Evolution is adaptation

In this Field Service News Research project, run in partnership with ServiceMax, we take a deep dive into understanding how the role of the field service engineer is evolving. In the third feature of our analysis of this exclusive research, we ask if field service companies are aware that they need to adapt sooner rather than later…


Companies Are Aware of the Challenges but Are They Reacting Quick Enough?


It is clear from our findings that the role of the field service engineer is undoubtedly changing.


Field service companies are today seeking much more rounded individuals, who are as proficient in dealing with face to face interactions with the customer as they are dealing with technical maintenance issues.


It is also clear that whilst it may have been exaggerated in some quarters the challenges of replacing an ageing workforce is very much a real threat to a large number of field service organisations. However, the fact remains that these challenges may also essentially be set to resolve each other.


There have been numerous explorations and studies into the traits of the millennial generation and one of the key observations that are often raised is that millennials are on the whole a more confident generation than those that preceded them, who also value variety within their working lives – perfectly suited to a role that balances both technical and customer service elements perhaps?


Connected Assets, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality and of course, a solid field service management system can all empower field service engineers to be the brand ambassadors field service companies today are seeking. What is clear though is that the link between the two will be provided by technology.


As discussed above, technologies such as Augmented Reality can go a huge way to bridging the gap between the experienced engineers that are in the latter part of their careers and those who are just entering the workforce. It is, therefore, a bit of a surprise that so few companies are actively embracing such tools as yet.


Perhaps, here is the real issue and the underlying issue.


Technology also provides a platform for easing the transition from a ‘Boomer workforce to a Millennial one by creating far more economically efficient means of extending the older field service management productive career span, bringing them out of the field and allowing them to offer guidance remotely.


However, it seems that for many perhaps there is a lack of urgency to implement such solutions. 


There is a sense that for many companies it is a case of ‘yes – we see the challenge and we’re aware of it but aren’t actioning it just yet…’ One suspects that perhaps because the issue of an ageing workforce isn’t quite critical enough as yet and the fact that solutions do exist and are in fact becoming fairly well established already, the danger doesn’t seem as particularly real as it should for many.


However, whilst the systems and technologies are certainly available to overcome these challenges, implementation and realignment of processes will take time and unless companies act soon, the ageing workforce crisis and rapid evolution of the field service engineers in a millennial guise, may just catch them unawares and then the risk may just still live up to the hyperbole after all.


Some of the Key Statistics from the Research Findings:


  • 48% of field service companies believe the threat an ageing workforce poses to their field service operations is either significant or severe
  • 18% of field service companies believe their exposure to an ageing workforce will be limited
  • Only 10% of field service companies have redeveloped their training methodologies to be more attuned to Millennials entering the workplace
  • 78% of field service companies are in the process of or are planning to overhaul their training processes
  • 20% of companies actively use their senior engineers in a remote expert capacity to guide younger Field Service Engineers in the field
  • 98% of companies are prioritising softer, inter-personal skills as key attributes more now than they have done in the past when hiring new field service engineers


Want to know more? If you want to find out more about this research there is a full research report available now for FSN PRO subscribers. Simply click the button at the top of the article to access the full report now! 

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