Try to name a single sector that hasn’t been improved with technology. Hard, isn’t it? In fact, take companies like Uber and Airbnb for example. Uber may be the largest public transport company and they don’t own any cars.
Similarly, Airbnb is easily one of the largest hotel chains and yet they don’t own any real estate. This is all thanks to the power of the internet and the rise of software-based services. Now, companies are trying to innovate technology to improve ancillary aspects of their business, from asset management to customer service.
In this pool of technology-focused businesses, field service management companies are also sharpening their tools with a technology whetstone. How exactly are they doing this? We’ve outlined some of the latest technology trends these businesses have implemented to boost their quality of service.
Knowledge Management Systems
One of the biggest problems faced by the field service management industry is the preservation of knowledge, a problem that is amplified on account of the ageing workforce. To ensure a smooth transition of knowledge, field service organizations are recording their legacy knowledge into comprehensive digital knowledge management systems. This will ensure younger field service techs have easy access to a wealth of knowledge anytime and anywhere.
According to a recent Gartner report, smartphone sales saw a 9.1% increase over the first quarter of 2016, amounting to a total of 380 million units sold. Of course, any business worth its salt doesn’t need reports like this to know that implementing a mobile app is now an integral part of any business strategy. Field service management organisations know this, and many of them have extended their services by developing mobile apps that supplement or provide the same functionality as their desktop counterparts. And as expected, these businesses have seen immense improvements in technician communication, issue resolution, as well as customer satisfaction.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
You’ve probably seen the recent Facebook video of Mark Zuckerberg using a virtual avatar to tour regions of Puerto Rico that were ravaged by the recent hurricanes. While Zuckerberg got tons of flak for using a disaster to promote a product, the video did demonstrate the potential of using augmented reality as a tool to explore and evaluate areas without being physically present. The current state of VR and AR tech is probably not good enough for it to be implemented in real-time field scenarios. But as this type of technology is slowly developed, the in-field applications are sure to follow.
Probably the most effective application of technology in field service management is automation. Many companies are now using cloud-based services tools for important tasks like dispatching, tracking, scheduling and even invoicing. Features like the ability to create pre-programmed workflows and automated data entry have reduced the time needed for menial administrative tasks and freed up employees, letting them concentrate on tasks that require skill and expertise.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
These days, all sorts of physical devices like appliances, vehicles and even buildings are packed with electronics from sensors and actuators to microcontrollers and software, all of which work together to communicate and exchange data in real-time over the Internet. The network created by these devices is called the Internet of Things (IoT), and its applications in field service management are immense. For example, imagine assets connected to each other, exchanging real-time data sensitive parameters like pressure, voltage, flow, and heat. This kind of information can help technicians save time by diagnosing problems quicker.
As technology evolves, field service organizations will continue to innovate, devising processes that can help them better serve their customers. Because in the end, when innovation comes to a standstill, what will truly make a field service management company stand is the quality of their customer service, and no amount of technological innovation will be able to replace that.