The field service knowledge gap is rearing its ugly head in just about every field service organization. According to the ManpowerGroup's Employment Outlook Q3 2021 survey, a whopping 69% of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 15-year high. Market dynamics are causing the knowledge gap to widen to the point where customer satisfaction is suffering, labor costs are increasing, and margins are under pressure.
The knowledge gap is aggravated by three irreversible employment trends that have combined into a "perfect storm" of challenges for field service executives. First, we are facing an unprecedented Silver Tsunami with baby boomer service technicians retiring in droves. Second, industrialized countries are experiencing tight labor markets where companies face more difficulty than ever attracting and retaining skilled workers. Third, products are getting more complex. Ten years ago, few would have predicted that coffee-making equipment or commercial washing machines would carry onboard CPUs, have software interfaces, and be connected to the Internet.
The difficulty hiring service staff and the growing complexity of equipment presents new challenges for field service managers. In the Service Council's 2021 survey of 900 field service technicians, over 90% said they needed more knowledge to meet their job responsibilities. If younger field service technicians are expected to service increasingly complex products, they must have easier access to technical information unintentionally locked up in corporate silos or trapped in the the heads of their baby boomer teammates.