Efficiently running any business requires organization, oversight, and planning to minimize minor disruptions and eliminate them with careful management and creative thinking. However, when it comes to running a field service management business, the job automatically becomes more complicated. The field services industry covers the management of a company’s resources employed at or en route to clients’ property instead of company property.
Common examples of field service businesses include repair and maintenance, customer support, inspections, and consultancy, and the daily processes of a field services organization can be complex. It can involve scheduling work orders, dispatching technicians, tracking labor hours and job status, and invoicing. Things like coordinating with technicians, sending out invoices promptly, and managing inventory becomes even more complicated when part of the business is on the road.
But, as the world continues to enter a digital age, more technology becomes available that can add ease and optimization to these daily processes. Surprisingly, 52% of companies still use manual methods for most field service tasks. However, some are beginning to turn to innovative devices and applications as technology seeps into the field services sector.
One company leading in the design of mobile applications that bring team members together in the field services industry is PeopleOne, a division of Eleviant, a Microsoft partner expert in internal communications and collaboration solutions that simplify workflow and amplify productivity.
“The field service businesses have called for easier and user-friendly ways for their field professionals to stay in touch when visiting customers, servicing equipment, and solving problems,” Ritwik Bose, Senior Director Technical Consulting, Eleviant said. “They are very hard-working contributors, who constantly travel and rely on their smartphones even more than employees in the office or working from a home office. We have enjoyed working with customers in the field service industry or who have many technicians at their facilities and factories. With the right mobile app, they can be kept in the loop on all that is happening in the company and feel so much more supported when it is simple to connect with human resources, such as benefits, vacation scheduling, and more.”
The field service companies that are starting to adopt and leverage technology have already begun to find plenty of use cases for the wide variety of devices and applications available today. 73% of field management firms have already incorporated the Internet of Things (IoT) into their operations. On top of this, 74% of fleet operators consider in-cab video telematics as beneficial or highly beneficial.
“There has been so much exciting innovation in field service when connecting machines that generate data, including triggering maintenance alerts and more,” Bose said. “The human side of this – communications and collaboration – workflow and a sense of belonging – is catching up quickly as is streamlining the relationship between machine-generated data and the technicians responsible for ensuring those machines have as little downtime as possible.”
Cloud-based and mobile-first communication platforms are becoming more prominent in field service. These are software solutions that facilitate external and internal messaging for a company. These platforms offer a range of vital functions such as voice and video calls, instant messaging, document sharing, conference calling, collaboration, and more, all of which employees can now access through an integrated software suite.
The technology is already blossoming in a relatively short time, as in 2021, the global cloud communication platform market was already valued at USD 2710.5 million. The market is expected to grow, alongside business technology use, at a CAGR of 14.1% from now to 2028, with estimates putting the 2028 market value at USD 7020.9 million. The rapid growth is not surprising, as the technology is extremely beneficial to modern-day enterprises, offering an abundance of enhanced use cases in the field services industry alone.
“The benefits a communications platform solution can offer to a field services enterprise cover many use cases,” Bose explained. “A communications platform can help empower field services employees, the most critical part of the field services chain. Employees will have the tools they need to perform their jobs better. For example, a sales team can quickly access details about previous sales calls, which technicians were sent out, and what previous fix resolutions were. The same is true of the field service technicians. When they can access data about previous service calls from the field, they can make more well-informed decisions and better troubleshoot issues.”
Another example is scheduling. “Manually doing this can lead to errors, lost efficiency, and extra time on the road for technicians,” Bose said. “But, when leveraging a communications platform, enterprises can strategically plan out each technician’s schedule to minimize driving and backtracking. This optimizes the amount of time technicians can spend on appointments, rather than on travel.”
Finally, platforms like these can also enhance tracking, both physically and analytically. The technology ensures that an enterprise’s sales and customer service team can easily monitor their technicians’ progress and location via mobile FSM platforms. With these updates, an in-office team can update customers accordingly. They can let customers know if their technician is running early or behind and efficiently facilitate a clear line of communication with customers.
“The potential that communications platform technology has for the field services industry is monumental, and the solutions can be revolutionary for enterprises, employees, and consumers alike,” Bose explained. “And as we stride further into a new digital age, the technology will only become more critical for field services enterprises that wish to remain competitive. With a communications platform, field service enterprises can enhance their inter-business communications, allowing them to reach out to their entire workforce with up to date, insightful and targeted content.”
Be part of the conversation about the Future of Work and how businesses are enhancing both customer and employee experiences at Future of Work Expo 2022. The conference focuses on key elements of today's re-imagined workplace, not just for improving productivity, but also providing a better customer experience, through the intersection of technology and the human element. Future of Work Expo is part of the #TECHSUPERSHOW experience, taking place June 21-24, 2022 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. PeopleOne is a sponsor of Future of Work Expo and will be in Booth #264 in the exhibit hall.
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