How are IoT and Wearables Changing Field Service Automation?

At this point, due to several years of rapid technological advancement, we can safely estimate that there are billions of connected devices, and that number is increasing with each passing day. The Internet of Things (IoT), has become so commonplace, that we hardly even notice how they impact our businesses. We have a number of “smart” devices: interconnected and operating with synergetic effect. This provides a whole range of new opportunities for business enterprises across industries.

In the field service industry, companies are extending and taking advantage of IoT. Whether it is at the customer’s house or place of business or shop floor, service companies are finding new ways to improve operational efficiency and achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. By utilizing the data collected from various connected devices and sensors, these companies can deploy personnel more effectively and provide better services. Improved data — and data collection methods — are driving the move to a more proactive approach in their maintenance and repair services.

The interoperability between devices and platforms

Field service technicians need interconnected devices and applications to achieve the optimal business value potential. Thanks to the greater availability of network access, field service technicians can see bigger payoffs from the constant connectivity among service providers, customers and dispatchers. As a result, they are able to make more and better real-time decisions, but only if they are able to get the right information at the right times. It also helps when they have faster and easier ways to collaborate with their colleagues and providers more effectively and efficiently, empowering them to make better, more informed decisions at the right times. When that happens, they get to complete their job on-time the first time. Providers with on-the-cloud field service applications, thus have the competitive advantage when compared to those that use only on-premise solutions.

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Everything is changing

The connected devices, platforms and applications are changing the way field agents work. We all know that by now. The major impact here is the value of the real-time information generated and captured from the various endpoint assets, which literally changes the way we manage field service workforce. But on the flipside, these connected endpoints carry with it a few challenges as well, like data security and big data analytics. With so many devices, there can be an escalation in the amount of unwanted information that can get collected in the process. It can be a daunting task for enterprises to filter big data and extract useful insights from them. Field service companies need to make sure that they have the technology and the mechanisms necessary to maintain data integrity and also to share with the technicians, data that is relevant and related to the technicians relation with the endpoint device.

Wearables

Although wearables are still in their initial adoption phase for a majority of us, new wearable devices are coming on the market every day. The challenge is to find wearables that can be used in the context of a company’s business applications.

Most technicians have a problem of relating contextually relevant information from wearable end-points that have not considered carefully enough how to connect the technician to their tasks at hand. For the same reason, getting alerts, and updates to those in the field via wearables still remain challenges to its adoption.

Nevertheless, wearables are definitely increasing in adoption in the field service industry, but there are certain concerns that need to be addressed soon, like security, form factor and most importantly, making sure that sharing of data is relevant and is based on the field service agent’s relationship with the particular endpoint device or asset. Those companies that address this problem and focus on providing contextually relevant information along with a friendly user interface, will stand to gain.

It is anticipated that 75% of field service organizations, in the next 3 years, will be providing smart wearables like watches, glasses and the like, to their field technicians. This only means that the rest of the applications necessary to facilitate and support this kind of growth need to gear themselves up.

 

Image credits: Techradar

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Ashmitha Chatterjee

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