Here we are in December 2021, following two years that we could have never expected. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses, lives and the economy worldwide. But, as we move into a new normal and live with COVID-19, we can expect to see the field service industry adapting, just like it always has.
So what trends can we expect to see in the field service industry? And, how have the last two years influenced these trends? Let’s take a look at how the industry has changed over the past few years and what you should keep an eye out for in 2022.
1. Cloud-Based Software Will Continue to Supercharge “Work From Anywhere”
Did you ever think as a field service worker you’d be prevented from actually working in people's homes? Or that commercial buildings would be empty, stifling demand for asset maintenance? The challenges of remote work in an industry that is not meant to function with a remote workforce, brought the trade industry to its knees. Field service businesses all over the world closed their doors as they tried to work out how to run their business from somewhere other than their office. But, not all trade businesses were crippled. Some were able to keep work moving, albeit at an incredibly reduced pace. Businesses with the ability to access data and organise their workforce remotely, saw little to no interruption in their workflow as long as their jobs were socially distanced and considered critical work.
This will come as little surprise to many, but over the past decade the trade industry has been utilising software more and more, leaving paper-based workflows in the past. This trend has enabled businesses to be more efficient, more productive, know more about what is going on in their business and be more profitable. And, as I’ve just noted, COVID-19 only reinforced its importance to a thriving and future-proof business.
In fact it’s thriving so much, a Market Reports World study forecasts that the global field service management software market will grow to $3.43 billion US dollars by 2024!
2. IoT Will Continue to Shape Asset Management
It’s been around for a while, and is now an everyday part of our life--think Google Home and Fitbit. However, the field service industry has been slow to pick up and run with IoT (the Internet of Things). Until now. Like its influence on many other aspects of our life and the way we run businesses, COVID-19 boosted the uptake of IoT within the trade industry.
With limited access to buildings housing assets in the pandemic, remote monitoring with IoT has grown in popularity as an alternative to on-site asset maintenance. Not only does remote monitoring through IoT provide customers with peace of mind that their building and assets are secure, even while no one is there, it also allows diversification of service and new revenue streams for field service businesses. Instead of relying on break-fix or preventative maintenance, field service businesses can transform their business to a condition-based maintenance solution. This allows businesses to utilise a recurring revenue service offering, targeting customers that only require on-site visits when necessary. This also helps businesses increase the customer to staff ratio boosting capacity to take on more sites and contracts without increasing overheads.
This utilisation of IoT for asset maintenance is also beneficial for customers. Data collected from constant monitoring of assets also allows businesses to more closely anticipate when an asset may need maintenance. This ongoing learning not only enhances customer service but also helps to prevent major downtime of asset failure and potentially extends the lifespan of the asset.
IoT really is the asset maintenance of the future. Just take a look at Simpro customer, Polyteck who recently implemented IoT.
But asset maintenance is just the beginning of IoT uses in the field service industry. IoT is now even being used to monitor air quality to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
3. Inventory Management Software Will Empower Businesses to Manage Supply Chain Issues
Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic, supply chain issues influenced materials available for the trade and construction industries. And, while a material might be available it inevitably increased in price or took a long time to arrive. It’s a shortage that is expected to take a minimum of around six months to correct.
This spurred a trend in business owners focusing on their inventory processes and being more selective about which vendors they purchase from.. This is because they not only have to ensure they have the right amount of inventory for their jobs, but they also have even more pressure to find inventory at the best price. Because of this, more and more field service business owners are turning to software with inventory management capability.
For example, Simpro’s inventory management features allows you to track inventory changes in real time. This prevents running out of materials as you’ll be notified when stock levels run low. And, when it comes to finding the right price, you can access supplier catalogues and compare the pricing to ensure you’re getting the best value.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Boost Business Automation
Along with supply chain issues, the field service industry was dealt another blow with the great skills shortage. The pandemic has impacted many industries, prompting workers to leave unpredictable working environments. This has led to a boost in automation of processes and in turn, AI. In fact, Gartner has identified AI will be utilised by two -thirds of field service providers by 2025.
Given the manual nature of the field service industry, uptake of software has in some parts, been slow. However, as I’ve already mentioned, COVID-19 has impacted this trend. Today, we’re seeing how businesses have to do more with less, faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Manual process can no longer keep up. We’ve seen over the past decade an increasing trend of software and automation utilisation. This will only continue. However, AI will start to impact the industry on a larger scale in coming years. Why? As mentioned in Forbes, AI takes software capability to the next level. It not only automates processes, but it can schedule technicians by utilisation of algorithms. It also allows companies to compute and organise huge volumes of data which was impossible before. Trade businesses won’t be restricted to looking at how a project has performed retroactively. Instead they will also be able to investigate impacts of particulars on projects before they even start the project.
AI will help field service businesses work smarter, deliver jobs ahead of time and boost profits. And, it’s looking like it will only continue to grow, with predictions it will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
Have you seen these trends popping up in the industry?