By Brian Albright, Field Technologies
As we finish off what has certainly been a roller coaster ride of a year on many levels, I was struck by two recent articles that highlight the promising future that field service is facing at the dawn of the New Year.
First, Econotimes published an article by Ali Ziaee Bigdeli that boldly asks, “Will services be the saviour of manufacturing?” Anyone whose been watching or working in the field service space already knows that the answer is yes, at least from a certain perspective. The U.S. economy could use more manufacturing jobs, but anyone expecting a resurgence of the types of assembly-line positions that once dominated the economy is looking in the wrong place.
Automation has done as much to shrink manufacturing employment as outsourcing. But for manufacturers looking for “customer satisfaction, competitiveness and sustainable revenue,” as Bigdeli puts it, service is the area to watch.
Savvy manufacturers are building their revenue through service – that’s true whether you are talking about automobile manufacturers or consumer electronics. It’s certainly true at GE, which made several major moves in the service space this past year (including the acquisition of ServiceMax by its GE Digital division) to better connect its customers, products, and technicians.
GE is weaving together a technology suite that will help the company monitor its assets in the field, automatically determine the best course of action if there is a problem, and quickly dispatch a service technician when necessary. Goodyear, likewise, announced Goodyear Proactive Solutions, which will help its customers better manage their truck fleets – a value-add that enhances their investment in Goodyear’s automotive products.
By wrapping services around finished goods – selling a customer experience, uptime, productivity, etc.—manufacturers can create new revenue streams and jobs.
ServiceMax co-founder Athani Krishnaprasad contributed a piece to Diginomica that echoes many of those same sentiments, predicting a field service renaissance in 2017.
According to Krishnaprasad: “The old model of service is rapidly shifting to a new proactive — and increasingly predictive — one, and all kinds of emerging technologies are enabling this shift. Service is at the forefront of concerns for companies with industrial infrastructure and equipment in the field, and guaranteeing uptime while leveraging technology has become possible in entirely new ways.”
In the coming year, he predicts that:
- Manufacturers will increasingly provide “outcomes” to customers rather than products, which will create new revenue streams and service jobs in the process. The push to invest in infrastructure could also boost service job growth.
- As more companies deploy Internet of things (IoT) technology, they will invest in solutions that help them analyze and measure the vast quantities of data generated by these systems.
- Technicians will be in high demand as experienced employees retire and it becomes more difficult to attract younger workers. They may very well turn to augmented and virtual reality solutions to remotely train employees and help ease the knowledge transfer process as new technicians come on board.
- Manufacturers will increasingly compete with third-party service providers for this important service-based revenue. The good news is that there will be plenty of business to go around for agile and flexible service organizations.