Last year was an inflection point. The worst of the pandemic was behind us, yet we still felt its lingering effects—from how we work to the global economy. Rising prices and talk of recession made for splashy headlines and nightly news talking points. In addition, some industries saw the COVID-era growth that drove hiring begin to slow, leading to mass layoffs.
Despite the economic uncertainty, technology continued its rapid advance in 2022. Digital transformation was a big priority in field service, with more companies looking to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to streamline operations. If the buzz about ChatGPT is any indicator, AI will also be top of mind this year.
Though there is still unease going into 2023, it’s predicted to be a year of massive growth in the field service industry. In fact, the global Field Service Management (FSM) market is expected to reach almost four billion dollars by 2027. We believe this year’s growth will come to those who recognize and respond to six key trends.
Six Field Service Trends
1. Expanded Use of AI-Enhanced Field Service Management
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.
2. Sustained Growth of Predictive Maintenance
If you read our trends each year, this one may look familiar. That’s because it made our trends list for the past two years. We’ve included it again because we believe the technology driving this maintenance approach will continue to advance this year, bringing additional benefits to the companies who deploy it. We’ll see even more smart and IoT devices come online, each providing device health data and alerts, which, when paired with AI, help predict service needs.
As more companies deploy predictive maintenance, customers will expect a new level of service. Technicians need to show up to their first service call with the correct part. That’s only possible if companies use data analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify future service needs and stock parts before they are needed. When your customer knows you’ll be there to fix their equipment before it goes down, they’ll become your best marketers.
3. Greater Reliance on Data for Decision Making
Data doesn’t help anyone if it sits in a database all day. It needs to be mined for insights to help leaders make smarter decisions. With AI and machine learning, we can now do that data mining in seconds rather than weeks (sorry, data analysts!).
In field service, there are real benefits to leveraging data in your decision-making. Modern FSM software like ServicePower collects and leverages your data for tools like real-time schedule optimization, which reduces truck rolls and improves first-time fix rates. 2023 is the time to prioritize your digital transformation and use valuable data to create better customer outcomes.
4. Wide-ranging Impacts From Workforce Shortages
The field service industry is not immune to the workforce shortages and skills gaps hitting other sectors. At its core, there are really two problems:
- There aren’t enough skilled workers entering field service to replace retiring technicians.
- Those entering the field are less experienced and need added support to succeed.
There are several ways to overcome technician talent shortages. The first is deploying technology that makes a technician’s job easier and increases productivity. Augmented reality (AR) is a relatively new tool that helps fill knowledge gaps during troubleshooting. Another tool is digital applications, which give technicians remote access to service records and real-time equipment data. Instant access to information helps inform their decision-making and reduces the need for repeat service calls.
The second way to combat talent shortages is to use FSM software. It allows organizations to optimally schedule a blend of contractors and employees for service calls. AIG, a leading global insurance company, increased its first-time fix rate by 40% and cut time onsite by 20% by partnering with ServicePower to dispatch jobs to a contracted network.
5. Accelerated Performance Requirements for Technology Investments
With the risk of an economic downturn looming, executives are hesitant to make large purchases. More than ever, they need technology providers to prove the value and ROI of their tools before signing a contract. In this environment, providers who can deploy quickly using cloud-based services will have a leg up over those that require on-premises installs or long, expensive implementations. As indicated by the Grant Thorton CFO Survey, it seems that any pullback on technology investments won’t halt digital transformations.
When looking for an FSM technology partner, it’s essential to find a company with a proven track record. For the sixth time, ServicePower was named a Visionary by Gartner in 2022 for our continued innovation. We support your digital transformation initiatives and provide value from day one.
6. Continued Focus on Sustainability
Sustainability has been a hot topic for field service operations in recent years. The good news is that digital transformations are making it easier than ever to make a positive impact in this area. Field service management software now offers AR-powered technology and AI-enhanced schedule optimization to help cut emissions by reducing truck rolls and increasing first-time fix rates. Plus, technicians no longer have to lug around stacks of paperwork in the field. Digital templates and access to critical information on mobile devices now streamline repair documentation.
As employees and customers demand more accountability in this area, companies need to step up and offer real solutions. ServicePower can partner with you to achieve sustainability in four key areas.
Takeaways for This Year
The economic instability we face is real. But it creates an incredible opportunity for companies willing to reinvest in growth. According to Bain & Company, those companies will come out winners after a recession.
With technology driving most of the trends this year, field service companies that embrace these new tools and move away from a reactive service model will set themselves up for growth in 2023 and beyond. It all comes down to making smart technology investments with the capital you do have.
Need help adopting to the top 6 field service industry trends in 2023? Explore the ServicePower’s field service solutions.