Most people want to be trendsetters, and not followers. With the conversion of most businesses and processes to digital, many businesses are finding themselves and their employees feeling digital culture shock at trending changes, rather than ahead of the curve. However, the same technological disruptions that have caused this feeling, are the same ones that can cure it.
Since digital has now creeped its way into every industry, the importance in staying innovative lies in how people use digital tech to work faster, better, and more efficiently. A report by Accenture details trends for 2016 and reveals that high-performing businesses won’t just use more technology, they’ll enable their employees and customers to do more with technology they have. With new technology, people will learn and stay ahead of the curve by using it to create and innovate new ideas and solutions.
Here are the five tech trends that will be big in 2016:
Trend: Intelligent Automation
Field service automation is already popular in service organizations, and AI has allowed for cognitive technologies and intelligent automation to be developed. Machines will learn and companies can grow by learning from the data that automated software collects. In this way, data can be used to change how companies operate since they’ll better understand how their machines are working and being utilized.
As we’ve stated before, robots and smart machines will not replace human field service technicians. They should be viewed as new coworkers that will help field service techs do their jobs more efficiently, while also freeing them up to do more complex, human-only jobs such as customer service. These machines will do jobs that human workers can’t or perhaps don’t want to do, but the machines need people to work with them in order to develop their role within a company, since people can help steer the desired outcomes for service.
AI, intelligent automation, and cognitive technologies will become a part of every facet of business. People in your business must be trained to use AI in their everyday work environments and equipped with the skills and comfort level and experience to do so, since digital is now a mandatory part of a company culture rather than an option to be approached with fear and pitched to the board with hesitance.
Trend: Liquid Workforce
The days of staffing a specific number of employees are coming to an end. Crowdsourcing a field service workforce is now the wave of the future. The best companies realize that it’s not technology alone that will keep their business successful in the future, it’s having a workforce to go along with that technology that can grow and expand on as needed basis.
Today’s workforce has to be adaptable to the changing demands of the market. The workforce must be trained and ready to use new technological equipment to do their jobs. Younger field service workers need to be attracted to field service, but they may not arrive with the skills and experience you’d like. However, actively training them once they’re a part of the workforce and using all the tools at your disposal including veteran workers, robots and automation to help them gain experience is the way to go.
As companies move and invest in digital technology, it’s important not to forget that the human workforce is a key component to everything running smoothly. Technology empowers people to do better jobs. For example, field service automation makes it possible to mobilize a workforce that is informed with customer history, dynamic checklists, and machine manuals on-site. Technology combined with a liquid workforce that is flexible, adaptable, and ready at a moment’s notice is the ultimate competitive advantage in today’s service marketplace.
So the best way for companies to ensure that they have a liquid workforce is to:
- train workers on new policies regularly,
- focus on projects and agility,
- enable collaboration amongst team members,
- utilize crowdsourcing or other methods to have flexible workers,
- facilitate projects,
- and invest in a workforce management software that helps workers be ready for jobs at all times.
Trend: Digital Trust
When accumulating large amounts of data, whether that data is regarding a person or the usage of a machine, privacy questions will arise. The more business operations take place digitally, the higher the chance of being vulnerable to risk. Keeping data secure is something that will continue to be of high priority since companies will have to trust that sensitive information is not released into the wrong hands, especially when data may reveal insights into how a company runs its operations and foundation.
So now it’s not just about creating basic data security systems, security will have to be even more powerful and complex to account for potential threats that have also gotten stronger and more complex as well. The products and services that businesses offer should be designed with security in mind to protect against risks.
If field service companies establish trust with their customers, those customers will return to do business with them in the future. And if trust is built into every moment of the customer journey, this will provide a great foundation for a solid customer relationship.
When you think of game-changing digital companies such as Amazon, you don’t necessarily think they are revolutionary because of one particular product that they offer. They are revolutionary because of the platforms they offer for doing business that have changed the way a certain type of business (in Amazon’s case: retail) was being done. A platform economy is the foundation for doing digital business and creating value.
Generally, the first platform many businesses seek out is the cloud. They then use it as a foundation to provide other digital services, such as cloud-based mobile field service software that allows technicians to seek out customer history, upsell clients, and order parts and inventory. According to the report, the platform economy is the most “disruptive change in the global macroeconomic environment since the Industrial Revolution.” So now it’s not just companies born online that are using the cloud, cloud technology is helping all kinds of companies see growth in the digital economy.
Change is inevitable, but in this new economy changes are happening at a rapid pace leaving some businesses falling behind. Once a platform economy is in place, a digital ecosystem has been created that can help businesses anticipate where the next disruption will come from.
There are no longer clear boundaries between industries, therefore, enterprises are in a unique position to be able to anticipate disruptions in the digital ecosystems and come up with plans and paths before their business is actually disrupted.
In previous years, it was hard to predict technology innovations that would disrupt whole sectors, but now companies and their leaders can see down the road and build out ecosystems, make digital platforms, and create opportunities in new markets to get ahead of the curve. Companies can use existing technology and the data accumulated for smart machines to predict economic threats and business opportunities in their digital ecosystem. Like predictive maintenance, predicting disruption is a way of leveraging cognitive intelligence to work smarter, not harder.