Efficiency, speed and getting something done correctly the first time around. That’s how business operations ideally should be. Thanks to technology, this happens more often than not, but it is only recently that the needs of the Field Service Market (FSM) have been addressed. As of now, it appears spending in the industry will skyrocket as companies try to integrate computer and mobile devices that will allow them to operate at optimum levels. At least that’s what industry research from last year predicts.
The new Field Service Management Market - Global Forecasts to 2019 report from research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the Global FSM will jump from $1.58 billion last year to more than $3.5 billion by 2019. FSM is enjoying a compound annual growth rate in excess of 17 percent at a time when IT spending worldwide is inching ahead at less than 3 percent annually.
MarketsandMarkets predicts North America will see the greatest rise in Field Service Market spending over the next five years, followed closely by healthy growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific. That isn’t surprising, considering the size of the US alone and the numerous services that have FSM components, from the obvious gas and electric utility operations to exterminators, Internet Service Providers, and even government services such as animal control and the post office.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Researchers found that innovation among purveyors of Field Service Market tools is driving the trend. Also at work is a general dissatisfaction with the way legacy enterprise management tools handle the intricacies of scheduling and dispatching, inventory management, customer and work order management, reporting, and mobile field execution.
For example, I can recall the numerous problems that existed in this area when I worked for a subcontractor. The company used two separate systems to manage both the accounting and inventory aspects of the business. Even with two systems containing the same information, they still couldn’t keep an accurate accounting of how much insulation was being used at each job. Nor could they reshuffle work when one team was stuck at a job longer than expected. I can recall my boss trying to find some kind of comprehensive solution, but never coming up with any solutions of substance. And this was back in 2004, when mobility and mobile phones were just starting to take off in popularity. A solution like ClickSoftware's mobile Workforce Management App would have solved much of the problem.
It is this sort of issue that led to the innovations and growth mentioned in the report. To wit: “Field service management is at its growing stage and is expected to rise exponentially due to enhancement of technology in this sector. Today, companies are demanding real-time based solutions for the field workers, so that they can accomplish their task without any delay or interruption”1.
Not just for large scale operations
According to the report, demand for robust FSM solutions is spreading beyond the enterprise level and major verticals such as construction, oil and gas, transportation and health care and into the SMB space. The need to differentiate services, boost customer satisfaction, lower labor costs and improve overall efficiency and productivity transcends business size, particularly in highly competitive markets.
This can be seen in the clothing and computer industries. Apple has been offering e-receipts since 2005 and its salespeople regularly handle checkout operations from their phones or tablets. Clothing stores have started doing the same thing. Even banks such as Wells Fargo have gotten on board. This frees up all agents and prevents long queues at the checkout counter, not to mention it improves customer satisfaction and better uses resources.
However, there is one major difference between the SMB sector and the traditional field service market: The use of cloud-based software. The report states that the SMB sector is more likely to use cloud solutions than the traditional sectors. However, this is likely to change as the FSM sector becomes aware of the savings cloud solutions offer.
Going back to my experience working for a subcontractor, cloud software would have prevented the mountains of paperwork in the office and the difficulty keeping track of inventory. Because cloud based solutions keep all information centralized, the original work order would have remained at the home office rather than being taken to a job and possibly getting lost or left behind.
CRM and ERP systems aren’t enough
Recognition of the benefits of purpose-built field service market platforms is evident in the trajectory of the market, but obstacles to adoption remain. The chief hurdle among those polled? Lack of awareness. Many organizations still cling to large, legacy enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management platforms to handle the management of their field workers. While such inertia still exists, the tide is beginning to turn, the report notes.
According to the report, “legacy CRM and ERP solution providers had an upper hand, as they offered these solutions to service companies for enhancing productivity through automation of process and optimization of resources. However, the failure of these solutions to cater to the specific needs of service operations led to the surfacing and significant adoption of FSM solutions.” In summary, CRM and ERP solutions are great for industries that need to have automated systems to speed up operations. However, they do not work so well for the FSM, which requires a great deal of flexibility.
In addition to the cloud, the researchers see mobility and the integration of advanced business analytics as the significant near-term trends driving continued Field Service Market adoption and market growth. Also on the horizon, tighter integration of M2M connected services as organizations look to leverage the Internet of Things in their strategic efforts. All of this points to a complete revolution in how the FSM does business. That means the next few years will definitely be interesting and that the industry in 2019 may look nothing like it does today.
- From inside the report that can be ordered online at http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/field-service-management-market-209977425.html.