Companies have to understand first-hand the complexities that the IoT and the increasing digitalization of business are bringing to traditional customer service delivery models. Though many companies have been quick to upgrade their systems and machines to keep pace, they have not always followed through with upgrades to their field service management tools. This lack of investment in the full product chain has the potential to thwart the advantages of IoT.
The Interconnectivity of Things
A report published by Gartner, Inc. has made an astonishing prediction for 2017. Namely that 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide, and that the trend will continue so that by 2020 20.4 billion devices will be in use around the world. This trend is proof of the huge demand for connected devices. But what exactly does this mean for companies providing field services?
Aside from the fact that an investment in IoT is esssential to remaining a legitimate business in the tech sector, it also comes with numerous advantages. IoT has ushered in the age of predictive maintenance. Concisely put, this means that machines equipped with strategically installed sensors can transmit signals to connected devices to alert field service providers of potential breakdowns and malfunctions. This kind of real-time and preemptive notification makes it possible for service technicians to address a problem before it threatens to disrupt the routine business operations and processes of customers purchasing machines and relying on effective service and maintenance.
With 8.4 billion devices collecting and sharing information, there is now a massive accumulation of data. Systems are generating data at a rate of tens of thousands of events per second. This ability to rapidly amass and assess data translates to the speedy detection of potential problems and maintenance requirements. As mentioned, this is a huge advantage for companies that might have otherwise been forced to halt operations to tackle more extensive and time-consuming repairs for issues detected too late.
However, the enormous advantage of IoT is directly contingent on the potential to utilize all the information provided. Imagine the following scenario: a company has begun producing machines fitted with predictive sensors. The sensors work perfectly, receiving and analyzing the immense amounts of data transmitted by the machine. At one point, they determine a series of problems with a variety of machines. The company should be perfectly situated to deter a significant interruption to operations.
When Field Service Lags Behind
The company, however, did not invest in field services. The result: the company is armed with ample information about technical issues that it could easily solve. Yet, it lacks the manpower to do so. Unfortunately, the consequence is often that the problem goes unchecked and the machine eventually succumbs to the defect. If clients are unable to rely on your field services, they will look elsewhere for a more dependable provider.
This is no different than the days before IoT when predictive maintenance was not preemptively detecting defective parts. The only difference is that companies now have it in their power to quickly provide solutions. Now that companies have invested extensive resources in IoT technology, it would be counterintuitive to not further invest in the manpower necessary to meet the increasing demand for field services created by the IoT. And this issue is not going to disappear. More devices transmitting more information will need more service technicians to address potential breakdowns.
The Crowd Service Solution
What we've learned over time in dealing with large companies is that their customers expect service delivered on demand in real time. But even using IoT, large companies have struggled to successfully implement this technology because they lack a sufficient workforce, and because it is really expensive. Nevertheless, in order to accommodate the rapid, real-time remedying of technical problems, a field service provider needs a substantially larger pool of specialists and technicians.
The solution here is Crowd Service. Using field service software, companies can gather together a crowd of qualified and skilled service technicians. The crowd is a mix of employees and contractors who have the necessary know-how. This workforce is linked to the company through a field service management tool. The company can then use the FSM to effectively assign tasks based on a technician’s knowledge and availability. And, most importantly, having so many workers available to address service requests allows companies to maximize the potential for IoT predictive maintenance.
Through crowd service, supply chain-dependent organizations can proactively ensure that they never face that dreaded IT system downtime that essentially delivers a $1.6 million bill every hour.
Optimize your IoT Investment by Investing in Field Services
The only way to ensure your company truly benefits from the advantages of your IoT investment is to guarantee that your field service capacity is as up to date as your IoT innovations. IoT has the potential to improve your clients’ operations and output tremendously by reducing delays, production gaps and lost time. However, this will only work if you have a capable and expert field service team. Opting for a crowd service solution is the most cost effective and time efficient way to promise your customers all the advantages that IoT has and will have to offer.
Innovative CEOs and service executives know that field service management (FSM) software alone will not be enough to meet real-time service expectations and needs. Read the white paper: Understanding Crowd Service Solutions: The Evolution Of Field Service to discover why the only way forward is to combine FSM with crowd service technology.