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Field service technicians work more effectively when they've got their heads in the clouds.

There's a perfect storm of things coming together that makes now a good time to look at improving your company's field service operations.

Customers are expecting ever-increasing levels of service. Businesses are under pressure to find additional revenues. Global competition is increasing. At the same time, technology is making new things possible--the cloud is a major driver, underpinned by the massive adoption of mobile devices and the availability of the internet.

Service has traditionally been underserved by advances in technology. But the introduction of field service management software, in response to these factors, can be a transformational process for your whole business. The benefits are great. It will give you a 360[degrees] view of our customer, so you can better meet their needs. It can help you increase revenue, lower costs to make service more profitable, and lock out the competition.

Our company supplies field service management software applications to better manage services to a number of sectors, from pharmaceuticals and engineering to retail and media, including the likes of Sony, GE and Schneider Electric. Common across them all, we find the business case for field service management software is strongest when you are looking at high-value, fixed assets.

These are the type of assets that, when they are not working, cause their owners pain, either actual physical pain, in the case of medical equipment, or financial pain. The need to get the machine fixed becomes more powerful and drives the decision-making.

ServiceMax can automate the field service processes in the field and the back office with a dashboard for monitoring resource availability and activity, linked to apps running on mobile devices, online or offline, an important aspect for many technicians. The field service technician gets better access to information, can capture data to send back, and file reports in real time. Our software is made available via cloud technology and is scaleable, from tens to many thousands of technicians.

Technology makes these improvements possible, but I've seen customers attempt to use new technology as a panacea to solve a problem. They rush out and equip field service technicians with iPads without even thinking about the system they will run on them.

A better place to start is to try to understand where servicing fits in with your company's overall objectives and how service can help you achieve those. Benchmark against your competition; set your aims and then work out what infrastructure servicing needs in the long term to support it. Our Maturity Matrix methodology tools uncover the opportunities for improvement and define desired business outcomes.

The key is planning, working with experts who know what is possible, and not getting hung up over new technology. Our research shows that new technology, such as the Internet of Things, augmented reality and wearable technology, will play an important part in the future of field service, but will complement the engineer or technician rather than replace them.

Spencer Earp, vice-president at field service management applications provider ServiceMax

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Title Annotation:Masterclass
Author:Earp, Spencer
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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