors and their managers access to the vast swathes of data generated by a field service team is high on the list of any company currently exploring a new field service management system.

John Cooper, Head of IT and Workflow Solutions in Sony’s Professional Solutions explained in a recent exclusive Field Service News interview: “We have this dream of the account managers turning up at customer sites and being completely clued in with all the stuff that’s happened in a nice simple to understand graphical way. So they don’t need to get into technical complexity but they know what we’ve done for the customers, they know of any live issues and they’re not going to get ambushed with you’ve got this problem or that problem.”

Is Big Data the most important technology changing the way business operates

Such open flow of data and more importantly is of course powered by Big Data so whilst the technical whirrings of this monumental technology may not be fully understood by those outside of those niche Data Scientist circles, the reality is that it’s impact is very much being felt, even if it is through its output and application rather than a more tangible, physical everyday sense.

However, is Big Data the most important technology changing the way business operates today?

Well in the sphere of field service there are justified claims for a number of other recent technologies. Without doubt one of the most important developments that has truly revolutionised our industries and the way field service operates is the leap forward mobile computing pushed dramatically forward by the rise in prominence of the smartphone and iPhone in particular.

Look out for Part 2 of this review where Kris examines the case for the Cloud and the Internet of Things as the most important technology for the future of field service.

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