Originally published in Field Service, a quarterly print magazine from Field Service Digital and ServiceMax. Check out the full magazine in print or online

Field service is having a moment of sorts, leaving service leaders with plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Field Service Digital asked six longtime industry insiders to pinpoint the opportunity they’re most excited for this year. Their answers run the gamut from technologies like augmented reality living up to the hype to connected machines’ data-generating potential and the blurring line between manufacturing and service.

Nick Frank | Si2 Partners

Balancing the need for profitability and growth with customer loyalty is one of the key management challenges of any service leader. The most successful will nearly always tell you that they invest in the team members at the sharp end. By providing clear guidelines, coaching and encouraging their team to make decisions in front of customers, smart leaders empower their people to find the right compromises in real time — and deliver exceptional and profitable customer care. — Nick Frank, co-founder, Si2 Partners

Michael Blumberg | Blumberg Advisory Group

The opportunity for deploying augmented reality is enormous, and the potential benefits are even greater. For example, AR has a dramatic impact on improving mean time to repair, first-time fix, and mean time between failure. While AR solutions can be complex from a feature and functionality perspective, I am excited about the opportunity for service organizations to implement low-cost, basic solutions that can be deployed rapidly to support an existing installed base. They can result in quick wins in terms of ROI and improved service levels. — Michael Blumberg, president, Blumberg Advisory Group

Dr. Ali Bigdeli | Advanced Services Group

The landscape of competition is changing, especially in the context of manufacturing, with the advent of servitization and digital manufacturing. The most exciting opportunities lie in creating value through cross-industry collaborations. Understanding what your immediate customer wants or how your direct supplier and partner operates is not sufficient any more. Leading organizations have started to recognize that they need to assess how to collaborate with a range of stakeholders, including those operating in different industries. — Dr. Ali Bigdeli, senior research fellow in servitization, Advanced Services Group

Bill Pollock | Strategies For Growth

There are two opportunities that will drive the field service conversation in 2017: those that make the biggest splash in the media, and those that will truly transform the service industry. But one covers both ends of the spectrum: augmented reality. Whether deployed alone, or in conjunction with virtual reality, AR is not only a new technology, but also a means for service organizations to improve data gathering, business analytics and, ultimately, service delivery performance. — Bill Pollock, president, Strategies For Growth

Aly Pinder | The Service Council

This year, I am really excited to track innovation within service — and not just innovation regarding technology deployments. I think this year will be headlined by manufacturers and service organizations finding new, innovative ways to connect with their customers, build stronger partnerships through new offerings, and drive value well beyond the service contract. This is an inflection point for service as customers and competition put pressure on service leaders to deliver well above the expected metrics and the service contract. — Aly Pinder, director of member research & communities, The Service Council

Dr. Andreas Schroeder | Advanced Services Group

Creating opportunities to integrate the service perspective into product development, or even using it to drive product development, is critical for service success. More and more organizations are realizing that a successful and profitable service proposition is not an afterthought but a direct contributor to thoughtful product development. They take “design for service” seriously in their product development, which creates exciting prospects for future service success and new service-based business models. — Dr. Andreas Schroeder, senior lecturer in information systems, Advanced Services Group