December 2015 - The Service Council

Field Service Needs ‘The Force’

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

I had to summon the force on this one. It had to be done.

For all the talk of wearables and augmented reality in field service, organizations are still struggling with the basics. We’re nearing the end of a recent survey effort (160 participants) on field service mobility and while most organizations have invested in mobile solutions (purchased or home-grown), they are still scratching the surface of what can be done on mobile.

Eighty-percent of the organizations that we’ve polled to this point indicate that they have a mobile solution in place for their field agents. Forty-six percent have been mobile for more than three years. Upon initiation, most organizations focused on the following mobile capabilities:

  • Work order management
  • Schedule management
  • Daily check in and check out
  • Time and expense management

This is understandable given the traditional focus of automation to remove paperwork, reduce errors, and enhance productivity. In addition, mobile capabilities were limited, especially for those who invested 5+ years ago.

Whats surprising is that looking ahead, the priority list of field service improvements looks like this:

  1. Increase productivity
  2. Less paperwork
  3. Less errors
  4. Increased revenue at the point-of-service

One would have thought that paperwork elimination and error reduction would have been dealt with given all the investment in mobility, and that organizations would have moved on to improving resolution, enhancing relationships, and driving revenue with the aid of mobile. Ultimately, this is where the real value in mobility can be seen.

We believe that organizations follow a typical maturity path when investing in mobility:

Stage 1: Replace paper
Stage 2: Remove productivity obstacles
Stage 3: Improve resolution
Stage 4: Improve relationships and revenue

There is nothing wrong with a stage-by-stage progression down this maturity path. Stages 1 and 2 are critical in improving efficiency. The challenge is when organizations only focus on stages 1 and 2 and forget to leverage mobile tools to enact true field service empowerment (stages 3 and 4). Its in stages 3 and 4, where true differentiation takes place.

The good news is that organizations are beginning to take notice. For those with mobility in place for more than 5 years, the following is the priority list of objectives:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Higher first-time fix
  3. Reduced diagnosis time
  4. Increased revenue

These organizations are eyeing stages 3 and 4. For those making initial investments in mobility, I would urge you to consider the entire maturity framework when considering the Power (in Darth Vader voice) of mobility. You don’t need to stick to a staged approach. The technology available today doesn’t limit you to a paper replacement strategy.

Tell us what you think. If interested in participating in our mobile research prior to survey closure on Dec 31, please click here. If you want access to summary results, please feel free to contact me at sd@servicecouncil.com

Note: For those of you who actually want some Star Wars commentary, I am cautiously optimistic on The Force Awakens and will be viewing it at midnight tomorrow. Its been well documented that the original trilogy was better due its focus on characters and dialog and less on CGI. The marvel of spaceships and fantasy happened to take place in the background.

J.J. will do a good job. I’ve always enjoyed his thoughts and take on storytelling. In fact, his “The Mystery Box” TED Talk is one of my favorites. If you have a few minutes, listen in.

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