For many 2020 was a challenging year, personally and professionally. Field service business employees had to learn to work together while working from home, as well as implement social distancing and safety measures that 12 months ago would have been incomprehensible. In the face of these unprecedented challenges, not only has the field service industry adapted and survived, in many cases it has thrived - thanks to technology.
What technologies did 2020 bring?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, paper-based workflows were slowly losing popularity in favor of cloud-based technologies. However, work-from-home mandates rapidly accelerated the adoption of these technologies, resulting in field service businesses innovating and advancing like never before. Here are some of the ways technology was adopted in 2020:
Streamlining workflows and processes
Agility was the key to survival in 2020 and this saw field service businesses streamlining their workflows and processes. For some companies this meant turning to a cloud-based software solution for the first time, and for others it meant upskilling on the software they already had in place.
Regardless of whether utilizing this type of software was new, one thing was certain, when it came to accessing information outside of an office environment and sharing real-time data with remote workers, cloud-based software was essential.
Increased focus on safety
Social distancing and the safety of customers and staff were hot topics of 2020. Field service businesses had to implement brand-new processes overnight to ensure social distancing regulations were upheld and business operations could continue.
Mobile-based apps made the uptake of these new processes considerably smoother for field service businesses. Contactless payments ensured minimal contact between customers and staff, and field service staff were able to log their locations digitally to support contact tracing endeavours. Mobile apps also provided businesses with the tools to carry out pre and post safety audits, ensuring new safety measures were followed.
Training and upskilling
Many businesses that found themselves thriving in the latter half of 2020 took what downtime they had earlier in the year and used it to upskill staff on new and existing technologies and software. Field staff members attended online webinars with associations and business consultants, completed online self-directed training, like that which can be found in the simPRO Learning Toolbox, and explored custom online training.
This allowed businesses to recognize areas where they could optimize workflows and increase efficiency, as well as identify knowledge and skill gaps, ultimately leading to streamlined processes and increased profitability.
And what’s to come in 2021?
Don't be fooled into thinking that technology adoption in the field service industry will slow down in 2021. Here are some of the technologies that are predicted to boom in the field service industry over the next year:
Further adoption of cloud-based software
Adopting a cloud-based job management system, not only allows businesses to access data from anywhere and manage everything from initial customer contact through to invoicing on a single platform, it streamlines workflows and paves the way for future success.
These benefits haven’t been lost on businesses and it can be predicted that throughout 2021 more and more businesses within the field service industry will switch to cloud-based software to keep up and stay agile.
Increase in mobile workforce
While field staff have been working remotely with the assistance of mobile-based apps for a while, the increased adoption of cloud-based software for office staff will lead to working from home being the new normal.
This software brings the ability for office staff to digitally schedule jobs, remotely dispatch field staff, as well as invoice and sign documents electronically without the need to print and scan. Not only does this save time and resources, it can reduce overhead costs and the amount of office space required.
With businesses becoming increasingly cautious of having field service staff on their premises, in 2021 the industry will continue to implement IoT solutions.
IoT allows real-time remote monitoring of assets and environments using sensors that transmit data to software, which in turn analyzes the data to predict component failure, alert when temperatures are outside of a specified range, detect water leaks, monitor air conditions and more. IoT is changing the way field service businesses operate, by allowing businesses to remotely monitor assets rather than scheduling regular on-site maintenance checks or simply waiting for an asset to fail.
Enhancing the customer experience
And finally, with the enhancement of technology comes the increase in customer expectations. Customers have become accustomed to the accessibility of information that technology provides, and this in turn leads to them expecting faster response times and increased communication across all mediums.
As a way to combat these higher customer expectations and to ensure customer satisfaction, the field service industry will see an increase in the use of notifications, texts and emails to send customers real-time updates, such as when a field staff member is on the way to the job.
Keen to find out more about the technology trends of 2020 and what can be expected to come in 2021? Check out our webinar, Trending in the Right Direction: Technology to Help You Grow.