Written by 9:00 am Digital Transformation, Feature

How will regulations drive digital transformation requirements for field service companies?

For us in the field service sector, there are many areas of regulation and governance that we must be aware of including GDPR, Right to Repair, ESG and DEI. Does this change how we should approach our continuing adoption of technology?

The discussion in our industry for the last few years has been, for very good reasons, about breaking down boundaries.

As an industry, we have embraced digital transformation at a fervour as we worked our way through overcoming the challenges of the pandemic and rapidly improved our ability to deliver essential service remotely when and where it was needed. However, now as the dust begins to tentatively settle as vaccinations and the natural evolution of the virus bring us hopefully to a place where COVID19 moves from pandemic to endemic status, the focus on regulation that had taken less priority during the last few years must now return. For us in the field service sector, there are many areas of regulation and governance that we must be aware of including GDPR, Right to Repair, ESG and DEI. With this in mind does this change how we should approach our continuing adoption of technology?

What are the regulatory pressures you feel will impact the field service sector most significantly in the near future?

Negotiating your way through the multitude of regulations related to the field service sector can be challenging. Especially when it involves moving across regions which often have different regulations for the same or similar activities.

A growing world view of the importance of taking significant environmental action is without doubt a major issue facing the field service industry in the immediate future.

To begin we look at what people see are the greatest regulatory challenges that are foreseen in the near future.

Marc Tatarsky, Senior Vice President Marketing, FieldAware – GPS Insights explains, “one of the primary regulatory pressures we see significantly impacting our clients is ESG, due to the direct impact field operations have on controlling an organization’s carbon footprint. In a recent survey, 40% of field service providers named reducing their environmental impact as a top priority.  Focusing on optimizing and streamlining service operations can achieve significant reductions in an organization’s environmental impact as well as lower operational costs.”

“For larger service organizations, it’s not just the miles driven, but it’s the type of truck dispatched and how it was driven that determines the average CO2 emissions per job, plus cost per mile. Optimizing routes and scheduling efficiently are important, the other critical factor is to optimize driving behavior. In the context of service delivery, fuel consumption and safety can be improved while simultaneously delivering on customer commitments. “

“This level of detail is only achieved when the service organization’s fleet tracking and safety elements are tightly integrated to the field service management platform. When utilizing a hub approach, this data is also fully accessible for inclusion into ESG corporate reporting” adds Tatarsky.

Ashok Kartham, Chief Product Officer, Syncron adds, “the impact of regulations on field service varies by industry and region. Increased focus on the right to repair, product safety, data privacy, and sustainability across all sectors will impact how field service is accessed, delivered, and tracked. As the number of regulations increases by region and sector, the companies are struggling to comply while ensuring the productivity of field service technicians and a seamless customer experience.”

Rob Ballantyne, Director Product Management, Salesforce highlights “a number of different issues It’s hard to escape from sustainability as a theme in organisations across the board, field service related or not. Large organisations need to report their carbon as part of TCFD and GHG protocol adoption is on the rise. There are clear examples as to how this will impact field service organisations – The move to EVs from ICE fleets, Routing EV’s effectively (range, charge posts, traffic zones), measuring and accounting for emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3 of GHG). Attracting the modern workforce who value sustainability and environmental goals of organisations “

“From a different perspective, the continued pressure Right to Repair (combined with rising customer demands) is placing on OEMs has it’s impacts, such as: Driving changes to business models – the move to servitization. Consumer choice when it comes to who services their equipment forcing organisations to better understand the 3rd party repair network and rise of the gig economy. Also equipment as a value driver – downtime is bad for business.“

Right to repair drives sustainability by reducing waste and mitigating planned obsolescence

Sustainable business models facilitate right to repair (virtual/remote tech visits, Preventative Maintenance).” explains Ballantyne

How can technology help us mitigate any potential issues field service organisations may face with such regulatory pressures?

Tatarsky says “Technology is key success factor for organizations to tackle these regulatory challenges. Technology simplifies and facilitates the data capture and data sharing within an organization and across its functions“.

“Field service technologies help manage access to customer data and the use of digital information from connected products by field service technicians. Ensuring product safety through field service campaigns and monitoring of product health remotely can be enabled through IoT and predictive analytics. Tracking and managing the energy usage, recycling, and remanufacturing of components can be used to demonstrate the commitment to sustainability in a circular economy”, Adds Kartham Ballantyne adds “A suite of capabilities are already here to help with current state as well as evolving regulations, such as; Optimising schedules to drive efficiency – less time travelling, more time fixing delivers scale and reduces emissions. Next gen routing – accounting for vehicle type and restrictions.

Preventative maintenance – Automated scheduling ensuring uptime and continued production. Augmented Reality and Self Service – letting consumers resolve outages or performing their own maintenance. 3rd Party and Contractor management – giving a holistic view as well as managing work across your own and 3rd party resources“.

Does having multiple systems of record create an issue when it comes to being able to access and provide the data necessary to ensure compliant best practices?

Mark Wilding, Vice President Global Customer Transformation, ServiceMax “With the continued deployment of digitisation in most organisation, brings new challenges in terms of connecting the dots of data. This data could by design be distributed in application, departments, and teams in organisations”.

“Without a plan for the transformation journey the organisation is lost in terms of a full 360-degree, data control and compliance. This journey should consider the balance between efficiency expected, application interconnectivity and the golden thread of data attributes that can be used to tie these together and the user restrictions, permissions and access including guiderails on record types to prevent data theft or inadvertent or accidental sharing all this couples with a robust Cyber security system and process”.

“The impact of this challenge will impact the organisation on several fronts but one of the most significant can be compliance. “

“Consider a situation where the confidential customer or organisations protected data which could be scattered in different systems which are accessed by the external interface functions such as sales, support, procurement etc. The opportunity to breach the compliance by allowing restricted or controlled data or transactions to be shared could result in sanctions, prosecutions, and private lawsuits for the affected party. In some cases, it could even lead to a prison sentence for the person or the organisation leadership who breached the regulation or legislation“.

“However, get it right and the transition to digitisation is well planned, with the efficient business processes and compliance requirements deeply ingrained, then the transition to digitisation has

immense power in ensuring the guardrails and controls are in place to avert or at least maximise error proofing by leveraging automation and reducing the human factors with contribute to a significant number of the breaches. “

Tatarsky further adds “Multiple systems of record complicate reporting and compliance documentation. However, when properly configured and integrated, technology like FieldAware from GPS Insight—which uses an open API and facilitates a data hub approach—allows enterprise organizations to improve data flow across disparate field and back-office systems. Since enterprise organizations are those most exposed by regulations, this is extremely valuable. The technology can help to seamlessly manage compliance across functional boundaries in the organization. It provides the platform to facilitate comprehensive reporting and enables the business intelligence that informs better executive decisions”.

“Governance and orchestration of data access is very complex when a company has multiple systems of record. Each system may have its own policies, compliance tracking, and enforcement of regulations. Manual processes and silos of data put the burden on service teams and field service technicians, making it error-prone and time-consuming while increasing the risks of noncompliance. Having 360-degree access to an asset’s performance, service history, and service knowledge is essential to support the decisions and processes. Companies are increasingly relying on service lifecycle management systems that support all service processes throughout the life of the assets”, Kartham elaborates further,

“A suite of capabilities are already here to help with current state as well as evolving regulations, such as optimising schedules to drive efficiency – less time travelling, more time fixing delivers scale and reduces emissions. Next gen routing – accounting for vehicle type and restrictions. Preventative maintenance – Automated scheduling ensuring uptime and continued production. Augmented Reality and Self Service – letting consumers resolve outages or performing their own maintenance.

3rd Party and Contractor management – giving a holistic view as well as managing work across your own and 3rd party resources”, explains Balantyne

As we can see there are many issues around regulation covering some incredibly important areas looking into the near future. Technology is going to be key to ensure companies meet these regulations and fall on the right side of compliance.

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