From new mobile technologies and the emerging Internet of Things to a big dose of Big Data and new business models centered on customer service, 2014 was an eventful year in field service. At the heart of it all, managers and techs alike gained a higher profile — and more influence — within their businesses.

Here’s a look back at the most popular SmartVan articles in 2014 (plus a few of our editors’ favorites).

Field Service Gets Strategic

This year, the role of service (and the technicians behind it) continued to evolve. Companies increasingly expect service divisions to turn a profit — a big opportunity for service managers.

What Every Field Service Tech Knows That the Boss Doesn’t: Service pro Dave Hart makes the case for integrating service managers and technicians into many aspects of the business, from design to sales.

There’s More to Service Management Than Scheduling: On-time arrivals and inventory are important, but service organizations need to focus on “how the relationship between a technician and customer can impact the organization,” says Aberdeen’s Aly Pinder Jr.

Manufacturers Make a Big Bet on Field Service: Expect the emerging servitization trend, in which organizations look to make recurring revenue on service contracts, to gain even more traction among U.S. manufacturers next year.

Field Service’s Twin? Customer Service

There’s no escaping technicians’ responsibility to deliver great customer service every time. Customer service and field service are two branches off the same trunk. 

Eager to Convert a Dissatisfied Customer? Rely on Your Technicians: Longtime industry consultant Bill Pollock explains how great customer service can make the difference between pleased and outraged customers.

Psych 101: What Every Field Service Pro Should Know for Better Customer Communication: How technicians communicate with customers is key. For the uninitiated, there are a few rules of the road to follow.

Why Some Customers Deserve to Be Fired: But that’s not to say the axiom “The customer’s always right” is, well, always right. Sometimes, companies need to cut ties with their customers.

Mobile Technology

From new tablets to wearables and apps intended for service pros, many new gadgets appeared in technicians’ toolkits in 2014..

Wearable Tech: The $1 Billion Opportunity for Field Service: Gartner predicts that wearable technology, from Google Glass to smart watches, could save the industry $1 billion by 2017.

Field Techs: 5 Mobile Apps We Can’t Work Without: Mobile devices are valuable because of the apps technicians use in the field to work smarter. A few favorites include Waze and Dropbox.

The Promise (and Problem) of Connected Technology

The Internet of Things, The Industrial Internet … call it what you will, but there’s no denying that connected technologies will transform field service.

Rise of the Machines: M2M Technology as the Future of Field Service: Technicians’ jobs will change as more machines connect to the Internet — and to each other.

The Future of Service in a Connected World: ServiceMax predicts that that connected technology could save $970 per fleet vehicle alone.

How the Internet of Things Will Change Field Service for the Better: More connections and more data will make for well-informed technicians.

Training and Collaboration

Service organizations are combining new technologies and new approaches to keep technicians informed and productive while on the job. 

6 Ways to Improve Customer Service with Video: Video adoption in the field continues to rise — and for good reason.

4 Mobile Training Programs for Service Techs on the Go: Techs today likely tote a mobile device, which companies use to squeeze in remote training sessions.

Is Culture the Missing Link to Great Knowledge Sharing in Field Service?: Service leaders are making big knowledge management investments to improve productivity. One tool managers shouldn’t overlook? Google.

Cool Equipment and Offbeat Offices

From weird tools to extreme work locations, a day in the life of a service pro is rarely dull.

The Techs Who Do the ‘Most Dangerous Job in America’: A career in field service can require dangerous work conditions. Cell tower repair tops the list.

How One Field Service Tech Is Saving Ms. Pac-Man from the Junkyard: One Bay Area company works to repair abandoned arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man to their former glory.

The New Service Layer Behind High-Tech, Connected NFL Stadiums: The growth of connected technology has created demand for a new breed of service tech in stadiums around the country.