Barrett Coakley | 06.26.19

The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to radically change the way companies do business. The total installed base of IoT connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years. The evolution of sensors in connected devices and advances in big data analysis are combining to make field service increasingly predictive, highly efficient, and less dependent on human intervention. The business benefits are clear: increased visibility into assets improves service efficiency and lowers costs, while intelligent analysis of sensor data leads to a better understanding of customer needs .

However, to get the most out of your IoT investment, you must have a field service management (FSM) system that can prioritize alerts in real-time, including the ability to optimize your scheduling of the service request.

Stuck in an Elevator

I am not sure if it is just me, but most times I enter an elevator I think about it getting stuck. However, with IoT, vendors can remotely monitor elevators and perform service before any service disruption, and move away from time based (quarterly, monthly, annual) planned maintenance towards predictive maintenance. With machine learning added to the mix, IoT platforms can identify trends in sensor readings that will alert the service provider of a problem before the unit breaks down.   

While this predictive scenario is certainly exciting, there are times when an elevator or other piece of equipment will fail despite satisfactory readings from the sensors. A surprise failure is where you need a FSM solution that can handle the emergency in real-time. However, many FSM systems do not operate in real-time, eliminating many of the benefits of IoT alerts and platforms. A system that operates in real-time can:

  • Receive the alert
  • Open a ticket
  • Assess the current location and status of all technicians
  • Automatically insert the request in the schedule based on overall business priorities
  • Schedule the proper person with the correct skill set
  • Reschedule or cancel lower priority work 

And with route optimization, field service organizations can make sure that the right technician gets to the right job at the right location at the right time. Route optimization considers all the variables that can impact travel, including turn-by-turn directions, predictive traffic, and live traffic updates.

In addition, with a flexible mobile platform the technician will receive information on the asset, including a live feed of the sensor readings, preparing them with as much information as possible to ensure a first time fix to the situation.

Why Real-time Matters

It is important to emphasize the importance of having a field service management solution that can react in real-time to alerts and schedule changes. Many FSM systems only update periodically throughout the day, meaning that a dispatcher does not have an accurate view into the location of a technician nor the status of work. In this type of system, with an IoT alert, the dispatcher needs to wait until the system refreshes to get an up-to-date view of which  technicians are available to complete the service. This delay can mean a missed SLA or, worse, not being able to help out quickly enough in an emergency situation.

Some of the benefits of a real-time system include:

  • Provides real-time traffic data to help with route optimization and enable the tech to give an accurate ETA. If you are stuck in an elevator, or if a mission critical system at a hospital is down having updates based on current information is crucial.
  • A real-time view into the location and skillsets of available technicians means you can find the nearest resource that has the proper skills for the job, helping to solve the problem more quickly.
  • The ability to automatically re-schedule appointments because you have real insights into locations, traffic and skills.

Real-time is the Key to Success

To get the best performance from IoT, your FSM solution must be able to process data in real-time, including the ability to have real-time information into location, schedules and skillsets of all your technicians. Up-to-date information enables your service organization to react immediately to handle the repair (or prioritize it as appropriate) as well as move any appointments that might need to be shifted. Without real-time information, your IoT investment, as well as your digital transformation efforts, will not be as successful as hoped.