Hitech Bytes

Harnessing the Power of IoT in the Field Service Sector

 
December 11, 2019

The internet of things has increasingly permeated our everyday lives. It’s powering our work, our homes, and our digitized society. However, a lesser-known aspect of next-generation high-tech IoT technology is its application in the field service industry – a space notorious for manual labor but which is becoming more intelligent and user friendly by the day.

Effectively using and optimizing data from IoT devices to their maximum potential is a challenge the field service sector faces. By correctly analyzing such valuable data, organizations can elevate their customer experience, streamline supply chain operations, and even further expand their field service IoT capabilities to adapt to the rapidly changing technological environment. Here are some ways we can use high-tech IoT devices to drive the field service sector forward.

Connecting the data dots

Field service IoT integrations connect the end-user device to the back end enterprise. For instance, when a device encounters an issue, it sends a signal that alerts the system, which may result in a technician going on-site to fix the damage. They can also make other updates and fixes by viewing the device’s history and assessing when it needs repairs the next time or if it needs to be replaced. This leads to more streamlined maintenance and care for devices in the field. Think of a cable provider that owns millions of boxes and routers in an area. Such field service integrations allow firms to offer a personalized user experience, thereby creating more satisfied customers. But such integrations can only effectively occur if there’s a high-speed connection between all touchpoints: the home base data center, the field service IoT-connected devices, and the field service technician’s devices.

Several other variables, besides the age and scheduled maintenance of customer devices, can deliver truly exceptional field-service experiences as well. By optimizing the available customer device data, field service technicians can learn more about those devices in any specific region and understand field service needs prior to being alerted to a device failure.

For example, cable providers can analyze not just device history but environmental data to offer their customers insights as to when and how cable boxes and wiring require maintenance.

Energy waste management

In addition to an optimized customer experience, high-tech IoT supports building and waste management. For instance, in physical data centers, which power cable providers and manage the amount of energy and heat produced, IoT devices keep the environment controlled along with artificial intelligence. The machines provide insights into what parts need to be running, when and for how long, removing unnecessary usage. Beyond cost efficiency, these devices create safer working conditions and better-functioning machinery. 

Field service digital transformation

Modernization is crucial for the field service industry but it’s time-consuming and complex to achieve. It’s especially challenging for organizations like telecom providers that have legacy infrastructure in place. However, field service is one sector that can’t get left behind because it’s the backbone of so many technologies that enterprises and consumers rely on to function daily – from internet access to mobility. In the era of Business 4.0TM, access to real-time information and ensuring seamless communication between all parties is critical for accurate forecasting, product or service maintenance, risk management, hyper-personalized experiences, and more.

Even more important is extending the lifespan of a single data point. Field service capabilities can be foundationally disrupted by taking available data being used to improve customer experience, and repurposing it to make informed business decisions across different segments within an organization. AI can then find the most valuable use case for a specific data point and can also access previously untapped data.

All of this data already exists. We just need automation and strategic thinking to help us mine and analyze it to use it to its full potential.

Gopinathan Krishnaswami is the head of the software segment of Tata Consultancy Services’ HiTech business unit. He has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry, with a background in business and IT strategy, infrastructure services management, and customer and partner relationship management. Gopinathan manages the strategic infrastructure partner’s portfolio globally, building dynamic go-to market strategies, joint offerings, and driving joint revenue. He has a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from the University of Madras, Tamil Nadu, India.