Digital Transformation and Field Service Management – Getting an Edge

Companies within the Field Service Management (FSM) space are faced with an increasingly competitive marketplace driven by changing...

Companies within the Field Service Management (FSM) space are faced with an increasingly competitive marketplace driven by changing customer expectations. Like most service providers, FSM companies are challenged with not only providing excellent service, but also an outstanding customer experience. Customers now rate the quality of experience as important as the quality of the service that is delivered. This is a fundamental shift that requires FSM companies to expand their toolboxes to include those technologies that will enable new capabilities to meet those new demands.

Increasing—and sustaining—competitive position requires solutions to common limitations across the entire ecosystem of individual FSM functions, including: Enterprise Asset Management, Asset Performance Management, and Sales and Service Management.

Historical Limitations and Digital Solutions

If polled, FSM companies would likely provide a list of performance limitations as diverse as the FSM industry itself. However, many of those companies would report several common legacy issues that have plagued their individual operations. We will break down a few of those common problems. We will also discuss the role of digital transformation in solving those problems. The discussion will focus on three of the most common functions within a typical FSM operation.

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

Legacy Limitations:

Today, the reliance on legacy asset management tools and applications will not provide the level of asset visibility and connectivity that is required to achieve operational excellence. Common problems can include the following:

  • Outdated inventory management systems that are entirely focused on counts rather than optimizing availability and utilization.
  • No ability to monitor real-time status of capital assets, resulting in risks related to health and utilization of expensive equipment.
  • Assessment of asset status that is too dependent upon physical audits and expensive visual inspections.
  • Escalating asset carrying costs due to lack of real-time—at-a-glance—visibility into asset status and utilization opportunities.

Digital Transformation Advantages:

Digital transformation brings the potential for game-changing advancements in the ability to manage the entire life cycle of enterprise assets. A sampling of these advantages would include:

  • Ability to monitor and manage capital assets from any geographical location. Helps insure that those assets are delivering maximum value to your operation and your customers.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities that deliver competitive advantages in the areas of: asset learning, predictive maintenance, lifespan optimization, decommission protocols, and more.
  • Use of Internet of Things (IoT) – enabled smart devices provides reliable, real time, contact with remote assets. This provides superior visibility into critical aspects of an asset’s status (location, usage authorization, viability, etc.).
  • Cloud-based data analytics that deliver real-time data streams from connected assets. Data that enables proactive response to potential field issues and new deployment opportunities.

Asset Performance Management (APM)

Asset Performance Management

Legacy Limitations:

Maximizing the performance of field assets is a mission-critical objective for any FSM enterprise. Historically, asset performance has been negatively affected by the remote and disconnected nature of those assets. This has led to operational inefficiencies and, consequently, to poor customer experiences. Typical impediments have included:

  • Reliance on legacy applications and technologies that provide no connectivity to field assets. Crippling down-times that go unreported and unresolved.
  • Inability to perform real-time monitoring of remote assets. No mechanism for remote adjustment of asset performance parameters.
  • Lack of real-time asset data and sluggish reporting prevents asset stakeholders—and customers— from obtaining an “at-a-glance” summary of critical asset metrics.

Digital Transformation Advantages:

How is digital transformation revolutionizing asset performance management within FSM companies? Consider these advantages:

  • Utilization of IoT technology to connect to “smart” field assets. Provides a closed-loop ecosystem for the operation and performance optimization of those assets.
  • Cloud-base ability to dynamically customize device-specific alerts, notifications, and triggers to quickly respond to faulty asset performance.
  • Use of AI and ML capabilities enable the continued “learning” and self-adaption of mission-critical field assets.
  • Cloud-based, code-free, analytics that deliver single-pane-of-glass dashboards that provide real-time feedback on asset performance. Reduces the amount of field-time required for service personnel.

Sales and Service Management (SSM)

Sales and Service Management

Legacy Limitations:

The quality of customer experience delivered by FSM companies is largely dictated by the capabilities within the SSM function. Companies that lag behind in digital transformation run the risk of losing market share due to an inability to deliver the kind of experience that customers now expect. Typical short-comings can include:

  • Reliance on legacy applications that are neither integrated nor cloud-based, creating a delivery ecosystem that is inherently inefficient and self-limiting.
  • Inefficient communication between sales and service personnel due to reliance on applications that are isolated in architecture and manual in execution.
  • Inability to provide customers with real-time updates on tech arrival times, job status, follow-up requirements, etc.
  • Operational blind spots that cripple a dispatcher’s ability to respond to rapidly-changing field conditions.
  • Technician’s arrival at job sites ill-equipped to perform the required tasks due to lack of reliable connectivity to job dispatchers.
  • Back-office routines driven by manual processes that are slow, inefficient, and prone to error.

Digital Transformation Advantages:

Sales and Service Management is being completed transformed by the inherent advantages of digital transformation. The positive impacts are both wide and deep. Just a few specifics would include:

  • Ability to keep customers constantly updated by providing real-time information such as: current tech location, estimated arrival times, and projected service-call duration.
  • AI technologies that empower delivery of customer service that is based on actual learning and incorporation of customer behaviors.
  • Service scheduling that puts the power in the hand of the customer. Customers can update requested service dates/times via access to a cloud-based application that provides immediate updates to the FSM dispatcher.
  • Service techs empowered with mobile technology have the ability to access all pertinent information related to their upcoming service call. Techs arrive at job sites fully prepared to deliver requested services while being able to maintain real-time contact with their service centers.
  • Intelligent workflows that provide dynamic automation of front and back-office processes such as: order entry, work order creation, tech assignment, work order closure, and invoicing. Significantly reduces errors and provides customers with a superior experience.

A Better Experience for Your Customers

The combination of all the above has several positive implications for an SSM operation, including:

  • Higher rates of successful first-visit service calls.
  • Improved communication between all sales and service personnel.
  • Enhanced levels of customer engagement within the scheduling and feedback processes.
  • Superior utilization of service personnel.
  • More seamless front and back-office routines that deliver better customer experience.
  • Reduced operational costs through the elimination of inefficiencies and redundancies.
  • An overall customer experience that build brand awareness, fosters customer loyalty, and drives revenue growth.

Digital transformation is providing FSM companies with the means to dramatically improve all aspects of their performance. This momentum will continue to be driven by the competitive landscape as well as by escalating customer expectations. What was good enough yesterday is not good enough today and will not be good enough tomorrow.