Field Service at a Crossroads: Mobility, Cloud And The Internet of Everything
Internet expansion is moving far beyond desktops and local area networks (LANs) to remote field service assets that rely on mobility and the cloud, from heavy industry field equipment to sensitive medical devices.
Many field service organizations have yet to explore the benefits of the Internet of Everything and expanded mobile connectivity. They’re either on the cusp through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) implementations, or else they’re simply not operationally or organizationally ready.
The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing information for devices and equipment creates four basic usage models – Manage; Monetize; Operate and Extend. According to recent Gartner research, these four basic models can be applied to any of the four “internets” (people, things, information and places).
Moreover, field service organizations should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (i.e., assets and machines) can leverage these four models. Enterprises from all industries (heavy, mixed, and weightless) can leverage these four fundamental types:
When it comes to managing utilities and heavy equipment, for example, the goal is to mandate certain service abilities. Devices and equipment must perform optimally and according to specifications at all times. This is especially true in industries that deal with regulatory compliances, such as OSHA requirements.
Field service organizations can increasingly rely on agile environments that are both mobile- and cloud-based. For example, in terms of heavy industries, such as oil and gas exploration, road construction or mining, data access should rely on efficient cloud-based systems with high security and user-friendly GUIs.
As more field service organizations adopt mobility and BYOD, these types of systems are increasingly in demand. Such cloud-based, mobile capabilities can be especially beneficial to smaller organizations with minimal IT staff.
For example, the process-flows for remote machinery and equipment can provide constant peak performance information and optimization. This occurs primarily through devices, and especially technologies, that enable machine-to-machine communication and updates. Mobility and cloud services are increasingly making such capabilities a reality. They also make it possible for smaller organizations with limited technical personnel to compete with larger companies.
In terms of implementing a cloud-based environment to enable Internet of Everything (IoE) capabilities, the ROI is relatively simple. The upfront cost for cloud adoption is minimal; it’s fast to implement and provides an agile environment. Since most services are based on a pay-as-you-go model, organizations aren’t spending exorbitant costs up-front for equipment, such as servers, and IT management.
The value proposition is that companies can save year after year without heavy infrastructure costs. While security still remains a key concern for many companies, the cloud offers an opportune way to access IoE-based, mobile solutions.
For small and mid-sized field service organizations with minimal IT staff, a cloud service provider offers operational abilities to set up a self-service structure and configure it to run monitoring systems. Such a service can also provide security as well as process flows.
These capabilities are also critically important for larger organizations that rely on heavy equipment, for example. The IoE, mobile and cloud-based machine monitors can understand and relay equipment status as well as geo-logistics to ensure that the correct parts with the right technicians are immediately dispatched to avoid equipment failures. Often, such capabilities can mean the difference between smooth operations and serious work interruptions that can affect a company’s bottom line.
For companies with mobility in place, the goal is to locate, track and monitor assets, whether heavy industry equipment or sensitive, technologically advanced instruments. The value is based on extending the life of capital equipment without incurring unplanned downtime to essential assets. Extend can also apply to the levels of versatility and new capabilities made possible by mobility.
Expansion of service capacity enables organizations to broaden their reach, improve response times and increase service levels. Most field service companies are in the business of service optimization and mobility offers opportunities for constant improvement through adopting new capabilities.