How “Mature” is Your Field Service Organization

Market intelligence company, Aberdeen, recently published its Mobile Field Service Survey. With the increased affordability of such utilities, there’s some interesting findings to draw from – whatever size your business.

Stages of maturity

Aberdeen started by segmenting its sample of 141 field service organizations into three distinct groups:

  • Immature – those companies able to track technician location only (fairly easy, as they will all have a mobile phone!)
  • Moderately mature – those tracking location and performance.
  • Mature – those focusing on several areas such as: data cleansing, breaking down business silos, incorporating mobile data into systems of engagement.

Where’s your business on this scale of maturity? 54% of Aberdeen’s sample was classed as mature.

It’s clear to see the growing trend of investing in mobile connectivity to improve performance and customer service.

Indeed, Aberdeen states that: “The pen-and-paper world of traditional field service is gradually dying.”

“The bottom line is simple: if organizations want to continue to grow, they’ll need to take their technicians’ mobile devices and tie them into a more robust family of applications.”

Key challenges for progression

The survey highlights that whether you’re a mature or immature organization, you’re facing challenges.


By far the biggest issue for the least mature field service organizations is cost. 79% of immature respondents cited this challenge. Not surprising.

To move your connectivity from one of location to performance takes investment. Investment that will drive your business forward.

And it’s all down to prioritization, says Aberdeen: “Investment in mobility is an acknowledgment that growth is a priority for an organization. By getting hung up on costs, less mature organizations are exposing an unwillingness to make tactical investments to drive the business forward.”

This begs a pertinent question: Does your business view technology investment as a necessary evil, or a tool for growth?

Resistance to change

Another key challenge for immature firms is the lack of enthusiasm for technology development, often from management. 36% of immature organizations mentioned this challenge.

Unsurprisingly, this was not a notable concern for mature businesses, though they can be hampered by resistance from the front-line (24% of mature firms mentioned this).

Mature businesses will continue to develop

The picture is far from static. Having connected their field service technicians in ways to help with real-time knowledge management and performance, these leading operators have fresh goals in their sites:

1. Speed of service

88% of mature firms mentioned their desire to streamline their service speed further. Not only does this offer cost-savings, it also allows them to grow their business from the same resource base.

2. Service consistency / standardization

Also leading the priorities at 88%, more developed field service operators can see the benefits of striving for a tightly managed system.

3. Billing accuracy

Highlighting how mobile systems can now connect to other parts of the business such as billing systems and CRM. This move will leverage further benefits in terms of efficiencies and service.

Where will the money be spent?

It’s quite clear from the Aberdeen survey, that all sizes of organizations have three areas targeted for future expenditure:

  1. Upgrade mobile infrastructure

The biggest priority for mature companies, who are mindful of investing in legacy systems.

  1. Provide service technicians with work-related information in real-time

A constant investment priority for all sizes of field service operation.

  1. Establish systems and metrics to track service performance in real-time

Not surprisingly, this was the top focus for immature firms, looking to make their first investment into mobile performance management.

What should you do now?

Mobile field service and the technology required to operate it, has been a key focus for some time. This is set to continue – reaching new heights. The goal posts will keep moving and even mature organizations will continue to invest and further connect their operations.

Aberdeen group summarizes three critical areas to address, should you wish to move your field service business into a state of maturity. At Infomill, we wholeheartedly endorse this advice:

  • Rethink how your organization prioritizes cost. Upfront cost shouldn’t be an expense when it’s an investment in the first brick on a road to growth.
  • Your online environment is only as useful as the system it connects to.
  • Enrich your technicians by building beyond location. By doing so, you’re empowering them, whilst keeping them accountable.

The Silver Tsunami: Threat or Opportunity for Field Service?

The field service population is aging.

You might feel that has little relevance to your business. But, what about when they reach retirement age?

You’re thinking through your own team now. John’s 58 and Paul is 62. Jackie must be around 60 as well. They’re valuable, trained and knowledgeable members of your team. But where is that knowledge kept?  It’s in their head! And their head will retire soon.

So what?

Out with the old and in with the new then?

The Silver Tsunami, also termed the Grey Tsunami, refers to the large number of baby-boomers reaching retirement age. The growing vacuum is underway and having a greater impact than you might imagine on many different organizations.

Consider this. Worldwide, those aged over 60 years are expected to double by 2050, rising from 962 million in 2017 to a whopping 2.1 billion in 2050. In the UK alone, those aged over 65 will account for almost 25% of the population by 2045.

It’s a threat!

Some might be very worried. If you have a large field service team, you might be very worried. Time-served technicians have consolidated their ever-growing industry knowledge from years of experience, coupled with disparate data sources such as technical manuals and supplier support. Their own knowledge is what delivers such a high standard of service for your customers.

Let’s look at the new, younger model hired to replace them. Granted, they’ll be keen to please, but they will lack the in-depth knowledge built up by your Silver employee throughout his career. How can your newbie access all this knowledge? Chances are, your data system is not as robust as the employee that’s about to retire from your business.

There’s the problem. The immediate outcome could be a fall in service levels, more time spent on each call, more errors made and costly inefficiencies creeping in.

In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council (TSC), 7 out of 10 organizations indicated that the loss of talent and knowledge in field service was the biggest challenge their company was either currently facing, or would be facing in the next 5-10 years.

It’s an opportunity!

Before you conclude that the end must be nigh, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Let’s look at this new, younger model that is to be your next field service technician.

The Millennial.

Generally defined as those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials (or Generation Y) do have some distinctive strengths. And one particularly relevant here is that they are tech-savvy. Beyond a doubt. Whether it’s their constant desire to remain connected via social media or their ease at using technology in the workplace, Millennials are far more technically switched on than Generation X or Baby-Boomers.

Here’s the key point: your lack of central knowledge can be solved by technology. Your new, Millennial employees are ready and waiting to embrace this technology to its full potential.

Older employees can get stuck in their ways. Transforming to a technology-led working environment is a challenge that they generally resist. Not so with Millennials!

This is the perfect opportunity to transform your business. To ensure that you’re never at risk of losing this knowledge again. To empower your workforce to deliver exemplary service.

This is the perfect opportunity to excel, leaving your competitors wondering what happened.

How will your organization respond?

So, now you have a choice. You can keep worrying that you’re losing some of your best field service technicians, or you can do something about it and steal the advantage.

How do you do that, exactly? Develop a system to capture the knowledge and deploy it directly to those that need it. In short, develop a knowledge management solution.

The Aberdeen Group states that Best-in-Class organizations are 62% more likely to have a centralized repository of service data, ensuring critical service knowledge doesn’t leave the organization along with the technician. And 67% of Best-in-Class are more likely to provide access to this via mobile devices. Service data includes access to maintenance and break/fix information in addition to specific parts details required for repair.

Most mobile tools in field service focus on automating the administrative side of an organization. They decrease paperwork, expediate invoicing and eliminate billing errors. While these types of mobile tools certainly have their place, they do little to support technicians where they need it most – at the point of service.

It’s costly, right?

There’s no denying that such a move is an investment. But consider these two things:

    • The cost of not transforming your knowledge management.
    • The service and productivity advantage of integrating a system that stands you ahead of your competitors.

Will you choose to surf those tsunami waves with ease? We’d love to demonstrate the likely return on investment and show you how such a knowledge management system could transform the performance of your business.