With the year almost over, I’ve been thinking about what I heard this year that was new and interesting. From there, I have been trying to put these trends and innovations into useful categories. Based on my member inquiries and partner briefings, here’s a stab at the hottest topics to emerge in service technology over the last year:

1. Large Enterprises Companies Flock to the Cloud

Small and medium-sized businesses were early adopters of cloud applications. This year I’ve talked to service executives from some the largest tech companies in North America and Europe who were in the midst of a migration from a legacy customer relationship management (CRM) system to a lower cost cloud suite. Large companies moving to cloud tools have to streamline and consolidate processes as the applications do not support heavy customization.

2. Field Service Takes on Knowledge Management

I first published a report back in 2009 about knowledge management being a cross-discipline subject, but it wasn’t until this year that I started receiving numerous KM (knowledge management) inquiries outside of support. Specifically, those in field service wanted to know how to best leverage mobile tools to access corporate knowledge from the field.

3. Growth In Professional Services Automation (PSA) Adoption

PSA, which includes modules for resource management, project management and project accounting, is still not that highly adopted. According to my 2013 Member Technology Survey, 58 percent of professional service (PS) members are using PSA. But, spending is on the rise, with over half of PS members—54 percent—having budget for new or additional PSA in 2014.

4. Video Is Here To Stay
Video in service suddenly became a very hot topic recently when Amazon released the Kindle Fire HDX, and featured a video chat option, called the Mayday button. The HDX ads show a customer linking to a live video chat agent for help, with the agent able to take control of your device and even write on the tablet to illustrate how to do something. That one commercial is going to convince consumers this is an option they need, so get ready for your closeup.

5. The New Era of Outsourcing

Service is constantly re-evaluating core verses context, realizing that less corporate operations are key to success. Over the last year, with more companies trying to boost revenues and cut costs in the face of all the realities described in B4B, I’m seeing more options on the table for outsourcing. First it was technical support level 1, then level 2/3, field service, and now maintenance renewals, managed services, social media, online community management—there are no more sacred cows.

Adapted with permission from John Ragsdale’s Eye on Service blog.

ABOUT John Ragsdale

John RagsdaleJohn Ragsdale is vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association. He writes a regular blog, Eye on Service, for the TSIA.

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