Think workforce management, and what appears in today’s digital tech age are mobile solutions delivered via the cloud. With such rollouts, employees gain anytime, anywhere access to the critical customer and job-related information. But paradoxical as it sounds, field service, one of the sectors that can extract the maximum benefit from such rollout, is only just starting to exploit the possibilities offered by the cloud!
In 2014, only 23% of companies ran their field service management software in the cloud, and this figure has risen only marginally to 26% in 2016. However, realization seems to have struck of late, with the benefits becoming even more apparent, and legacy on-premises software in many companies slowly reaching the end of its tether. In fact, adoption of cloud-based solution has already seen a spurt in mid-sized companies, with 37% of such companies already having cloud based solutions, a significant rise from the 21% levels in the same category, in 2014.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the workplace make software-as-a-service solutions viable for various field service requirements. Integration with the back office in real-time, facilitated by such apps, allow businesses greater control and visibility into operations, and enable taking real-time decisions, vital in today’s fast-paced and cut-throat business environment.
The transformative impact of the cloud on field services runs far deeper.
Most of the key benefits of the cloud, be it less reliance on the in-house IT team, built-in disaster recovery capabilities, auto updates, lower overheads, and more, are very much applicable to field service suites as well. The priorities may vary, though. Among those who migrate to the cloud, 76% value the scalability and flexibility offered by the cloud as the most compelling reason, and 71% cite easy remote access as a compelling reason.
Over and above such benefits, a cloud-based mobile field service app streamlines disjointed manual processes, and offers seamless workflows, fully customised and integrated with the overall business and process flow. Equipped with a cloud based digital app, a field technician may customise her engagement with the customer, in the context of the relevant business challenges. Real time access to information eliminates the need to go back and forth, accelerating the process, and getting things done quickly.
With APIs and web services becoming the norm. Most cloud-based field service apps work well with the apps already in use. For instance, 53% of companies who operate a cloud-based field service solution also have a cloud-based CRM – the real-time transmission and updating of data, and accurate tracking further improves process efficiency
A cloud-based app empowers field service technicians like never before. Service technicians can execute and update work orders, request parts, update their schedule, look up manuals, renew maintenance agreements, issue bills, take payments, seek help from experienced resource persons elsewhere, and do more, all in real time. These benefits speed up processes, and unlock new possibilities for process improvements and customer engagement. Field technicians can also communicate problems more effectively, to keep all stakeholders updated about the status of repairs, inspections, or audits. Such dynamism allows improved productivity, and often disrupts existing paradigms to enable new efficiency oriented field inspection models.
Digital technology enables the rolling out custom forms and reports, and auto-populating many fields, either by tracking previous entries, or even without user intervention, through sensors. When such apps and forms are delivered from the cloud, it can be customized for the specific purpose. For instance, the SaaS suite could leverage the smartphone’s geolocation capabilities, to determine the location of the field service inspector, and deliver the form specific to the location, complete with a snapshot of the history of previous inspections.
A residual benefit of such automation is field service executives being spared of after-hours catch up with the paperwork and filing. With everything updated in real time, all the required forms are customized and generated automatically, eliminating manual paperwork. The resultant efficiency and productivity gains alone is worth the investment required to hook up to the cloud, many times over.
The future promises, even more automation and integration, and reducing human intervention in the grand scheme of things. Machine-to-machine learning will facilitate seamless communication between the equipment and technician, especially about specific faulty parts, expected life of battery or charge, glitches or malfunctions, and more. The technician hooked up through the cloud, may follow an auto-generated schedule or itinerary, drawn up by considering such factors.
Field services, including quality audits, compliance inspections, service calls, and more are a $15 billion industry. A back of the envelope calculation pegs the number of field service executives worldwide at over twenty million. With over 25 billion devices already connected to the internet, and the number expected to rise to over 50 billion devices by 2020, thanks to the imminent IoT wave, cloud-based mobility is set to surge big time. Enterprises who remain trapped in the pen and paper stone age, or even excel form neolithic age will miss out big time. To ride the wave, partner with a strong provider who understands your exact requirements, and delivers cutting edge customised solutions. ReachOut Suite, with our highly talented team and expertise in executing hundreds of projects cutting across industries, is your best bet in this regards.