By Christine Friscic-Oracle on Aug 07, 2015
Oracle Service Cloud’s field service management solution, Oracle Field Service Cloud, works by collecting lots of data points to make accurate predictions. So naturally, we get a lot of questions that sound like “If I can collect all this data from the field to run my field operations, should I be thinking about a big data strategy, too?”
To help answer this question, I’m bringing in Jeffrey Wartgow – he’s a director of product management for Oracle Service Cloud, and an expert on the field service management market and how the shifting technology landscape is affecting it – including big data.
Christine Friscic (CF): Big data is getting a lot of attention these days. It feels very similar to when cloud became a hot topic – lots of people are talking about it, but there isn’t much practical advice or direction! What do people in the mobile workforce management world need to know?
Jeffrey Wartgow (JW): Field service is an important part of operations, and you should absolutely include field service data in your big data strategy. But that doesn’t mean you should have a “field service big data system.” In principle, big data is holistic, and so you need to have as much data coming into the system as possible, in real-time and from all areas of your business. So, think of the tenants of big data as the three Vs – volume, velocity and variety.
A true big data solution is a company-wide effort: it should blend field service data with sales data, asset data, customer data and any other data you are collecting, and then analyze that data as a whole to determine what the larger trends are that may be hiding in that data. The result: the trends you identify by looking at all collected data holistically will ultimately help you make more informed decisions that will benefit both the entire organization and individual functions.
CF: That clears up some misnomers about big data in general. As a next step, how should people who work with a field service team be thinking about their own big data contribution?
JW: Look at the logistics of how you are managing your field employees. Are you using a field service management solution to manage your field work? If so, that solution is likely collecting information about the way your employees perform work in the field – from how long it takes individual employees to complete certain types of jobs to their personal break habits.
Here’s one potential outcome from blending this data with data from other parts of the business, such as customer support: field service employees can act as field sales reps. When a field technician knows the customer’s past buying habits, and even buying habits in that customer’s geographical location, he can make a more accurate targeted upsell pitch and even schedule a delivery appointment on the spot.
CF: Okay, we know what kind of data to collect. But how should we collect this data?
JW: In today’s world, we are living with our smartphones as constant companions. If you’re out and take a quick look around, chances are that you will see more than one person with their smartphone in hand – checking email or Facebook, watching a video on YouTube, messaging with friends or playing a game. So, because big data is all about collecting a large amount of data, from various areas of the business, and collecting it in real-time, what better place to turn for data than the mobile device that essentially has become of you?!
Much in the same way we behave in our consumer lives, it’s safe to say that your employees have their devices attached at the hip. So, to ensure that you’re getting a good mix of data, and that you’re collecting it constantly, start using the mobile devices and solutions your employees are already using to collect data.
CF: All great practical advice! To close, what’s one thing that you wish you knew when you started dealing with the big data world?
JW: Big data is messy – you are not necessarily going to know all of the ways it should be used right off the bat, and you might not have a single idea for an application at all! It is a learning process. Just remember: collecting data across all areas of the business, including data from the field, and analyzing it as a whole is the only way you will be able to spot the macro trends that will have a real impact on your business – the relationships that you never thought of before.