By the time the 2020 Olympics are held here in Tokyo, Japanese Field Service could be totally transformed. Instead of a person calling another person to say “this machine isn’t working properly”, the machine itself could feed data to a system that recognizes a data pattern, correctly predicts a future problem, and reacts before the problem occurs. It could dispatch a robot for a simple adjustment, or a human expert for a more complex or nuanced fix.

The robot is still part of the “near future”, one that is very reachable by 2020. The rest of this scenario describes the real goals of a real project that ServiceMax is commencing right now. The project will be managed from Japan, the first users of the new system will be in the USA, and after a marketing launch at a trade show in Germany, our customer will roll out the system world wide.

This transformative solution will use predictive maintenance intelligence developed in-house by our customer. The predictions will be fed to ServiceMax via an IoT (Internet Of Things) real time link. ServiceMax will assign the job to the right person, and the problem will be prevented before it occurs.

This is the pattern ServiceMax sees in Japan. Innovative equipment makers are investing in the ability to read data from their own machines, and predict problems. The ability to send that prediction via an IoT link to a cloud-based Field Service system that implements the “right reaction” is already available via companies like PTC and ServiceMax.


Photo via Aldeberan

“But what about the Robots?”

One of ServiceMax Japan’s employees was a programmer of “Pepper”, a French / Japanese “Emotional Robot” sold to Japanese households. Pepper went on sale on Saturday June 20, 2015 at 10.00 am. All available units sold out nationwide by 10.01 am. Clearly, Japan accepts robots as a way to help human life, at home and at work. ServiceMax could soon be assigning Japanese field service work to combined teams of human experts and robots. The robots could handle the simple, mundane tasks, while the human experts could be saved for nuanced, high complexity assignments. This is a potentially “game-saving” solution in a low-unemployment country with a shrinking pool of human expertise and labor. As a Solutions Consultant at ServiceMax Japan, I expect that I’ll be setting up criteria for field service assignments like “human emotional intelligence preferred” and “requires robotic strength”, by the time they light the Olympic torch in Tokyo.