The Internet of Field Service unlocks IoT for the enterprise

Profile picture for user AthaniKrishnaprasad By Athani Krishnaprasad March 17, 2016
By providing early use cases and proof points for the Internet of Things, field service unlocks IoT for the enterprise, writes Athani Krishna of ServiceMax

Business man hand holding IoT world and workforce © everythingpossible -
The Internet of Things is not just a technology trend. Like the internet itself, IoT is a new paradigm in the modern, information-powered world. And IoT is going to redefine the landscape of every aspect of our lives!

In the business world, global manufacturing and services sectors will see some of the biggest impact. IoT connects machines, manufacturers and end-users like never before with rich data to solve critical problems. It offers massive value to customers looking for differentiated experiences from providers. The productivity and service differentiation potential that IoT opens up for providers is immense. The ability to offer a whole class of new and differentiated service is within reach, and the industrial application of IoT is starting to happen today.

Why field service unlocks IoT for the enterprise

Let me start by saying that the role of a service technician will remain critical to delivering differentiated services enabled by IoT. Meanwhile, the platforms and tools used by a technician will go through fundamental changes. A technician or engineer will remain vital to making sense of actionable data coming from these machines and completing the service before the machine experiences a degrade or downtime. This ability to deliver high availability and reliability to customers then forms the foundation on which new services and value can be created.

Furthermore, IoT offers enterprises a new realm of opportunities to create the best connected solutions for their workforce, partner and supplier networks and customer base. Rather than competing on price, companies with service organizations powered by IoT solutions and insights will be able to focus on delivering superior customer experience and value throughout the product lifecycle. With IoT, a connected machine can literally communicate to technician through critical data. The asset will tell the technician not only what problem it is experiencing, but provide specific guidance on how to fix it! This is where innovating companies will look to the IoT for differentiation.

Putting the Internet of Things to work

Efficient field service, manufacturing and maintenance enabled by linking machines to the Internet of Things can deliver massive business value. Data and analytics from connected assets can be applied to jobs at-hand. Use of IoT can uncover trends that offer tips for maintaining a fleet of assets. Moreover, information that streams directly to service leaders and their workforce can dramatically improve response time. Most importantly, a significant increase in the amount of useful information within reach of field technicians and service leaders can benefit customers.

On the technical side of things, the application of IoT in the enterprise is driven by a convergence of reductions in the price of sensors and the mainstream availability of connecting technologies like smartphones and tablets. The accessibility of cloud and mobile data is supporting a growth in customer demand for new technology matched with better service. As security improves, field service organizations will begin to deploy sensors and switch on connected assets at a much higher rate. Technicians armed with smartphones and tablets will link up to streaming data generated by online sensors. They will be able to use the data to make sense of emerging maintenance trends and machine-generated requests for attention.

Field service use of IoT validates broader enterprise adoption

The current state of sensor-enabled IoT reminds me of the early days of mobile. Sensors that connect assets – especially those with self-diagnostics functionality – to service vendors hold enormous potential to transform the end-to-end field service experience. The reality, though, is that relatively few sensors in the field are actually in use. In fact, McKinsey recently noted that of roughly 30,000 available sensors on an oil rig, an average of only 1% are active at any given time.

Technology that offers a real-time look into the functions and maintenance history of a field asset presents a new opportunity for service organizations to boost efficiency and long-term effectiveness. Service leaders looking to tap into IoT’s full potential need to talk to product engineers and designers from the beginning of a new asset’s rollout to craft a product that significantly diminishes machine downtime. Global manufacturers working across multiple sectors including Schneider Electric, Volvo and GE already tap into the product design process to unleash IoT technology. They actively test the real world limits and never-before-thought-of field applications of IoT.

More companies will tap into using cost-effective sensors to stream useful data as the number of successful IoT deployments increase and security improves,. This will unlock a broader trend of proactive field service, and support smart manufacturing across industries. Ultimately though, it’s the customer who will benefit from IoT’s standardization.