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Top Field Service Technology Trends for 2024: Knowledge Management

Top Field Service Technology Trends for 2024: Knowledge Management

As we continue our series on the technology trends that will likely be in the 2024 spotlight, next up is trend #7: knowledge management.

Some astounding facts about data:

  • The global Big Data and Analytics market is worth $274 billion
  • Around 2.5 quintillion bytes worth of data are generated each day
  • There are currently over 44 zettabytes of data in the entire digital universe. A zettabyte is equal to one sextillion (1021) or 270

Francis Bacon wrote that knowledge is power. Anyone who has been to a pub on trivia night would agree. The knowledge pool today ranges from profound scientific discoveries to the absurdly trivial details about celebrity wardrobes and diets. Organizations must separate the highly relevant from the volumes of insignificant data that are published daily overloading emails and social accounts.  

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It’s not all rubbish. Field service organizations (FSOs) require vast amounts of accurate, timely information. Data on customers, products, replacement parts, warranties, service agreements, and scheduling are all essential for smooth operations. Organizations are increasingly turning to knowledge management systems to help them organize and make the right information accessible to the right people at the right time and place. A recent survey found that 74% of executives believe that knowledge management is one of the most important aspects for success in today’s business environment.

Capturing and Storing Essential Information

Modern field service solutions help capture critical information and then securely store it in structured formats so it can be searched, filtered, and analyzed along with other data points. This means reporting tools can help draw insights from data and find significant patterns.    

“Improving organizational efficiency and saving knowledge in an easily accessible form are the main goals of knowledge management,” says Tech Target. The article goes on to explain that knowledge can be broken down into three types:

  • Explicit knowledge, as found in documents, manuals, and reports
  • Tacit knowledge, based on experiences and company culture
  • Embedded knowledge that is found in systemic processes, like organizational charts

Knowledge management strategies should aim to capture and organize all three types of valuable information. Advanced service management solutions help automate data capture and streamline access to knowledge that is used every day as well as the historical information that is archived.

The different types of knowledge require different tactics. Explicit knowledge, like a customer’s address, includes indisputable, verifiable data points. The customer information is easy to capture at the point of sale and stored in a secure Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Other knowledge types, like tacit information, are more open-ended and will require fields that allow for free-form notes, email exchanges, and Wikipedia-type user entries.

This is often how the tribal knowledge of service technicians is captured. As a large number of retiring Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce, tactics for capturing their experiences are important. Online collaboration portals, tools for attaching emails to service requests, and mobile solutions that allow technicians to capture notes while in the field are all helpful in recording processes and results.

Sharing and Using the Data

Often, the main challenge is how to share this information with others, while keeping it secure. Without the ability to access and consume data in meaningful ways, it has limited value. Search and reporting tools play an important role. Today, modern reporting tools are easy to use, allowing workers throughout the organization to create queries and delve into issues relevant to their role. For example, a service technician tasked with repairing a dishwasher may search for past successful repairs of the same model looking for patterns or resolution tips. A colleague may have left notes on a similar job that prove helpful.

Modern knowledge bases are interactive, allowing product managers to add information about new products, capabilities, specs, and parts. Service managers can continually update recommended best practices and guidelines for the use of time and resolving service calls quickly. By keeping the knowledge base current, it remains a valuable tool even as the company's business model or product lines evolve.

Process Mining and Automation

The use of some information can be automated and used in rule-based systems. For example, scheduling optimization tools, such as ServicePower offers, apply historical information to determine typical factors it will apply when scheduling, such as:

  • How time of day impacts traffic patterns and determines the appropriate travel time needed between jobs, based on time of day.
  • The typical duration of a service call, based on model/product type and technician skill level.
  • Typical replacement parts required for a field repair, based on model/product and the service request. This information can be used to predict parts that should be stocked on the service vehicle prior to dispatch.
  • Which technician with the appropriate skills should be assigned to a particular service request, based on similar service requests and resolution history.

When on the jobsite, the technician also needs easy access to information to help resolve the service request efficiently. Parts availability is one of the most important. Access to inventory information will save wasted trips to the parts warehouse. If the part is not available, easy access to ordering information is important. Some third-party solutions, like Encompass Simply Parts, expedite the ordering process.

Beyond the Basics

Onboarding and continuous learning are additional ways knowledge is consumed in a field service organization. Today’s generation of highly independent workers appreciates self-paced, self-directed learning over classroom or supervisor-led learning. Online training tools prove effective in onboarding as well as continuous learning.

A knowledge base with searchable content helps answer questions on many operational or process-related situations that may arise. Solutions with best practices built-in and guided workflows help keep recent recruits following the prescribed course of action without requiring extensive supervision.

For Customer Education

Customers, too, need information. Customer online portals can provide information like warranty status, how to enter a service request, and status of scheduled service calls or parts ordered. As customers today have increasingly high expectations for responsive service, such information sharing is vital. Collaboration tools also help assigned technicians and customers align on arrival windows and set realistic expectations.

Online portals can provide additional branded information that is useful to both the service provider and the customer. Promotional information, coupons, and tips for using the products to their fullest potential help build relationships with customers.

Final Takeaways

Modern field service management (FSM) solutions help support the capture and use of knowledge in many ways. Applications, such as reporting tools, schedule optimization, online portals, and knowledge bases help users access the information they need to make well-informed decisions and complete assigned tasks quickly. If your organization does not have a knowledge management strategy yet, it’s time to take a closer look at this important topic.


Read the full Top Field Service Management Technology Trends for 2024 report here.

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