What Can Cloud-based Field Service Solutions Offer?
Guest author: Kerry Doyle
The case for adopting cloud-based field service solutions continues to grow. That’s because the cloud offers a range of capabilities for meeting the challenges faced by today’s mobile field service technicians. In general, attraction to the cloud by organizations of all sizes is due to:
- Scalability & on-demand resource allocation
- Cost-effective applications (SaaS, IaaS, etc.)
- Pay-as-you-go usage model
According to GSMA, the global mobile industry trade group, the total number of mobile-connected devices will double from six billion in 2012 to 12 billion by 2020. Such advanced levels of mobility are partly due to the ubiquity of cloud services. In fact, a majority of mobile users don’t even realize that they access cloud solutions all the time. Platforms such as Facebook, Google Apps, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and a host of related sites, are all essentially cloud-based services.
Field-service organizations can have similar access to a wealth of cloud-based resources to help with tasks, from scheduling and parts logistics to field-based collaborations. Moreover, such access offers unprecedented possibilities for meeting customer needs and increasing support levels and response times while improving an organization’s bottom line.
For example, unlike digitized systems, paperwork can delay a number of processes as diverse as expense tracking, invoicing and scheduling. Content Resource Management (CRM) systems combined with automated data delivery and enabled by cloud services can simplify case workflows and streamline field management tasks. Mobile devices then function as a vital link for the knowledge transfer that occurs between field service technicians and operation centers, not to mention the collaboration potential for resolving a diverse range of challenges, from service issues and work order updates to asset tracking and logistics.
In addition, such cloud-based services offer immediate access to critical data, from maintenance histories, delivery schedules and customer authorizations to field service deployments and work orders. Cloud-based access to customer data offers companies a competitive edge because it allows technicians to accomplish more in the field. That’s because they no longer have to dig through paper manuals, comb invoices or leave a customer site to order parts or conference with a manager. Moreover, such cloud capabilities enable organizations in turn to then extend asset management services to customers tailored to their specific needs.
Cloud connectivity means field service workers can be updated wirelessly via their mobile devices, allowing for instant notification, two-way updates (dispatcher/technician), scheduling, parts ordering and more. Equipment management and work history can be linked, for example, to a particular asset serial number for fast, real-time tracking. Such increased efficiency means that managers, dispatchers and technicians can stay ahead of complex scheduling, keep tabs on maintenance histories and plan updates as necessary.
Field service also offers the greatest use-case for cloud due to the need for constant, real-time access to data. Mobile devices, wireless connectivity and cloud-based software solutions are gradually changing the nature of how technicians function in the field. The efficiency of field service forecasting, rostering, scheduling and dispatching continues to improve due to cloud solutions.
As increasing numbers of companies adopt these new technologies such as the cloud, BYOD, social media and mobile-driven field service software, they’re extending efficiencies to other areas as well. Look for upcoming ClickSoftware articles that will explore how these latest innovations are helping organizations meet changing customer demands.
Kerry Doyle is a freelance journalist covering business and technology issues.