As we begin to emerge out of the pandemic the one significant positive that we can harness is the sustained focus on accelerating digital transformation within our industry.
We have seen mass-adoption of remote service delivery and the leveraging of tools such as Augmented Reality and IoT to empower our field service engineers and technicians to continue meeting customer needs even in the testing scenarios we have faced in the last two years.
Similarly, we have seen best-in-class concepts and technologies such as dynamic scheduling and seamless asset-data flow become far more prevalent in the “new normal” that has emerged out of the ashes of these most turbulent times.
In many ways the last two years has seen a democratization of technology within the field service sector, but what tools should now be considered table stakes for effective Field Service Management (FSM) systems?
To begin we must consider what are the most critical technologies for field service operations currently.
For Matthew Bridge, Pre-Sales Director, OverIT the key lies in harnessing mobility to empower our field workers.
“Mobile Empowerment, as part of Field Service Management, provides digital tools to operators performing preventive maintenance activities in the field, in order to make sure that assets always work,” explains Bridge.
“Field Service Management is the crossroads of disruptive technologies present currently, including Machine Learning / IoT / Wearables / Augmented Reality / Drones. These technologies are helping to improve the lives of workers in field service as well as the quality of the work,“ Bridge adds.
Much of the technology Bridge cites, only a few years ago were still at the top of the Gartner hype cycle, which is an indication of just how rapidly technological advancement in our sector, and indeed in industry at large is progressing. With this in mind, where should our focus be in terms of technological advances that are currently on the horizon?
“When it comes to digital transformations, AI is quickly becoming an essential tool for the service sector—aiding in service delivery, customer support, employee training, and beyond,” states Sidney Lara, Service Principal, Aquant. “With 52% of companies accelerating their AI adoption plans because of Covid, tech-forward service companies are leveraging AI as a business differentiator.
“As organizations add AI to their arsenals, they shift from reactive to proactive service. This is especially true for AI that quickly turns your own service data into deep insights and actionable recommendations,” Lara continues.
“By providing at-a-glance access to data points that were previously too challenging to analyze, the technology helps you pinpoint problems and offers solutions without the need for a team of data analysts. This gives service leaders the knowledge they need to close the knowledge gap, increase service-driven revenue, and enhance customer experiences,” he adds.
Lara‘s reference here to the knowledge gap that is emerging amongst service organisations and how tools such as AI can help is also an interesting point to how will technology shape the future of field service operations as we look to the future. In the midst of a true digital revolution there will be much that we can do tomorrow that simply isn’t possible today. Similarly, there will be much that we do today that will be unnecessary in tomorrow’s world.
It is therefore imperative that we consider today how technology will shape both service operations and service strategy in the future.
“Technology will shape the future of field service in multiple ways,” insists Bridge.
“One way is that companies will be able to refer to assistance not only from a human person but also from an artificial intelligence system that had already viewed millions of hours of video footage and that know exactly how to solve that problem, giving the answer to the operator in the field.
“Another way technology is shaping the future of field service is through the intuitive consumer technology where field service has the “uber experience.” Field service is already shifting to have easily booked work orders, tracking of technicians, and rating of task completions. As more technologies emerge with these capabilities for Field Service the Uber-like experience will permeate multiple industries including field service,” he adds.
“Tech, especially AI, will help service orgs understand how to match their service delivery to customer expectations—transforming them into customer-centric service providers,” concurs Lara.
“Today, one of the biggest barriers to customer satisfaction is an over-reliance on outdated metrics. According to Aquant’s 2022 Service Intelligence Benchmark Report, using First Time Fix (FTF) rates as an indicator of service health contributes to CX gaps—or the difference between what customers expect and what your organization delivers. The reason? Companies who measure FTF rates in 7-day or 14-day windows have artificially inflated FTF rates (hint: measuring in 30-day windows is a more accurate measure of how your customers see you).
“The moral of the story: service as usual is no longer enough,” Lara warns.
However, technology is already in place to overcome such pitfalls. “AI that combs through service data to create deep insights and actionable info can help companies get to the heart of what matters,” Lara explains.
“This will let them offer personalized service by quickly turning customer data into actionable recommendations and enabling call centers to provide on-the-fly troubleshooting to field techs.”
One thing is for certain, these are rapidly evolving times, and as such, it is advisable to keep one eye on tomorrow as we build solutions for today.
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