Do we need to reinvent our understanding of service delivery?

With the rapid pace of change that we all acknowledge at play, it is important to be thinking not only about how to make the best use of augmented reality and remote assistance tools today – but to be thinking ahead to create a vision for the role the technology can play for your business’ future state.


COVID made the value of remote assistance crystal clear, which I think will only spawn further use of the technology in the months and years to come.


So, what do we expect to see? One major point is the expansion in the use of the technology across businesses. While these tools are often deployed for a point-specific purpose, this enables the value of the technology to be recognized within an organization and for users to become more pervasive. 


“Various ideas have been brought up through our innovation counsel about the future use of remote service,” says Scott Lowes, Construction Supervisor at Fortis BC Digital Services


“Two of the most notable solutions were having technical advisors on large-scale emergency scenarios remotely connected to provide eyes in the field and providing immediate support to our technicians from peers or trainers who may not be in the local area. The future of technology is growing at such a rapid pace, it’s truly hard to predict what’s to come but I feel we are on the tipping point of even larger acceptance of these innovative technologies.”


For larger-scale acceptance and use to occur, it’s likely that the technology needs to become more cohesive and seamless.


“Over the next few years, I would hope the technology is able to catch up to the vision of self-service and remote resolution,” says Marlene Kolodziej, Vice President, Centralized Services at RICOH Digital Services.  “Chatbots today are unable to provide the level of understanding to truly make a difference in self-service. I would like to see technology integrate and mature, providing a more robust interactive experience for the customer for remote resolution.”


When you look at how a variety of technologies including remote assistance, IoT, AI, ML, knowledge management, and service management intersect, you see the immense opportunity for these tools to become more unified.


Pandemic-initiated travel restrictions have resulted in a recognition of exactly how productive and effective remote interactions can be, and this will drive the use of remote assistance and other technologies to permanently eliminate unnecessary travel. Companies that have used remote assistance as a stand-in and have achieved impressive results are looking for areas where it can become the standard process.


We’ve looked at factory acceptance testing with customers, for instance,” says Roel Rentmeesters, Director of Global Customer Service at Munters. “So, we involve the customer in the factory acceptance testing without traveling. And that seems to be quite successful.”


Whether internal travel of knowledge workers or situations like Roel mentioned with its customer-facing factory acceptance testing, there are certain applications where travel was the standard before that it simply just doesn’t need to be any longer. This isn’t to say that companies will look to replace all, or even most, travel with remote assistance and other tools – but it will certainly have an impact.


The Impact of Remote Assistance on New Talent


I believe in the coming years we will also see remote assistance play a significant role in how companies deal with the talent gap.


The talent gap presents a major challenge for businesses across almost every industry and geography, and the value proposition of remote assistance is simply too strong to not be leveraged as a part of the solution – both as a direct training resource and to play a part in knowledge capture and transfer. “When we onboard our newer or greener technicians, we’ve grouped them into three training workstreams.


We use baseline testing to assess which workstream they fall into: beginner or associate, intermediate, and master level. For anybody who falls into that first group, part of their onboarding and training is introducing them to remote assistance,” explains Gyner Ozgul, COO of Smart Care Equipment Solutions.


“So, we give them the opportunity to have this technical resource to help them with diagnosis. Use of the tool drives scalability in terms of building a bigger knowledge base of recorded sessions in the LMS. You’ll see this knowledge grow in the next five years and it’ll also be enabled by IoT because the IoT may tell a technical resource, ‘Here’s the problem to begin with,’ and that technical person can get on the phone then with the customer or technician and say, “Okay, I’m seeing what the piece of equipment is telling me is the problem. Let me help you walk through how to resolve that’.”


Finally, remote service will be a key aspect of any company’s journey to Servitization or delivering outcomes. We’ll see use of the technology expand and mature as organizations work through the role remote service plays in their broader service strategy and value proposition. “We feel that we’re only scratching the surface with what we will use this for now and in the future. But I think one thing is that we certainly won’t go back to doing things how we did before,” says Karl Lowe, Head of Panasonic European Service


“We’ve seen situations where we’ve had to do an intervention and we’ve been able to provide a very quick response. We’ve looked at this from a training point of view as well. Things are moving much more to a Servitization model so service is hugely important for us. We’ve been primarily a manufacturer, but now we’re looking to provide a solution. Our use of IFS Remote Assistance has been thought-provoking, it’s given us a lot of ideas about how we can evolve and change.”



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