Field service

IoT and digital transformation - Field service

Dr. Setrag Khoshafian,

Field service is complex and involves many parameters for optimized diagnostics, provisioning of skilled technicians, distribution of correct parts, and eventual servicing of the product.

With connectivity, and especially with the Internet of Things, there are a number of capabilities that are becoming game changers for field service:

  • Products are increasingly connected and digitized: The status of remote connected devices can be viewed, analyzed and diagnosed. Furthermore, often the servicing can be done remotely by updating software through connectivity or through “digital twin” visibility and interaction.
  • Field technicians are connected and mobile: they can be tracked, accessed through mobile devices, as well as connected vehicles for geolocationing. Furthermore, analytics may be used to provide the closest, skilled field service technician for a specific context such as specialized skill or specific part.
  • Customer Service Representatives and Dispatcher are also connected not only to the customer but also to the enterprise applications of the distributor or manufacturer. Here again analytics can be used for the next best servicing action for the particular customer and their product.
  • Logistics and on-time delivery that guarantees optimization of the service level agreements for end-to-end delivery of the connected or tracked products or devices. Furthermore, with IoT, manufacturers are finding new ways to optimize inventory levels and improve efficiencies and quality of parts needed in field service.
  • Augmented Reality: This is an emerging technology that is helping field service procedures become more successful through direct interaction with the connected product. Smart phones, smart tables or wearables can be used to provide intelligent instructions. Videos, may be overlaid on the physical device – helping the field service technician be more productive and precise.

This list is not exhaustive, but does represent some of the core capabilities that IoT provides for the digital transformation of Field Service. However, in order to realize this potential, Field Services DX needs also the digitization of end-to-end value streams, which is discussed next.

Digitized Value Stream for Field Service

Field service involves collaboration: the connected device, the customer who owns the device, the customer service representative (CSR), the Field Service Dispatcher, the mobile skilled Field Service Technician, and others such as billing and warranty operations. It could also potentially involve suppliers for parts that are needed to resolve the service case.

The following illustrates an end-to-end value stream for field service. This is a high level depiction of field service case, with special emphasis in connectivity: connected devices, connected field service, and connected provisioning of parts.

The various stages or milestones of the end-to-end field service value stream could be described as follows:

  • Report a problem: In this scenario, a problem could be reported to the customer service represented. Increasingly, with connected devices, the device itself could detect and communicate to the servicing organization- which is typically the manufacturer.
  • Triage service: The next stage is the triaging to determine if the problem can be diagnosed and fixed remotely or via a service call. The triage might involve business rules, predictive analytics, as well as machine learning adaptive analytics. Potentially human decision makers may be involved in accepting the course of action to resolve the problem.
  • Get needed parts: In some cases the service issue could be resolved remotely. Manufactured edge devices often have sophisticated software that can be updated remotely by the manufacturer. Devices can also be viewed, pinged or otherwise controlled remotely.

The value stream also illustrates the part acquisition stage. The supply chain process itself involves multiple stages and decisioning for the best supplier as well as the overall Internet of Things enabled logistics, tracking and on-time delivery.

  • Dispatch field service technician: The next phase is the dispatching of the field technician. Here also business rules in conjunction with analytics and connectivity is leveraged to dispatch the best field technician: for instance the closest to the customer site and with the necessary skills to resolve the problem. While servicing, the technician uses mobile devices for the servicing tasks. Optionally the technician could leverage augmented reality to view potential issues that may need additional servicing.
  • Wrap up work order: Finally, the wrap up of the work order could involve warranty payments, customer surveys, and overall resolution of the case.

There are two main takeaways from this end-to-end field service value stream:

  • As we have indicated elsewhere throughout the end-to-end digitization of value streams, IoT business value is achieved through orchestration and collaboration with connected devices (Things) but also people with different skills as well as different departments of the extended digital enterprise. Pega’s Field Service leverages the award winning Pega DX platform that supports end-to-end digitization of value streams, through business processes within dynamic cases. Pega DX platform has a rich collection of business rule types as well as robust decisioning for Next-Best-Actions: Next-Best-Triage decision; Next-Best-Skilled technician; Next-Best-Part supplier; Next-Best-Service decision, to name a few.
  • In the context of digitized value streams – especially through dynamic case management – there are many opportunities to leverage connected devices. To summarize what we shared above, first and foremost the status of remote connected devices can be viewed, analyzed and diagnosed. Sometimes the servicing fix can be processed and tested remotely. Connected field technicians and their connected vehicles are tracked. Connectivity also helps ensure the correct parts are available for on-time delivery. Finally augmented reality can be leveraged by the field technicians to become more productive and efficient in diagnosing and correcting the problem.

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  • Industry: Manufacturing & High Technology
  • Topic: Mobile
  • Topic: Internet of Things
  • Topic: Digital Transformation
  • Challenge: Workforce Optimization
  • Product Area: Field Service

About the Author

Dr. Setrag Khoshafian is an author, speaker, and leading expert on the Internet of Things, digital process automation, and digital transformation. As Pega’s chief evangelist and VP of BPM technology, he provides valuable insight on business transformation and innovation to our clients.