Observations from the Field: Field Service USA Amelia Island 2019 Recap

The ProntoFroms team at the ProntoForms booth at Field Service Amelia Island 2019

Digital technology is a disruptive leveler.  Those late to the party may fall off the competitive radar at worst or have lots of catch-up to do within a very narrow window of time. Never was this more evident than at the recent Field Service USA Amelia Island 2019 conference where progress and challenges were aired unreservedly.

ProntoForms participated once again, growing its prominence at this event as an attendee and workshop host. The following are some interesting takeaways voiced by conference delegates over the three day gathering.

1. Technology is disrupting the field service industry

It’s an undeniable truth that we’re early days into the fourth industrial revolution, described by the World Economic Forum as a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”

With the rise of these technologies, manufacturers and field service organizations are thinking bigger and recognizing that field service can be a highly profitable line of business.  In the hyper-competitive business landscape with margins getting tighter, digital transformation is enabling organizations to create profitable new channels – shifting from the traditional break-fix model (“we sell you equipment”) to an outcome-based model (“we sell you results”).

Automation, by all accounts, is making it easier than ever before to build and scale an agile workforce at minimal cost, to collaborate visually, and to share knowledge.

2. Customer transparency remains a priority

Why can we track a $7 pizza on a smartphone map/app, but can’t see an HVAC technician on route to a service call?  The most popular sessions and workshops revolved around customer transparency and delivering field service in real-time.

Transparency is a key way of creating trust because it helps eliminate any suspicions or anxieties your customers might have about the value of what you’re offering,” writes Forbes Council Member, Michael Weinhouse.

Estimates suggest 2.7 B of the global workforce no longer sit at a desk. Intelligent field service platforms, provide a transparent account of activities at the frontline, flag concerns, produce traceable real-time updates, and lay out the truth in a fashion that not only builds trust, but importantly, enhances the overall customer experience.

3. Customer experience and customer success are the core of field service innovation

Connection is a matter of competitive survival. With rising customer expectations, companies are increasingly looking to customer service as the path to market prominence.  Field service has quickly become an essential area for digital transformation to help businesses differentiate and elevate their brands.  Thanks to intelligent field service platforms that empower back-office and front-line employees, innovative businesses report they’re improving quality and speed, value and price. These agile businesses find themselves in a position to unseat well-established competitors that have not, yet, built digital transformation into their business models.

4. Digital technology moves the focus from reactive to proactive

It’s widely accepted that digital transformation is more than going paperless. The big question on everybody’s mind at the Field Service USA Amelia Island conference was how to automate manual processes and identify which should take priority.

Discussions revolved around the best strategies to automate and transform an organization in a manner that doesn’t involve expensive customization yet gets all systems to communicate and work together.

The journey from reactive to predictive begins with field service mobile technology. The summit is what you can do with all the data coming from streamlined systems and enterprise-wide connectivity; being able to see improvements, gaps and trends that guide strategic decisions. Being able to forecast and act on something before it actually happens.

5. Technology is an ally of the multi- generation workforce

An interesting subset discussion explored the dynamic of five generations, their expectations in the workplace, and how digital transformation fits.

Experienced generations may struggle with technology initially, but soon experience the ease and speed of digital field service forms. They know their stuff and can be more efficient in their jobs. Conversely, Millennials and GenZs aren’t armed with 10 or 20 or 30 years of experience, but they’re comfortable with technology. Access to digital step-by-step instructions on their mobile devices makes the learning process that much easier and speeds up their productivity in the field.

Bottom line: it’s an all ‘round win-win-win for employees, for organizations, for customers.

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