The year 2014 is the year of the horse, according to Chinese astrologers. In that astrological understanding of the world, 2014 will be typified by traits including perceptiveness, talent, ingenuity and cooperation.
Clear and systematic thought, strength and cunning. Energy and productivity will abound. The horse is influenced by wood, a sign of spring and all things new. Thus, one might predict that challenges to field service management would dwindle in the face of these promised developments.
As business opportunities unfold before us offering new growth and profitability, the challenges field service management has been facing are not likely to disappear. Moreover, it's certain that new demands will arise. Here's our assessment of 5 topics you may want to consider as we roll into the year of the wood horse.
1. Weather Events
With record-setting tornadoes, perfect super storms with androgynous names and monstrous typhoons ruling the news – and debatable consensus on what's causing these weather anomalies – weather events are likely to continue creating problems for field service managers. Companies that deliver electrical power, for example, face tremendous challenges in restoring power to hard-hit communities. Field service management software, with its workforce dispatch, communication and collaboration features can give utility companies a leg up in delivering the best service restoration possible.
2. BYOD Issues
CompTIA, (1) an IT industry association, reports that two in three companies have developed formal policies on the bring your own device issue. While companies are distancing themselves from the “use this device only” approach, there's more to the story. Employees often BYOA – bring their own apps – and software tools to their jobs using the apps with which they're most familiar. Dropbox and Google Drive become repositories for corporate information – often to the dismay of IT security personnel. Policies beyond the BYOD issue need to be formulated.
Mobile workforce management software, rich with collaborative tools and apps, can solve many of the issues surrounding BYOD and BYOA. Why would a service engineer use, let's say, Bing maps to find a service call location when he or she can simply touch or click the dispatch form to get voice-guided directions to the location?
3. Big Data
When you have billions or trillions of data points collected in your corporate FSM, CRM and other databases, how can you organize and analyze that data to give you actionable intelligence on how to increase profits from your field service organization? Tools like Apache Hadoop might be the answer to organizations that have the extravagant resources to implement it. Yet field service optimization is attainable through mobile workforce management software, allowing you to get ahold of the factors that lead to greater profitability.
4. Cloud Security
With the ever-growing presence of SaaS and cloud computing, security of your company's data becomes an important issue. The Cloud Security Alliance (2) finds the “Notorious Nine” issues that industry experts have identified as principal threats to your security.
5. Increased ROI on the Service Organization
Whether it's the year of the wood horse or not, ROI on the field service organization will continue through the year of all twelve animals. Field service optimization, like any other business operation, is achieved through tools designed to optimize. Stewart Hill outlines the results one company enjoyed through exactly that process.
Improving service levels via reductions in the length of time a service call lasts; increasing the percentage of first-time job completions; improving routes and reducing fuel consumption; enhancing customer satisfaction; improving the revenue generated by each service engineer – these are all tasks that follow you from one year to another. Yet 2014 will no doubt bring its own challenges whether they've continued from 2013 ... or begin to raise their heads in the new year.
Image Credit: 'No Matter' Project