There has been a number of articles flying around about the latest technology trends to influence the field service industry. The explosion of the Internet of Things, self-driving cars, augmented reality helmets and glasses, robots that talk and follow you around, the list is endless. However, little has been said about how these new tech trends will directly impact the field service technician. These will be significant as the advancements will change how service technicians do their jobs and even what their jobs entail.
Here are the transitions we expect service technicians will undergo, what technologies will lead those transformations and how service organizations can incorporate them into their business.
Machine data will equip techs with information to make informed service visits – In addition to informing predictive maintenance programs, machine sensors provide insight into exact functionality of a machine. This is great for service technicians who show up onsite with the right skills, parts, and understanding to quickly resolve problems on the first visit.
Internet of Things (IoT) will drive proactive service programs – One of the best ways to impress customers is to resolve a problem on a piece of equipment before they even know one exists. That’s the power of using the IoT to drive preventive maintenance services. Sensors in machines monitor equipment health and performance and trigger alerts to the service team when something is expected to go down. Techs schedule a visit when the equipment’s not in use, perform necessary PM work, and keep machines running like new.
Every technician will be equipped with a mobile device – As mobile in the field becomes more common and incoming technicians more tech savvy and collaborative, incorporating a mobile field service strategy will be necessary to compete. Mobile devices equipped with service apps offer technicians the ability to share, store, and view job data in the field, giving them a virtual link to the back office. Critical information such as daily tasks, customer histories, and billing can be accessed on demand.
BYOD allows technicians to use the technology and devices they know and love – Tech-savvy workers do not want to be tied down by outdated, legacy technologies. They want the freedom to engage with the latest technologies they have been using in their personal lives. With more security options, like mobile device management (MDM) and encryption, cloud software, and easier integration of apps from various devices, service organizations will be safely able to adopt a BYOD policy with greater ease than in years past.
Seamless software integrations will boost efficiency – As telematics and workforce management solutions become integrated with mobile apps, the opportunities for field service techs to increase efficiency and productivity will grow exponentially. They can make real-time decisions remotely by accessing vehicle tracking, scheduling and routing on their mobile devices. In addition, field service software integrated with ERP and billing software gets information documented in the field invoiced and billed to the customer within 24 hours.
Advanced scheduling software will provide shorter ETA windows and updates – Customers hate long or inaccurate ETA windows. Can you blame them? We’ve all been there. As scheduling software becomes more advanced, those ETA windows will shrink and automated alerts will trigger when a technician is running late. These alerts keep customers in the loop and make techs’ jobs better since they won’t have to greet an already grumpy customer who has been waiting all day for them to get there.
Advanced vehicle technology gets techs where they need to go safely – New vehicle technology was the talk of the 2016 CES. Advancements like autonomous driving, connected vehicles, and hands free commands, will make it easier for techs to get where they’re going safely and without distraction.