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Mobile technology’s digital revolution

The next generation of engineers will demand a wider range of technologies from their employer. But how can companies make sure their policies around evolving technology are fit for purpose?

Technology is changing our personal and professional lives. New developments such as social media, mobile, the Cloud, analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine to machine (M2M) and wearables like Apple Watch are providing more opportunities than ever before – as well as more challenges.

One of the top problems service organisations face is the retiring workforce. As such, it is important to understand the needs and motivations of new recruits, and to do so prior to needing to fill a position. It is also important to identify what will ensure the highest retention rates for this younger workforce – and technology is playing a key role.

As younger generations – such as Millennials, who are projected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation this year – move into the workforce, we have seen the adoption of more and more consumer-oriented technologies.

The newest generation of young, technically savvy and collaborative field service engineers grew up with smart devices, social networks, text, email and chat; it is how they communicate. This has led to many companies incorporating some level of bring your own device strategy – also called BYOD – into their business structure. Aberdeen Group says that 62% of best-in-class field service organisations are now using BYOD.

This is not a negative in any way. Adoption of these communication methods has the potential to improve customer services.

Engineers armed and comfortable with the latest mobile platforms can tap into the social, mobile and cloud technologies – as well as using wearables – to diagnose an issue while on site, access the documentation or videos, and talk to or video chat with experts in the office that can help ensure that the asset is fixed in one visit.

For the customer, further downtime and inconvenience are eliminated. For the service organisation, costs are minimised and customer satisfaction and brand loyalty are improved.

Do not dismiss technology out of hand; give your employees the tools they are used to, the tools they expect they will be able to turn to in any situation.

Make sure you have a strategy in place before the main part of your workforce retires to recruit these younger workers:

  • Understand what it is they want, as technology can play a big part.
  • Identify how to keep workers engaged with your field service operation.
  • Train them effectively.
  • Offer and support new technologies such as wearables, which contribute to employees’ success and self-worth.
  • Provide access to the technology information and experts to make your staff heroes to your customers.
  • Support social communications. Document how and when to use it for business purposes. A 140-character tweet can be a huge PR success – or an absolute nightmare.
  • Adopt technologies such as route optimisation, IoT, M2M and video. They can empower field technicians to create happy customers.

Marne Martin is the chief executive of ServicePower

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