Year in Review: A Look Back at Field Service Over 2019

It’s a little unsettling that the year is nearly over. 2019 came and went, with a flurry of activity, notable field service industry developments and truly head-turning, headline-making news. What a year it was.

I wanted to take the time to reflect on the year of field service over 2019; what was and what mattered. Sit back, relax and take a look back with me.

Headline-Making Field Service News

If I can say one thing about the field service industry in 2019, it did not disappoint. Every week, there was a new article to read or new technology to explore.

In our ever-popular blog series, Field Service News & Technology Roundup, we covered the latest and greatest stories from around the world. The year was filled with particularly interesting articles about the future of field service management. Many articles explored how new technology would impact technicians in the field.

For instance, Beyond Buzzwords: Digital Twin Maturity Spectrum, discusses how digital twins are not a one and done implementation. Another example is wearable technology in the construction space. There were a number of articles throughout the year that peaked my interest, including Hartford Business Journal’s Construction Industry Tinkers with Wearable Technology to Improve Safety, Cut Costs.

And then there’s the Internet of Things (IoT). A topic that has been repeatedly discussed by field service businesses for the past few years. The best article to date I have read comes via Bernard Marr at Forbes. His list of 5 Internet of Things Trends Everyone Should Know About was an overall informative article regardless of industry.

These articles only scratch the surface of headline-making field service news over 2019. Nonetheless, take some time to be aware of what’s new and upcoming in the space and make 2020 the year you maybe try a few things.

Asset Maintenance Technology Went Mainstream, Almost

Many field service businesses either manage and maintain their internal assets or customer-owned assets. To what extent differs greatly by industry and use case. The marketplace for technology to help ease the burden of managing assets is really heating up, especially when it comes to augmented reality, virtual reality, remote monitoring and heads-up displays.

Along those lines, augmented reality (AR) is one of the most exciting use cases for field service work. penned an article, Fixing Things with Augmented Reality, that discusses how AR is fundamentally changing the landscape for manufacturers. I highly recommend reading the article, if you have the time.

Everyone has an opinion on the subject. We even wrote a blog on the subject in, How Augmented Reality Will Change Field Service Operations. To this day, it’s one of our most popular posts.

As the title suggests, these types of technologies are on the cusp of mainstream but aren’t considered as such at this time. The possibilities are endless, so we’re excited to see where this goes in 2020.

Aging Mobile Workforce Impacts Field Service Businesses

While we didn’t cover this topic much in 2019, it was a recurring theme. The basis of this stems from a rather large segment of the total field workers/technicians available being at/near/around retirement age with an insufficient incoming workforce to replace the outgoing workforce. It would be a great stretch to say this was anywhere near the issue air traffic control field is experiencing right now, but the situation is quite difficult.

Some companies are getting creative when it comes to the lack of supply. Additionally, paying attention to symptoms of burnout is necessary with today’s overworked, understaffed operations managers. We care about this topic so deeply that we wrote a blog about it, 6 Technologies to Avoid Burnout as a Field Operations Manager, and released an infographic on the same topic.

I predict this particular topic will only gain more attention in 2020, but companies may introduce other creative means to stem the tide.

It will be interesting to see how field service businesses or companies that maintain a highly distributed, mobile workforce will deal with this over 2020. You can be sure we’ll keep an eye on it.

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