Field Service Management of the Past
Field service management refers to the management of a company’s resources that are employed anywhere other than company property. Often, this term refers to companies that need to manage installation, service or repairs of systems or equipment, but it can also refer to the software that aids in supporting these tasks.
Common examples of field service management include:
- Locating vehicles
- Managing worker activity
- Scheduling and dispatching work
- Ensuring driver safety
- Integrating the management of such activities with inventory, billing, accounting and other back-office systems
For many organizations, efficiently managing service technicians is an extremely complex operational task that involves dozens of unpredictable variables. On top of that, field service teams were historically disconnected from the business and required to manually log jobs, manually optimize appointments, and self-report on performance. Factor in miscommunications, delays, and incorrect or incomplete information and the impact of human error was simply too large to ignore.
Field Service Management Today
As permanently-connected mobile devices grew cheaper and more accessible and mission critical systems were able to reliably communicate with each other, it was a natural next step to integrate this mobile technology into field service management. From this integration sprouted field service mobility.
Field service mobility is a term that often encompasses applications like field service, repairs, sales, delivery and inspections. The key aspect that ties all these applications together is the need for access to data in the field and the direct interaction with customers.
The main argument for field service mobility is that a successful field service business thrives on responsiveness and that connectivity is what delivers that responsiveness. Because without an integrated solution, enterprises are faced with complex challenges, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Reduced productivity
- Lack of real-time information
- Low customer satisfaction
- Reduced profitability
Field Service Mobility of the Future
Mobile has redefined how field service technicians work. But as organizations invest in field service mobility, it’s important that they ensure the sustainability and scalability of these programs into the future.
With that in mind, mobile-first companies should invest, install, and strategize around these four factors to maximize the benefits of a field service mobility implementation:
1) The Customer Experience
Field service mobility changes how customers communicate with field service organizations and technicians. From requesting appointments to invoicing to signing off on reports to notifications sent from IoT-connected machines, everything can be managed in the field on a mobile device, allowing field service techs to communicate directly with customers.
Mobility in the future will continue to develop with the goal of increasing customer engagement and improving the customer experience with more (and new) communication channels.
2) The End-User Experience
A primary benefit of field service mobility is remote resolution; this feature makes field service technicians much more efficient and dramatically improves productivity and on-the-job happiness. Remote resolution can be as simple as self-service guided instructions or as technologically complex as mobile performance management that allows for complete over-the-air device control.
Mobility in the future will integrate more IoT to troubleshoot and resolve issues remotely, reducing helpdesk costs and increasing uptime for end-users.
3) Big Data
With automated machines and IoT-connected devices, field service mobility programs will continue to generate huge amounts of data. With this amount of information flowing into enterprises, being able to structure it and put it to use to deliver real benefits to customers can be extremely valuable.
Mobility in the future will deliver data that helps the entire organization (sales, marketing, engineering, support) proactively identify issues and improve the business.
Field service mobility relies on connectivity to be successful. With applications being deployed in the cloud, disconnects could mean the difference between a job completed and a job not started.
Mobility of the future will use tools (like NetMotion Mobility) to persist network applications and deliver always-on connections as field service technicians travel across cellular and WiFi networks and in areas of poor coverage.