4 Field Service Trends in 2020 that Will Impact Productivity Today and Tomorrow
As mobile and remote technology has evolved and become more accessible, it has helped field service organizations set new standards for productivity and customer responsiveness. However, because adoption of these technologies has increased, it has also become harder for companies to gain a competitive advantage using that technology. Mobile computing, real-time communication, automated work order management, inventory, sales and CRM functionality in the field has become a standard requirement for many companies now.
To boost their competitive position, the top-performing field service organizations are successfully blending processes and technology to attain the following results, according to Aberdeen Group:
- A 21 percent year-on-year service revenue growth;
- A 2 percent decrease in service and support costs;
- An 85 percent workforce utilization rate which is an18 percent improvement over prior utilization numbers, and
- 92 percent customer retention
Below, we’ve outlined some of the key field service technology trends in 2020 that can help field service organizations improve performance.
Increased Reliance on Mobile Tools
It’s now easier than ever before to tap into mobility, thanks to the wide availability of mobile devices and connectivity created by the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of wearable computing solution is on the rise, providing hands-free computing for technicians in the field.
Technicians can take advantage of mobile computers, headsets, smart watches, smart-glasses, and voice-based systems to access technical information, update work orders, and provide a real-time view of their repair work to supervisors, other technicians, and customers.
For example, the Honeywell CT40 mobile computer offers a wearable kit that includes a ring scanner, arm-mount sled holder, and arm band. In this way, the CT40 can become a pocketable, flexible, go-anywhere mobile computer. The Honeywell 8680i wearable provides hands-free barcode scanning for inventory applications.
Re-Engineering How Performance is Measured and Managed
As field service has shifted from a cost center to an important revenue center, the focus has shifted to predictive diagnostics and maintenance. This requires real-time data collection in the field, which is critical to streamlining service operations and enabling this proactive approach. The adoption of new IoT and sensor technology will also enable remote device management and analytics of the mobile device fleet.
Honeywell has recognized the role predictive device health and maintenance will play in 2020 and beyond and has developed its Operational Intelligence analytics software—which includes four modules that provide a robust way for IT teams to manage and optimize assets across all locations throughout the asset lifecycle. (Modules include service management, performance management, configuration management and worker performance).
With Operational Intelligence, performance analytics help to predict issues with device health and maintenance before they occur. With Operational Intelligence, data is gathered that is used to analyze worker performance and workflow efficiencies by tracking device and application usage.
Higher Expectations for Uptime
Standards for service are increasing and customers want greater reliability. They are no longer purchasing a piece of equipment – they are purchasing the productivity enabled by that machine. As a result, uptime has emerged as both a critical performance indicator and a service metric that can be measured and monetized.
Uptime can be improved through integrated spare parts logistics, autonomous maintenance, and facilitation of communication between customers and service providers. They key is to identify failure conditions in advance (using sensors or the IoT), issue alerts to relevant stakeholders, and have the processes in place to remotely repair the device, order spare parts, and/or dispatch a technician quickly.
The same is true for the fleet of mobile computers that your employees are using. Remote diagnostics can ensure uptime. Battery life/health indicators allow companies to leverage predictive maintenance to understand changes in battery charge. Users can know when a battery isn’t being properly charged, or know when it is past its useful life before it creates costly operational downtime.
One of the simplest analytics to measure increased uptime is tracking the number of items or packages scanned for service, inventory or delivery. The new Honeywell CT40 with the Flex Range scan engine is an easy tool to utilize for enhancing uptime as it can scan barcodes from half an inch away up to 30 feet allowing your operators to collect multiple data points without wasting time walking all over to capture the information.
Tech Tools Play a Larger Role in Training and Labor Management
Technology is also changing the way field service organizations interact with employees. As we move toward a more “liquid” workforce, technicians must have flexible skill sets to make dispatching jobs easier by expanding the number of techs that can compete a given job.
Companies are experimenting with artificial intelligence to help diagnose issues and dispatch technicians automatically. Others are using wearable devices with augmented reality (AR) technology to help improve first-time fix rates.
If a technician encounters a problem, they can use AR to access additional repair resources or to share views with a more experienced colleague who can help guide them through the repair remotely. Using wearable devices and AR, they can make augmented reality annotations, document share, and communicate. This is particularly useful given the labor shortage faced by the field service industry.
A combination of improved processes and advanced technology can help field service organizations remain competitive, even as mobile and wearable solutions become more commonly used. Contact Miles Data today to find out we can help you select the right technology for your application, and match those tools with the right processes to optimize your operations.