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White Paper Overview: How the Internet of Things (IoT) Is Transforming Field Service

Oct 24 • Features, Future of FIeld Service, resources, White Papers & eBooks • 1719 Views • No Comments on White Paper Overview: How the Internet of Things (IoT) Is Transforming Field Service

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Resource Type: White Paper
Published by:  ClickSoftware
Title: How the Internet of Things is Transforming Field Service

Want to know more? Access to this resource is available to Field Service News subscribers only – but if you are a Field Service Professional you may qualify for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription!

Field Service Professional? Click here to apply for a complimentary industry subscription to Field Service News and get the white paper “Preparing for the Connected Customer” sent directly to your inbox now

Synopsis:

Business Paper_How IoT Is Transforming Field Service 2017_1.pdf-1Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 20201. This interconnected world will provide a wealth of new opportunities for service organisations. It allows them to connect equipment with technicians’ mobile devices and the office in real time, enabling a rapid response to service requests and efficient remote diagnostics. Service is set to become increasingly proactive and cost-effective.

Field service lies at the heart of the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution. Advanced field service management (FSM) software can automatically receive messages from devices, and schedule and dispatch professionals, without any human interaction. But the opportunities for IoT go beyond inbound device signals over the internet.

The increase in intelligent service resources, such as drones and autonomous vehicles, offers benefits of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication that promise to transform the service industry.

Overview:

The Internet of Things

As the internet turns 25 years old, its impact continues to transform communications, industries, and lives. The original framework of point-to-point communication via a network of distributed hubs has evolved from email and dovetailed with advances in electrical and industrial engineering in a transformative way. The era of personal computers has evolved, through mobility and the smart phone revolution, to a point where connected devices take all manner of forms from biological implants to wearable fitness trackers.

Signals sent to and from connected devices are spiralling in volume. Big data management techniques, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud storage have come together to deliver insight from this abundance of data. This increases the opportunities for automating decisions and initiating actions without the need for human intervention. The benefits to organisations are numerous.

Remote monitoring applications already save billions in transport and human capital management costs. Add the potential positive impact on customer engagement and its associated business value, and the call to action becomes clear. A complete IoT strategy leads to better and faster decisions throughout the service delivery lifecycle.

Market Definitions

The Internet of Things is having major impact across both industrial and consumer sectors, and many bodies of research focus on these separately. We look at the two areas in this way:

  • Industrial IoT (IIoT): IIoT refers to the application of the Internet of Things to the broad manufacturing industry. It’s often used interchangeably with the term “Industry 4.0,” which refers to the major transformational stages of the industrial economy. Examples of IIoT range from monitoring building management systems and power grids, to tracking manufactured goods as they are shipped
  • Consumer IoT (CIoT): The Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT) consists of technologies that target the home market and consumer electronics. IDC reports3 that over 8 million US households already use some kind of home automation and control. Typified by remote monitoring capabilities for security, climate control, and remote control of household functions, CIoT also offers promise in areas such as networked home appliances with use cases such as refrigerators that automatically order more milk as needed.

IoT and Field Service

As the definitions around IIoT and CIoT show, there are ramifications for field service in both areas. Products that are being serviced are equally likely to be consumer goods or elements of a manufacturing eco-system in the context of business-to-business field service. The consumer and business areas are also intertwined as IoT adds a strong feedback loop that connects product usage and the associated service requirements to the manufacturing process itself. For example, wear and tear levels in real-world conditions can feed into product development through a network of sensors and influence the manufacturing process accordingly.

CIoT and IIoT are worthwhile segmentations to assess the market at a more granular level. But there are opportunities for innovation in IoT across the field service landscape. Furthermore, areas such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and ghost IT also create fuzzy lines between consumers individually and as part of an enterprise. The opportunity for field service is broad and not constrained to any sub-segment of the market.

Reactive vs Predictive

The increasing intelligence of devices and the hardware layer also impact the approach to service associated with the device. While unsophisticated devices can signal a need for service in the event of a system failure, the richer data from intelligent sensors enable a shift from reactive to proactive service. For example, indicators of failure enable long range service maintenance planning so devices can be kept running continuously and efficiently with an optimised cost profile.

From a resource optimisation perspective, this is of course preferable to responding, at high cost, to a sudden failure.

There are opportunities for innovation in IoT across the field service landscape.

This point brings up a significant differentiator in IoT-based field service. In addition to developing machine learning models to learn more about the service chain, leading field service organisations excel at optimisation in the context of organisational business goals. This optimisation is important regardless of the sophistication of the information the sensors generate in the network. Even in a simple example, with a service requirement to address a non-functioning device, organisations with optimisation solutions can automatically schedule that service to ensure the appropriate balance of metrics, such as SLA compliance and field service professional overtime. And, with additional sophistication in the IoT sensor data to support more proactive use cases, this schedule optimisation is just as important to business success.

To unlock the potential of speed and automation, decision criteria must be determined and incorporated into a system flexible enough to handle the variety of data inputs and scenarios. Top field service software providers can offer a scheduling solution that incorporates countless data elements into the scheduling algorithm.

The full intelligence provided by the IoT network determines the appropriate service schedule for a device, including inspection, preventive maintenance, and repair. If required, it’s possible to incorporate a review of these IoT-generated telematics by a field service professional for additional human oversight.

Want to know more? Access to this resource is available to Field Service News subscribers only – but if you are a Field Service Professional you may qualify for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription!

Field Service Professional? Click here to apply for a complimentary industry subscription to Field Service News and get the white paper “Preparing for the Connected Customer” sent directly to your inbox now

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