ServiceMax Blog

Turning Field Services into a Digital Machine

As we gear up for Maximize in Las Vegas, one thing is clear: Savvy companies in sectors like oil and gas and power and utilities are transforming their field services organizations into digital powerhouses that drive business outcomes in productivity, efficiency, profitability, safety, and customer loyalty.

The future of field services is here—driven by relentless customer demand for speed, precision, and insights from field operations, internal stakeholders, and vendors. Today, machine sensors report operating conditions in real-time, 24/7. In turn, teams gain 360-degree visibility into every asset and resource—even in harsh regions like hurricane hubs—and access to real-time data without physical inspections. Alerts flag safety risks and initiate service calls. Predictive analytics flag potential failures. Asset intensive companies are able to dispatch the right technician with the right parts at the right time.

While service transformation may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t need to happen all at once. The important thing is to start now. Below are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Identify your business outcomes first: Many invest in digital without first considering their digital strategy and desired business outcomes. As a first step, consider your desired baseline measurable outcomes. Accurate forecasting, utilization, first-time fix rates, invoice accuracy, and accounts receivable cycle times are examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you might want to prioritize. Map your digital blueprint to the outcomes that are most important to you and your stakeholders. Engaging the right people early helps ensure that the digital journey is widely supported and enabled by the enterprise.

Connect your field services through the cloud: The sooner your move to the cloud, the faster you can begin achieving your desired business outcomes. Cloud-based field service solutions connect the entire ecosystem to work as one—so each role in the field and call center operates in synchronicity. In case after case, cloud-enabled solutions deliver far superior field services results.

Empower your teams with mobility:  Mobility is now critical—essential to connect teams and enable real-time access to information anytime, anywhere, via any device. Consider solutions that enable access to data with or without connectivity. Embedded features should allow technicians to easily update records, add attachments offline, and automatically sync tasks. Teams can now stay up-to-the minute with service compliance requests; receive diagnostics and usage history during troubleshooting; and get a heads up on safety protocols. Automatic prompts remind technicians to record compliance information.

Leverage data and analytics: Data insights are a goldmine for service organizations. Evaluate digital solutions with embedded predictive analytics to empower your teams to identify problems before they occur. On the near horizon, functionality will enable asset-initiated demand signaling, and the use of Digital Twins and machine learning to predict failure, determine root cause, and trigger the automated connected field service process.

While there is some consistency in digital field service capabilities across industries, there are also significant differences. Below is an example of digital transformation in oil and gas.

Applying digital to well servicing in oil and gas

Oil and gas operators often struggle with well servicing due to poor materials and equipment tracking, ad hoc processes, manual scheduling and reporting, and a lack of visibility into performance and crew safety. Connected field services solutions now automate well servicing spanning dispatch, ticketing, and invoicing. Solutions standardize tasks and procedures; track scheduling and logistics; and proactively monitoring equipment health, worker performance, and safety. Mobile dashboards enable real-time management of worksites. On the day of service, real-time work load and work order task updates are synchronized to crew schedules via mobile devices. Teams receive critical information in such areas as:

Site logistics and coordinationDeliveries, safety alerts, and crew schedules are available instantaneously. Real-time connectivity enhances visibility and operational management.  Business impacts are far reaching—enabling proactive service combined with better and faster decisions.

Vendor operations management: Vendors are dispatched according to updated and synchronized plans. Vehicle locations are tracked, and any potential delays, which may affect other parts of the project, automatically trigger alerts. Teams are notified when vendor and supplier vehicles enter the site.

Predictive analytics and work order visibility: Predictive analytics enable the intelligent leverage of limited resources and help optimize well performance. Predictive sensors capture equipment operating conditions and risk of failure and trigger alerts—offering “next best action” based on machine learning and analytics. Looming repairs are completed before they become a problem. As new work requests come in, the right parts and crew teams are intelligently configured, and tasks are visually tracked through completion. Close-outs are handled via mobile interfaces and updated into Install Base, parts information systems, and to invoicing immediately after completion.

Today it’s no longer necessary to operate “business as usual”—waiting to react to a down asset. Digital is enabling a new world order in connected field services that encompasses 360 degree visibility, predictive analytics, and continuous optimization. We’d like to hear about digital best practices in your field service transformation, and we hope to see you at #Maximize17.