Field Service Technologies Converge (Part 1): Vehicle + Business Information Technology = A Smart Field Workforce

The technologies that have brought field service fleets forward are on their way to becoming one cohesive platform

When it comes to technology, it’s not often that we take the time to look back at how far we’ve come. Today technological advancements have shifted away from stand-alone features and towards combining abilities into one platform.

In a time where convenience is of the utmost value, this move towards convergence is welcome within countless industries. For field service the technology you use to get you where you need to be is converging with the tools you use to get the job done. It’s this convergence that’s setting the stage for a new age in field service capabilities.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “There is tremendous opportunity from the convergence of the West Coast technology and the auto industry with its huge technology depth,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler AG.

The Road to Convergence Shows the Path to Field Service Excellence

Mobility isn’t a new concept in field service. To be in the field is to be inherently mobile. Yet past definitions have seen a disconnect between mobile travel and mobile work applications. The mobility we’re accustomed to hasn’t connected the mobile technology that gets us from place to place, or the mobile technology we use once we’re where we want to be. Today, all that has changed…

Here’s a timeline that reveals the progress GPS and mobile technology have had as it applies to field service business needs:

        convergence timeline

        1. First Generation GPS: We know that field service technicians have places to go and often times need help getting there. GPS changed the game by allowing anyone to simply enter an address and get turn by turn directions to the exact location.

        2. Telematics: Keeping in communication with your workers is a quality every industry values. With the advent of telematics field service was able to connect the field and back office thanks to the networking capabilities of telematics and mobile devices.

        3. Software & Apps Built Into Fleet Vehicles: Service organizations have come to rely on sophisticated software to manage all their field service needs. Being able to use this software throughout the entire service cycle is ideal, leading to the introduction of apps built into vehicle dashboards and consoles.

        4. Vehicle Hotspots: With a push towards cloud mobility the service industry has been able to take advantage of complete freedom in software usability. Fleet manufacturers have taken note, building vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots, meaning even the remotest jobsites are connected.

        5. Autonomy for vehicles?: In the future, the convergence of mobile and vehicle technologies could lead to fleet vehicles capable of doing/providing all service needs on their own, including the ability to self drive or “autopilot”, blurring the lines between office and vehicle—allowing techs to focus completely on the work at hand.

      Advances in technology have meant a new view on the capabilities of fleet and service app cohesion. In the world of enterprise mobility, organizations are looking to better equip themselves with the tools, protocols, and frameworks to support this wave of mobility. Carrying and managing multiple devices can become overwhelming, and not to mention costly; the desire for a simple approach and a single device has led to a trend in convergence.

      Real World Field Service Applications: How Convergence Can Work for Your Mobile Service Business

      Fleet and software convergence is forecasted to integrate seamlessly for technicians on the road and at the jobsite. Techs get where they need to be and prepare service managers with up-to-the-second data that’s vital to field service success. A converged platform would then extend to the job site where software and applications would ensure optimal job completion.

      Having one all-encompassing platform will keep techs connected through every touch point of a work order. It’s this idea that has prompted many companies to create solutions that converge vehicle and mobile technologies:

      • Android Auto & Apple CarPlay allows car dashboards to function as a smartphone screen. This means that on phone apps could soon become part of your vehicle, including field service/fleet management software. With this new vehicle technology, creating a smart field service vehicle becomes as simple as syncing your mobile device.
      • TomTom’s Pro 8 Device provides driver terminals that are connected to the SaaS fleet management platform WEBFLEET. The device works as an Android-run tablet and a fully equipped GPS device. Service organizations can run their service management app right on the device, so technicians can get where they’re going, then remove the device from the vehicle and use it as a tablet to complete their service work in the field.
      • Continental’s augmented reality heads up GPS display will help to make driving even more comfortable and safe. The HUD projects with the view of the traffic conditions in front of the vehicle with virtual information (augmentations) for the driver. The augmented reality display differs from a normal windshield-HUD since the reflected information appears to be part of the driving field of view itself.

      Conclusion: Vehicle Tech Convergence Creates Cohesion and Convenience for Service Organizations

      The technology afforded to field service technicians has provided a platform for increased success and efficiency for organizations. Being able to combine these tools would create a working environment capable of turning fleets into real roaming offices. In a time where the work cycle is more interdependent than ever, field service convergence is a welcome next step.

      A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software: 9 Tips for Choosing a Mobile Solution

      Convergence means being more mobile and that mobility needs to come with a plan. Learn important tips, guiding questions, and to-do’s as you explore your options in mobile field service in our free, educational whitepaper: “A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software.”

      buyer's guide to mobile field service software