The term disruptor has become nearly synonymous with digitalization. Over the past decade, we have witnessed how platform-based businesses have upended traditional businesses. From the transportation to the tourism to the media industries, disruptive innovators have capitalized on digital tools, IoT, artificial intelligence, and the sharing economy to introduce novel business models. And these disruptors are quickly redefining how business is done.There are few industries for which this is more vital than the field service sector. With technical changes and customer service making up core components of this sector, not implementing new technology could mean falling behind. And that could be detrimental to the future of any business.
That why it is critical to consider the key technology disruptors affecting the field service sector:
1. Mobile Accessibility & Cloud Services
Nowadays, smartphones are ubiquitous. In fact, “mobile data traffic across the globe is projected to increase nearly sevenfold by 2021”. What this has translated to is an expectation that information can be transferred, services organized, and problems solved on the go. Cloud services are further facilitating this constant accessibility by ensuring that information is easily readable, retrievable, and downloadable from any and all devices, any time, and anywhere. With mobile data traffic showing a consistently steady increase and the rise of 5G, service providers must anticipate that doing business and communicating will soon center around tools and solutions that are always readily available.
2. Algorithms & Machine Learning
As machines and devices get smarter, they provide manufacturers and technicians with more data than ever before. However, this data is only truly valuable with the right tools in place to analyze it. Algorithms powering machine learning make it possible to quickly sift through and process countless bits of data - from customers, technicians, device sensors, knowledge management tools, and more - and effectively and quickly detect patterns. What potential does this unleash for field service businesses? The potential to avoid problems before they occur with predictive maintenance, and the ability to improve on next generation models using the knowledge gleaned from all the acquired data. As predictive maintenance becomes more prevalent, field service providers not employing this technology will miss out on its key benefits: diminished downtimes, fewer breakdowns, and increased productivity.
3. AI Planning & Scheduling
Artificial intelligence is redefining how companies structure standard business processes like planning and scheduling. Thanks to AI-powered field service software that takes into consideration information like a technician’s experience and expertise, customer location, device history, necessary tools, inventory availability, and more, field service providers are getting better and better at dispatching the right person for the right job. And thanks to the connectivity offered by IoT devices, they are able to integrate critical external information like traffic reports and optimized travel routes. Field service providers who embrace AI scheduling tools will find an increase in first-time-fix rates, quicker repair times, and the potential to provide real-time solutions.
4. IIoT & Machine-as-a-Service
The connectivity of devices ushered in by IoT extends far beyond our smart watches and
smart homes. The Industrial Internet of Things, which refers to the connectivity of factory machines and devices, is IoT taken to a whole other level and applied to major industries. And unlike a broken smart watch, any failure in the connectivity of machines and devices at such a scale, and in such vital industries as utilities, healthcare, and security, could have serious repercussions. This is why successful manufacturers are thinking beyond sale and purchase. Some offer customers extensive service level agreements to ensure that connected devices receive the necessary maintenance at regular intervals. Others have adopted the principle of machine-as-a-service. Meaning that rather than just selling machines, they rent them with a promise of a certain level of service and production. This rental agreement includes regular service and maintenance, which is facilitated by the data acquired thanks to the extensive connectivity of devices and sensors. As you can see, this marriage of IIoT and machine-as-a-service has the potential to completely redefine how industrial machines are produced and distributed.
5. VR & AR
Virtual reality and augmented reality are quickly expanding their usability beyond the gaming industry. With a mobile device and VR goggles, field service technicians suddenly have access to more information than ever before. AR overlays that allow them to look inside machines, and even virtual spaces where they can consult with off site experts can help them solve problems they might not otherwise have been able to. An investment in VR and AR technology is a surefire way to empower your technicians and boost their abilities to solve issues quickly and effectively.
The fast pace of the digital transformation has the potential to make or break traditional businesses. As new technologies emerge at an unprecedented pace, it is up to business leaders to stay abreast of the solutions and tools reshaping their industries. That is why it makes good business sense to digitize field service processes. Ideally with a field service management software that combines all these new technologies. Disrupt or be disrupted!