New beginnings are exciting. The promise of something fresh, new things to explore, and a rejuvenation of outlook and energy. In my new journey as the Program Director for Service Innovation & Connected Products within IDC’s Manufacturing Insights group, I feel all those emotions. For the last ten years, I have researched the trends and the opportunities for growth that impact the field service and customer support leader. In my next decade of exploration, I am excited to hone in more specifically on the future for the manufacturer within service.
New beginnings are exciting. The promise of something fresh, new things to explore, and a rejuvenation of outlook and energy. In my new journey as the Program Director for Service Innovation & Connected Products within IDC’s Manufacturing Insights group, I feel all those emotions. For the last ten years, I have researched the trends and the opportunities for growth that impact the field service and customer support leader. In my next decade of exploration, I am excited to hone in more specifically on the future for the manufacturer within service. Historically, manufacturers often looked to primarily innovate with their products to differentiate, excel, and make money. But as noted by Jeffrey Hojlo, Heather Ashton, Naoko Iwamoto, Sampath Kumar Venkataswamy, and Lorenzo Veronesi in IDC’s FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing Product and Service Innovation 2018 Predictions research, the next 12 months will usher in real innovation for the manufacturer in the areas of field service, spare parts, warranty management, all to aid in delivering a heightened customer experience. And I can’t wait to lead this research effort.
Looking through IDC’s crystal ball as noted in the research above, there are three service trends I am looking forward to tracking in the coming weeks, months, and year as I contribute to the IDC Manufacturing Insights research group –
- The tools given to technicians will lead to customer value not just operational efficiency. IDC’s 2018 predictions for service innovation revolved around augmentation (augmented reality, augmented teams, augmented decision making). In looking specifically at the field technician, augmented reality technology has the potential to have a significant impact on the ability for the field team to do more with the same number of resources. But what I think is interesting is the ability for this technology to allow technicians to focus on interactions with the customer instead of needing to know every fix for every machine. The true value of connected products and a connection to a remote expert via augmented or virtual reality is the ability to free up a field technician to solve customer problems which may not show up on the work order. Mobility, AR/VR, IoT should all provide field service with a faster answer to the problem, while freeing up time to interact and deliver value to the customer.
- Excellence in service will take a diverse team. Having a service workforce of all W2 employees is rapidly becoming a part of a bygone service era. Fluctuations in service demand, a quickly retiring workforce, and a lack of available, skilled talent pipeline has put pressure on manufacturers to look to new sources for the service worker of the future. But this shouldn’t be doom and gloom. The gig economy is entering the manufacturing and the field service world. Third-party technicians and contractors are delivering high levels of quality support for manufacturers and this group is growing in numbers and sophistication. I am intrigued to follow this transformation that not only drives profitability but also a consistent service experience that provides a consistency of quality no matter the name that shows up on the truck.
- The customer may be ready to play a role in their own service experience. As manufacturers continue to innovate, design, and produce smarter and more connected products, the information that can be used during the servicing of these products continues to equally grow. What is becoming evident with smarter, more connected products is the opportunity to open up the information that is being captured and make that accessible to the end customer. Cloud, mobile, and social are enabling manufacturers to engage customers in new ways. This openness comes with risk. However, customers of manufacturers might prove to be willing in the coming year to help avoid a service visit or truck roll by solving the problem themselves (with the aid of a remote centralized expert, of course).
These are just a few of the trends and areas I will explore this year. You can follow my research or contact me directly for further discussion at firstname.lastname@example.org. For access to additional research from the Manufacturing Insights team, please go to the following page https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=IDC_P31494. I look forward to your comments and participation in research projects.