Where once it was sufficient for field technicians to carry out service work at the customer’s location, it is now also required of them to remotely support the execution of on-site activities. Technology is a vital enabler of this effort.
Most field service leaders are spending as never before on technology. Only at this moment, their topmost focus must lie on investing more heavily in a range of promising technologies for remote support and service delivery.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, nearly every firm has had to spend more on technology to stay afloat amid turbulent times. This momentum is still going strong to this day. IDC’s global survey of 389 top executives reveals that investment in technology is set to rise further in 2022. Of those surveyed, 88% aim to “sustain or increase” their technology spending this year.
Field service leaders, much like their peers in other industries, have reason to splurge on technology. The most recent spike in technology investment comes at a moment when remote support and service are growing into mainstays of business strategy around the world. But the reality is that, at present, too many technological options are lying on the table.
For field service firms considering investing in technology for remote support and service provision, the big question is: Which technologies are most critical to buy? A few suggested options are listed below.
Adopt Cloud Technology to Safely Access Field Assets From a Distance
Technicians can remotely connect to equipment in the field and ensure quicker support and resolution of technical issues.
A host of cloud-based field service management tools are suited to foster technician access to any field asset from anywhere in the world. Many platforms use end-to-end encryption to secure all data being shared during the course of a cloud-based remote access session. That is to say, the information transmitted via cloud to a remote location can be made accessible to authorized parties only. It is, of course, possible to adjust permissions at any time to avert over-privileged access if need be and prevent data misuse.
Connecting equipment at field sites to a secure cloud-based server allows firms to confidently monitor and control systems in real time, ensuring the 24/7 availability of technical support.
Utilize IoT for Real-Time Remote Monitoring and Fault Diagnosis of Equipment Deployed in the Field
The Internet of Things (IoT) is instrumental in helping firms offer remote support and service.
Implementing IoT, which enables real-time remote monitoring and diagnosis of asset health, allows for the early identification of wear and faults. The core purpose is to identify anomalies in equipment behavior before breakdowns or other potential incidents may occur. This will prompt field technicians to initiate timely interventions and, as a result, prevent costly outages and sustain maximum uptime.
IoT’s grand potential to remotely monitor for and diagnose asset abnormalities helps field staff to move away from break/fix service and toward predictive assistance. Making this shift gives technicians a chance to plan for the future service needs of any IoT-enabled system deployed in the field without traveling for an on-site inspection. Moreover, technicians can automate remote fixes or control IoT systems from afar to respond to pressing issues in real time instead of days later.
Capitalize On the Potential of AR to Offer Remote Visual Support
It is high time for industry leaders to prepare for a future where augmented reality (AR) is a part of day-to-day field service activity. Since the pandemic took off, AR-powered technology has shown tremendous promise in helping firms deliver excellent technical support and service remotely. Firms can still benefit immensely from investing in visual AR assistance, which enables them to guide issue resolutions through virtual real-time interactions from any location.
Using AR-enhanced interaction tools, expert technicians across the globe connect with customers anywhere to remotely inspect, diagnose, and repair technical issues. Technicians have the possibility of virtually seeing issues with equipment through high-definition live video streaming. Then, they can act immediately and provide live visual assistance to guide customers through repairs using step-by-step instructions. Usually, tools allow technicians to pause the screen, capture content during live sessions, and create screen annotations.
AR technology facilitates technician-to-technician interactions, too. So, if necessary, technicians may use the captured recordings from live sessions to consult with other remote experts. What is more, AR tools aid remote technicians in offering live visual guidance to on-site workers to solve critical issues on the first visit.
Set Up an Always-On Virtual Assistant With Help From AI Technology
Firms striving to provide 24/7 technical assistance to customers from a geographical distance may need to turn to technology to build and deploy a virtual assistant. Artificial intelligence (AI) is up to the task of powering virtual agents.
AI-powered virtual assistants interact with customers directly across multiple channels, offering round-the-clock assistance. They are capable of automating digital interactions and quickly providing answers to customer questions, thereby assisting firms in serving more clients in less time. Intelligent AI chatbots are also context-conscious, meaning they can engage customers in relevant and meaningful real-time conversations.
On top of that, advanced virtual agents decipher user intent and allow for truly personalized support experiences. While AI chatbots are apt to provide useful advice and recommendations uniquely related to the customer’s situation, they can’t fully replace human technician assistance. But anytime a remote field service professional is required to step in to solve a more complex customer problem, virtual agents help by automatically transferring the client to live technician support.
The Road Ahead
The likely future of field service is hybrid. So, in all probability, remote support and service provision will remain deeply embedded in the field service business model.
It is a well-known fact that today’s clients expect to get assistance immediately without having to worry about geographical boundaries. Firms will need to place reliance on frontier technologies like IoT, AR, and AI to meet such expectations and deliver support or service from anywhere, anytime. Hence, the widespread use of pioneering technologies in field service may not be that far off.