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The Field Service USA Conference Wrap Up! by

This year’s Field Service USA conference in Palm Springs, CA, was not one to miss! The overarching focus of the conference was on driving customer excellence and understanding shifting customer expectations and needs. That means that field service organizations must “future-proof” their operations with the right people and tools so they can transform how they connect with both employees and customers.

In order to support this transformation and meet customers evolving demands, speakers at this year’s conference focused on three primary areas: New technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and millennial workforce management. Below we discuss each one in further detail.

New Technology

Drones, wearables, augmented reality — these futuristic sounding technologies have arrived and offer great promise for the field service industry, which has begun to look at these new innovations as tools to improve operational efficiency and worker visibility.

Augmented Reality

Utilizing augmented reality workers in remote locations can receive support assistance from thousands of miles away. So instead of needing to train and base specialized mechanics at worldwide field service locations, or deal with the costs that a delayed project incurs, companies can instead use augmented reality to keep projects running smoothly.

Wearables and Drones

Wearables and drones offer important opportunities for enhancing workplace safety – a top priority for most field service businesses. For example, say a technician is wearing a monitor that measures his heart rate. If he falls and is knocked unconscious, the monitor will send an alert, such as honking the horn of the technician’s truck, so that other team members are aware of the situation and can respond.

Drones can also contribute to improved worker safety by giving field service crews a high-level view of equipment. When drones are able to capture these images and views, workers don’t have to risk their own lives doing so. For example, instead of sending a technician up a cellular pole in stormy weather to check that the top of the pole is mounted properly and securely, a drone can be sent up in his or her place, eliminating the risk to human life.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Predictive Maintenance

The IoT is creating new revenue potential for field service organizations.

The IoT has created a new opportunity for field service organizations to move from a reactive service model to a proactive or predictive service model. This new ability to offer proactive support to customers means that field service can move from a cost center to a profit center by creating service maintenance plans that bring in recurring revenue. Throughout the conference this transformation was referred to “servitizing” field service. 

Servitizing field service through predicitive maintance capabilities will allow organizations to cut costs while growing revenue and improving customer satisfaction. And it’s all made possible thanks to the IoT, which relies on sensors placed on machinary to collect and analyze data over time. This data then fuels machine learning which results in the machines themselves being able to predict failure.

Data Collection and Customer Transparency

While the IoT offers many exciting opportunities for field service organizations, speakers emphasized the importance of transparency and addressing customer concerns around data collection and cost. Field service orgs need to clearly communicate that the goal of data collection is to enhance the customer’s product and improve the viability of the investment they have made in their equipment. Emphasizing security and spelling out exactly how the data will be used and how it will not be used, is extremely important when selling clients on the predictive services model.

Millennial Workforce Engagement and Management

With millennials making up roughly half of the current workforce and on track to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, understanding how to engage and manage this growing population is critical to the success of field service organizations.

Ed McMurray of Tokyo Electron offered advice on managing millennials, such as:

  • Don’t call them millennials! Instead try next generation workforce or tomorrow’s workforce
  • Listen to the VOE (voice of the employee)
  • Don’t focus on money when recruiting new employees
  • Provide development opportunities
  • Recognize achievements more frequently
  • Establish working teams with diversity in mind
  • Place managers with higher EQ and relationship building capabilities
  • Create contingencies within your org for turnover
  • Modify your dress code policy
  • Don’t try to change the wind; adjust your sails

The overall theme was that organizations need to listen to what millennials want and understand what makes them tick so that they can adjust in response — rather than trying to mold millennials into the vision of past generations. Those organizations that can do this successfully will be the most successful with their new workforce.

If you weren’t able to make it to this year’s conference, we hope that you will join us next year! As a proud sponsor of the event, our team at Hitachi looks forward to connecting with industry leaders and discussing future trends. If you would like to speak further about the themes that emerged at this year’s event or would like to learn about how your organization can implement these cutting-edge strategies, let us know!