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How Big Data will Empower Tomorrow's Field Technicians

By Special Guest
Jerry Dolinksy, CEO, Verisae
October 09, 2015

Consider the field technician, the guy (they’re mostly men) who shows up to repair the machinery that keeps a business humming. He’s the guy with the wrench who repairs the sink, or the one with the toolbox who makes sure the refrigeration system is up and running. Some would argue he’s the linchpin to successful facility operations.   

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics 2013 Survey, the last year for which data is available, the average age of a person working in installation, maintenance and repair is 43.

In testimony before congress in 2014, Mike Rowe, best known for hosting shows promoting “Dirty Jobs” noted that culturally, Americans are moving away from jobs that require physical involvement. Jobs like welding go unfilled, even as millions of Americans remain out of work.

Rowe told congress that people don’t want their kids to go into what they consider “dirty jobs.” That is, jobs which require more physical labor and jobs which most of our parents proudly upheld to provide for their families. Nowadays, parents want their kids to have a “better” job or career trajectory than that of their own.

Rowe continued, “That maybe is the most subjective question there is but it informs the way we present opportunities to our kids. For all the talk around the issue, the biggest conversation that I’ve seen, the one that really gets resonance happens around the kitchen table.”

The answer is to make the jobs “cool” again, and like many things in modern business this will require Big Data.

The Future of the Savvy Technician
Looking at the future of the maintenance technician requires first looking at what drives teens today. These are digital natives who are far more comfortable reading data on their handheld devices than they are with a screwdriver and wrench. They “get” data and use it to make decisions, often before taking a physical action. This differs greatly from their predecessors who would take apart machines of all shapes and sizes just to learn how they work. The future technician will look up schematics and designs on Google then watch a video on YouTube (News - Alert) before they attack the problem themselves.

What’s more, this comfort with mobile devices makes tomorrow’s workers more mobile. Even today companies find that their employees aren’t happy sitting behind a desk, but instead prefer to be out in the field receiving data and information as needed.

So what will the future savvy technician look like? In short, he or she will be:

  • Tech First – these are people who grew up with a smartphone in their hands. They were weaned on a constant flow of data and information. They expect nothing less of their employers;
  • Unsupervised – The new workers know they can work anywhere, thanks, in part, to their smartphones. They expect to have all their information at their fingertips no matter their location; and
  • In need of training – No school will prepare the future technicians for the specific needs of any service organization, so training will be key.

The challenge for companies today is to be ready for this future workforce; that means understanding how to capture the data that their machinery is already producing, analyze it, and then deliver information to mobile devices so their technicians can make decisions before they arrive on site.

Keep in mind the sensors that are increasingly embedded into machinery create massive amounts of data, so it’s not enough to just pass along raw data to the technicians. A system must be in place that interprets that information, identifies problems and then presents those issues, along with recommendations, so the technician can make repairs.

The companies that conquer these challenges will be the first to attract tomorrow’s technicians and be prepared for the future of the service industry.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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