Experimenting with new field service technology is critical to keep pace with today’s competitive market and with customer expectations at an all-time high, it’s more important than ever for service organizations to find new ways to differentiate themselves. Forward-thinking Field Service organizations looking to leverage cutting-edge technologies need to consider how each technology could impact their bottom line – whether through time savings, improved customer experience or increased productivity. Here’s how 6 technology trends are shaping the future of field service:
- Augmented and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is a fully immersive experience, widely adopted by gamers, but with capabilities providing real value for training and teaching new skills. By implementing VR into training programs, field service organizations can offer simulated situations that mimic real-life scenarios, arming technicians with a highly effective level of training at lower costs. Augmented reality is not fully immersive but helps users to visualize information by superimposing labels, captions, and overlays to their view of the environment. For technicians in the field, AR wearables provide valuable real-time assistance to guide them through tasks, improving resolution rates and enabling them to capture and share knowledge. Progressive field service organizations like BP, are already reaping the rewards of augmented reality, by using smart glasses to increase technician productivity and improve safety and efficiency.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has long played a significant role in efficient field service management, helping to solve the complex scheduling challenges of deploying large mobile workforces to address work orders. As computing power increases, AI capabilities can rapidly calculate how best to respond to issues with the resources available, taking into account the impact of different responses on business priorities. This kind of technology helps field service teams to efficiently plan resource capacity, schedule work intelligently and optimize routes to reduce travel time.
- Machine Learning
Machine Learning, a subset of AI, provides computers with the ability to learn, make accurate, data-driven decisions and improve the ways tasks are completed without additional programming. Machine learning models are already generating concrete business value for service organizations through fast and accurate predictive field service. By analyzing historical data and using advanced algorithms, machine learning technology can make optimal business and scheduling decisions based on accurate predictions such as likely task duration or customer cancellations which helps field service organizations to run their teams as effectively as possible.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Today, sophisticated IoT sensors in modern devices can convey all kinds of information about the status of the equipment and its environment, from temperature, humidity to pressure. Leveraging these insights allows field service leaders to identify trends in data and anticipate or predict when imminent issues or failure are likely to occur and what needs to be done to avoid costly downtime and get ahead of a problem. This type of proactive maintenance is a major evolution in field service, helping to increase the life cycle of an asset, reduce maintenance costs as well as the downtime for a company.
No longer simply a consumer trend, wearables have a growing presence in field service organizations. IDC reported last year that the wearables market is expected to double by 2021, with smartwatch shipments specifically expected to increase from 71.4 million units in 2017 to 161 million units in 2021. Potential field service applications of wearables include voice command and hands-free activity such as taking notes, making a call, accessing repair history all without stepping away from the task at hand help to boost technician productivity. In the case of technicians working alone, in remote locations, hazardous environments or handling dangerous equipment, wearables can provide increased safety through tracking of targeted biometric and location data. Smart glasses with augmented reality capabilities are also being used to reduce error, by providing overlays and displays with clear repair instructions, rather than relying on memory as well as capturing video and images for collaboration and knowledge transfer.
The number of U.S. commercial drones is expected to grow by a factor of 10 over the next half-decade, from 42,000 drones in 2016 to more than 420,000 by 2021, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There’s no doubt that drone technology is evolving rapidly and in field service they’re proving to be a safer and more cost-effective way to assess and monitor assets in remote, dangerous or hard to reach locations. For example, for Utilities which operate extensive networks of complex assets distributed over large areas, using drones instead of humans in dangerous or remote service scenarios means that both costs and danger can be significantly minimized.
To find out more about how your organization can harness the power of the latest technologies to improve field service, contact us today.