Making connected field service a reality with IoT

Profile picture for user dyarnold By Dave Yarnold September 29, 2015
Summary:
There are four 'P's that are crucial to the future of a thriving and connected field service industry in the age of the Internet of Things, says ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold.

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Dave Yarnold

In a recent report, McKinsey asked: how can Internet of Things (IoT) technology create real economic value? Their research concluded that the hype may actually understate the full potential — which they believe will land somewhere between $3.9 and $11 trillion dollars per year by the year 2025 — and that B2B use cases are poised to generate nearly 70 percent of the value enabled by IoT.

In fact, huge commercial-grade machines are already putting out tons of actionable data for technicians about what they do and how they do it. A typical oil rig has 30,000 sensors and collects terabytes of data. But as McKinsey mentions, only one percent of the data from all of those sensors is being used today.

I believe there are four 'P's that are crucial to the future of a thriving and connected field service industry. Process, People, Product, and Promises. Here’s why.

Connecting processes

Field service is multi-faceted and dynamic — a convergence of a multitude of complicated processes. We believe that it is not enough to address one aspect of field service. You need a centralized platform to proactively address all field service operations, from service requests to invoicing — and everything in between.

Field service processes need to be dynamic and easily updated with minimal stress on your IT resources. A smart service solution is the foundation for extending and enhancing the core functionality of these processes to complement vendor and technician infrastructure. This extends across web, mobile, the cloud, and even offline to keep operations on track.

Connecting people

People keep your processes running. Your workforce is changing. Seasoned employees are retiring and you need to attract a new generation of staff that have different motivations and expectations. And how do you effectively and efficiently transfer tribal knowledge?

This means offering mobile, cloud, and offline solutions optimized for field service operations that not only connect technicians but also enable them to use technology to collaborate and share information in real-time.

Information generated and shared may take different forms, such as video chats or push notifications for example. But the goal must remain the same: to give people the tools, connectivity, and technology they need to thrive and work efficiently in the modern on-demand service economy.

Connecting products

Smart, connected products are the backbone of the Internet of Things and field service is the essential industry for maintaining, servicing and capitalizing on those products. For businesses with field service operations, knowing everything you can about your installed product base is the beginning of an exciting new chapter — moving your service operations from reactive to proactive — and, eventually, predictive.

Harnessing the data your products are generating is critical to understanding and anticipating the needs of your customers. As the focus shifts to providing continual value to the customer, knowing everything about your product becomes a means of delivering that value, rather than the end itself.

By remaining connected to your customers via your product, you have a new reason for direct and ongoing dialogue with them. Your product is a window into the needs and satisfaction of your customers, rather than waiting for them to tell you about product needs and performance.

Realizing promises

For years, the term “service” meant fixing something once it was broken or had become an obstacle to normal business operations. In the era of connected service and IoT, the meaning of “service” is quickly shifting to mean fulfilling a promise you made to a customer that goes beyond reacting to a broken machine.

Today, it means predicting how long that machine will continue running and fixing the issue in question before the customer notices it. By tapping into the latest proactive maintenance technology, businesses are able to guarantee a specific outcome that customers can build their business on.

With the emergence of IoT and increased field service connectivity, that technology will give them more insight into what is happening with the machines they service before the maintenance requirements become critical problems for customer.

The future of connected service

The field service industry is quickly moving beyond market norms to aftermarket forces — namely, increased connectivity and the emergence of the Internet of Things — that are driving change across the enterprise. The effects range from deploying and connecting innovative technology to ushering in a shift in the demographics makeup of our technician workforce.

There is greater pressure than ever on field service companies to maintain a focus on technician and customer success while leveraging the latest and greatest in proactive and predictive service management tools. There is more emphasis than ever on innovation, efficiency, and making field service appealing to a younger generation of connected technicians.

The tech-driven interaction between products, process, and people that leads to the proactive realization of promises to customers can redefine almost any business by increasing revenue while deepening customer satisfaction and loyalty. It's a winning combination for the future of field service.