Field Service Trends to Watch in 2021

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted companies across industries into the future, accelerating their digital transformations and driving them to modernize processes at unprecedented rates. Field service has not been immune to this trend.

If the shift to remote work has taught companies anything, it’s that digital infrastructure is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must have. At the height of the pandemic, providing in-person service was a health risk for technicians and customers. For organizations that lacked connected service, this was a massive wake up call. Yet the pandemic won’t be the last bit of disruption that companies face-and they have to be ready.

Being nimble has always been an essential part of future-proofing a business. But today, when innovation happens quickly and change is always around the corner, adaptability and preparedness are more crucial than ever. To adapt in the face of this new landscape and create a better experience for customers, businesses must understand the importance of asset centricity, use smart technology to deliver connected service, and take advantage of other opportunities emerging in field service.

Below are the five biggest trends we’re watching this year:

Safety Drives the Need for Virtual and Blended Service

The pandemic prompted a shift to remote operations, with fewer technicians going out into the field and providing service virtually instead. But even as pandemic-related health and safety risks subside, virtual service likely won’t disappear as companies opt for blended service models. As a result, companies are increasingly adopting technologies ranging from augmented reality that enables technicians to visualize the equipment they’re servicing, to automation software designed to unify service workflows. These changes couldn’t come soon enough-not only will these tools empower technicians working virtually as a result of t he pandemic, but they’ll also connect a growing cohort of gig and third-party workers to the workforce.

Customer Expectations for Connectivity Are Growing

Customers have higher expectations for service than they have in the past-in particular, there’s growing demand for self-service via mobile apps and portals. Almost a third of industrial companies have implemented virtual monitoring and resolution tools to help users solve problems remotely, and nearly every sector is processing a higher volume of customer concerns virtually. Customers are now in the driver’s seat of their experience, and as more communication and service becomes digital, businesses have to rise to the challenge. One of the biggest obstacles that arises? Ensuring seamless transitions in customer interactions, across both digital and physical service touch points. To provide service that’s truly connected, companies need service software that maintains a 360-degree view of the customer.

The Internet of Things Offers Untapped Potential

The Internet of Things connects billions of devices, from consumer electronics to industrial manufacturing equipment. Companies that have plunged into loT have already boosted their revenue by up to 30%, but what makes loT so powerful? Connected devices transport data back to service providers to boost business performance by linking customer feedback with artificial intelligence, speeding up, and improving service for customers. Even legacy technology providers no longer have an excuse to sit back and watch loT pass them by-today, it’s easy to retrofit analog devices with sensors and connect them to the web.

Asset Centricity Drives the Internet of Things

As the Internet of Things matures, asset centricity plays a key role in enabling companies to unlock its full potential. Asset centricity is about more than just connected devices-rather, asset centricity refers to feedback loops and automated triggers that are designed to set service into motion. Not only do devices communicate their status and service issues automatically, alerting service providers of potential issues, but they also initiate workflows and service procedures. Say a connected drill starts experiencing a dangerous level of vibration-the device would flag this change in status, and dispatch a technician to provide service. If organizations aren’t thinking about asset centricity as part of connected service, they’re missing a key opportunity to take it to the next level.

To learn more about the importance of asset centricity and how it fits into your connected service strategy, download our eBook here.

Proactive Maintenance Is Becoming Painless

From virtual service to asset centricity, the biggest trends in field service today funnel down to one massive imperative-the need for painless proactive maintenance. Companies have long promised to predict downtime and disruption before it happens and swoop in to prevent or fix it. But in reality, it hasn’t happened yet at scale. Even when service providers have effectively predicted problems, the onus has still largely been on customers to order a replacement part or call up a technician. But thanks to the rise of virtual, connected service, the loT and asset centricity, providers finally have the perfect opportunity to strip away the biggest service pain points. Automation can streamline service workflows; virtual technology can empower technicians to provide service from anywhere; and connected assets can elevate diagnostics to new heights. This year has the potential to usher in a new era of field service-an era of truly proactive and painless maintenance.