Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th April 2015

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Page 22 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 10Th - 16Th AprIL 2015 | 23 Operations & Assets Market view T he field service industry has, in previ- ous years, been a subject of concern for having an ageing workforce and the implications this has as employees with great knowledge and experience reach retire- ment age. However, as the industry continues to evolve, a major trend has been the emer- gence of young, tech-savvy and collabo- rative workers. Indeed, according to an Aberdeen Group's report, Emerging Work- force in the Field: Tech-savvy to Technician, approximately one-fih of the current work- force is under 30, with the average age of a field service technician being 32 years old. Field service organisations must therefore recognise what the needs and motivations of this new, up and coming workforce are, in order to keep them for the long haul as well as to attract the next pool of young talent. Technology is overwhelmingly recognised as an aid to achieving key strategic objec- tives. It is therefore important for organisa- tions to understand how the influx of young workers use, process and engage with tech- nology. A key factor to consider is flexibility and mobility. Tech-savvy workers do not want to be tied down by old, legacy technol- ogies. They want the freedom to engage with the latest advances and use technologies they are familiar with in their personal lives. There has been much debate across sec- tors around the role of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies in supporting mobility and flexibility. BYOD allows employ- ees to connect their own devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets, to their company's network instead of using a device owned by the company. BYOD is considered by many as being the only way forward for businesses looking to compete effectively in a dynamic tech-driven age. Aberdeen Group's report found that 62 per cent of the top performing field service organisations have incorporated a BYOD strategy as a result of a more tech-savvy workforce, and 43 per cent are more likely to give technicians access to social media and collaborative tools to facilitate knowledge transfer. Collaboration is a major characteristic of the emerging world of technology-enabled field service, and one which will transform the field service technician's relationship with the customer. Organisations must capi- talise on this by developing the collabora- tive tools needed to help workers perform as experts in the field and resolve customer needs as quickly as possible. There are a number of bespoke mobile apps on the mar- ket tailored to help manage a field service operation and simplify business processes. Indeed, mobile apps offer technicians the ability to share, store and view job data while out in the field, providing them with a virtual link to the back office. Critical infor- mation such as daily tasks, customer histo- ries and billing can be accessed on demand. Furthermore, locations of nearby teammates can be retrieved on a mobile device and a real-time connection provided through social networking, enabling them to seek assis- tance in resolving a problem, if needed. Having the tools and capabilities to work more collaboratively, and having access to real-time insight, empowers the workforce to make more strategic decisions. Informed problem solving is accelerated and workers can easily recruit help from peers, enabling first-time case resolutions, reduced opera- tional costs and improved productivity. Perhaps even more crucially in the cur- rent environment, technology-enabled col- laborative working could have a big positive impact on customer satisfaction and the abil- ity of utilities to deliver exemplary service. According to Aberdeen Group, the next generation of workers will take a very dif- ferent approach to the provision of excellent service. It is now widely regarded that cus- tomers are much more demanding, expect- ing a quick fix on the first visit from a field worker and a valued experience as standard. For the field service technician, who is oen the only contact a customer will have with the business, their role is therefore now far more than an operational one; it is a role of strategic significance. Consequently, field service organisations seek field workers who have desirable attitudes and attributes for customer service. In particular, there is a strong focus on the importance of emotional intelligence as an enabler to deal with the wide variety of changing customer service relationships and interactions. Aberdeen Group found that the top performing field service organisations outperform their peers in regard to retain- ing the field heroes they have, but almost as importantly, they are able to find, hire and train the next field service heroes. These top organisations achieve this by capturing as much knowledge as possible from seasoned workers before they retire and passing it on to the up and coming youths of the industry. Indeed, 70 per cent of top performing field service organisations are more likely to provide technicians with a knowledge base of recorded training videos and images. Fiy per cent have competency profiles in place for service worker catego- ries most affected by retirement in order to improve the future recruitment and training of the next wave of field service workers. However, field service organisations must also give attention to upskilling older, less tech-savvy workers because they still con- stitute a large segment of the workforce and should not be le behind. For new workers that are well equipped to use tools like smartphones and social media, they can teach more seasoned workers about using these new technologies. At the same time, older, more experienced workers can pass on to new workers the knowledge they require to succeed in the field. John Cameron, general manager, Trimble Field Service Management Generation Y in the field The emerging field service worker is young, tech-savvy and collaborative, says John Cameron. Utilities must evolve to support them and capitalise on their abilities. Three themes tied to next generation field service Flexibility and mobility Visibility and collaboration New expectations for customer service excellence

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