Contemporary field service software continues to rise in popularity as organizations increasingly realize it can generate significant gains in revenue and customer satisfaction. Companies across a wide variety of industries and regions, including industrial and technology giants, are consequently investing in field service to boost their bottom line and enhance the customer experience.
There are many factors to consider when investing in field service software, including the impact it will have on your customers and your business model, as well as how it can integrate with and support the next big technology innovation (e.g., the internet of things). As the CEO of a company that specializes in field service software, I’ve seen firsthand why enterprises that are looking to implement field service software need to make sure it’s as future-proofed as possible to ensure it won’t become outdated.
In this article, we’ll examine the top technology trends to keep in mind if your company is planning to invest in or update its field service software, with the goal of preparing you for the next wave of technology innovation, including mobility, cloud and big data/data analytics.
Through the emergence of the internet of things (IoT), the world has become exponentially more connected in recent years. Indeed, Forbes reported on research firm Statista’s recent prediction that by 2020, the installed base of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. Mobile has already revolutionized the way we work in numerous ways, and that will only continue moving forward.
In field service, mobility allows us to better communicate with technicians who are in the field (i.e., on the way to a job at a customer’s worksite). Your field service software should be able to allow you to manage field staff using mobile phones and integrated apps — and many field service software solutions let technicians access data about the job from their mobile device (e.g., the location, contact person and the piece of equipment to be serviced).
Mobile devices can get more efficient by downloading information directly to them. This makes all relevant data available instantly and available even if a worker is somewhere where there is no mobile data signal. Technicians’ calendars can automatically synchronize with changes in their allocated site visits along with details about site-specific restrictions, tasks lists, equipment manuals and much more.
Finally, very few people like writing reports and field service technicians are no exception. However, with advanced field service software, if a technician has been recording all the necessary data on their mobile device as they’ve been working, then the app should be able to write reports automatically — thereby saving huge amounts of time over a work week.
Connections To The Cloud
If your organization wants to reach maximum efficiency, one-way communication isn’t enough — you want two-way communication. All the data that your technicians collect is even more valuable when it is stored in the cloud and your ERP system. For most organizations nowadays, the cloud is an essential part of the technology stack, and at a bare minimum, your field service solution should have the capability to connect to the cloud and store documents. Once that information is securely synchronized, it is not only safe from loss due to hardware issues (such as a damaged phone) but is also available as a history log for reference on future jobs.
Modern cloud platforms allow you to carry out all sorts of tasks, such as video conferencing and shared documents, from anywhere with an internet connection. This, in turn, allows for improved productivity through collaboration and the ability to be able to work from anywhere. The cloud also allows for much better scalability than the average organizational network: You only pay for what you use, and it’s simple to scale up to accommodate a growing business that’s taking on more staff.
The other big tech revolution sweeping all industries is big data and, by extension, data analytics. Instead of using traditional equipment checks or random samples to maintain a piece of equipment and forecast how it will behave, it is now possible to collect real-time data from the deployed equipment and base decisions on that highly current information.
Technicians have a lot to do when delivering onsite field service, but just as important as maintaining the machinery is recording the state it is in and the work that has already been done. Also, businesses need to keep a record of job details such as expenses, hours worked and parts used. This must be done as efficiently as possible, and a paper-based system just doesn’t cut it.
Every business generates a huge amount of data, and this can be used to spot trends and patterns to better inform business decisions. In the past, this data was incredibly difficult to work with as it was kept in unstructured silos. The information had to be sorted manually to try and make sense of it, which is incredibly tedious and time-consuming.
Your field service software should be capable of pulling data in from various sources and presenting it in such a way that’s easy to understand and act on. Data analysis allows you to gain a deeper understanding of a variety of business processes, and it can be used in any department. For example, in field service, analytics can be used to identify patterns in equipment malfunctions so they can be prevented in the future.
Every industry is encountering new technologies that can significantly improve organizations’ businesses across the board. In the field service sector, mobile, cloud and data analytics will enable us to be better connected to technicians while considerably cutting the time spent on administration, which provides significant gains in operational efficiency. And with better operational efficiency comes more satisfied customers.
So, during your next discussion with your field service provider, ask about their preparedness for these initiatives to ensure your field service business won’t become outdated as the industry continues to ride the wave of technology innovation.