As 2019 draws to a close, field service leaders are already defining what the next decade of field service will look like. AI and automation will play a central role, whether it’s automating routine tasks or looking at historical trends and real-time data to predict failure in advance. So will the tactics and tools used to support an evolving workforce.
Going into the new year, here are four of the biggest trends that will define field service in 2020.
1. Field service is changing … sort of
The field service industry is at a crossroads. Gone are the days when organizations could run their day-to-day operations with pen and paper – there are too many sites to visit, technicians to manage, and data points to capture and analyze.
Technology is changing the way organizations think about, schedule, and execute work. But when we talk to field service leaders, they tend to bring up the same organizational goals and operational challenges.
Field service leaders still want to reduce the number of return visits. They want to be able to track activity in real time, across multiple teams and job sites. Most importantly, they want to shift field service from a cost center to a profit center.
2. New technology should play nicely with existing solutions
When we talk to field service leaders, almost every conversation includes a variation of the same question: how would your platform work with our internal systems?
Most field service organizations have already made significant investments in their own customized solutions. Ripping out these systems is not always a viable option, especially when you consider the amount of time spent training people on how to operate them.
At Zinier, our approach has always been to augment what’s already in place with intelligent automation. Our open, AI-driven platform was designed to seamlessly integrate with other systems. For example, an organization could pull in work orders from another application and use Zinier to generate recommendations for technician assignments, based on historical trends and real-time data.
3. Industries are gearing up for AI
AI is quickly moving from the conceptual to the practical, and enterprise investment is close behind.
According to a report by IDC, global spending on AI is expected to surpass $35 billion by the end of 2019, an increase of 44 percent over the previous year. There is a tremendous amount of interest in how AI could solve specific challenges, whether it’s automatically reassigning technicians to avoid SLA penalties or using real-time data to predict failure or scope projects months in advance.
4. Loss of tribal knowledge is a concern
Seventy percent of field service organizations expect to be burdened by the knowledge loss of a retiring workforce in the next five to 10 years.
Standardized work quality, communication, and documentation across teams and job sites is a consistent challenge for field service leaders. The ability to pull in extra resources, train according to standards, and ensure quality service is difficult, but those are normal operating conditions today.
According to Justin Chase, president of Corona Contracting, LLC, new tools and training techniques are helping organizations onboard a new generation of technicians.
“In the early days, a cell site technician knew everything about their sites, [down to the] specific frequencies used by a given radio,” he said. “Now that technicians are managing two or three times the number of sites, the only way to maintain networks effectively is by embracing new tools that keep expert information close to the technician’s fingertips.”
Next step: future-proof your field service
The next decade of field service will be defined by the ability to get the most out of people and technology. From an operational standpoint, that means figuring out how to supercharge what’s already in place with AI and automation.
At Zinier, our end-to-end field service automation platform helps you work smarter and faster by integrating with your existing systems and automating the routine and inefficient. Click here to learn more about how AI-driven automation is changing the face of field service.