From The Editor | May 26, 2011

The Future Of Field Service

By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine

Many of you are still using some sort of manual system in the field — and you know who you are. For you, any of the technologies we cover hold the appeal of showing you how you can increase productivity and drive efficiency in your company. But, what about companies that have already deployed a first-generation (or second-generation, or thirdgeneration) field service automation solution and are looking for a way to take it to the next level? If you’re part of that group, you’re challenged with determining the future of field service — identifying the next-generation technology that can help you further automate your operation and gain an advantage over your competition. Here are a couple that I believe can take your field service automation to the next level.

There’s been a noticeable shift over the past couple of years toward cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service). Not too long ago, when I spoke with companies like yours about software in the cloud, it was an idea that made them nervous — they were leery to relinquish control of their software. That mindset has shifted dramatically. Research organization Strategies For Growth recently conducted a survey of 200 field service executives and found that 67% of respondents planning to invest in mobile tools in the next 12 months are considering cloud computing. Why? Software in the cloud/SaaS requires little or no upfront investment, a very short (I’m talking days or weeks) deployment cycle, and no internal IT labor to manage the solution. If you’re currently spending a considerable amount of time managing or tweaking your software, cloud computing might be an option that could further optimize your resources.

M2M Enables Next-Generation Field Service
The other technology that I believe is really revolutionizing the field service industry is M2M (machine-to-machine) technology. As seen in our cover story this month on CareFusion, M2M-enabled remote monitoring enables companies to deliver service in a much more intelligent way — it enables you to make informed decisions rather than doing guesswork. With remote monitoring in place, you’re able to collect data from the products needing service so that you can determine issues without sending someone on-site. This enables service companies to eliminate unnecessary truck rolls by providing the ability to remotely diagnose and resolve issues that don’t require a tech on-site. It also facilitates an increase in first-time fix rates when a tech does need to go on-site because he knows precisely what the issue is and can go prepared with the correct information and tools to complete a repair on the first visit. According to Aberdeen Group, companies using remote service solutions experience, on average, a 22% increase in first-time fix rates, a 28% reduction in MTTR (mean time to repair), a 7% increase in service revenue, and approximately $500,000 in service-related cost savings. With statistics like this, it’s clear to see why M2M is the future of field service.