Up Time as a Service: The New Normal Expectation for Field Service

In this article for Field Service News, Michael Blumberg, President of Blumberg Advisory Group, discusses the “new normal” expectation for field service organisations to offer a proactive, connected, and remote service…

 

Over the last 12 months, Field Service Organizations (FSOs) have had to rethink how they deliver service due to the restrictions of COVID-19. With the limited ability to provide onsite, face-to-face service 100% of the time, FSOs needed to implement new processes and procedures to ensure their employees’ and customers’ health and safety. One of the developments which emerged was the concept of a Hybrid-Service Delivery model. This model, fueled by remote monitoring and IoT technology, enables FSOs to resolve a significant amount of service issues remotely through enhanced triage and troubleshooting capabilities while improving technicians’ ability to quickly resolve onsite service issues if an onsite dispatch is needed.

 

The ability to offer and deliver this proactive, connected, and remote service, which had once been the domain of best-practice companies, has become the “new normal” expectation for FSOs of all sizes. Covid-19 may have been the catalyst for rapid change, but the foundation for these offerings has been building for many years. At issue, several macro-environmental trends have been fueling investment in the building blocks necessary for delivering a proactive, connected service experience. These trends include the proliferation of IoT devices, Moore’s Law, and Servitization.

 

The significance of COVID-19 was that it forced FSOs to adopt and apply the building blocks of Hybrid Service much sooner than expected as a matter of survival. Indeed, a recent study by Field Service News reveals that 67% of respondent companies surveyed have implemented these types of solutions because of COVID.

 

However, many FSO industry participants found themselves quickly cobbling together these solutions to deal with the immediacy of the situation. This has led to gaps in capabilities within and between FSOs. The industry now faces the challenge of filling in these gaps by systemizing and scaling these capabilities and providing access to FSOs of all sizes.

 

FIELD SERVICE ORGANISATIONS ARE USING UtaaS SOLUTIONS TO PROVIDE CUSTOMERS WITH A PROACTIVE SERVICE

 

The ability to capture and monitor data from assets in the field is central to the Hybrid Service Delivery model. By collecting, monitoring, and analyzing this data, FSOs can anticipate future service events and reduce face-to-face onsite visits. It enables FSOs to take the appropriate preventive actions to resolve problems, often remotely before they occur, which extends the life of their customer’s equipment. Lastly, they can generate new revenue sources through an Uptime as a Service (UtaaS) offering. Through a UtaaS offering, FSOs can meet their objectives of cost reduction, service excellence, and revenue growth. These objectives will remain central to FSO strategies in the new normal. To provide UtaaS, FSOs must have a few basic building blocks in place, including but not limited to

 

  • the capability to read data from assets in the field
  • the ability to read data in real-time
  • the ability to utilize the data as part of a triage process for identifying faults and guiding the best route for issue resolution
  • automation of the workflows and processes to activate service
  • accessibility to organizations of all sizes

 

Achieving this outcome presents a challenge for a significant segment of the Field Service Industry. Per research from Field Service New, three quarters (76%) of respondents can read data from assets in the field, but only two-thirds can view it in real-time. The net effect is that only 51% of respondents have this combined capability. While 72% can utilize the data as part of the triage process, slightly more than one-third (36%) possess all three abilities. In other words, there is a large gap in capabilities between FSOs who have fully enabled UtaaS solutions in place and those who don’t. Only a small segment of the market has all the building blocks and can deliver a complete Hybrid Service experience.

 

Fortunately, macro trends such as Moore’s Law combined with cloud computing and advancements in telemetry have made it possible for SMB and Mid-Sized companies to implement many of the foundational components for UtaaS solutions in recent years. The technology has become more affordable, easier, and efficient to deploy. It also helps that software vendors have made a strategic decision to target these market participants.

 

Field Aware, a developer of Field Service Management software, and ThingTech, a supplier of IoT -based Asset Management solution, are two such vendors who have teamed up to deliver UtaaS solutions accessible to organizations of all sizes. Their combined solution provides a perspective of what to look for in a best-in-breed, UtaaS solution.

 

The UtaaS solution from FieldAware and ThingTech enables companies to gather data from any asset type in the field. The data is processed in real-time and produces alerts, reports, and notifications based on user-configured rules and workflows. Based on these rules and workflows, automation within the FieldAware service hub triggers the appropriate action. For example, submit a work order, dispatch a technician, or schedule a preventative maintenance visit. Once the service event is completed, the technician can document his actions and update the system through his mobile device.

 

M.E.S.O., a company that provides Fleet Maintenance on capital intensive, mobile equipment found in multiple industries (i.e., Oil & Gas, Construction, Utilities, etc.), needed a solution that could provide a line of sight to the assets in the field, facilitate high levels of technician efficiency and productivity, and streamline back-office operations. M.E.S.O. was able to achieve these results by implementing the UtaaS solution described above.

 

By implementing this solution, M.E.S.O. can provide its customers with a predictive and proactive solution that increases uptime, reduces maintenance and repair expenditures, and extends the equipment lifecycle. This solution also saves M.E.S.O. an enormous amount of time. Backoffice productivity has improved by a factor of five without hiring additional staff. The decision to provide Uptime as a Service and invest in the has had positive results for M.E.S.O. The management team views it as a huge competitive advantage, and it plays a central role in the company’s sales & marketing message.

 


 

Further Reading:

 

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