Today we see an ever-expanding range of devices that connect to the internet, as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more common and prominent in our everyday lives. These devices range from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data, in real-time, with other devices and systems over the internet. Many, if not all, industries are now turning to the power of IoT technology to optimize their daily processes, and they are weaving IoT-generated data into their workflows and customer support offerings.
The IoT market, while relatively new to the game, is already booming, as according to the latest research, the number of IoT-connected devices globally reached 11.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase quickly. While some studies predict the number of devices to steadily increase, reaching 22 billion by 2025, a new Gartner research expects the toilet number of IoT devices to cross over 25 billion by the start of 2022.
One industry that hopped onto the IoT bandwagon within the past year is the field services industry. This industry refers to any work conducted at a customer site where your products are installed. For example, in the enterprise IT, industrial equipment, and healthcare technology industries, field services involve managing the installation, maintenance, or repair of hardware or equipment installed “in the field.”
2020 was a major year for the field services digital transformation, starting with their massive adoption of IoT technology. By the end of 2020, 73 percent of field management firms had incorporated the Internet of Things (IoT) into their operations by the end of the year. Leveraging the technology was very beneficial to the industry, as the value of growth brought about by IoT apps as utilized in the field service industry increased by $470 billion.
“The rapid growth of the IoT devices in the field service industry isn’t surprising at all, as the technology has myriad benefits to offer those both working in the industry and those using the industries services,” said Indrajit Ghosh, founder, and CEO of ConnX, an advance managed service provider running networks and applications for large enterprises across industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical and more.
“Using data generated by IoT devices adds significant benefits to remote-service workflows,” Ghosh explained. “Whether physical truck rolls are needed or not, adding real-time human communications into instrumented machine solutions allows expert technicians to provide predictive and proactive service. By employing mobile devices, interconnected equipment, and field service management software, field service companies can use IoT and field service management technology in tandem to troubleshoot customer issues from anywhere.”
ConnX experienced massive growth during the pandemic, as clients and partners came to them for immediate help supporting work-from-home employees who had been working in physical locations or in contact centers. “IT teams were hit very hard during the pandemic, as they needed to bring the same quality of communications their teams had at work into their homes, and this includes IT support itself,” Ghosh said. “Their OT teams, responsible for making sure all the equipment in factories and offices was secure and protected, even as the world rapidly shifted to more virtual workers than we could have ever imagined, worked with IT teams, and this generated a depth of innovation we were proud to support.”
For instance, real-time data provided by IoT devices enables technicians to diagnose service issues virtually, while field service management software facilitates real-time communication through a seamless customer portal.
By continuously collecting data and communicating in real-time when established parameters are out of tolerance, technicians can be alerted about the need for maintenance or repairs before an issue actually occurs. This means that field service companies can resolve maintenance needs while a system or device is still functioning, precluding unplanned downtime or service delays.
“Leveraging IoT triggers is a revolutionary way to conduct business, especially considering that service in the field service industry has historically been pre-scheduled or at the request of a customer that is already dealing with an inconvenient issue,” Ghosh said. “Our vision is for a ‘Work from Everywhere, and Make Everything Work from Anywhere’ approach, which takes full advantage of faster, more adaptive, and intelligent networking. There is no longer a reason to think about human and machine communications separately – we can orchestrate highly intelligent and secure solutions that allow people to be more productive and allow manufacturers to increase yields and profits by simply operating their businesses more efficiently. We’re seeing massive ROI coming out of digital transformations, moving away from expensive, complicated legacy networks and moving towards AI-enriched service networks with agility, quality, and security built-in.”
When it comes to an industry deciding to leverage new technology, IoT devices that intersect with voice, video, and messaging applications dramatically improve business outcomes for field service organizations, including leaders like ServiceMax and ServiceNow.
Inefficient service workflows can be immensely harmful to your business, wasting time, money, and resources. Poor customer experiences, unnecessary repeat visits, and unplanned downtime require additional technician hours, service equipment, and travel expenses.
By making a service workflow more interconnected and intelligent with IoT technology and leveraging data-driven decision-making, field services are setting their companies up for financial success in the future. Faults like the ones listed above are commonplace without the use of IoT technology, but through real-time data and analytics provided by the devices, ill-prepared service technicians or inefficient company practices can be done away with, reducing the amount of money it takes to deal with the problems, and ultimately increasing profitability.
Overall, field service companies need to start embracing this technology, can do so by leveraging field service management software and connected systems that facilitate predictive maintenance and remote service management. In doing so, they can reap the numerous benefits of IoT technology in the field service industry, improving experiences for their employees, and including improving their customer experience, which adds up to a safer, more efficient, and ultimately more profitable business.