Mobile Field Service + IoT Connectivity = Game-Changing Responsiveness

Jan 26, 2016

What do you get when you combine a mobilized field service delivery system with a state-of-the-art IoT platform?  Very happy customers and new ways to make money.

The field service management industry has been reinventing itself for years by being unafraid to leverage technology in new, eye-opening ways.

With the advent of smartphones and tablets, previous desktop-based field service management (FSM) systems became mobilized, providing real-time worker tracking and – more importantly – enabling real-time access to a plethora of workflow information, advice, and tools right on the field tech’s mobile device. Wireless time cards, image and signature capture, paperless forms, and scheduling optimization are just a few of the ways mobility has changed the field service effort for the better.

Now, FSM leaders are further enhancing their mobilized field service solutions by integrating these systems with rich IoT (Internet of Things) data.  One of those FSM leaders, ServiceMax, recently announced just such a pairing.  Its new Connected Field Service offering leverages the PTC ThingWorx® IoT platform to directly deliver a real-time SOS from distressed machines to the techs who can fix them.

To appreciate the game-changing nature of this move, think about the typical field service work process.  Today’s field service organization often still operates in a largely reactive mode, heavily dependent on the customer waving the red flag after a problem occurs.  The machine breaks down.  The customer calls in with an urgent service request.  A field tech is quickly dispatched to the site to diagnose the problem.  The clock ticks away while all of this is going on, in many cases losing money and employee productivity.  A bad situation becomes worse if the tech doesn’t have the parts or expertise to immediately fix the problem.  And time to first fix becomes even more extended.

Now, what happens if the machine in question is instead a smart asset being monitored and managed via an FSM and IoT partnership?  Now the customer’s eyes and ears are automated.  Instead of reacting to a failed machine after the fact, the integrated system identifies a distressed situation and automatically initiates a field service request.   The dispatch order goes directly to the tech with the right expertise and the right parts.  And all of this can take place before an actual equipment problem occurs and escalates – prompting proactive maintenance and avoiding expensive repairs or even premature replacement.

Clearly, these types of FSM and IoT partnerships can be a key way to differentiate the field service provider in a very competitive marketplace.  They also offer an opportunity to introduce new service contract models and create more profitable and customized service relationships.

This proactive, predictive, preventive field service model is the culmination of a number of trends in the FSM sector, including:

  • More sophisticated mobile implementations (much more than simple “dots on a map” worker tracking)
  • Increased preference for cloud-based solutions (leveraging cost, scalability, and time-to-market advantages)
  • More demanding customers (who recognize the cost implications of prolonged service wait times)
  • A willingness to partner with other technology leaders to create synergistic solutions
  • A growing need for additional revenue streams

Combined FSM and IoT solutions such as Connected Field Service from ServiceMax present a win-win opportunity, demonstrating how today’s rich (and often overwhelming) IoT data can provide real value -- and enabling field service organizations to offer transformational service to their customers.

Jeanine Sterling


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