In the 1960s, futuristic predictions started really heating up. Technology journals were littered with flying cars, personal helicopters, time machines, space colonies, and robots galore. Most were dead wrong.
But a deeper dive into the history books reveals some highly accurate foreshadowing. For example, Hugo Gernsback wrote a science fiction novel in 1911 called, “Ralph 124C 41+” in which characters used video phones, solar energy, tape recorders, and space flight.
Lately, there’s been plenty of hype surrounding 5G networks and the changes they will bring. Certainly, the promise of lightning fast download speeds, instant video buffering, smart homes, offices, cars, health devices and more puts immense pressure on telecoms industry leaders to prepare for a whole new world.
But just how much of this will actually happen? And how will it impact service dispatch software teams? The jury is most certainly still out.
Standards for 5G networks have yet to be established and aren’t expected until 2018. Likewise, the first developed 5G networks aren’t anticipated until 2020. Although, this hasn’t stopped industry giants from plowing ahead.
According to CNET.com, AT&T and Verizon have announced they plan on conducting lab and field trials this year with some level of 5G technology. And there is talk that 5G technology for mobile phones may be available in South Korea in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
With the charge toward 5G networks ramping up at breathtaking speeds, the pace of change within the telecoms industry has never been faster. It’s certainly enough to make service dispatch and scheduling professionals' heads spin.
While there’s no crystal ball or playbook to prepare field service scheduling and dispatch for 5G, there are ways to make life easier today.
Below, we offer five tips for the here and now (which, undoubtedly, will help you in the transition to 5G too):
1. Improve route mapping and efficiency
The holy grail of all operations is efficiency. When operations are efficient, costs are lower, hiccups are fewer, and customers are happier. So here’s a two-for-the-price-of-one: If you improve route mapping, you’ll improve efficiency.
To improve route mapping, create and deploy a route optimization strategy. Your route optimization strategy can include service scheduling hacks, such as understanding the strengths of each of your field technicians, and connecting technicians to the jobs they will have the most success with. It should also include current route optimization software.
According to Deloitte’s 2017 outlook for the telecommunications industry, telecoms rely heavily on manual operations processes, making such areas low hanging fruit for efficiency improvements.
So, if you are relying on manual route tracking, upgrade to digital. And if you’re routing software is older, it might be time to bring it up to date.
2. Ensure your system allows access to customer history
Quick and easy access to customer history allows you to view details past service details, technician performance, and a detailed log of the equipment serviced. Without real-time access to this data, both dispatch and field techs are starting from scratch on every single job.
True efficiency can happen when all parties have access to as much customer history data as possible. Better yet, give techs rugged tablets, mobile devices, or computers that they can use on site to troubleshoot equipment with customer history on-hand.
This helps organizations achieve better first-time fix rates, which leads to happier customers, and improved efficiency overall.
3. Enable artificial intelligence for long-term optimization
Artificial intelligence (AI) is still emerging. However, field service scheduling and dispatch have already been leveraging it in small ways. How?
Field service managers have primarily used AI for basic scheduling and advanced map route optimization to reduce travel time.
But big opportunities exist on the horizon with AI. Service organizations can also use deep machine learning capabilities to revolutionize operations and optimize business goals.
What can AI do for you?
- Using your historical data, it can predict service and maintenance needs so you can proactively deal with your customers
- It can help you balance competing service priorities by simulating and testing various scenarios so you can determine which changes will have the biggest impact
- It can address problems in real-time without human intervention
- Its predictive analytics can crunch your data to provide insights into what will improve your operations now and in the future
4. Embrace mobility wholeheartedly
Mobility is becoming the norm for all segments of life: home, play, school, and business. This is true for field service scheduling and dispatch too. Mobile is crucial to running scheduling and dispatch efficiently.
How else would technicians communicate in the field, if not for deeper mobile adoption?
Mobile devices empower technicians to communicate in real-time with dispatch and with each other. Real-time communication means fewer scheduling hiccups, streamlined customer interactions, and dispatch has direct access to what’s happening on a job.
Need more convincing? Look at the stats and learn what Fortune 500 companies are saying about mobility and field service management in this post.
5. Give workers remote access to intelligence, data, customer history, or parts knowledge while on-site
As you know, with improvements in technology and the proliferation of mobile devices, customer expectations are higher than ever, and only likely to get higher. So, if you’re still on the fence about mobility, the ultimate reason to embrace it is it’ll make your customers happy. How?
When field workers have remote access to the tools of your field service management solution, they can quickly access manuals, diagrams, and best practices for equipment repair and maintenance. Having access to a customer’s service history can help them better understand what’s been done or what may need to be done. Techs can also easily see what is under warranty and what’s not.
Remote access to information can also mean completing a service call instead of delaying service. No customer likes to have service delayed, right? Remote access to timely information can speed service resolution. If a technician is facing a parts replacement situation but doesn’t have the right part, access to a remote database may mean that part can be found in your system and arrangement for delivery can take place immediately. You’ve just avoided having to reschedule service, and made your customer a satisfied one.
For more advice on scheduling, dispatch and the future of field service, head to the ClickSoftware blog homepage.