The Industrial Internet of Things FEATURE NEWS

IoT and Its Impact on Field Service

By Special Guest
Steve Smith, VP Strategic Industries at ClickSoftware
June 12, 2017

It is estimated that 20.8 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide in 2020. Our interconnected world will provide a wealth of new possibilities for dozens of industries, including field service. The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing opportunities for delivering faster and more proactive service and it’s ushering in a new era where positive customer experience is the ultimate strategic differentiator.

Signals sent to and from connected devices are spiraling in volume. Big data, management techniques, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud storage have come together to deliver valuable insights from this abundance of data. IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication allows for automating decisions and initiating actions without the need for human intervention. The benefits to organizations are numerous. Remote monitoring applications already save billions in transport and human capital management costs. Add the potential positive impact on customer engagement and its associated business value, and the call to action becomes clear. A complete IoT strategy leads to better and faster decisions throughout the service delivery lifecycle.

Market Definitions
The Internet of Things is having a major impact across both industrial and consumer sectors. We look at the two areas in this way:

Industrial IoT (IIoT)
IIoT refers to the application of the Internet of Things and the broad manufacturing industry. It’s often used interchangeably with the term “Industry 4.0,” the major transformational stages of the industrial economy. Examples of IIoT range from monitoring building management systems and power grids, to tracking manufactured goods as they are shipped.

Consumer IoT (CIoT)
The Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT) consists of technologies that target the home market and consumer electronics. IDC reports that more than 8 million U.S. households already use some kind of home automation and control. Typified by remote monitoring capabilities for security, climate control and remote control of household functions, CIoT also offers promise in areas such as networked home appliances, with use cases like refrigerators that automatically order milk as needed and smart washer/dryers that allow users to remotely control the machines from an app, sending status alerts, identifying problems and the ability to solve them from the app.

IoT and Field Service
Products that are being serviced are equally likely to be consumer goods or elements of the manufacturing eco-system in the context of business-to-business field service. The consumer and business areas are also intertwined as IoT adds a strong feedback loop that connects product usage and the associated service requirements to the manufacturing process itself. For example, wear and tear levels in real-world conditions can feed into product development through a network of sensors and influence the manufacturing process accordingly. CIoT and IIoT are worthwhile segmentations to assess the market at a more granular level. But there are opportunities for innovation in IoT across the field service landscape. Furthermore, areas such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and ghost IT also blur the lines between consumers individually and as part of an enterprise. The opportunity for field service is broad and not constrained to any sub-segment of the market.

IoT for Today and Tomorrow
Gartner predicts that demand for service requests from IoT devices will rise significantly in 2017. However, while it may make sound business sense to be proactive with maintenance calls, the costs and benefits of alternative approaches still need to be assessed to make sure the decision is in line with business goals.

IoT represents transformative technology, but a successful IoT strategy for industrial and/or consumer applications must work today and be flexible enough to accommodate whatever comes next. With the right goals, plans and tools, IoT can go well beyond an inflated buzzword. It’s likely it will grow into a tool  that provides practical value every day for both customers and service organizations.

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