By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year as it relates to technologies that can be used to optimize your mobile workers and assets. In some cases, businesses are able to reap the benefits of technological advancements driven by consumers. In other cases, the enterprise is becoming the driver of new applications. Here are three technologies you should be evaluating in 2015:
IoT — I can’t stress this enough: If you aren’t already evaluating or leveraging M2M and IoT technologies, now is the time to do so. The IoT is truly transforming the service industry from reactive to predictive, and it’s a trend you need to be on top of. Think about what remote assets you have that you could benefit from having real-time communication with — that’s a starting point for where IoT can help you. Take a look at what other companies are doing with IoT to learn how they’re leveraging the technology, and do so before it’s too late. IoT isn’t a fad that will pass; it’s going to become the new normal.
Wearables — The uses I’ve seen of wearables are very interesting and can provide a lot of value to field operations. For instance, some organizations are leveraging wearables to transfer knowledge from older, highly experienced workers to younger, less-experienced workers. A skilled tech can remain in the office (or at home) and communicate with younger techs in the field to provide real-time guidance and assistance to train them up. Other organizations are using wearables for safety — such as having workers wear a Fitbit to track their vitals in the field. The uses of wearables are vast, but the general rule is that if you have workers who could benefit from hands-free, real-time information sharing, it’s a technology to look into.
3D Printing — At a couple of conferences I attended this year, there were exhibits set up showing how 3D printers can be used to manufacture needed tools or equipment on-site. Talk about alleviating inventory issues! Can you imagine being able to drastically reduce — or even eliminate — the need to carry inventory on service trucks? Think about the improvement in first-time fix that 3D printing could have. It’ll be interesting to see how this trend evolves in 2015.
I know that the research and evaluation of each of these newer technologies can be daunting, but it’s also very exciting — all three are tools that could have a great impact on your business. We’re looking forward to covering these trends and more in 2015, and I’d love your feedback on anything else you’d like to see in Field Technologies next year.