Mobile Field Service Management Solutions: 2018 Survey Reveals Customer Preferences and Plans
Dec 06, 2018
Responses to the latest Frost & Sullivan Mobile Business Solutions Survey point to an engaged, enthusiastic, and demanding market for mobilized field service management solutions. Mobile FSM providers, users, and potential users can benchmark against these survey findings.
First, some background: Not much more than a decade or so ago, most field service employees were invisible to their management teams – and not all that reachable. GPS, powerful new data networks, and the smartphone changed that. Mobilized FSM solutions use GPS and other technologies to enable the remote service worker to receive and transmit real-time work-related information, materials and guidance via his or her mobile device. Examples of mobilized, quickly-accessible information include:
- Worker location and geofencing
- Time, labor and material tracking
- Data capture, including wireless forms
- Scheduling, dispatching, route optimization
- Mobile payments
- Schematics and other relevant data
- Messaging and collaboration tools
Individual FSM solutions can still vary widely in the types of capabilities that are available via mobile access. Some vendors mobilize everything; some only provide mobile access to a subset of FSM features.
Our 2018 Mobile Business Solutions survey included a section of questions specifically about mobilized field service management. Major takeaways include:
The need for mobilized field service management is extensive and growing – In its latest analysis of the market, Frost & Sullivan forecasted annual revenues for mobile FSM to total in the billions of dollars. Survey data bolster that forecast in a few different ways:
- The addressable market in North America is substantial. Over 70% of the survey respondent companies provide their customers with some type of service in the field, from installation/maintenance/repair of equipment (the dominant use case) to delivery services, at-home healthcare, insurance appraisals and other similar field-based assistance.
- Of those companies providing field services, over 60% have already implemented a mobile FSM solution to at least some degree, and two-thirds of current users plan to expand their deployments over the near term.
- Only about one-tenth of companies that are providing field services see no need to adopt a mobile FSM product. Another 20% see the value, plan to deploy, but just haven’t pulled the purchase trigger.
Business benefits are clear – When current users were asked to rate their level of overall satisfaction with their mobile FSM solution, only 1% said they were dissatisfied. This extremely strong level of customer sat remains remarkably stable year after year and can be viewed as the direct result of positive, hard-dollar, highly measurable business impacts. Top benefits that were reported include:
- Improved field service response times
- Reduced paperwork
- Increased end-customer satisfaction
- Improved competitive advantage
- More accurate billing
- Faster trouble ticket resolution
Customer preferences reflect a growing level of sophistication – Both developers and customers remain on a learning curve when it comes to understanding the needs of various mobile FSM stakeholders, including end-users, their supervisors, dispatchers, contract workers, executive management, etc. However, this year’s survey responses strongly reinforce the following preferences:
- Packaged, third-party solutions are overwhelmingly favored compared to fully custom offerings.
- Customers expect to be able to integrate and/or customize these packaged solutions to some degree. Simple plug-and-play (no integration/customization) solutions are being used by a rapidly declining percentage of companies.
- Customers also prefer to handle any integration or customization tasks in-house.
- Smartphones are the mobile device of choice for FSM solutions. No other form factor (tablets, rugged devices, etc.) comes close.
- Three-quarters of companies that use or plan to use mobile FSM expect their solutions to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable truly proactive field service for their end-customers. Vendors that are not offering or pursuing this capability are in danger of seriously lagging the market.
The 2018 Frost & Sullivan Mobile Business Solutions survey reveals that a high percentage of field service organizations has at least begun to implement mobilized field service management solutions – and seems to have no regrets, since the level of reported dissatisfaction is negligible. These users have definite preferences regarding packaging, the mobile device form factor, and the need to incorporate cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence.
Vendors and field service organizations are invited to benchmark this feedback against their own FSM capabilities and plans.
Two recent Frost & Sullivan studies delve into the Mobilized Field Service Management market. First is the survey, which is summarized and analyzed in “North American Mobile Enterprise Applications, 2018 – A Survey of Customer Preferences, Plans, and Impacts” (K2B8-01, May 2018). The second is “North American Mobile Field Service Management Market, Forecast to 2022 – Growth Opportunities for Field Organizations and FSM Providers” (K26A-65 November 2018). Both are available at https://store.frost.com.
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