Strategy & Leadership

Survey Reveals Biggest Field Service Technology Gaps, Opportunities

A new survey of field service professionals shows how — and where — the sector could benefit by adopting an array of new Web-based applications and tools. The survey, released Nov. 3 by ServiceMax, shows just how reliant service managers remain on pens, paper and basic computer programs. At the same time, the report shows a growing number of managers who are switching to new Web apps and social media to do their jobs.

The survey by ServiceMax (disclosure: ServiceMax is a SmartVan sponsor) polled nearly 300 managers across a variety of industries, including communications, equipment manufacturing and utilities. The majority of respondents (56 percent) were from small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees. The survey results revealed many trends, including the startling revelation that nearly 46 percent of respondents said they don’t use a centralized program to manage their company’s field service operations. Additionally, nearly 21 percent said they use spreadsheets and mobile phones to track field operations.

The majority of respondents (56%) were from small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees. Among the many interesting trends revealed by the survey results, nearly 46% of respondents said they don’t use a centralized program to manage their company’s field service operations. Additionally, nearly 21% said they use spreadsheets and mobile phones to track field operations.

 

A majority (54%) of those surveyed said they used email or the phone to share customer information with their technicians in the field or third party contractors. Less than 25% of respondents said they used the Web to share links to customer information with contractors or colleagues.

 

According to the survey, about one-third of respondents said they created their own programs to schedule and control technicians’ assignments. Others simply used spreadsheets or outsourced field service to third party contractors.

 

Despite offerings built on platforms such as Oracle and Salesforce.com that can be tailored to the service side of a company’s CRM needs, the survey showed that spreadsheets and existing programs are the most prevalent tools used today by field service managers. The report also suggests that Web-based technologies beyond email haven’t yet made significant inroads with service organizations. And the proliferation of mobile devices, such as smartphones and Apple’s iPad, only increases the pressure on field service pros to finally make the switch.

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