Guest Column | February 20, 2020

Key Success Requirements For Field Service Management

By Spencer Gisser, VDC Research

It can be challenging to understand which field service management (FSM) features can best lead to specified business benefits. Mapping out an FSM strategy and comparing different FSM solutions can be difficult because so many FSM capabilities are complementary. One way to understand different kinds of FSM capabilities is by partitioning them into three categories: in the field, intelligent capabilities, and optimization.

“In the field” capabilities are primarily oriented toward supplying information to workers in the field. They include such solutions as mobility, information repositories, AR/MR, smart glasses, sector-specific features, and customer contact. “In the field” capabilities are often thought of as entry-level. They can often be deployed as stand-alone solutions because they do not necessarily rely on other systems. These benefits are hardly limited to field service technicians – with smart glasses, remote technicians can guide workers at a job site through a diagnostic process before the technician travels there, saving time and ensuring that the technician will arrive with the right parts for the job. This is especially important for organizations that are sensitive to operational downtime such as large manufacturers or oil rigs. Given the aging workforce within field service, knowledge transfer has become more important than ever. Providing information and even remote expert capabilities is pivotal to training the next generation of field service technicians.

Intelligent capabilities are oriented around simplifying information and the ability to interact with that information. This includes IoT analytics, dynamic checklists, low-code and no-code solutions, and cloud hosting. These solutions enable organizations to intake, understand, organize, and convey information through a streamlined process. The effects of integrating intelligent capabilities depend on the exact features used, but they all address the core business need of making it easier to act on information. IoT analytics, by far the most prominent of FSM intelligent capabilities, enables organizations to gain a digital twin of devices in the field, which further enables new functions such as predictive maintenance, outcome-based service, and the elimination of operational downtime for field service customers.

Optimization engines can take information and provide options that efficiently align with specified objectives. Typically, this entails smoothing out business operations through solutions such as inventory management, supply chain management, job management, and tools for managing a third-party workforce. These solutions are not necessarily oriented toward the field service technicians, but at enhancing other aspects of field service operations. Although schedule and dispatch is a mainstay of FSM solutions, optimization of this and other areas can entail advanced systems that use a wide variety of data such as traffic, weather patterns, technicians skillsets, and customer preferences to provide the user with scheduling options and enable dispatchers to manage by exception.

Once field service organizations see that FSM features fall into different categories, mapping business goals to features becomes straightforward. Do you need to access and interpret real-time information about a device? That is an intelligent capability, bringing you to IoT. Does your technician need to see that represented and overlaid on the physical device? That is an in the field capability, leading you to AR/MR. Does your technician need a specialized tool? Understanding how to get it is an optimization problem, cutting the path to inventory management. By defining the category of benefit, business leaders can efficiently narrow down which FSM features are right for them.

About The Author

Spencer GisserSpencer Gisser is a market research and consulting professional within VDC’s Enterprise Mobility and Connected Devices practice, supporting both syndicated research and custom engagements. Prior to joining VDC, Spencer conducted in-depth market analysis at cybersecurity company Covata. Spencer also founded and moderates /r/Security, a 134,000-person online forum enabling the cybersecurity industry. Spencer holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University.