This blog highlights a recent IDC PeerScape on Field Service Transformation in Manufacturing, offering five key practices that manufacturers can adopt to escalate their efforts to build customer centricity across the customer and service lifecycles.
Recently, I published an IDC PeerScape: Field Service Transformation Practices for Optimizing Field Service Delivery in Manufacturing. Subscribers can access the report here. The report identifies five key practices that manufacturers can adopt today to successfully transform their field service operations to increase profits, improve customer satisfaction, and differentiate from competitors. As part of the research effort, I spoke with numerous field service leaders across manufacturing companies to identify some of the current best practices in field service transformation. The common threads throughout my conversations were technology and people, or more specifically applying innovative technology and keeping the users of that technology central to the process.
In the area of innovative technology, there was much discussion around the potential for some of the disruptive technology, or as IDC refers to them, Innovation Accelerators, to help differentiate a field service operation. In particular, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, and IoT were all active areas of exploration for leading manufacturers. For example, one industrial manufacturer initially explored how smart glasses might enhance its service technicians' ability to service products at the customer location. However – and here is where the second thread of people comes into play – this service manager determined that, with a field service workforce that largely wore eye glasses for vision correction, smart glasses were not the right form factor to provide augmented reality capabilities. Now the company is exploring the use of touch-screen tablets for machine diagnostics and augmented reality. In this example, companies are very interested in using the latest disruptive technology to optimize the workforce experience, but never for technology's sake.
Service delivery is an active area of investment for manufacturers, with nearly one in four manufacturers planning to purchase, upgrade, or enhance its service delivery systems in the coming year. IDC Manufacturing Insights expects this to continue to be an active area of investment, and field service management is one of the key applications in the service delivery category. The way manufacturers are increasingly choosing to implement field service applications is in the cloud, whether private or public. According to IDC's 2015 survey on product and service innovation, 40% of manufacturers are currently deploying or planning to deploy field service management applications to the cloud.
We expect the trend to continue in the coming years, as the flexibility of cloud appeals to service organizations that are widely distributed and fluid by their very nature. With the cloud as a backdrop, leading service organizations will continue to evaluate and explore how Innovation Accelerators like Augmented Reality or 3D Printing can be leveraged in their field service operations to speed problem resolution and deliver superior customer satisfaction.