Field service is an inherently mobile industry. It’s just not the type of work that can be done from the office, which has been true for as long as products have needed to be serviced — and long before smartphones, tablets or even PCs existed.

Today’s mobile technologies can help people do their jobs better while, say, onsite at a hospital to fix a broken X-ray machine. These tools seem like a perfect fit for the field — and they are, for many organizations. There’s a clear desire among service managers, no matter how small their operation, to bring new technologies and software to the business. But the smallest field service companies often feel left behind. According to new research by Software Advice, a company that reviews field service systems, into the technology buying behavior of small service firms, more than half (54 percent) of organizations use paper, whiteboards or spreadsheet software to manage their teams. The reasons are varied. Some organizations fear that switching to new software or mobile devices will be expensive, while inertia keeps others stuck in place. (via FierceMobileIT)

This Week’s Must-Reads From The Field

Don’t rush into it: Customers expect to be helped quickly, but smart companies don’t spoil the experience by rushing the service. Great customer service today is a balance of speed and thoroughness, says Forbes contributor Micah Solomon. (via Forbes)

Microsoft Office now free on mobile: This week, Microsoft announced that it will offer a full-featured version of its Office suite free on mobile devices. It’s a big change for the software giant. Soon, service techs will be able to access Word, Excel and PowerPoint on an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet. (via The New York Times)

Unexpected (but welcome) benefit of iPads in the field: Last year, medical test equipment manufacturer Luminex gave its 50 field technicians iPads. The devices plug into the company’s CRM and field service management system, giving technicians more information at their fingertips. One side effect? Managers are now rarely caught off guard by customer problems. (via diginomica)