The Future of Field Service Mobility August 25th, 2022
Prepare to provide reliable solutions that keep field workers continuously connected and enhance customer engagement.
Field service operations have evolved over the past decade – from on-premises management systems and paper-based processes in the field to a greater reliance on cloud solutions and mobility. But the evolution isn’t over. Here are five ways field service mobility is changing and how solutions providers can grow their businesses by meeting new demands.
Although technicians take devices with them to access field service Management (FSM) software as they work in remote locations, which device they take can limit functionality. A vehicle-mounted computer, for example, can enable data input from nearly any location, but it doesn’t provide benefits to field workers throughout service calls or when directly engaging with customers.
Field teams investing in new mobile solutions will choose devices that keep workers always connected and that have features that make them practical to do so. In-demand devices are easy to carry, wear and use. Additionally, technicians who require hands-free access to applications and data will use solutions that include headsets or smart glasses. Mobile solutions will feature easy options for docking and charging that don’t interfere with the work at hand.
Businesses that gambled with commercial-grade mobile devices in the past, especially those that provide mission-critical services, will upgrade to rugged solutions. The justification that the company will buy another if a screen breaks or the device fails after exposure to extreme conditions doesn’t hold up, for example, in public safety or utility applications. Moreover, any field service team will benefit from the reliability, performance and security of rugged devices, and when businesses factor in uptime, productivity, and efficiency, ROI can be substantial.
Field service mobility will involve more than integrating with a legacy FSM platform. Managing technicians in the field will increasingly leverage advanced technologies. Data from the Internet of Things (IoT) or other connected systems will feed big data analysis that helps first responders stay situationally aware or sends warnings of unsafe conditions to mining or demolition teams. Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) can monitor field workers’ activity and adjust routes, schedules, and work in response to changes or emergencies.
Data analysis will also increasingly expand from only descriptive, which provides information on how things are, to predictive, which tells how they could be. Field workers will benefit from solutions that provide them with likely scenarios and save time by recommending next steps. A Zebra Technologies study found the number of field services organizations using predictive solutions will increase from 16 percent in 2020 to 32 percent by 2025, and 76 percent say their operations now rely on mobile devices versus desktops.
More field services teams are exploring the benefits of augmented reality (AR) to provide visual assistance to technicians. They can use mobile solutions and smart glasses to efficiently access the information they need to troubleshoot or complete maintenance or service. Additionally, these solutions can enable collaboration with other team members, allowing them to see what the technician sees and provide guidance.
Focus on Customer Experience
Field service businesses have realized that mobility can enhance their customers’ engagement with technicians. They can receive electronic invoices, make payments and schedule new appointments conveniently with the help of a technician with a mobile device.
In addition, the pandemic drove the need for new, contactless processes. With these solutions, technicians send invoices via text link or QR code and accept contactless payments, allowing customers to maintain a safe social distance and minimize the need to use shared touchscreens.
The Future is Now
Trends indicate the direction field services mobility is taking, information that can help forward-thinking solutions providers implement solutions today that can scale and extend to accommodate new capabilities.
Ensure your vendor partnerships, the software solutions you provide, and your portfolio allow you to meet demands today and tomorrow.