We have all heard of the IoT by now, and we know that we are surrounded by it. The question is, how can we use it for business and more importantly, why should we use it?
To accept the IoT as a new reality, we shouldn’t look at it as a technological revolution, because it really is not, but instead as a business revolution, enabled by technology. We have been using devices, connected to networks, for a long time. However, the number of devices available, the low cost of such devices, and the tools that we have today to do something with them, opens up a new world of possibilities. Just to put things into perspective, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2020, we will have 21 billion connected things.
1. How do we transform business?
When we think of support, we automatically think of someone who will help us when we have a problem. We sell customers our product or provide them with a service and then wait for them to call when something breaks so we can fix it. As a result, this is known as a “break-fix” model. In this case, however, by the time our customers call us, they may already be unhappy and not very satisfied with our product or service.
What if we could react before the problem actually occurs? Before our customers even know that something is wrong, or at least before it starts to impact their business? We are not psychic, of course, but that is where the IoT and Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service come in. We can detect issues the second they occur or even before they occur. This way, we can transform our business into a proactive or “never-fail” model.
By being proactive and maintaining our services at the highest standards, we can transform our support from a cost center to a profit center.
2. Let software do the work
We can use all the data that the IoT provides and monitor all our critical devices in real time. As soon as we detect that something is not going according to plan, we can take actions to resolve the issue with minimal impact on our business.
We can implement this using simple, advanced, or expert scenarios. The more time we set aside to set up our system, the less work we will have to do later down the line. Let’s take a look at how this would work:
In all scenarios, IoT devices are sending data to our IoT hub (e.g. Azure IoT Central). If the IoT hub detects something that is not ok, it notifies Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service.
- Simple: Field Service automatically creates a work order and dispatches the most suitable technician, without human intervention. The customer does not need to call, and we do not need an agent to dispatch the technician.
- Advanced: Field Service responds to an alert and instructs the device to try to fix itself with a single self-repairing command, such as “restart”. If that does not work, a technician is dispatched, as in the Simple scenario. By trying to fix the problem remotely, we can solve the issue quickly and without a technician in a lot of cases, saving us time and money.
- Expert: Field Service responds to the alert, and again, instructs the IoT device to self-repair. However, instead of a single command, a multi-step workflow is implemented, in an attempt to remotely fix the issue in as many ways as possible. Only if all these fail to resolve the issue is a technician dispatched, as in the Simple and Advanced scenarios. We can resolve most issues remotely, resulting in huge time and cost savings.
3. Never fail
To achieve the dream scenario and have a product or service that “never fails”, we can include machine learning in the process. If we have a lot of data, and monitor our devices for a period of time, sooner or later, the power of machine learning will enable us to figure out when data points to a possible failure in the near future. We can then act on this and take action to prevent the issue before it even occurs.
4. Give people the tools
If it comes down to actually dispatching a technician, we need to make sure that they have the best possible tools for the job. By using Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service, we make sure that they:
- Take an optimal route
- Have all the data on the go, using a mobile app
- Can review the complete history of the device they are trying to fix
- Can access relevant data about the customer
- Can be assisted by more experienced technicians using Remote Assist, if necessary
- Can upload a work report in real time
Businesses all over the world are trying to optimise their business processes whilst trying to provide the best service for their customers. Only companies that take advantage of new technologies and the possibilities that they provide will be able to do so, and leveraging the power of IoT and Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service to transform field service processes is a great way to start.