As the number of connected devices grows, it’s becoming increasingly important for field service organizations to understand how these devices are affecting overall business performance and strategy. Field techs love to carry the newest gadgets, whether that’s a smartphone-controlled drone or Google Glass, but all of those connected devices warrant the attention of the C-suite to align with budgetary and strategic goals.
Many organizations may not yet realize the potential of connected networks, part of the larger trend of the Internet of Things, but from 2014 to 2016, there will be an estimated 40 percent increase in the number of sensors in “things,” including appliances and other common products, according to ServicePower. “Executive teams, in particular, will need to know more about the functions of other departments than ever before. IT departments — including CTOs and EAs — will need to know more about other business functions — such as finance — if they are to become IT service centers,” writes Allen Brown, president and CEO of The Open Group, a consortium of open, vendor-neutral standards. “CFOs will need to know more about technology, security, marketing and strategic planning. CMOs and CIOs will need to understand regulatory guidelines not only around securing information but around risk and data privacy.”
The C-suite will still specialize in specific functions, but a holistic view of the organization’s operations is vital. Before diving into the role of the C-suite, let’s outline what connected devices can do for field techs and why field service organizations are making it a priority.
Connected Tech Is a Must
When techs are equipped with the latest technologies, they are able to receive critical notifications and information on their wrists, in their pockets and even in front of their eyes. Machine-to-machine sensors enabled in the equipment or parts can monitor temperature, vibrations, sounds and revolutions and alert a tech when a metric is outside of its norm. Here are four advantages of connected devices and products, according to field service management software solutions Astea:
- Diagnose and monitor equipment and devices in real time
- Reduce equipment downtime
- Maximize tech productivity by having the proper parts ready
- Lower the cost of field service calls
As organizations realize the advantages to diving into the IoT world, they are addressing key gaps in business strategy. According to Aberdeen Group, here are the top priorities for organizations integrating connected devices, broken down by the percentage of organizations that think it’s important:
- 53%: Need to reduce service-related costs
- 50%: Customer demand for faster, more efficient service
- 49%: Customer demand for improved asset availability
- 37%: Competitive pressures or differentiation
- 31%: Mandate to drive new service revenue opportunities
3 Priorities for the C-Suite
Since it’s clear that organizations are making IoT a priority, what should be top of mind for the C-suite? Here are three key areas of focus:
Cost of Technology
The CIO and CFO are often focused on how much is being spent on technology, and with more devices, that means the hardware, software and data plans will add cost and complexity to the bottom line. Executives should take a big picture look to evaluate which techs will make the most use of connected devices and calibrate decisions based on that assessment.
Although the cost of being connected may seem like it’s skyrocketing now, there’s hope that it will decrease in the future. “By 2020, component costs will have come down to the point that connectivity will become a standard feature, even for processors costing less than $1,” says Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner. “This opens up the possibility of connecting just about anything, from the very simple to the very complex, to offer remote control, monitoring and sensing.”
Control of Information
Machine-to-machine technology will make up 40 percent of total data collected by organizations in 2020, an increase from 11 percent in 2005, according to ServicePower. That means high-level management won’t necessarily have control over where data is shared and how secure it is, writes Brown. For the CIO and CTO, that may seem daunting, but outlining a data policy and making sure employees understand what it means and agree to it is a great first step.
Tech as a Business Driver
Organizations may initially introduce connected devices and products as a nice-to-have, but once they realize the impact that they can have on performance and customer satisfaction, the CEO will want to reshape strategic goals alongside the CIO to make the best use of connected technology.
“As more and more executives become more comfortable with technology, the CIO of the future will be less about technology itself and more about how technology can be a strategic differentiator,” Stephen Brown, CEO of PreCare, Inc., told Oracle.
Connected devices are the future of field service, and the deployment of new devices for employees and the integration of those products into the organization’s service offering will only be successful if the C-suite can make it a priority.