It might be hard to rely on your crystal ball for signs of what might be in store in the coming year, since there’s a good chance that it got shattered when you threw it against a brick wall at some point in the last few years. Between COVID, Brexit, supply chain breakdowns, and rampant inflation, crystal balls haven’t been much use lately when it comes to identifying what’s ahead just down the road.

But maybe, just maybe, the world is starting to get back to normal, and perhaps you’re ready to start trusting your trusty crystal ball once again. We took a look around the field service industry and analyzed the signs of what seems to be coming our way in 2023. Here are 7 of the most likely trends we see emerging:

Strike Up the Bandwidth

Demand for bandwidth for both home and business applications will drive demand for fiber-to-the-premises installation and maintenance. In the business world, new applications for analytics and business intelligence driven by big data, glitch-free video, and emerging applications using technologies for enhanced realities continue to drive ever-greater levels of bandwidth.

Meanwhile, on the home front, factors like the sustained popularity of remote work will continue to drive demand for the highest possible bandwidth and reliable up time. (Entertainment applications will also drive demand as well; video games such as the latest releases of Warzone and Call of Duty in November led to the busiest traffic days ever for Virgin Media O2.)

Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real-Time Thing

Field service operations will increasingly expect real-time functionality that delivers immediate and sustained productivity gains. Our partner FLS has demonstrated the value of real-time scheduling and routing in a wide range of scenarios. And field service operations will expect similar real-time responsiveness in a variety of other applications as well.

For example, dynamic audits will streamline the workflows of time-consuming reviews, with tools that automate the process of cataloging audit-related documentation (such as the hundreds of photos often required for a particular task) and analysis and recommendations based on those documents (such as AI-driven analysis that prompts recommendations to accept or reject a specific photo).

Stand By Your Plan

Going hand-in-hand with real-time optimization and real-time collaboration are tactics for improving your capacity planning processes ahead of time, so you find yourself in hot water much less often. For example, Black & Veatch highlights one of its key strengths as an infrastructure engineering and construction contractor: an approach that “simultaneously manages the delivery of entire project portfolios, benefiting our clients in ways that wouldn’t be possible if managed individually.” One aspect of this is to “optimize plans to fit real-world conditions.” The company has developed a blended capacity model in which B&V employees, its customers' employees, and third-party contractors are all factored into the overall project plan.

With a similar objective of providing robust demand forecasting and capacity planning, Zinier has developed products geared specifically toward automating and optimizing capacity forecasting, planning, and utilization. And in addition to hurting your bottom line, TechRepublic notes that poor capacity management also leads to exhaustion of resources (including human resources), lowered morale, and a reduction in the quality of deliverables (which directly affects customer satisfaction metrics).

It’s Not So Cheesy Being Green

ESG and sustainability goals will drive many companies to seek out ways to modify their field service operations to reduce their carbon footprint. Community Fibre’s commitment to its ESG goals starts at the top, with CEO Graeme Oxby chairing the company’s “Green Team.” The company is migrating its diesel vans to electric vehicles, and is seeking ways to improve the way it manages inventory.

Per Black & Veatch, 65% of respondents in a recent study say that their organization has goals tied to carbon or greenhouse gas emissions, clean energy, or renewables. Resource and scheduling optimization will be key tools for transforming these tools into a reality.

Getting Better All the Time

Many of those same ESG goals will support improvements in efficiency as well. As broadband provider Midco notes on the company’s website, “innovation is helping Midco become more socially responsible – from using more energy efficient equipment, logistics improvements to get more trucks off the road, and testing energy efficient power solutions for our team members in the field.”

Those efficiencies will help field service operations struggling with cost-cutting initiatives, as they finally tackle some of the long-standing challenges like capacity management that are responsible for significant unnecessary operating expenses.

Why Don’t We Do It Without Code?  

The value of low-code and no-code customization capabilities will drive expectations among operations seeking to liberate themselves from lengthy time delays and expensive development cycles that limit their agility or their ability to quickly adapt to changing business requirements – especially as they race to scale quickly.

As Community Fibre’s Head of Quality and Operations Improvement Tom Heywood noted at the Connected Britain expo in September, “When you’ve got small customer numbers, it’s very easy to develop small workarounds.As we started to radically scale, what we found was that what were yesterday’s small workarounds and exceptions very quickly turned into major problems. What became apparent to us was that if we were to continue with homegrown systems, we would very quickly essentially need to turn ourselves into a software company.”

With the advent of no-code customization, on the other hand, field service operations can implement workflow changes in a matter of minutes from when they identified a problem and found a solution.

Keeping the Customer Satisfied

In the UK, the ISPA trade association sees a shift taking place in the fiber-to-the-premises marketplace in the near future. In previous years, investment in the sector has been driven by a simplistic gold rush mentality, with success gauged solely on total homes and businesses passed and the cost to provide service to those premises. That doesn’t mean the race to capture market share is slowing down – it just means the tactics are changing. Increasingly, “investors now take a keener interest in the relationship between providers and their customers.”

Rather than simply aiming to pass an ever-larger number of homes and businesses, average revenue per user is emerging as an increasingly relevant success metric, with a greater focus being placed on the introduction of additional value-added services. For field service operations, that translates into ensuring consistent high levels of customer satisfaction which, in turn, is driven by greater visibility into customer-facing operations (such as self-serve portals for installation and troubleshooting appointments), improved performance in being on time for those appointments, and improved first-time fix rates to avoid frustrating your customers.

Keys to achieving these objectives include things like real-time resource optimization, robust capacity management, and support for remote collaboration.

What’s in your crystal ball for 2023? We’d love to compare notes – let us know when you’re free for a chat here. (Sorry, our crystal ball only works for industry trends, not for your individual schedule.)

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