While the organizational and technological structure of the manufacturing world is evolving, a major key to success for these organizations is remembering the human aspect of applying new technologies and business strategies in order to retain skilled staff and improve the customer experience. Earlier this year at Field Service USA 2018, hosted by Worldwide Business Research, the Syncron team led our annual workshop focused on these specific field service market disruptors and technologies and their potential impact on field service and the people within the industry.

With a major shift toward servitization – the selling of outcomes over products –major tech trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are serving as some of the supportive pillars of product uptime. But those aren’t the only field service market disruptors organizations face today.

That’s why we created our newest Syncron original Orange Paper, State of Emerging Tech in Field Service: Servitization, IoT & AI, Market Disruptors and The Road to Uptime,” to help manufacturers identify and manage additional field service market disruptors like the generational gap, unique emerging tech, e-commerce, and the changing customer.

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Among the attendees, there was a common belief that the evolution of the human worker is one of the largest field service market disruptors that will impact our industries, and field service leaders are responsible for learning how to adopt new technologies and retain skilled staff to positively impact their field service teams.

Below are some of the biggest field service market disruptors our workshop attendees are facing in their businesses today:

The Generational Gap

In an aging workforce, experts are retiring, machines are being superseded, and the knowledge transfer that has to take place between generations is insane – and seemingly impossible to some attendees. Millennials entering the workforce are giving companies a 20-year employee age range – but the real challenge is that they aren’t a field service inspired generation. The generations’ increase in college education means fewer trade degrees in field service, which is an extremely important job that requires smart people with technical and problem-solving skills – who like to get their hands dirty. Since this typically doesn’t describe the classic millennial stereotype, one attendee is combatting this by getting involved with the local high schools and beginning programs with parents to talk about the valuable career opportunities in field service and manufacturing.

New Emerging Tech

The sharing economy, a wave of “non-ownership” spurred by services like ride-sharing apps and one-to-one vacation rentals, has been on the rise for years. Both challenges and opportunities exist for manufacturers, and some organizations may need to transform and optimize their after-sales service businesses to become more customer-centric and efficient. For the end-customer, it’s a win-win: little risk is associated with renting, replacement is less complicated, maintenance costs are lower, and there are fewer transportation and servicing requirements. For the manufacturer, it can be a significant revenue driver, but companies must adopt the right technologies and business practices to be successful.

Industry 4.0 has brought us embedded systems, intelligent objects and cyber systems in product and logistics. There’s a horizontal and vertical integration of customers and business partners into business and supply chain processes, along with a connection of production and service hybrid products; and cloud computing and big data are the place to go for new analysis methods and optimization. Overall, telematics, the technology of sending, receiving and storing information via telecommunication devices in conjunction with effecting control on remote objects, has had the biggest impact on the field service industry through the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics for application in vehicles.

E-Commerce and The Changing Customer

Amazon and other online retailers are forcing change as the major e-commerce players are becoming more and more aggressive in the service parts space. Field service organizations need to get ahead of this trend as much as possible to ensure they remain competitive. Attendees admitted that while e-commerce is improving the customer experience – it’s negatively impacting the OEM. Many have started to see a shift in customer loyalty, and with Amazon digitally transforming the retail industry with data, AI, and network effects, its 34% share of the US e-commerce market could increase to 50 percent by 2021.

So, what does this mean for field service leaders when it comes to staying in the ring? It means that manufacturers who want to survive this new wave of technological expectations need to embrace systems like intelligent price and inventory management, along with an infusion of the aforementioned emerging technology advances like sensor-equipped parts and IoT. By leveraging these modern innovations in the once very traditional industry, field service organizations will be able to withstand the Amazon effect and stay competitive throughout this wave of digitization.

Download your complimentary copy of our Orange Paper today, and start incorporating this new strategy in your field service organizations now.