Did you miss Field Service Management Expo 2018? It's the largest event dedicated to service management in Europe, boasting thousands of attendees.
But don't worry, if you didn't manage to make it to the show we've got your back. We here at Commusoft not only had a bustling booth—we also had staff walking through the show to check out what's new.
In fact, we made sure to take a quick tour of all five expos that were going on at the event center, from IFSEC to the Professional Clothing Show, to scope out trends from other industries that will impact the field service industry.
Here's what we discovered.
Drones are flying high.
You may have been hearing all the talk about how drones are going to revolutionise the field service industry—you can fly them high above buildings and the land to do inspections, surveying and mapping, and aerial photography. They're ideal for gathering information in hazardous environments, and for helping various trades collaborate on construction sites.
Talking with the staff at UAV Dynamix Ltd at the Facilities Show 2018, we discovered that drone operators need to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority. You can find unlicensed businesses that will offer to take aerial photos of a roof or installation, and they'll charge less than licensed operators as well—but they're not working within the law and they typically don't have the proper equipment to offer the best results.
Drones were a topic of conversation in several of the expos. 'Countering the Drone Threat' was a talk at IFSEC by Justin Pringle of DroneOps Ltd, while at the FIREX 2018 expo, a panel called 'Drones—how they can, can't and should be used', chaired by Barry Clack of Box Cottage Photography, clarified the issues for attendees.
Keep an eye out for growing interest in how drones can benefit the field service industry too.
AI knows the score (and a lot more).
"Artificial intelligence" was the buzzword of the show, with exhibitors at various expos plugging their AI capabilities. For example, AI was huge in at the IFSEC show, where visitors could see their faces being scanned and their heat signatures showing up on-screen at different security camera companies' stands.
Hikvision, a supplier of video surveillance solutions, showed off their deep learning algorithm for human behaviour analysis, which can tell when a person is, say, loitering or falling over. The company also displayed their deep learning facial recognition technology, which, when integrated with access control, uses secured biometric identification to give people quick and convenient entry to offices.
While the particular AI technology shown at the IFSEC expo isn't relevant to many field service businesses, its ubiquity at the show proves that the tech is reaching across all different industries.
So how will AI impact the field service industry? In an article on Forbes.com about hidden trends in field service, author Lisa James says there's been a 'growing investment' in hybrid customer service environments, which combine the benefits of AI with the personal touch of live agents.
'While chatbots and machine learning techniques excel with Tier 1 service engagements by answering those common customer questions, they may not always have the answer to the more complex, situation or customer specific questions', she writes. 'This requires a shift to live agents.'
Niche industries are bringing in the fun.
Twenty years ago, the most excitement you could find at an industry trade show was dry lectures and freebie pens embossed with the exhibitors' names. Even video screens were a big deal.
At this expo, though, exhibitors pulled out all the stops to attract visitors to their stands.
The Professional Clothing Show at the Safety & Health Expo, for example, featured a catwalk where models strutted their stuff—and even performed hip-hop routines—wearing the exhibitors' corporate wear, workwear, and personal protective equipment.
At the Facilities Show, Musketeer Services Limited offered visitors a small square of paper embedded with seeds, which can be planted whole to create a mini garden. At the IFSEC expo, the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board invited SSAIB-registered firms to an Ice Bar for drinks and other perks.
Even ye olde brochure has gotten a makeover; instead of the standard eight-page brochures of yore, the ones at this show were actually fun to receive and fun to look at. For example, BIFM, the professional body for facilities management, had their brochure printed in the shape of a chatterbox (which we were told was quite a challenge to create).
And we here at Commusoft created a brochure that looked deceptively simple, but folded out to offer readers a graphical description of the customer journey, from the first call to the final invoice.
The upshot: If you missed Field Service Management Expo 2018, be sure to make it a priority for 2019 so you don't miss the incredible shows and giveaways planned by the exhibitors. And if you're planning to exhibit, think of ways to pump up your presence with unique signage, giveaways, and presentations.
The IoT reaches across industries.
The Internet of Things is where devices, vehicles, home appliances, machine components, and more are connected to each other or to the internet.
When we consider the IoT, we often think of smart thermostats and refrigerators that can order food when supplies get low. But seeing the IoT represented in so many of the five expos shows that there's a lot more to it than we ever imagined—and its implications for field service likely go beyond smart boilers and thermostats, too. For example, visitors were treated to talks about the IoT in their respective industries at Field Service Management Expo 2018, IFSEC 2018, and Facilities Show 2018.
As for how the IoT is impacting the field service industry, Bill Pollock writes in Field Technologies Online that it's not just for machine-to-machine applications anymore. 'It is the tool that can make any services (or other) process “smart”, if applied effectively', he says. 'It can (and will) take services organizations to places they never dreamed possible just a short time ago—and it will be responsible for cutting the costs of delivering services along the way.'
Advances in field service management software are democratising the IoT, which is great news for SMEs. Cloud-based FSM solutions with subscription basis pricing models are allowing small and medium-sized businesses to get in on the game, says Pollock, and ushering them into the world of the IoT.
The customer is still king.
Commusoft's stand at FSME 18 was all about the customer journey. To learn everything you need to know to perfect your customer journey—so you can delight your customers and get more jobs—download our free report below.