Studies show that field service organizations have identified technology as a key investment for their business. In a recent survey entitled, Transforming Service Deliver: An Insight Report 2014, Trimble found that 67% of the respondents said they had or intended to carry out a large change program in the past or future 24 months, and 58% stated that this would be new technology. So what does this new technology include?

Top on the list was easy access to advanced analytics and management tools which will greatly enhance productivity. Field service companies that understand how to strategically leverage these tools stand to drive efficiencies, improve customer service and boost profits. Here are the other key technological developments to look for:

Cloud-Driven Derivatives
The benefits of cloud-based software will continue to give businesses significant advantages.  KPMG’s Technology Innovation Survey 2013 ranked the cloud as “the biggest driver of business transformation for enterprises in the next three years,” citing real-time information and productivity as key derivatives. Best-in-class field service organizations know the cloud makes them more flexible in meeting customer demands, so the question is no longer whether you should deploy cloud solutions but when. Organizations must evaluate and implement cloud services as methodically as with on-premises applications to remain agile and effectively meet customer needs.

Increased Integration of M2M
Machine-to-machine communication is transforming how companies do business. Data transmitted from devices in the field to applications in the office can lead to decisions that significantly improve the business. In field services, that data flows in from GPS and in-vehicle data-capturing devices, as well as ruggedized handheld computers used for invoicing and confirmation of deliveries and task completion. In addition, sensors and monitoring devices on everything from household appliances to utility meters to complex machinery in oil fields transmits data on diagnostics, measurements, temperature and overall conditions, all of which is instrumental in preventing equipment failure, scheduling maintenance, and improving safety and energy consumption.

Knowledge Management as a Cross-Discipline
Information gathered from the array of technology tools and systems used by field service organizations is often used separately for specific tasks, and in some cases forgotten in databases and unused files. But if aggregated in a digestible form, the information can drive innovation and stimulate change. This is called knowledge management, which is typically tied to specific goals, such as increasing competiveness, enhancing staff expertise and improving communication between different departments. In 2014, more organizations will grasp the importance of knowledge management as a cross-discipline in shaping strategy and direction across the enterprise.

Data-Driven Decisions
Big data flows into organizations in various formats from a vast array of sources, including company systems, websites and social media. Collecting, organizing and drawing insights from these massive volumes of data will help field service organizations improve services and operations, and stand out from competitors. Companies will need to review historical data, identify patterns and compile metrics for predictive analysis and strategic business planning. By leveraging data from multiple systems, including content management, data warehouses and specialized file systems, companies can better understand their operations and customer needs, and make decisions that drive customer satisfaction and increase profits.

Leveraging Mobile Apps
As mobile apps flood the marketplace, field workers will use them more and more to share data and ease their workloads. Mobile apps help field workers become more productive by leveraging the cloud to access customer files, calendars, routing information and even social media. This allows workers to instantly access information on customers, invoicing, inventory and job locations instead of having to return to the office to get it. Information is backed up and then compiled into reports for analysis and future planning.

Optimization of Analytics
Companies will increasingly rely on data collected through fleet and workforce management solutions to drive operational intelligence, improve customer service and efficiencies and boost profits. By leveraging analytics tools, companies can better enforce worker accountability and optimize planning. Analytics helps identify top performers, determine which schedules and routes produce the best results, and compare results from single workers and teams against the entire fleet. Aberdeen Group says best-in-class organizations leveraging analytics see profits increased by nearly 20%, customer retention by 42% and SLA performance by 44%. In an increasingly competitive market, this translates to higher efficiency, increased customer satisfaction and an optimized bottom line.

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