Entering the third year of the pandemic, remote work is no longer perceived as a passing trend or a new adjustment. It’s a thriving practice for companies and individuals. With the establishment of home offices, we’ve seen a growing reliance on home appliances, systems, and utilities. Likewise, this has influenced an increasing demand for field services. The field service industry has transformed to better serve these adapted operational workflows and home offices with innovative technological advancements.
In 2022, there will be an increased urgency for field service providers to implement state-of-the-art technology to meet this growing demand. In fact, with a forecasted CAGR of 11%, the field service management market is estimated to reach $5.1 billion by 2025. As we look to the new year, we can expect to see the rapid digital transformation and an increase in product complexity to meet evolving customer expectations in this remote-first world.
Top Field Service Trends in 2022
- Continued investment in self-service customer portals
Customer portals make scheduling service visits easy for customers by giving them more control over the experience. As client relations pivoted to accommodate social distancing considerations and remote service, the lasting effects of this transition will continue with a reaffirmed commitment from service providers to involve the customer in the service experience. This is evident, considering 70% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. By offering customer-centric communication tools as part of the field service experience, organizations can decrease customer effort and increase their control. Consumer portals offer one central location for customers to communicate directly with field technicians, track estimated time of arrivals and receive real-time notifications from their servicer for enhanced two-way communication. They can also upload relevant photos and equipment information based on their repair request and view their service history and product details online. As customers expect more involvement and personalized service experiences, field service providers will prioritize self-service customer portals to enhance the service experience for each end-user.
- A greater focus on predictive maintenance to inform service repairs
As individuals have come to rely on home devices for both personal and professional needs, the functionality of home equipment and digital devices is increasingly crucial. Predictive maintenance uses IoT triggers and AI to monitor system performance and flag any potential errors or impending shutdowns. This technology can preemptively notify service technicians ahead of equipment malfunctions and ensure a quick response for uninterrupted service. Predictive maintenance not only enables remote businesses to continue to operate smoothly, but it can also help utility companies make sure systems are running accordingly ahead of a major weather event or predicted peak demand. In 2022, only 30% of field service providers will be ready to deploy AI-based decision support in their field service management platforms for competitive advantage, despite robust capabilities being available. Therefore, we can expect a continued focus on predictive maintenance integration to help facilitate and quicken service response, save costs, and increase data-driven decision-making in the new year.
- Higher recruitment and use of blended workforces to fight labor shortages
The field service industry suffers from a lack of skilled labor capable of performing the robust technical tasks required. Likewise, there is high attrition in field service technicians as older workers retire and novice employees lack experience. This past year has been hailed as “The Great Resignation” and companies will see the effects of these labor shortages continue throughout the year, highlighting the need for contractor recruitment and a dependency on third-party workforces. More individuals continue to spend on goods, resulting in higher demand for installation and repair services down the line. Field service providers will employ blended workforces that diversify personnel among full-time employees, long-term contractors, and on-demand workers to maintain the flexibility and capacity they require to meet this demand in 2022.
- Deployment of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality technology
Increasing capabilities for remote service will be a main focus in the new year, with an emphasis on technology that facilitates information enablement remotely and on the go. Likewise, the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate processes allows for smarter systems that can reference service history to predict necessary parts for repair while updating accurate part availability. Predictive systems can ensure inventory levels are constantly maintained so that key parts are available to improve first-time fix rates. Additionally, AI and Augmented Reality (AR)-powered support tools allow technicians to have real-time video conferencing that offers spatial orientation and virtual markers so that workers can identify problems and communicate with customers remotely. By 2025, over 50% of field service management deployments will include mobile AR collaboration and knowledge-sharing tools, compared to less than 10% in 2019. We can expect to see rapid integration of these tools in the coming year as predictive technologies become more advanced and the demand for remote service continues to grow.
The next year will provide further opportunities for field service providers to implement cutting-edge technology to meet evolving customer and industry demands. Legacy practices implemented throughout the pandemic will continue to shape the service landscape, offering areas for industry growth with AR and AI integration. However, mainstays of field service like customer-centricity and diverse workforces will remain a priority as providers look to offer seamless end-to-end service to customers throughout 2022.
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