From The Editor | November 10, 2018

Strategic Field Service Takes Hold

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Sarah Nicastro

I’ve witnessed significant progress among field service organizations this year. If asked to summarize what’s happening, I’d conclude that in 2018 field service has become more strategic. Born from the recognition that field service can be a profit center versus a cost center, companies have begun to realize that being more intentional about how they’re delivering field service can truly transform their business. You’ll see this recognition echoed in the pages of this issue as you read about what your peers are working toward, contending with, and investing in. This special issue takes a different format than our regular issues, providing you:

  • A summary of insight from four of the leading analysts in this space
  • The results of a comprehensive survey we completed in October of field service organizations, asking for input on strategic initiatives, challenges, and areas of investment
  • Anecdotal insight from some of our Field Technologies Editorial Board members, giving additional perspective on their companies’ field service journeys

To me, when you look at the information in this issue, there are a few major themes that illustrate the increasingly strategic nature of field service. Here are three aspects of field service I’ve taken note of in 2018 that reflect the progress being made in the industry.

Consistent Customer Focus
If you think of customer experience as a buzzword, you need to realize it’s more of a concept that isn’t going anywhere — and one you need to be paying attention to if you aren’t already. Throughout the many conversations I’ve had this year with field service leaders, customer experience is a major recurring theme and area of focus. Field service organizations have realized that aligning their businesses to deliver the sort of experiences their customers are seeking is the only true path to success, and therefore customer focus has become the foundation of their business transformation efforts. Many of the field service executives I’ve interviewed this year have pointed out the fact that they’re no longer competing with other field service organizations, but rather with companies like Amazon and Uber that provide convenient, seamless experiences. As customer expectations become increasingly demanding, having a companywide focus on the customer experience is arguably the most critical step toward strategic field service.

True Digital Transformation Efforts
Another theme that shows how field service organizations have become more strategic is how they are embracing digital transformation. By digital transformation, I don’t mean automating spreadsheets or paper forms — I mean truly embracing what modern technology can do for your business. Companies that are reaping the benefits of true digital transformation are taking the time to first address ineffective, inefficient, or inconsistent processes — to first transform the business itself, and then to layer on technologies that will enable automation, greater knowledge at the point of service, better visibility of field operations, and more informed customers. From mobile to scheduling and work orders to IoT and AR and many others, the caliber of the tools you have at your disposal today is significant. Companies that recognize the potential to be more strategic are taking advantage of these tools, and are doing so in a wellthought- out and intentional way.

The Quest For Company- Wide Cohesiveness
As companies recognize the need for and potential of field service becoming more strategic, they also recognize the need for field service to be better connected to the rest of the company. Field service leaders would historically say they felt kind of “on an island” and while some still battle with this, I think as field service becomes more recognized for the competitive differentiation it can provide, the function is largely becoming better integrated into the rest of the business. This means everything from how upper management views field service and sets initiatives to how technology is used to how field service technicians interact with other roles such as sales. For field service to reach its potential, it needs to be viewed as a significant and important part of the company versus an afterthought, and I think many organizations have achieved this goal.

I hope you find the insight in this issue valuable as you reflect on the progress your organization has made in 2018 and as you set your goals and initiatives for 2019.