The Internet of Things (IoT) and Field Service: What You Need to Know

Automation and field service is nothing new. For years now new technology has been impacting field service in a number of ways, including operations and customer expectations. There’s only more of that to come, as smart appliances, smart homes, and even smart cities become more and more common.

With the rate of change being as fast as it is, it’s very easy to be confused or feel left behind when it comes to certain terminology or concepts. A hot topic in field Service at the moment is the Internet of Things (IoT), but what exactly is it and how is it impacting this industry?

Definitions

Let’s start off by breaking down some terms you are probably hearing more and more frequently:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
    • This term refers to the network of physical objects (or things) embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables them to collect and exchange data
      • To break this down further, it refers to connecting things to the internet and the communication exchanged
      • The greater network of objects things make up the IoT
  • Connected Devices
    • Often referred to as ‘smart’ appliances or technology
    • It directly refers to any devices that exchange data through the standard Internet and gain some benefit by having a connection over a network
      • This includes everything from fitness watches and cellphones, to washing machines and home security systems
  • RFID
    • RFID stands for radio-frequency identification
    • Basically, it’s the tag or identifier embedded within something that allows it to store and track information; it can also transmit information
      • It’s used for Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC)
      • AIDC allows for the automatic tracking and transfer of information without the need to manually enter the data
    • RFID helps connect smart technology and appliances to the IoT

Their Impact on Field Service

The popularity and adoption rates of smart technology are widespread and will only continue to grow. We’re at the point where refrigerators are able to show us who’s at our front door, tell us the weather, order our groceries, and give us recipes for what they have inside.

The implications for Field Service and Field Service Management (FSM) are huge. The future of field service is limiting manual work and automating processes to focus on the quality of service provided. The three main areas of impact for every FSM business are:

  • Communication
    • Immediate access to business related data in the field, such as: product details, client account history and preferences, warranties, upgrades, etc.
      • Automatic suggestions based on a wider range of information
      • This will impact both customer and employee satisfaction for the better
    • Improved employee tracking and optimized scheduling based on constantly updated data
      • Impacts customer satisfaction by giving more accurate scheduling information
      • Also improves employee safety; knowing where an employee is at all times, especially when they’re on a dangerous job in the field
  • Control and Automation
    • The ability to monitor and control devices remotely will mean a business can turn on or shut down specific equipment, adjust temperatures based on the conditions needed for operations, etc.
    • Alerts and anomalies when devices run self-diagnostics will mean more information, identification of issues, etc., supplied automatically
      • The impact here means greater efficiency, as more and more information is supplied and processes are done automatically
      • Automation and remote control is becoming standard
  • Cost Savings
    • The ability to predict potential issues and necessary work means a cost savings by avoiding equipment failure and delays
      • Think time and money saved by being accurately and precisely preventative vs. reactive.
    • Lower vehicle and fuel expense, as well as wear and tear on equipment through automation and optimization of scheduling
    • Customer and employee retention through modern convenience
      • Ease of use and convenience of service for customers
      • The ability to better and more efficiently do their job, with ways to improve the customer experience being instantly available and automated for the employee

To find out more how IoT connected field service solutions can help streamline your business, reduce downtime and keep your customers happy, contact us today!

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