The Internet of Things has already had a significant impact on field service management in industries like aviation, energy and medical devices — and it’s only the beginning, says Bill Pollock, president at Strategies for Growth. Here, he discusses the coming impact for all service organizations, no matter their size, location or the service they provide.

The pervasiveness of cloud-based service management systems, combined with the integration of IoT capabilities, has expanded the opportunities and benefits of a fully-functional Field Service Management (FSM) solution to encompass virtually all types and sizes of service providers. But how the IoT is supporting these service management systems is constantly evolving, as well.

If a services organization has not yet embraced the IoT into its service operation, it is already a step or two behind today’s market leaders. The same is true for other emerging trends in service. While some organizations are still examining the potential of augmented reality (AR), others are already looking further ahead to artificial intelligence, machine learning – and even blockchain.

The time is now for service leaders to act — and education is the first step. That includes studying IoT applications in their industry, attending IoT conferences and viewing vendor demos. The next step is to gain management buy-in, a must for any field service initiative but a critical step for emerging technologies like the IoT.

Is Your Software IoT-Ready?

The proliferation of cloud- and IoT-powered service management solutions have also led to major consolidation within the global competitive landscape. At Strategies for Growth, we’ve noticed that most, if not all, of the enterprise solution providers are already offering IoT-enabled FSM solutions (or, at the very least, “enhanced” FSM solutions). They “get it”, and they’re doing something about it. This is good new for service organizations because they are now afforded the same FSM functionalities that had previously only been available to larger service organizations, particularly those with deeper pockets!

For the most part, today’s smaller and mid-sized services organizations are only a step or two behind enterprise organizations in terms of embracing and incorporating the IoT into their FSM solutions. Some are already on an equal footing with their larger competitors with respect to the overall functionality of their FSM solution. But some may soon find themselves falling more than a few steps further behind if they have selected the wrong vendor. It is truly a “buyer beware” market, as there are a great number of startup FSM solution providers, some of which may not be around for very long.

Ultimately, when selecting and evaluating a potential FSM solution for your organization, there are some core functionalities — dispatch, parts and inventory management, mobile technician enablement and some level of business analytics, among others – that are must-have features. The good news is that most FSM solutions currently available include these functionalities. But you might be surprised by what other key functionalities, including IoT support, may be missing from otherwise complete solutions.

Yes, the IoT is changing the FSM marketplace, rapidly and pervasively. You can blame the IoT for this rapid evolution (and disruption) in the market. But, if your organization doesn’t keep up with advances in services management technology, you will share some of the blame.