The options that wearable technology creates for the Field Service Management industry is immensely exciting. With recent development by large and familiar technology brands, such as Apple and Samsung, as well as fitness-focused companies, such as Fitbit, it’s not a very far stretch to picture wearable technology being used in the daily lives of field service technicians by forward-thinking businesses.
My phone is normally switched to silent when in the office and I usually forget to put it back to its normal volume (despite knowing I can set a profile for this), so I used to miss messages, emails, and/or calls, when my phone was in my pocket or out of reach. Since purchasing a smartwatch, however, I have instant updates, in a non-obtrusive manor, and am always aware of every call, text, or email that comes my way.
Imagine the impact this would have in the service industry. How often does a technician do the very same, setting their phone to silent, or leaving it in their vehicle, potentially missing vital updates that could have saved the business time and money. With all that information in such an accessible place while on the job, missed opportunities to increase efficiency would be a thing of the past.
Ease of use
In addition to increased efficiency, wearable tech frees it’s user from the burden of physically having to carry, locate, and “unlock,” their phone. A simple touch on your smart watch keeps you up-to-date. The proximity of the information at your wrist, adds to the speed at which the field service technician can access communication with little interruption.
This is particularly valuable for field service technicians who need to work with their hands. Rather than having to drop everything in order to see if an email they received needs immediate attention, they would be able to pause, easily access the message, assess its importance, and act accordingly. A few minutes saved on several communications each day adds up very quickly when you consider the importance of increased customer satisfaction and the cost of each field service technicians’ time.
With the amount of real-time update options and apps now available in the field service management and mobile workforce management industry, in addition to being able to view calls and emails, keeping track of notifications is the key. Notifications such as emergency alerts, schedule changes, dispatcher updates are part of the daily routine.
For the field service technician to have the capability to not only receive but also to communicate back to the office, is of equal importance. For example, pressing a button to send a notification to the dispatch center that a job is completed, or that an emergency situation has arisen, could be invaluable; it improves customer service, saves time, and even more so overall, as it relates to the field service technician’s safety.
Naturally, there are also challenges associated with implementing such a device in the field.
Despite it’s many positive features, compared to a phone, the watch has a limited screen size which makes it less user-friendly for more complex tasks where more data needs to be entered. Not to mention, the inevitable need for any wearable tech to be paired with another device such as a tablet or laptop, may be of concern if proximity to the source device is too limited
As with all new technology, there are many additional costs (purchase of device, software licensing and project costs) that a business needs to consider. Some of these costs can be mitigated by choosing a device that has WIFI and its own SIM card, but the amount of wear and tear technicians put their devices through may mean replacement costs for damaged devices exceed the savings that wearable tech can currently offer, particularly if a company has a large and active field service workforce. However, as it is with all technology over time, the cost of these devices will at some point reduce in price, making the business case more attainable.
Staying current with technology trends is very important if you want to be a leader in today’s competitive service marketplace. Customers expect their service providers to be information enabled and to make their service execution above par. Technology is a key component in this execution. The benefits are numerous, from greater operational efficiency to delighting and retaining your customers.
Depending on your industry, you may see the value in one type of wearable technology over another. Based on your specific requirements, if your organization is considering leveraging wearable technology to support business goals, research is key. Consider the opinions of these 24 experts our workforce management technology partner, ClickSoftware, interviewed to find: “What’s the best new use of wearable technology or smart clothes you’ve seen (or anticipate seeing) for business (particularly for customer service and field service) in 2014 – 2015?”
While wearable technology, such as smart watches and wearable optical devices will undoubtedly have an important impact on the future of field service management, it will likely be some time before they become industry standards. Watching these technological trends and pondering what they hold in store for the industry, however, gives us all a view of just how far this industry has come and how far it plans to go in order to meet demands.