Spencer Earp 3Vanson Bourne surveyed 200 IT and field service decision makers in US, UK, France and Germany in companies of all sizes with customer field service departments. Despite the huge potential for sensors and connected machines in self diagnosing themselves, 88% of companies say there are challenges to connected devices. And almost a third (30%) don’t believe sensors can replace the human insights and instincts of their service engineers.

Spencer Earp (pictured right), Vice President EMEA for ServiceMax, said:

“While the Internet of Things (IoT) holds great potential for predictive, preventative service models capable of diagnosing and correcting errors before they occur and reducing service costs, there is no substitute for the human instincts, experience, and insights of field service technicians.”

The report found that 82% of companies say connected devices could decrease costs over the next year by an average of 6%. And almost all businesses (96%) could see benefits from connected devices, with 48% citing an improvement in customer satisfaction and 40% saying increased revenue.

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Earp added:

“We’re seeing increased interest in a range of new technologies from IoT to augmented reality, virtual reality and wearables, but it must sit alongside field service technicians rather than replace them.”

“One of the most interesting trends we are seeing is using connected equipment to provide insights into things such as field service technician safety, as well as a feedback loop for R&D product design. Service insights are increasingly seen as the common denominator of accurate product development and maintenance, and something our customers are already embracing.”

Indeed, prior to IoT, R&D teams relied on interpretation and anecdotal input from field service engineers to get a full understanding of how products were faring out in the field, and service reports were arbitrary.

Post-IoT, the picture is becoming increasingly different as companies realise the ability to gain a feedback loop from service insights into design considerations.

The Vanson Bourne survey found that 72% of companies agree connected devices can help improve R&D through better analytics and diagnostics.

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Picture and infographic courtesy of ServiceMax