When a field-service technician is called to solve a problem or fix an outage, they’re undoubtedly representing the company they work for (and all that comes with that). As the middlemen between manufacturing companies and their customers, field techs have historically been considered the faces of their organizations and are expected to be able to answer questions.
But the emergence of technology in the manufacturing and services industry has changed some things. Technicians are still the faces of their companies, of course, but now they’re holding iPads and using data to analyze outages in real time. With the Internet of Things helping connect devices and machines to data centers, the field-service industry is changing rapidly, and the technicians know it better than anyone.
The way we deliver service is entirely new. Instead of haphazardly dispatching technicians to the scene of an outage without any prior knowledge (let alone the correct equipment or necessary support), manufacturers are constantly collecting data from their connected machines and processing that data to better understand how their machines work and how to fix them. This insight is critical—it enables organizations to build institutional knowledge.
Each machine is unique, of course, so this data offers the chance to better get to know a machine on an individual level, track its lifecycle, and, when the time comes, possibly pre-empt service requirements by getting as close to the outage as possible without allowing it to actually happen. Maximizing uptime for a network of machines is easier with a keen understanding of each individual machine works.
That’s to say nothing of new technology’s impact on field-service workers themselves. Now, they’re tapping into iPads and leveraging data to make more informed decisions before and during a job. Plus, their ability to learn about machines before arriving on the scene enables them to be prepared for whatever may come and to have the right parts in their toolbelt.
With this increased efficiency comes greater upsell opportunities. If technicians know that a certain part is necessary for a functioning unit or that another part might experience an outage in the near future, it opens up the possibility of increased profits and outcomes-based sales.
With such rapid evolution in the field-service industry, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll see continuous change for field technicians and their day-to-day routines. This is a good thing for professionals who keep their skills on pace with technology. This is a good thing for the faces of the organization.
Athani Krishnaprasad is co-founder and chief strategy officer of ServiceMax.