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Enterprise Mobility: “Field Service Organizations Are Still Struggling With The Basic Capabilities”

Enterprise Mobility: “Field Service Organizations Are Still Struggling With The Basic Capabilities”

The Service Council (TSC) regularly conducts research to identify service leaders and help service organizations benchmark their operations. Sumair Dutta is the Chief Customer Officer of the TSC. His recent work on mobility in field service reveals that although 78% of service providers are already mobile, most of them don’t go beyond the basic capabilities. We’ve spoken to Sumair about his findings.

Given that 78% of field service organizations are already mobile, would you say we’ve finally reached the mobile enterprise age?

Sumair Dutta: It’s true that most organizations we’ve surveyed have some sort of mobile devices in place. However, in terms of the capability that companies are using, that’s where I would say organizations are still struggling. Most of them are still focusing on work order management, so being able to see the schedule, check in and out of jobs, and manage their time and expenses. Collaboration, communication or business intelligence on the other hand are more forward-thinking capabilities that are not considered, yet.

Does that have something to do with the size of an organization? - 43% of your respondents have a field service force of less than 50 people.

Sumair Dutta: It’s true that larger organizations are more sophisticated, but smaller companies will catch up, too. Smaller companies will similarly see higher first-time fix rates or better revenue once they have figured out the basic features. I’d say it has more to do with the demographics of the workforce, not the size of a company. If you have an older workforce, you are not able to push as much on mobile. I think that’s where field service companies need to be cautious not to push too much information on mobile.

Does anything surprise you about the results?

Sumair Dutta: The number one priority behind mobile is increasing productivity. What’s surprising is that for many field service organizations paper work continues to be a big headache. The companies surveyed said that paperwork takes up 19% of their daily time. That’s why other capabilities like parts management, invoicing or reporting are not top priority right from the beginning. So there are big opportunities out there in terms of business intelligence. 

It all comes down to ROI. Most companies are under pressure to show immediate return of their investment. So of course they look to productivity first: Are their techs doing more jobs? How much time are they spending on work? – These are the factors that you can see immediately. Better revenue or higher first-time fix rates are coming later.

60% of the companies stated that their techs are completing three or less jobs a day. That doesn’t seem like much.

Sumair Dutta: Well that depends on the industry. Some industries have service jobs that take three hours or longer, others will be quicker. It also depends on the geography. For some companies, the coverage isn’t that high and optimal routing is used more in cities. We do see opportunities in improving that number with the aid of software, improved coverage, outsourcing partners, or new hires. I would also add that the productivity metric shouldn't be evaluated in isolation. It is important to pair productivity with other field service metrics such as first-time fix, time to resolution, utilization, and more.

Do you think companies are looking to hire more people?Isn’t everyone trying to actually avoid dispatches by, for example, using IoT?

Sumair Dutta: There is the first and the second dispatch and what most companies would surely try to eliminate is the secondary dispatch that happens when a wrong part has been brought to the job. Our results show that companies want a first-time fix rate of 82% on average. But of course IoT, video streaming or self-service options will play an important role to get a first view of a situation and eliminate a second visit. From a people perspective, we believe that organizations will continue to hire technicians and service professionals for their relationship-oriented customers. For transactional visits, we see a greater inclination towards the use of third-parties or dispatch less support systems.

So enterprise mobility will still be priority for field service organizations this year. Can you observe other important developments in the industry?

Sumair Dutta: What we recently see is that techs are used more and more as salespeople or consultants identifying opportunities for upgrades. So there will be a bigger push [to make techs] more knowledgeable. Similarly, knowledge management will play an important role. Certain industries have an aging workforce so the focus here will be on retaining that knowledge.

The complete research results are available here

Picture: The Service Council (TSC)


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