The Top 5 Field Service Industry Trends for 2020
The global Field service industry market is expected to grow from ₤2.1 billion in 2019 to ₤7.6 billion by 2026, according to recent analysis carried out by Reports & Data. Much of this growth will be driven by the deployment of new technology, including cloud-based software and mobility solutions for Field Service Management (FSM). So how much of this new technology will gain ground in the short term? And why is new technology so important to field service industry business owners and tradespeople?
Mobility-based solutions will improve field operations, scaling field technicians’ efforts to coordinate and plan work. Likewise, increased adoption of cloud-based field service solutions will make businesses more agile and able to run more efficiently in the office, as well as in the field – digitising reduces waste, frees time and enables collaboration.
Let’s look at some of the trends that will dominate the field service industry in 2020:
1. Paper-Free Mobile Forms Software
What happens if you’re on a job and your pen runs dry? What if the form you brought to the project is out of date? While replacing pens and paper is not catastrophic on a project, time is valuable and can be better spent elsewhere. Going paper-free is a no-brainer in most industries, however, because of the “hands-on” nature of field service work, the industry has only recently caught up to paper-free tools. The good news is, we will see this trend gain momentum over the next decade. Forms are now available in a much more seamless way. Field workers can download native apps, available for iOS and Android for example, on their smartphones to schedule, monitor, review and complete work.
Of course, Workforce is a great example of this. The app even works when the fieldworker has no internet connection, letting them complete work in places with limited connectivity such as basements and other remote locations. Important information on jobs such as photos, customer signatures, payments and notes can be sent to the office as needed once connected, providing a seamless workflow between office, field worker and management. This trend shows no signs of slowing down, since mobility is essential for a mobile workforce that includes field service engineers and specialists.
2. Internet of Things
Why wait until the pipe has burst or the HVAC system overheats? The field service industry is shifting away from corrective maintenance and toward predictive maintenance, supported by the Internet of Things. Businesses and specialists can identify device malfunctions before they occur because centralised platforms can manage all site data at the click of a button. Not only can businesses schedule agile and ad hoc services based, field service workers can now be automatically notified if a job requires attention.
More devices are being fitted with sensors that allow them to pick up and generate data. From vehicles to electrical systems to boilers, a new generation of equipment is being built to communicate with other devices. These smart machines transmit decipherable information, such as status updates and warnings, so it’s easy to tell when there’s an imminent breakdown of worn-out parts. When such faults are detected, they can be fixed before they lead to any major problems. This, in turn, averts the costly downtimes that may occur as a result of system or machine failures. It makes sense that the best field service businesses that include robust systems and machines, will increasingly rely on IoT to maintain the best service levels for the customers. Who wouldn’t want to be known as the company that fixes things before they are broken?
In the course of their work, technicians may have to inspect difficult to reach or difficult to see areas, whether that’s overgrown woodland, telecommunication towers, wind turbines, or other large sites. It’s not always safe to take a physical tour of such locations. As technology becomes more sophisticated, the option of using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to capture data from these sites will become more widespread.
Besides taking on the risks that may exist in these places, drones also offer a ‘birds’ eye view’ of large areas. Armed with the right technology, field workers or technicians can ‘spot’ everything from damaged equipment to hazards and faults. The transmitted data they collect can also be transmitted to an off-site observer in real-time. It’s no wonder that this will be a growing trend for the industry for years to come.
4. Data Management
It’s easier than ever to keep on top of projects. With apps and software like Workforce, businesses can be informed of a project’s status in real time once the work is completed. Even without IoT sensors triggering proactive maintenance, businesses can utilise customer data to schedule regular maintenance when needed. A pest control company can have their next check-in timed to ensure the infestation didn’t return, for example. Rather than relying on manual calculations and scheduling, CRM tools will fully take over on this element wherever possible.
Central data management is becoming sophisticated, not only as a way to store information but also, when used correctly, a way to improve customer experience. Businesses with access to customer data can use it to predict future needs. If a property is showing signs of degradation when it comes to their plumbing system because it is of a certain age, businesses that offer other forms of property management, can predict a need for other (e.g. electrical, structural) services that may have degraded over the same time period.
What’s more, field workers can use data to personalise their customers’ experience on the job, for example, if their customer has a history of inquisitiveness or smaller budgets, this could be factored into meetings and quotes. 24-hour support for customers will be made easier with quick access to their service history. Data has always been essential for businesses. The way it is used will develop as businesses become more attuned to its power.
5. Crowd Service
The speed of detection made possible by IoT has raised customer expectations. Because of the immediacy of IoT, customers now expect field service providers to offer solutions in real-time. In order to meet this service demand, providers are looking for ways to employ more field service technicians with diverse skill sets so customers can subscribe to multiple types of service maintenance under one provider.
A crowd service allows companies to pool together certified and qualified experts within their own network of employees, partners, subcontractors, and freelancers. As this type of subscription grows, field service companies will be able to plug this demand by using a pool of partners, freelancers and contractors. This not only ensures that there is always a technician available, it also facilitates selecting the best person available for the job. Companies like Fantastic Services or Trust a Trader, offering gardeners, cleaners, plumbers, pest control and more under one brand, will see an increase in smaller companies registering with them. Streamlining the customer experience has been proven to be a successful tactic across the board and we will see more collaboration as a result of this.
These are just some of the trends that will shape the field service industry in the coming year. But we will no doubt see many of them gain further prominence in the new decade.
Workforce is a real-time management solution for Field Service & Service Management businesses. Whether you have a small mobile team of five field workers or a large enterprise with hundreds of field staff, Workforce field service management software makes your job simple. Increase productivity, reduce paperwork and save admin time with our easy to use field service software for both the office and your fieldworkers. Why not trial our software for free today?