UK/Europe vs. U.S./Global State of Field Service Management (FSM) Survey Findings Infographic

The attached Infographic presents and compares the key survey findings from Strategies For Growth℠s 2017 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Survey for the UK/Europe vs. the U.S./Global FSM markets.

The U.S./Global survey findings were presented on November 8, 2017 in a Webcast hosted by CSDP, the leading service relationship management software developer that commences every client engagement with consulting. Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst at Strategies For Growth℠, was the featured presenter.

See below to find out how you can view the archived Webcast in its entirety, and obtain a complimentary copy of the companion Analysts Take paper.

The Infographic provides a synopsis of how the UK/Europe FSM market differs from the U.S./Global FSM by comparing key survey findings in an easy-to-follow graphical format. By viewing the Infographic, learn how the UK/Europe FSM market compares to all others for each of the key survey findings. Then, register for the 6 December, 2017 Webcast to drill down for more detailed information!

[Download the Infographic at: UK-Europe vs US Infographic (November, 2017).]

[To register for the 6 December, 2017 Webcast on the topic of “UK/Europe Field Service Organisations Are Closing the Global Service Delivery Gap!“, please click on the following Weblink: http://bit.ly/2zt4eu0.]

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The State of Field Service Management (FSM) in 2017 – and Beyond!

[This Blog post contains a sampling of the content and information that will be presented in our upcoming Webcast, Wednesday, November 8, 2017 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST. To register for the Webcast and receive a complimentary copy of the full Analysts Take white paper, please go to: http://bit.ly/CSDPWebinarNov8.]

As we near the end of calendar year 2017, many Field Service managers have begun to wrestle with the question, “What lies ahead for us in the next 12 months and beyond? Of course, there is no quick and easy answer – and everything can change in a heartbeat due to unforeseen internal and/or external factors.

As such, it becomes increasingly important for Field Service Organizations (FSOs) to understand the specific impact that the next 12 months (and beyond) will have on the quality and performance of their field service operations. In fact, the future state of Field Service Management (FSM) will depend largely on what strategic actions FSOs plan to take in the next 12 months or so. Since these actions will be directly linked to the multitude of drivers that are most likely to influence decision making within the global services community, this would be a good place to start.

The results of Strategies For GrowthSM‘s (SFGSM) 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey reveal that the top drivers cited as influencing FSOs today may be categorized into three main areas:

  1. Customer demand and/or preferences
  2. Need to improve service workforce utilization, productivity and efficiencies
  3. Internal mandate to drive increased service revenues

When asked to cite the top three drivers currently influencing their ability to effectively manage field services operations, 56% of respondents cite customer demand for quicker response time, and nearly one-third (32%) cite customer demand for improved asset availability.

However, the need to improve workforce utilization and productivity is also cited by a majority (51%) of respondents as a top driver, followed by the need to improve service process efficiencies (39%). An internal mandate to drive increased service revenues is then cited by 31% of respondents as one of their top three drivers.

Once the key market drivers are clearly identified, FSOs need to create – and implement – the most effective strategic planning actions to address them head-on. As revealed in the SFGSM survey, the most commonly implemented strategic actions, currently, are:

  • 48% Develop and/or improve KPIs used to measure field service performance
  • 40% Invest in mobile tools to support field technicians
  • 36% Automate existing manual field service processes and activities
  • 31% Integrate new technologies into existing field service operations
  • 30% Provide additional training to field service technicians and dispatchers
  • 26% Improve planning and forecasting with respect to field operations
  • 25% Increase customer involvement in Web-based service process
  • 24% Provide enterprise-wide access to important field-collected data

These data strongly suggest that there is a pattern of synergy among the top four cited strategic actions that builds a foundation for all of the other actions that will ultimately be taken by the organization; that is, that nearly half of the FSOs comprising the global services community already recognize the need to build and/or improve their KPI measurement program – this is essential! This is the first step!

Based on the SFG survey data, Jerry Edinger, President, CEO and Chairman of CSDP Corporation, a leading Service Relationship Management software developer, explains, “This is why we start every one of our client engagements with consulting. We ensure that your business processes are designed correctly before automating them. Software alone cannot improve KPIs. We design the exact Field Service Management solution based on the needs and requirements of the organization.  We detail how a solution automates the entire service delivery and customer service processes into a fully integrated field service management system and maps it into the overall enterprise workflow. Once the consultative effort is completed, we then have a detailed roadmap of how to build the most effective solution to meet the organization’s field service goals and objectives.”

However, along with the development and/or improvement of a KPI program, nearly as many organizations also recognize the need to invest in state-of-the-art mobile tools to support their technicians in the field, while concurrently, automating their existing manual field service processes and activities to provide an enterprise-wide foundation for collecting data and information, and disseminating this process to field technicians (and, in many cases, to their customers) on an as-needed basis. Further, about one-third of FSOs recognize the need to integrate new technologies into existing field service operations to make it all come together.

This synergy is built on, first, ensuring that there is an effective KPI measurement program in place, and using that program to establish a benchmark, or baseline, for measuring the organization’s current field service performance. Second, there needs to be a comprehensive internal effort to bring the technical aspects of services operations into the current (and future) timeframe – this can be done mainly by investing in an effective package of mobile tools to support the field force.

Finally, it will be the integration of these new technologies (e.g., mobility applications, the IoT, wearables, 3D printing, Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), etc.) into the overall mix of resources and tools deployed by FSOs that will empower the field force do their jobs more productively and efficiently. The desired results, of course, would be the improvement of service delivery performance and the resultant improvements in the levels of customer satisfaction (and retention).

The data make it clear that there is no mistake – that is, if your services organization already finds itself behind the curve with respect to:

  1. The automation of its existing field service management processes (or lack thereof);
  2. Its ability to meet (if not exceed) its customers’ demands or requirements;
  3. Its ability to support its field technicians and customers with real-time data and information; or
  4. Dealing with escalating costs associated with running its services operations; this gap will likely only get larger over time – unless it considers implementing a new, more state-of-the-art, field service management solution;

SFG’s 2017 FSM survey results clearly show the impact that doing so will have on the organization – as well as on its customers and its bottom line.

[For more information on this topic; to register for the companion Webcast hosted by CSDP on Wednesday, November 8, 2017; or to download a copy of SFG’s companion Analysts Take report, please visit the registration Webpage at: http://bit.ly/CSDPWebinarNov8.

Companion Piece to Bill Pollock’s August, 2017 Guest Blog Post on Behalf of Sprint Business (Part 2 of 2)

[This is the companion piece to my two-part guest Blog published in July and August on the Sprint Business Blogsite. Part two also focuses on the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on the Field Services industry. As is the case in most analyst interview-based guest Blogs, much of my responses will not be included in the final posts. As such, please consider this Blog as a more detailed companion piece for the final five of 10 questions posed by Sprint Business. Hopefully, this will provide you with additional “between the lines” thoughts and opinions.]

Q6:   How can field service organizations monetize IoT?

The ability to monetize the IoT in field services is another variation on a theme of what has dogged the field services industry for decades! Every time there are advances in technology, the more progressive – and aggressive – Field Services Organizations (FSOs) adopt the technology to streamline their processes, reduce their internal costs, and improve their service delivery capabilities. However, customers, for the most part, see the adoption of this technology as being (1) strictly for the benefit (i.e., cost-benefit) of the services organization itself, and not them; and (2) a means that should reduce overall costs for both the services organization and its customers (i.e., themselves).

The mistake that many services organizations make is trying to sell the same services to customers, at reduced costs to themselves, but increased costs to their customers. Customers will typically see this apparent disparity and question their services providers as to why they should have to pay more for something that costs their vendors less!

What basically needs to happen is for the services organizations to move away from traditional Service Level Agreement (SLS) pricing, to an outcome-based pricing model, such as “power by the hour”, “airplanes in the air” or “x levels of output”, rather than “y hours of service coverage”. Remember the “bullion” pricing model (i.e., Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze)? It bit the dust (in most cases) years ago. So, too, will traditional Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as they are replaced by outcome-based services agreements.

The best current examples of this are, as noted, are selling “uptime as a service”, rather than merely “throwing hours of support” at customers – a rifle shot, rather than a scattergun approach to selling services.

Q7:   What do you see as IoT’s impact on service lifecycle management? 

Many services organizations say they offer total Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) support, but many still only offer Field Service Management (FSM) solutions in terms of field service and support, preventive maintenance, and meager parts and inventory management.

However, the IoT, in some cases for the first time, now empowers FSOs to provide “true” Lifecycle Management for their services customers – essentially “cradle to grave” support for all of their systems and devices, throughout all of their day-to-day usage and applications.

How does the IoT do this? Basically, by automating the entire services management process, end-to-end, from data collection, through device monitoring, problem identification and resolution, routine and ad hoc maintenance services, predictive and pre-emptive maintenance, parts/inventory management – and even “end-of-life” product support! SLM is more than FSM – and the IoT can support all of the organization’s SLM services processes.

Q8:   How will IoT change how companies package and deliver their services?

The IoT is more likely to change the way in which services organizations deliver their services, first; and the way they package them, second.

By that, I mean that, first, the IoT will allow services organizations to perform more maintenance and repair service remotely, rather than on-site – and the growing use of predictive diagnostics will continue to reduce the need for on-site services (in some cases, at all) over time. As a result, many services customers may not even know that their systems or equipment have been serviced, as everything that was needed was either performed remotely – or did not need to be performed at all (i.e., through routine monitoring and minor calibrations or maintenance “tweaks”, etc.).

Through the use of a customer portal, customers can typically gain full visibility of exactly what types of maintenance have been performed, on which systems, at what times, and with what results. However, those customers not electing to utilize their customer portals (or if their services provider does not offer that capability) will have virtually no visibility as to the extent of the maintenance that has been performed. This ultimately becomes problematic for some services organizations that must then report what they have done for the customer – and try to convince them that by doing so, there was added value provided.

Packaging the “new” way of providing services through an IoT-powered FSM, or SLM, involves an entirely new way of delivering services to customers. For example, instead of providing a certain number of hours of support, within a designated time window, and providing a “guaranteed” uptime percent (i.e., or you don’t have to pay your services contract fee that month), some organizations are now selling uptime – period.

Instead of throwing service contract hours at an aviation customer, they now provide “airplanes in the air” to this segment. Similarly, instead of selling a standard SLA to a wind farm customer, they are selling “power by the hour”. Instead of selling standard SLAs for extermination services, they’re selling a “rodent-free” environment. And so on.

However, this ”new” way of packaging services will be difficult for some services organizations to deliver – and for many customers to acclimate to. It will take time, and it will not be an easy conversion for some. But, it is the way of the present already, in many cases – let alone for the future.

Q9:   What specific steps should organizations take now in order to ride this transformation?

For some organizations in certain segments (e.g., aviation, energy, factory automation, medical devices, etc.), if they haven’t already embraced and incorporated the IoT into their services operations, they are already a step or two behind the market leaders. For those that are still examining the potential value of Virtual Reality, there are others that are already looking to implement Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The time is now for reading up on all things IoT, attending IoT conferences, viewing vendor demos, establishing “long lists” and reducing them to “short lists” for vendor consideration, etc. Gaining management buy-in is also a must – in fact, it is basically a must for all things services management anyway – but, especially with respect to the IoT.

Prepare a plan for embarking on the road to an IoT-powered FSM or SLM solution scenario – do it now, because many of your competitors have already done so, and many of your customers (and prospects) are already at least somewhat familiar with what the IoT can do for them. When the services management marketplace is more fully transformed, you will need to have made the transformation as well. The market leaders are already several steps ahead of you; you can’t afford to fall even further behind.

Q10: Within the field service industry, where will the greatest disruption come from – startups, midmarket, enterprises, or a combination?

The expected disruption to the global services industry will be manifested as a combination of all types, sizes and categories of “new” entries to the competitive landscape. Most (if not all) of the enterprise services providers are already offering true Services Lifecycle Management solutions (or, at least, enhanced Field Service Management solutions). They “get it”, and they’re doing something about it.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen many of the large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) companies (e.g., SAP, Oracle, etc.) acquire their FSM solution capabilities. For example, Oracle acquired TOA Technologies, IFS acquired Metrix, Microsoft acquired FieldOne, and so on. Some larger companies have also elected to go more organically, such as Salesforce that created its “new” Field Service Lightning solution based on ClickSoftware technology. ClickSoftware went private again, but still operates in the marketplace itself, while also licensing some of its software apps to other organizations.

The midmarket is only a step or two behind the enterprise services providers in terms of embracing and incorporating the IoT into their FSM and SLM solution offerings. However, where the most “confusion” and uncertainty lies in is the landscape populated by start-ups – and what I call the upstarts!

In addition to the ongoing spate of mergers, acquisitions and alliances, and organic development, there has also been a significant increase in the numbers of “new” entries into the FSM solution marketplace. In fact, probably more of this type of activity has occurred in this segment recently than in the past many years – or decades!

These “new” start-ups can essentially be divided into two main categories: (1) FSM Start-ups, that are trying earnestly to find a way to enter – and penetrate – the FSM market, by leveraging new technologies, experienced leadership, deep (enough) pockets, investment capital and a bit of luck into a services growth segment where they believe they can actually make a difference.

However, it is the FSM Upstarts, that are basically trying to ride the Cloud-based, or SaaS, solution wave into a “new” market (to them), in order to make a quick buck when they ultimately plan to sell out to a larger organization in another year or two. As such, it is truly a “buyer beware” market, as there are a great number of “new” upstart FSM solution providers that will not be around for very long.

Hopefully, my responses have helped you to better understand the ways in which the services management market is changing – both rapidly and pervasively. Blame it on the IoT for this rapid evolution; however, blame yourself if you’re not keeping up with the advances in services management technology!

[To access the published Blogs, please visit the Sprint Blogsite at https://business.sprint.com/blog/field-services-iot-makeover/. Or, if you prefer, you may access the complete SFG℠ Analysts Take paper simply by clicking on the following Weblink: How the IoT Is Transforming the FS Industry (Draft-17-07-21-01).]

Knowing How and When to Cross-Sell Your Company’s Products and Services

It is important to understand the difference between cross-selling and up-selling. Cross-selling is basically the art of selling additional items to existing customers on a “horizontal” basis. For example, if any of your company’s salespersons were to sell additional parts, consumables, software, or peripherals/attachments to an existing customer, that would be considered as “cross-selling”. Similarly, selling additional units or devices to the same customer would also be considered as “cross-selling”.

Other examples of services cross-selling may include:

  • Selling a preventive maintenance contract to an existing T&M or service agreement customer
  • Selling training or consulting services to an existing services customer
  • Selling software updates to an existing product customer
  • Selling telephone hotline support to a customer who has historically only been using on-site field support (or vice versa)
  • Adding other customer facilities (on other floors, or other buildings) to an existing service level agreement
  • Selling service agreements for additional installed equipment at the customer site as a “package” with the existing covered equipment

Of course, there are numerous other examples of services cross-selling that would also apply; but it will ultimately be up to the onsite services technician (i.e., in many cases) to identify these opportunities on the basis of his or her direct experience in supporting both the customer and its installed base of equipment.

Cross-selling does not only apply within the product-only and services-only segments; in fact, some of the strongest cross-selling actually occurs between these two segments – going both ways. For example, if the service technician’s observations and experience suggest that a customer may have outgrown the capacity and capabilities of one of its units, then they may suggest that the customer considers acquiring a second, or third, unit. If this is the case, then it would be considered as cross-selling; however, if the most effective solution is to upgrade to a new machine, then that would be considered as “up-selling” (more on this later).

Examples of cross-selling between product and service may include:

  • Selling any existing customer a service level agreement of any kind
  • Selling any existing customer a preventive maintenance agreement
  • Selling any existing customer advanced or remedial training, consulting, or engineering services
  • Selling any existing customer any other types of services or support of any kind

Examples of cross-selling between service and product may include:

  • Selling any existing services customer a product of any kind
  • Selling any existing services customer parts, consumables, or other physical items
  • Selling any existing services customer product and service “bundles”, or packages, of any kind

In addition to these various types of cross-selling, there are also many opportunities for simple, direct product-to-product and service-to service sales as well.

There is never really a bad time to cross-sell your customers. Chances are, if they’ve already got one of your company’s products, they are already using some of its services. If they are not using all of them, however, it may be either because (1) they don’t feel they need anything else from you in support of the equipment; (2) they are already acquiring these services from another vendor, or performing them themselves; or (3) they were unaware that your company offers them at all.

In the first two cases, it is simply a matter of your providing them with the relevant information for the first time; finding out whether or not they are interested in acquiring these services from your company; and, if not, simply making a note of your conversation for use at a later time. As situations change, the service technician may want to bring up the matter with them again in the future.

However, in the third case, it will be up to the technician to let them know that the company does, in fact, offer additional services; find out in which areas they may require additional support; and then match the company’s services offerings to the customer’s specific needs in the most effective manner. This methodology works well in both product-to-product and service-to-service sales, as well as across each of the two segments.

Some of the more opportune times to consider cross-selling the company’s products or services would be at the following:

  • Leading up to, and within 90 days of, a service level agreement expiration
  • When an existing unit’s warranty coverage is about to expire
  • After one or more occurrences of equipment failure due to significantly increased volume, throughput, or overuse
  • When a customer’s business is about to merge, or has just acquired, another business
  • When a customer is about to relocate, consolidate, or expand its existing department or facility

Other times when cross-selling opportunities may abound include at the beginning of the customer’s annual business planning cycle (i.e., this is different for individual companies, but typically in the fourth quarter, or just after Labor Day), or at the end of a financial quarter or the company’s fiscal year. However, the service technician will need to check with each individual customer on a case-by-case basis to see what their respective financial planning cycles are before they can get a good feel for the proper timing for these potential opportunities.

Cross-selling is an integral component of any business’s sales and marketing program. It is generally embraced by most businesses, as the relative cost for doing so is typically quite low.

The benefit to the service technicians, however, regardless of whether the company currently has a cross-selling incentive program in place, is that they can assist in consolidating the installed base of the equipment that they will be servicing and supporting in the future by playing a part in the “clustering” of the respective installed bases of some of their customers, and this will probably result in less travel time required to support the same customer installed base. In any case, both the customer and the technician, and your company, win in any “cross-selling” scenario.

Companion Piece to Field Technologies Online’s August, 2016 Technology Update on the Impact of Introducing Millennials into the Retiring Service Technician Workforce

[This companion piece to Field Technologies Online‘s August, 2016 Technology Update focuses on the impact of introducing “new” Millennials into the existing service technician workforce. It contains the full text of Bill Pollock’s submitted responses to the seven questions originally posed by Brian Albright, contributing editor, Field Technologies magazine. As is the case in the magazine’s multi-analysts interviews, most of these responses are not included in the published article. As such, please consider this Blog as a more detailed companion piece that provides additional “between the lines” thoughts and opinions.]

BA:  What are some of the key staffing issues field service companies face when it comes to replacing retiring technicians?

BP: Historically, the replacement of a retiring field technician was nothing more than the “changing of the guard”, that is, hiring a new, typically younger, individual to serve in his place (i.e., given that, historically, most field technicians were male). This would require the presence of a sound and professional Human Resources (HR) operation and, once the new hire was selected, a full round of training, certification and company orientation classes to ensure that the replacement technician could move into his predecessor’s slot without any major disruption either to the quality and consistency of service delivery, or to the customers’ ongoing business operations.

In general, the only area where the replacement technician would not be up-to-speed from the get-go would be with respect to the retiring individual’s accumulated knowledge and familiarity with the installed base of equipment, company policies and procedures, and – most importantly – with the experiential knowledge of the individual customer interactions that had taken place in the past. The retiring technician would have undoubtedly learned all the “tricks of the trade” and “secret sauces” for managing his customer, obtaining parts, making quick fixes and otherwise taking care of the installed base of equipment.

However, he would also have an accumulated knowledge of the customers themselves, in terms of their names and nicknames, their requirements and expectations for service, their position and roles within the company, how involved their supervisors would normally get with respect to service calls, etc. They probably also knew the names of their family members, their favorite sports teams and, generally, what it would take to make them happy.

It is typically in these “softer” areas of customer service where the new hires would find themselves to be most disadvantaged. This would not necessarily be the end of the world for them and, for those individuals who are basically user-friendly to begin with, would not represent a particularly long-term problem. Of course, this may not apply to all of the millennials just now entering the services workforce.

In the past, the accumulated knowledge of each individual technician was generally quite extensive (i.e., both from a technical aspect, as well as from a customer relationship vantage point); also, the technician training and certifications undertaken were typically routine (if not boilerplate) and easy enough to apply to the next generation of hires.

However, in today’s world, instead of sending new hires to the same types of training classes and certification exams as their predecessors, there is a much more fragmented set of alternative training scenarios available (e.g., on-site, distance learning, self-administered PC training, etc.). Further, with the growing use of Augmented Reality (AR) in support of field technicians, some organizations are likely to cut back even further on training, since the Internet and/or AR could be used as impromptu “on the job” instant training, whenever the case warrants.

Still, there will always be numerous geographic, skill set, personal interest and training considerations that will need to be addressed whenever new hires are brought into the mix. This will not likely change over time. However, a proficiency for utilizing new technology will separate the “good” new hires from the “bad”; but there will always remain the question of chemistry – both with respect to dealing with their peers, as well as with their customers.

BA: How are incoming techs (who are often much younger) different from the technicians they are replacing? How can field service organizations prepare for this new generation of millennials?

BP: It’s not so much how the services organizations will be able to deal with the new generation of millennials; but, rather how the new generation of millennials will be able to deal with the services organizations – many of which are likely to be firmly entrenched in somewhat old and archaic, not yet fully automated (if at all) service delivery processes; and outdated policies, procedures and guidelines for assisting them in doing their respective jobs.

Most millennials will already be proficient with today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology and will be poised to fully utilize AR, Virtual Reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to assist them in doing their job. However, if the organization they work for does not utilize a commensurate level of technology as an integral part of their service delivery model, the millennial technicians may find themselves effectively disengaged. Even a simple matter of millennial technicians favoring an Apple platform for personal use, but finding themselves saddled with a company-deployed PC-based or Android device may serve as a potential disconnect. In other words, they may end up loving their technology more than they love their new jobs – and this, too, could lead to a potential disconnect.

As the technology of AR progresses and is more deeply integrated into the normal course of performing field service, those millennials who had previously believed they were merely “slacking off” when playing their favorite VR and/or AR-based games, may now, instead, revel in the idea that are going to be paid to use the same technologies in their new jobs – how good is that!

The older generation of field technicians may also be different than the newer generation that will be replacing them in a number of other areas as well. For example, the older generation may be more amenable to taking orders or directives from their supervisors, even when they believe they are wrong in their guidance or decisions. However, millennials will probably be less likely to follow orders without raising a fuss every once and a while.

The older technicians will also likely to be more politically correct than their millennial replacements. To what degree this will impact their relationships with customers will ultimately depend on the specific individuals that are hired as replacements, and will not likely constitute a major problem. What this does suggest, however, is that the screening process for hiring new field technicians will need to be particularly on point!

Longer-tenured technicians may also have more annually accrued vacation days, and may need to utilize more sick days than new hires; but the new hires will likely require more time off for maternity/paternity leave, etc. They will also not have the same mentality with respect to considering this job as the one they will hope to keep for their entire working days. However, this is nothing more than reflective of the changing characteristics of a changing society, and should easily be handled as a matter of course by HR – and not necessarily by you!

BA: How can companies attract and retain these new technicians?

BP: The best way to attract and retain these new technicians is the same way that has always been used by services organizations – give them what they want! Historically, technicians wanted job security, a steady paycheck, a sound pension, ample vacation time, some respect within the organization, and a fair degree of freedom as to how they can relate to their customers. They also wanted support from the organization in terms of tools, training, documentation, product schematics, repair guidelines, call histories and the ability to control their own destiny with respect to ordering parts, checking in on the status of a work order, and an open input/feedback channel with management.

The new generation of technicians want the same things – but with a few omissions, and a bit of reordering. For example, most millennials probably do not believe there is such a thing as job security anymore – maybe not even a steady paycheck or a financially sound pension. Since most of them will have already been fairly immersed in various new technologies, they will likely want to be able to use the same technologies that they have been familiar with to be a part of their new job. This is where BYOD (i.e., Bring Your Own Device) may be somewhat more important today than it was years ago. Through these devices, the newer generation of field technicians will be able to more easily access all of the traditional tools for training, documentation, product schematics, etc. and, as a result, these resources will most likely be made available to them on a more flexible and less formal basis than in the past.

The best prospects for retaining new hires will be for the organization to keep pace with respect to assuring that the technology used at work is at a commensurate level with the technology used at home (i.e., for personal use, shopping, gaming, etc.). In the past, many of the “older” technicians were technology-averse; however, at present (and in the future), technology will be an added incentive for keeping the millennial generation happy.

BA: What knowledge transfer challenges do these companies face during this transition?

BP: Knowledge transfer between the retiring generation and the new generation of field technicians is likely to be somewhat problematic in that the older generation is more likely to be categorized as “analog” with respect to their accumulated knowledge, experiential interactions (i.e., both with products and people), work-related notes, diaries, etc., while the newer generation is more likely to be defined as “digital”.

The retiring technicians may each have years of experiential knowledge that it would take years (or, at least, months) for their replacements to match in terms of breadth, depth and content. They may also have scores of notes taken on yellow pads, post-it notes and scraps of paper, as well as numerous documents constructed and printed out in a Word or Notes file. However, the millennials are more likely to use electronic means for capturing notes through a variety of iPad, iPhone and/or Android devices.

In the former cases, the transfer of information may be difficult due to the analog nature of the recording means used. However, in the latter cases, it may simply be a matter of transferring digital files from one technician’s devices to another’s.

The outgoing technicians may also have more of a propensity for collecting – and using – personal notes on each of their customer accounts than the incoming crew. Historically, most field technicians have had a full appreciation of how to “manage” their customers – even before the advent of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). To many, it made good sense to work just as hard to “fix the customer” while they were “fixing their equipment”. However, this may not be as prevalent among the new crew of incoming field technicians. It’s not that kind of world anymore!

BA: How can technology help make this transfer and transition easier?

BP: Technology will be the key to an easier transference of knowledge between the retiring technicians and their replacements – but the process should be started well in advance of the technicians’ retirement dates. For example, it will most likely serve the organization well to move to an environment where their field technicians are gradually (or, in some cases, more quickly) brought up-to-speed with respect to the new technologies and mobile tools that are generally available to them.

Providing them with the mobile tools (e.g., iPads, Tablets, etc.) that will make it easier for them to record their activities, check on the status of work orders, post notes and reminders, etc. will serve to migrate them from an analog to a more digital world. This, in turn, will allow for an easier transfer of data and information from one technician to another – not necessarily an easier transfer of knowledge, but at least enabling the transfer of the data and information that will ultimately become knowledge once in the hands of the newer technicians.

Another way that some organizations have been able to transition through the “changing of the guard” with respect to field technicians has been by retaining some of their top technicians beyond their retirement from the field, and appointing them as trainers, mentors and/or advisors to the incoming crew of millennials. In the absence of more formal training programs (e.g., off-site classes, distance learning, self-study programs, and the like), these more personal, one-on-one, resources have been used by many organizations to fill a void that may otherwise surface during a period of transition.

Having a veteran (or two, or three, or more) accessible to mentor new hires is not new to the world of business – or sports! For example, it is quite likely that a professional sports team will have one or more veterans on their roster who can still play the game, while also serving as role models and mentors in the team clubhouse in support of the incoming batch of “rookies”. In fact, using this model will likely lead to an ongoing process where today’s rookies will become tomorrow’s mentors as they move through their careers, and accumulating their own experiential knowledge over time.

BA: How can the presence of younger workers affect mobile and other technology deployments?

BP: Simply by their nature, younger workers are typically more mobile than the existing service force – both physically and with respect to their use of technology. In the past, many of the traditional field technicians have been somewhat resistant to change with “Technology” representing the “T” word. However, millennials, by and large, are technology-friendly and well-prepared to utilize the state-of-the-art technology that is made available to them – both at work, as well as in their personal lives.

The use of mobile tools such as Augmented Reality (AR) in performing their service calls will be more natural to the incoming crew of technicians than it ever was for the technicians they are about to replace. However, there is more to the introduction of younger workers into the organization’s technician force than just technology – there is also the matter of chemistry!

In most cases, where a mentoring approach is utilized, the mix of younger and older technicians is not likely to present a problem; however, in some cases, the mix may look more like a dysfunctional Father-Son or Mother-Daughter family situation where there is often an underlying tension leading to periodic explosions of emotions! It will ultimately be up to the Services Manager and HR to work together to monitor and/or supervise such situations where the chemistry looks more like a dysfunctional family than a “band of brothers (or sisters)” all working together toward the same goals.

Overall, the presence of younger workers will almost certainly help in the deployment of new tools and technologies – but it will also require the presence of some of the older, more seasoned technicians to assure that the incoming crew has the same level of respect for the way things were done in the past with regard to customer interactions and other customer-facing situations. It’s not all just about the technology!

BA: What other comments about this topic do you have that our readers should be aware of?

BP: The transitioning from a more mature, traditional (and fairly analog) service force to one that is more technologically-advanced is nothing new. We’ve all been through it before when, for example, we migrated from handwritten notes to Word Processing; from pen and ink spreadsheets to Excel spreadsheets; from telephone reminders to e-mails and texts; from printouts to electronic files; and so on.

Not only will we be able to get through this transition process again – but, it will be even easier than ever before as, for the most part, data, information and knowledge collected via yesterday’s technologies can fairly easily be leveraged into today’s (and tomorrow’s) technological world – simply via the clicks of a mouse and the use of memory sticks (or the Cloud). However, once again, the transition from analog to digital must be started sooner, rather than later, in order for the transition to be as seamless and smooth as possible. It no longer takes a generation for an existing team of field technicians to find themselves behind the technology curve – in fact, it may only take a few years, or less!

As a result, services organizations will continue to find themselves in situations where they are faced with the need to transition data, information and knowledge from a retiring team to the next generation’s millennials – on a virtually continuous basis! It is for this reason that services organizations must put into place a sound process for enabling these transitions over time, including an increased focus on the automation of all service processes; the introduction of new mobile tools and technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR); the introduction of an internal mentoring program that encourages interaction between the outgoing and the incoming technicians; and the recognition that this will be an ongoing process over time.

[To access the published Technology Update Article, please visit the Field Technologies Online website at www.fieldtechnologiesonline.com.]

General Thoughts on the Likely Impact of Replacing Retiring Service Technicians with a “New” Millennial Workforce

[Bill Pollock’s response to the seventh of seven questions posed by Brian Albright, contributing editor, Field Technologies magazine. An edited version of Bill’s responses will appear as part of a Technology Update Article in the August, 2016 issue of the magazine. This excerpt, in particular, addresses some general thoughts on the likely impact of replacing retiring service technicians with a “new” Millennial Workforce.]

BA (edited): What other comments on the topic of replacing retiring service technicians with Millennials do you have that our readers should be aware of?

BP: The transitioning from a more mature, traditional (and fairly analog) service force to one that is more technologically-advanced is nothing new. We’ve all been through it before when, for example, we migrated from handwritten notes to Word Processing; from pen and ink spreadsheets to Excel spreadsheets; from telephone reminders to e-mails and texts; from printouts to electronic files; and so on.

Not only will we be able to get through this transition process again – but, it will be even easier than ever before as, for the most part, data, information and knowledge collected via yesterday’s technologies can fairly easily be leveraged into today’s (and tomorrow’s) technological world – simply via the clicks of a mouse and the use of memory sticks (or the Cloud). However, once again, the transition from analog to digital must be started sooner, rather than later, in order for the transition to be as seamless and smooth as possible. It no longer takes a generation for an existing team of field technicians to find themselves behind the technology curve – in fact, it may only take a few years, or less!

As a result, services organizations will continue to find themselves in situations where they are faced with the need to transition data, information and knowledge from a retiring team to the next generation’s millennials – on a virtually continuous basis! It is for this reason that services organizations must put into place a sound process for enabling these transitions over time, including an increased focus on the automation of all service processes; the introduction of new mobile tools and technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR); the introduction of an internal mentoring program that encourages interaction between the outgoing and the incoming technicians; and the recognition that this will be an ongoing process over time.

[Watch for the publication of the Field Technologies Technology Update Article, including interviews with four services industry analysts (including Bill Pollock) in the upcoming August, 2016 issue. A direct link to the article will be provided at that time.]

How Can the Presence of Younger Service Technicians (i.e., Millennials) Affect Mobile and Other Technology Deployments?

[Bill Pollock’s response to the sixth of seven questions posed by Brian Albright, contributing editor, Field Technologies magazine. An edited version of Bill’s responses will appear as part of a Technology Update Article in the August, 2016 issue of the magazine. This excerpt, in particular, addresses how the presence of younger service technicians (i.e., Millennials) is likely to affect mobile and other technology deployments.]

BA: How can the presence of younger workers affect mobile and other technology deployments?

BP: Simply by their nature, younger workers are typically more mobile than the existing service force – both physically and with respect to their use of technology. In the past, many of the traditional field technicians have been somewhat resistant to change with “Technology” representing the “T” word. However, millennials, by and large, are technology-friendly and well-prepared to utilize the state-of-the-art technology that is made available to them – both at work, as well as in their personal lives.

The use of mobile tools such as Augmented Reality (AR) in performing their service calls will be more natural to the incoming crew of technicians than it ever was for the technicians they are about to replace. However, there is more to the introduction of younger workers into the organization’s technician force than just technology – there is also the matter of chemistry!

In most cases, where a mentoring approach is utilized, the mix of younger and older technicians is not likely to present a problem; however, in some cases, the mix may look more like a dysfunctional Father-Son or Mother-Daughter family situation where there is often an underlying tension leading to periodic explosions of emotions! It will ultimately be up to the Services Manager and HR to work together to monitor and/or supervise such situations where the chemistry looks more like a dysfunctional family than a “band of brothers (or sisters)” all working together toward the same goals.

Overall, the presence of younger workers will almost certainly help in the deployment of new tools and technologies – but it will also require the presence of some of the older, more seasoned technicians to assure that the incoming crew has the same level of respect for the way things were done in the past with regard to customer interactions and other customer-facing situations. It’s not all just about the technology!

[Watch for more of Bill’s responses to the Field Technologies questions over the next couple of weeks. The publication date for the Technology Update Article is August, 2016. A direct link to the article will be provided at that time.]