Over the past few years, Industry 4.0 technology has revolutionized the way manufacturing businesses and field service organizations (FSOs) operate. In 2020 alone, 50% of organizations have implemented artificial intelligence (AI) across more than one business function. 

Author Radiana Pit | Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

Many of these organizations have adopted AI-based product enhancements or are using AI for product-feature optimization, service-operations optimization, predictive service and maintenance, and so on. 

Furthermore, an increasing number of FSOs have realized the importance of adopting AI during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, with many of them prioritizing AI initiatives, linking them to business value across the entire organization, and creating active programs to develop and manage an extensive range of AI ecosystem partnerships.

Without a doubt, artificial intelligence is becoming a gold standard for innovation, performance, customer satisfaction, and next-level service for many organizations. But what is the state of AI adoption today, how can we expect it to increase the efficiency levels of field service technicians, and how can FSOs deploy it within their organizations in the near future?

SightCall partnered up with Copperberg to answer these pressing questions, compiling their findings in The State of AI in Field Service 2021 report.

Adopting AI to enhance technician efficiency

Up to 50% of the FSOs surveyed by SightCall have a proactive approach to field service operations, trying to schedule maintenance at regular intervals. As the proactive trend will continue to grow alongside the predictive approach, FSOs need to adopt the right technologies to support their proactive and predictive initiatives. 

At the moment, some of these technologies, such as self-service tools, AR, and drones, have a low deployment rate because most FSOs don’t have a mature understanding of AI yet. However, AI-powered solutions for predictive maintenance, technical help desk, and video are becoming more and more popular among FSOs looking to resolve or identify issues before sending their technicians on site.

Another growing trend among FSOs is using AI to enhance field service technician efficiency. Considering that there’s a significant skills gap in the industry caused by pandemic-related challenges, a retiring workforce, and technician turnover, FSOs are turning to AI for a solution. According to SightCall’s report, 47.12% of survey participants are already experiencing a lack and shortage of skilled labor while 36.65% are foreseeing one in the next five years.

Without the right people and skills, ensuring business continuity, customer satisfaction, and profitable outcomes overall will be close to impossible. As such, turning to AI for help is a great idea for FSOs that want to ease the burdens field technicians experience, optimize their daily processes, and harness institutional knowledge to hone the skills of their employees.

Plus, adopting AI-powered solutions is a great way to meet the modern expectations of the new generation of field technicians who are more digitally savvy than their predecessors and know how to make the most of the technology available in order to solve issues on and off site. To help these technicians perform their best in the field, FSOs are already looking to deploy field service management apps, video support, AR, and AI solutions.

Investing in AI capabilities will also help FSOs provide the employee experience field technicians deserve. With a lot of traveling between repairs and multiple site visits, field technicians are often overloaded and stressed at their jobs. A long-term solution for this issue is AI. Most FSO leaders recognize the importance of implementing and deploying AI in the near future to ensure a seamless employee experience for their hard-working field agents.

Deploying AI for optimal service performance

Although most FSO leaders recognize the importance of deploying AI solutions, many lack the know-how to do so. This is why they perceive AI as difficult to deploy. And it can be so for FSOs trying to figure it out on their own. Fortunately, providers of AI solutions have the expertise, time, and resources to do the job right. As illustrated in SightCall’s report: 

To truly experience the rewards of AI, FSOs need to feed quality data to their AI engine and apply it holistically throughout their organization. This requires having a long-term vision for smarter FSOs that also understand the impact of AI on automation, process evolution, autonomous field workforce, outcome-first machine learning (ML), mobile, user experience, remote assistance, and service intelligence.

It already sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Getting support for AI deployment and maintenance from the right provider is the key to successful adoption. 

Although many FSOs believe that AI will greatly improve customer satisfaction, reduce human errors, ensure transparent information sharing, enhance employee satisfaction, and increase worker safety, most of them how important it is to utilize AI for field agent or technician support. 

AI solutions such as image recognition, live translation, or automatically generated transcripts, support field technicians in several ways, from removing language barriers to optimizing quality control and verification processes. 

The benefits of using AI across the organization, but especially for field technician support, are clear. AI can eliminate human errors, expedite daily operations, and ensure that the right field agent is assigned to the right task based on their skill level which will result in increased satisfaction rates for both clients and employees. 

It’s no wonder then, that most FSOs, up to 44.76%, are planning to deploy AI within their organizations within the next 2-4 years. However, the most forward-thinking FSO leaders, up to 20%, are taking immediate action to deploy AI in the very near future. Which category does your FSO belong to? 

If you want to successfully deploy AI within your organization in the near future, read The State of AI in Field Service 2021 report for more insights.

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