Guest Column | January 24, 2022

The Top 5 Field Service Themes To Watch In 2022

By Aly Pinder, IDC

Five 5

The past two years have been quite transformative for service organizations and manufacturers. Organizations that primarily focused on competitive pressures had to navigate an environment where each month, week, day, and hour came with a new never-before-seen challenge. From technician safety, talent shortages, customer requirements for social distance, resource scarcity, manufacturers and service organizations had to dynamically adjust their field service operations and processes to ensure they could deliver resolution regardless of limitations. The impact of digital tools and technologies showed the ability to aid in mitigating some of these challenges while also enabling some new opportunities to enhance the service experience.

The coming 12 months, like that past 24, will prove to be disruptive but also an opportunity to leverage the service experience as a differentiator. Service leaders and IT buyers must take a strategic approach to digital transformation and ensure the right investments drive excellence, efficiency, and quality. In IDC's Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey – Wave 9 (October 2021), 45.3% of manufacturers stated they had a formal strategy for business resiliency and are beginning to accelerate and integrate digitalization. Another 30.2% of manufacturers noted an enterprise-wide strategy for digitalization and a long-term plan for resiliency which is focused on the next 1 to 3 years. The field service operation historically has been disconnected from enterprise digital strategy, but this must change. As 2022 develops, I look forward to tracking a few themes which will determine success for field service organizations in aligning with an enterprise digital strategy and delivering enhanced experiences for customers.

  • AI-driven support is a near-term leap – Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are no longer a future technology. Connected equipment is leading to a wealth of data but doesn't automatically lead to insights. Field service organizations understand they need to take advantage of IoT data from assets, equipment, and products, and leverage AI models to automate decision making to in turn predictively trigger service events.
  • Servitization, not an endpoint but a journey with the customer – The field service operation is an opportunity to deliver enhanced value to customers. Each interaction with a customer is a chance to go beyond just the work order. The service business model of solely selling standard service contracts or consumables must give way to a field service team that looks to become a trusted advisor for customer productivity and output.
  • Remote service can drive customer engagement – Despite restrictions on physical contact, the field service team still can drive engagement and value with customers. Augmented reality and mobile applications have opened new channels for collaboration. Remote field service experiences provide the service organization with the ability to meet SLAs regardless of distance limitations, but over the next year, organizations need to use these channels to drive engagement and value as well.
  • Metrics of success evolve – Over the past few years, the metrics that assess success in field service have evolved from primarily being operationally focused such as worker utilization or productivity to being more customer-focused like first-time fix and customer retention. This shift will only be more pronounced as we enter the next stage of the COVID pandemic whereby customers have options for their service needs and have raised expectations as a result of the experience economy.
  • Personalization of field engagements at scale – The convergence of customer and field service experiences have changed the relationship between the service team and customers. CRM insights must be leveraged to ensure when a field service technician arrives on a customer site to resolve an issue, they also can take into account needs beyond the work order.

The coming 12 months will prove to be transformative for service organizations and I look forward to continuing to research the above themes along with others that arise.

About The Author

As Program Director, Service Innovation & Connected Products, Aly Pinder Jr leads IDC research and analysis of the service and customer support market for the manufacturer, which includes topics such as field service, warranty operations, service parts management, and how these service areas impact the overall customer experience. Mr. Pinder Jr. is also responsible for research that aids manufacturers as they evaluate innovative technologies like 3D printing for service operations, augmented and virtual reality in field support, and the use of IoT and advanced analytics for remotely monitoring and managing assets. Mr. Pinder Jr. establishes a roadmap for the manufacturer to better understand how technology can transform service and support functions to drive exceptional customer experiences and customer value, profitable revenue growth, and improved efficiency in the field.