Let’s go back in time to the year 2014: the use of video in field service management to diagnose on-site problems and connect with other technicians out in the field was touted as the next trend that would impact the industry.

The video trend is still going strong and has evolved, with organizations now using video as a medium for peer to peer learning. And that’s the thing about trends: sometimes they come to nothing, but sometimes they evolve into much larger, more impactful forces that have a significant effect on an industry.

The first step in preparing for the challenges that these trends might bring is to be aware of how they could impact your own organization. For example, with the rise in crowd servicing, your competitors are likely equipping themselves to be able to utilize the gig economy while also retaining top talent. You need to ask yourself: does your business have a strategy for this? How well businesses are able to prepare for disruption is what will set them apart from those who fail to.

The trends we present in the infographic below have the potential to open the industry up to increased opportunities for enhanced efficiency, open new doors for data collection, and provide an arena for an agile workforce. However, they also increase competitiveness across the industry. Businesses must prepare for their potential effect; analyzing how these trends may disrupt your current processes will help you develop resilience and flexibility in advance.

We’ve identified six field service trends that are set to change the industry landscape by 2021, and compiled them into this easy to read and share infographic.

(Scroll beneath the infographic for more text and information regarding these trends.)

field service trends infographic

Internet of things (IoT)

Businesses will transform their customer service experiences through the use of interconnected mobile devices and sensors, which allow for data to be collected and exchanged between devices, and fewer technician site visits. Gartner predicts that by 2021, 10 percent of reported issues will not require a site visit by a technician, due to enhanced connectivity through the Internet of Things (content available to clients).

Use of drones

Drones will address several pain points in the industry, including hazardous working conditions, in-field time constraints, matching worker skills with new technology, and data collection. Research by Gartner shows that 41 percent of small and medium sized businesses are using or planning to use drones within the next 1-2 years, and 27 percent of these describe drone technology as a critical necessity to their business, and 52 percent describe their use as beneficial.

A push for ‘soft skills’

A focus on soft skills, such as customer interaction, communication, and responsiveness will fuel an increasingly customer-centric outlook for field service organizations. Technicians will need to have both hard and soft skills to meet this priority. 50 percent of organizations currently rank technicians’ soft skills training as either their first or second priority.

Growth in crowd servicing

Companies will club together to create a pool of qualified technicians, who are either employed or freelance, in order to both increase their workforce and fill the skills gap. Gartner predicts that by 2020, over 40 percent of field service work will be performed by technicians who are not employees of the organization that has direct contact with the customer (content available to clients).

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR technology, including wearable smart glasses and head mounted displays, will allow technicians to access technical information virtually in place of paper based manuals, enabling faster, more efficient service.

Heavier reliance on automation

Through automation, technicians will have quicker and easier access to information on customers and work history. Dispatchers will rely more on automated scheduling, and data acquired from automation will aid better business decisions.

How can your organization prepare for these field service trends?

Knowing how field service management software can help your business equip itself for the changes in the industry is key to making smart business decisions. Check out our extensive field service catalog with specific features to help you prepare for the changing landscape: