How using mobility and innovation for FSM will define your future

By | 6 minute read | August 25, 2017

Are you giving your field service management (FSM) staff what they deserve? Safety, efficiency, productivity – it’s what we all want for our field service technicians. Safer practices, real-time weather feeds, optimized routes, access to supply systems, automation. Mobility and analytics are at the heart of each of these aspirations and will continue to drive significant productivity gains, improve worker effectiveness and safety, and eliminate errors by capturing data directly from the work source, while integrating real-time data input from the cloud. How quickly you adopt mobility and new innovations into your FSM practices will define your organization’s ability to stay ahead of the competition.

A Field Service Management (FSM) solution enables organizations to:

  • make and keep customer commitments
  • respond quickly to emergency situations
  • provide technicians easy access to the information they need
  • increase first time fix rate
  • reduce travel and waiting time, and
  • increase the number of jobs completed per day and capacity used.

Mobile and innovative technologies are fueling growth for field service management (FSM)

The field service management market is estimated to grow from $1.78 billion in 2016 to a staggering $3.61 billion by 2021. The need for highly scalable centralized system for the management of field services and real-time collaboration, increased usage of mobile devices, and growing demand for improved enterprise efficiencies and reduced operational cost are the predominant forces driving this growth.

Gartner predictions indicate the field service management market is experiencing rapid growth in response to technology advancements in the areas of mobility, SaaS and machine learning. Gartner already predicted that field service organizations were on track to purchase as many as 53 million tablets by 2016, and, that by 2020, two out of three large field service organizations will have equipped field technicians with mobile applications in order to generate new revenue streams, improve efficiency and increase customer satisfaction.

Organizations that stick with paper methods will fall behind

Predictions like these don’t bode well for organizations that are slow to embrace a mobility platform for their field service staff. In order to stay ahead, organizations that depend on field technicians to manage and maintain business-critical enterprise assets will need to adopt mobile technology to automate the service process and eliminate duplicate data entry.

As the march towards automation continues – with paper work order systems being replaced by intelligent, integrated, scalable solutions – field technicians need instant access to critical data, even when they lose connectivity. Mobile devices can provide field staff with a secure line of communications to the back office, plus much more.

Where are you in the continuum of adopting mobile?

In order to make the most of a mobility platform, it is vital that it has the capacity to address different types of work such as long cycle construction (working in offline mode), schedule maintenance, inspection (with dynamic forms and checklists), perform asset audit and calibration, from installing a simple asset like meter to managing complex asset like airplanes. You can learn more about this by reading an earlier post in which I discussed how organizations are using mobility for their field workforce in more depth.

Exploiting the natural overlap between EAM and FSM

Asset-intensive industries face the harsh realities of operating in highly competitive markets and dealing with high value facilities and equipment where each failure is disruptive and costly. At the same time, they must also adhere to stringent occupational safety, health and environmental regulations. Maintaining optimal availability, reliability, profitability, and operational safety of plant, equipment, facilities and other assets is therefore essential for an organization’s success in their respective markets.

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) addresses the entire lifecycle management of the physical assets of an organization in order to maximize value. It is a discipline covering areas that include the design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning or replacement of a plant, equipment, facility or some other high-value asset.

Savings benefits to be gained through EAM and FSM

EAM enables the work force to handle long cycle work like managing new construction or neighborhood design and as well scheduled inspections and maintenance of assets. Pure play FSM systems, on the other hand, usually address short cycle work such as outage, or customer reported problems, e.g. a water leak or customer initiated work such as new service hookup. By combining these kinds of workloads through a single workforce and a single system, huge savings can be gained because organizations can optimize work allocation based on skills, availability, proximity and priority to achieve maximum efficiency.

graphic showing the overlap of EAM and FSM

Figure 1: Where EAM and FSM overlap

The total asset management approach

By combining Maximo Asset Management (IBM’s core EAM solution), IBM scheduling and dispatching solutions (Scheduler and Scheduler Plus), a mobile solution such as Maximo Anywhere with location based services using Maximo Spatial and a way to easily manage customer service level and billing (Maximo Service Provider), organizations are able to address their field service management (FSM) requirements with a single system of record – IBM Maximo.

Essentially, using IBM Maximo offers organizations a total asset and field service management approach –encompassing everything from planning and scheduling of work, to booking customer appointments, to assigning and dispatching the technicians, and finally tracking the work progress in real-time – eliminates the need to go with a third party tool. Having a single system across EAM and FSM not only helps reduce total cost of ownership, but for organizations striving to achieve a single field workforce, it can help reduce the cost and complexity associated with integrating multiple systems.

Graphic showing the components of Maximo FSM

Figure 2: A comprehensive enterprise asset management and FSM approach.

Riding the next wave of FSM innovation with Weather Integration

The impact of weather events on organizations can be far-reaching – impacting profits, productivity and safety. In the U.S., weather has a $500B impact on the economy and is responsible for nearly 80% of all electric grid disruptions. In the case of field service personnel, weather often forces a delay or reschedule of work be it because of snow, ice, high winds or what have you.

Having weather data integrated into your FSM solution streamlines the process, enabling organizations to better manage appointments with their end clients, while enabling technician scheduling and planning is more flexible and efficient.  Here are a few real-world use cases where weather integration can help to improve safety and efficiency:

1. Avoid dangerous weather conditions

For a planned cell tower maintenance, high wind and storm conditions should be avoided when possible. Lightning must be strictly avoided. Having the visibility into weather conditions in advance enables safer, more efficient operations

2. Avoid cancellations

Incorporating the weather forecast into appointment booking helps avoid cancellations and/or reschedules thereby leading to higher customer satisfaction as well as lower operational cost

3. Ensure crew safety

With real-time weather alerts, Dispatchers can re-route the technicians to work in a safe area and reschedule the original work to a day or time that is not impacted by adverse weather. Not only does this ensure that the crews are safe, it also helps utilize them more efficiently on other high priority work while also avoiding unnecessary fuel/travel and other operational cost.

The next phase: Faster problem resolution with augmented reality and artificial intelligence

IBM is working on combining different technology advancements to help field technician staff speed-up inspections, problem determination and resolution.

It’s clear the next three to five years will be pivotal for field service management. New technology advancements like Weather integration, augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI) visual recognition, and cognitive expert advisors are already reshaping the Field Service Management landscape. These advancements, combined with industry trends such as aging workforce and aging infrastructure, indicate there will be no shortage of opportunities where emerging innovations emerging as disruptors to traditional enterprise systems.

How quickly and to what degree organizations integrate these new technologies into their FSM practices will certainly be a factor in which organizations emerge as leaders versus laggards.

Learn more

For asset-intensive organizations, mobility continues to drive significant productivity gains, improve worker effectiveness and safety, and eliminate errors by capturing data directly from the work source.

View the slide share for more details on how the convergence of FSM and EAM can benefit your organization, or, watch our on-demand webcast on mobilizing your workforce.

To learn how enterprise asset management can help you transform your maintenance and asset management practices using IoT data, weather data and powerful, cognitive analytics, please visit our website.