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On the heels of being shortlisted for Field Service Management by Constellation Research, we explore how field service management has changed with growing demand and the rise of servitization.

When I first started working in the field service management (FSM) space seven years ago, the industry landscape looked much different than it does today. Field service is something that everyone can relate to. Every consumer has had an experience with an appliance repair technician, the “cable guy” or a host of other service delivery experiences across multiple industries that have given them a taste of how field service functions. But even as relatable as field service is, it is equally complex. Field service management itself spans multiple verticals and delivery models and is one of the fastest growing and changing markets out there. In a 2016 research report by Markets and Markets, it is estimated that the field service management market will grow from $1.97 billion in 2015 to $5.11 billion by 2020.

Low profit margins, increasing competition and increased consumer demand fuelled by technological revolution have contributed to a big shift in the field service management market, both in demand and vendor response. As field service organizations look to find new innovative ways to maximize operational efficiency and reduce operational costs, large software vendors have found a sweet spot, spurring a flurry of field service management vendor acquisitions. All of this change has created a fundamental shift in field service management, from expectations to functionality to approach. As product-based organizations shift towards servitization and as traditional field service organizations look to also adapt and grow, the following trends have emerged in order to embrace transformation.

1. A new approach to end-to-end… Moving away from best of breed

Ten years ago, service organizations were looking to automate their processes. In more cases than not, schedules were generated on whiteboards or Excel, paper work orders were distributed and communication between the field and back office was limited, or in some cases, non-existent. Best of breed solutions provided that badly needed automation to help organizations increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Automation is now a given.

Today it is all about the data. As technology has advanced, organizations are now capable of capturing data to drive key business decisions at the highest level. Where an automated solution provided process improvement, an end-to-end intelligent service solution provides the seamless data flow needed to optimally drive and scale a business while delighting customers. With end-to-end field service management, an organization has real-time access to all data transactions with the power to apply them to future activities and decisions.

2. Consumer-driven product and service direction

Now more than ever, the consumer knows what they want. The world has been made smaller thanks to social media and connectivity in general. Experiences are more important than ever as a customer has every platform available to complain if things go wrong. Engagement with your customer base is imperative to this new fickle market inundated with competition.

In the traditional build and sell model, you engineer a product, buy raw materials, manufacture the end product, market and sell it to customers and support them after the sale. The shift now is in moving away from product-based sales and towards selling a “product service solution.” Where outputs are the measure of product performance in the traditional model, outcomes and product performance may dictate the price paid for a solution, making the move from a transactional to relationship-based customer base. A field service organization must have the right technology to facilitate this change and bring value to products long after their original purchase.

3. Reinventing optimization

Servitization is not really an operations strategy. It might be a strategy for revenue improvement but the delivery aspect of service should not be diminished. Great service will always be measured by how well you perform, and that means optimizing the entire service supply chain from human capital to parts and logistics operations. It also includes real-time measuring and monitoring of service execution so that you can move to a ‘management by exception model’, rather than providing reactive service to customers. Optimization is no longer an isolated thing, optimizing in-day schedules or inventory. It is now something that needs to be viewed more holistically to ensure deliverability.

Shifting priorities in the field service management industry means changing criteria in selecting a software solution to partner with. Besides being named a leader, again, in the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service, IFS is proud to have been selected as a vendor on Constellation Research’s 2016 Shortlist for Field Service Management. IFS believes this is a reflection of our mission to partner with our customers to provide them with agile, nimble solutions that allow them to anticipate what’s next in a continually shifting world.

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