Wednesday Jul 15, 2015

Field service, the Hollywood Way

On June 1, 1975, Hollywood broke with tradition when it released Jaws to audiences across the country. Traditionally, summer had been the dumping ground for perceived flops – buzz-worthy movies were reserved for cold-weather release on the grounds that people had better things to do on sunny days than go to the movies.

Now, “blockbuster season” is as ingrained in popular culture (and advertising cycles) as holiday shopping or back-to-school. Whether you’re partial to natural disasters, dinosaurs or a little animated magic, the film industry works hard to pack your summer end-to-end with movies you want to catch on the big screen.

Movie making is big business, but what can Hollywood teach us about the way business gets done? Earlier this year, financial reporter Adam Davidson wrote in The New York Times Magazine about the “Hollywood model” approach to business, in which a project is identified and a team assembled to work together for no longer than it takes to complete the project.  Our economy is shifting more and more toward this model, with Davidson adding that more of us can expect to “see our working lives structured around short-term, project-based teams rather than long-term, open-ended jobs.”

Certainly, the Hollywood model is more nimble than what we think of as the traditional model: capital is raised and workers are hired to fill jobs with no specific duration or endpoint. The former is more adaptable to market forces, both in terms of cost and for the workers themselves, because it’s more responsive. In the movie business, as Davidson points out, weekly box-office results provide new information about which skills are the most valuable. If last week’s hit movie relied heavily on computer animation, animators will find themselves in a stronger negotiating position than if a live-action romantic comedy topped the box office.

This all sounds a lot like modern field service management, which is also experiencing a shift from an old, reactive model to the current model of proactive and preventative service. A field force might consist of full-time employees as well as contractors who can respond when demand spikes. As with the Hollywood model, workers arrive at the assigned location, perform tasks and then move on to the next job. Feedback, in the form of customer satisfaction, dictates whether or not the provider will be called upon to provide the service again. And companies that provide the very best service will find themselves in the best position to cement their reputation as industry leaders.

For service organizations, taking advantage of this shift calls for a field service management strategy and the right tools to carry it out. Managing a field force with paper, pencil and phone simply isn’t powerful enough to meet the daily demands of the business and provide good service. This is where field service management technology steps in. Because the Hollywood model is subject to so much change, the technology has to adapt as quickly as the work evolves. 

Oracle Field Service Cloud meets the demands of the Hollywood model because it is self-learning, acquiring knowledge as more work is performed. The solution can make more intelligent assignments as it learns about the work habits of individual performers. Over time, the technology learns which combinations of activities and personnel yields the most success – and the best service.

In the Times article, the author’s assertion that “it is all but impossible to make a healthy profit in the United States by simply competing as the low-cost provider” of a product or service rings true. “Profits,” Davidson writes, “need to come from that extra something that only your company can give, something for which customers are willing to pay a premium.” Increasingly, this extra something is service, delivered reliably and efficiently.

As technology evolves, the way we request service will continue to collapse the time from ticket creation to incident resolution. If a remote cellular phone tower can signal that it needs service without human intervention, or an Amazon customer can press a button indicating they need more laundry detergent, it won’t be long before a cable box can flag itself for replacement or a thermostat can trigger an energy audit. The companies that emerge as leaders will be those that not only understand how this technology will impact their business, but are prepared to respond to requests instantaneously with the help of a sophisticated field service strategy.

Monday Jun 29, 2015

The Top Tech Trends Impacting the Future of Field Service Management by Stephen Fioretti

Since the Oracle Service Cloud added field service management to its portfolio of customer experience solutions through the acquisition of TOA Technologies, the leader in cloud-based field service management solutions, I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how modern field service solutions have changed the way people think about this space. Over the past several years, field service management has transformed from being a cumbersome but necessary part of the business into a key way for businesses to drive value, increasing operational efficiencies and leveraging important face-to-face interactions with customers to improve their experience with an organization.

And what’s really exciting about this market is that it has the potential to continue transforming as new advancements and trends in the technology world make their way into the field service space. Advancements such as cloud services and trends like the Internet of Things are transforming the way organizations manage their field teams. Field service operations are becoming increasingly connected – field technicians have access to their peers, managers and critical information in real-time via mobile devices. Furthermore, machines are talking directly to field service teams as well as backend systems via machine-to-machine communication (M2M), speeding the identification of issues and ultimately problem resolution.

In a recent article that I authored for Field Technologies magazine, I discuss a few of the trends that will power transformation in the field service market. The article, titled “Creating the Super-Connected Field Service Ecosystem of the Future,” highlights some of the trends in technology that I believe will have the biggest impact of the future of field service. These include: 

  • Cloud services: While already having a significant impact on the field service space, cloud services will continue to drive important changes, removing silos and allowing systems to work together fluidly.
  • Internet of Things: What we call the “Internet of Smart Things” will become the norm. This will really accelerate field service because the IoST will allow field organizations to not only respond to issues faster, but it will allow them to respond smarter by identifying potential causes before a technician is dispatched.
  • Augmented reality: I am very excited to see where this trend takes the field service market. This is one trend that will significantly improve day-to-day field service work, especially when leveraged with wearables. Applied in field service, augmented reality could enable field service employees to overlay schematics across his field of vision via augmented reality-enabled glasses, so he can see exactly what needs to be done on the piece of equipment he is working on.

 

The Oracle Service Cloud team is excited to welcome a modern field service solution, Oracle Field Service Cloud, into our product family, and help our customers extend the customer service they provide all the way to the field. Now, Oracle Service Cloud customers can deliver a consistent, exceptional customer experience across all points of the service cycle – from web self service, to the contact center, to engagement via social channels and live chat and all the way to what is often a company’s only face-to-face interaction with their customers, a field service appointment.

And, as the field service space continues to evolve with the latest technology trends, organizations will be able to deliver an increasingly seamless and smarter customer experience,.

Learn more about the latest technology trends that are impacting the future of the field service industry in my recent article for Field Technologies magazine, and discover how Oracle Field Service Cloud can help your business power operational efficiencies and improve customer satisfaction. 

Wednesday Jun 17, 2015

What’s New with Oracle Field Service Cloud: May 2015 Release

With the acquisition of TOA Technologies in 2014, the Oracle Service Cloud added field service management to its solution portfolio. Formerly TOA’s ETAdirect, Oracle Field Service Cloud helps Oracle customers extend customer service excellence to the field while powering greater efficiencies.

As a part of the Oracle Service Cloud family, the Oracle Field Service Cloud team is excited to announce several new features in its latest release in May 2015. With a focus on integration, as well as improving both user and customer experience, new features included in the latest Oracle Field Service Cloud include:

Manage in Mobile – This mobile-friendly redesign of the Oracle Field Service Core Manage solution makes it easier for service managers and dispatchers to manage field teams from smartphones and tablets, helping customers keep pace with consumer trends. A resized display and improved scrolling and swipe functionality provide a consistent user experience across all devices.

Oracle Service Cloud Accelerator – Customers can now quickly and easily connect the call center to the field – leveraging the Oracle Field Service Cloud’s predictive routing and scheduling functionality directly within the Oracle Service Cloud Agent Desktop. Learn more about this Accelerator in this recent blog post by Stephen Fioretti, vice president of product management for Oracle Service Cloud.

Rebranding – The solution formerly known as TOA’s ETAdirect is now Oracle Field Service Cloud. Upon upgrading to version 15.5, all users will see refreshed login screens and Oracle branding – including the Oracle iconography and color palette – across the product. However, customers will still be able to customize with their own branding schemes if preferred.

Along with the features introduced in the February 2015 release, these new Oracle Field Service Cloud features aim to support the Oracle Service Cloud team’s focus on critical integrations and improving the user experience. Included in the February 2015 Oracle Field Service Cloud release were features such as routing visualization, multi-day view, mobile form editor and mobile booking capabilities.

Learn more about Oracle Field Service Cloud and its role in the Oracle Service Cloud family at http://www.oracle.com/goto/field-service/

Tuesday Apr 28, 2015

Rise of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication in Field Service Management by Sarah Sheehan

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication can help field service operations deliver smarter, more timely service. However, organizations must integrate M2M into their field service management strategy to realize the full potential of this growing phenomenon.
[Read More]

Friday Dec 05, 2014

Field Service Management Top Ten: Talking the Talk by Tori Ballantine

As with any industry, there is a lot of lingo involved when talking about field service management. Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the terms: we’re here to help. Here is a glossary of the top ten words and phrases that are frequently used in field service management.

1. Field Service Management

Field service management is the practice of organizing, scheduling, and routing mobile employees. This sort of management is critical to the success of businesses in a wide variety of industries and typically includes a dispatch or call center as well as a field workforce. Field service management is used by companies of all sizes, from smaller organizations with ten mobile employees to large companies with tens of thousands of staff providing services all across the globe every day.

2. Field Technician / Mobile Employee 

A mobile employee, referred to as a technician in some industries, is a member of an organization’s mobile workforce. These staffers perform services in the field – at customers’ homes, places of business, or in isolated areas far from population centers. These services are wide-ranging, and can include:

  • Delivery
  • Service and repairs
  • Safety and security
  • Installation
  • Maintenance

3. Mobile Workforce 

The mobile workforce collectively refers to an organization’s mobile employees. Mobile workforce sizes and types vary greatly between industries and specific companies. For example, some businesses employ only their own field staff while others rely completely on subcontractors. Many rely on a hybrid model, comprised of both direct and third-party mobile employees. One common theme that impacts all mobile workforces is the need to effectively schedule appointments and plan routes so that customers receive the best service possible.

4. Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing refers to a method of storing information on remote servers that are accessed through the Internet. When data is stored and processed in the cloud, it can be accessed by any authorized user who has an internet connection. This makes the information globally accessible. The opposite of cloud computing is storing data locally on a personal machine or an in-house server.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a model of accessing software via the cloud. All of the data and capabilities of the software are stored in the cloud. Users access the programs and information through the Internet. Simply, SaaS is cloud-based software. It provides an alternative to storing information on individual machines or local servers.

6. Web-Based Application 

A web-based application, or app, is accessed through the Internet. The opposite of a web-based application is a locally installed application: one that is downloaded onto a phone, tablet or other device. A good example of this is Gmail, which is Google’s email application. If you visit mail.google.com to access your email, you are using a web-based application. If you download the Gmail app to your iPhone via the iTunes store and then access your mail through the app, you are using a locally installed application.

7. HTML5 

HTML5 is a coding language used by developers when they create websites. HTML5 is the newest version of HTML, which is the primary programming language of the Internet. One of the most important elements of HTML5 is the connection it provides to the hardware, enabling access to the camera, GPS chip, storage and other functionality. Another significant feature is its ability to present multimedia content. This content can be successfully accessed and viewed by people who use different browsers and different devices to access the Internet. HTML5 helps preserve formatting and other important aspects on web pages – and helps provide the same experience to diverse users. Many modern web-based applications are built using HTML5.

8. Device Agnostic 

Programs and applications are considered to be device agnostic when they function equally well across all devices. This includes iOS, Android, and Windows phones; different tablet brands; and desktop / laptop computers. Web-based applications that support HTML5’s rich feature set–which provide enterprise-level security–are also device agnostic. This is the fundamental foundation of a device agnostic application.

9. Predictive Capabilities 

In software, predictive capabilities refer to the program’s ability to “learn” from data that is put into the system. Some field service management solutions, for example, are able to predict how long a job might take, based on factors like the how long each unique individual requires to perform a certain task and what inventory is available in each technician’s vehicle.

10. Context Aware 

When a program is context aware, it means that it provides users with precisely the right information they need – right when they need it. For example, on an iPhone, when a user has the option to input a URL or an email address, the phone offers a ‘.com’ button. This button is available when a URL or email address is requested; it isn’t there when a URL or email address isn’t in use. This capability shows an awareness of context.

For more information, please visit our website.

Friday Oct 04, 2013

10/17 Webcast: Get Mobile with Siebel for Field Service and Sales

No office? No network signal? It's not a problem with Siebel.

Watch our live Webcast on Thursday, October 17 and see how Oracle’s Siebel Mobile solutions transform mobile devices into powerful service and sales tools, using native capabilities within the devices to get information to field teams when and where they need it. Discover how you can:

  • Drive revenue with an always-on sales force
  • Simplify sales and service processes with easy-to-use mobile apps
  • Enhance the customer experience by delivering knowledge-infused services including installations, preventive maintenance, and repairs
  • Improve productivity with offline access to critical information

Register now!

Thursday Sep 05, 2013

9/12 Webcast: Delight Customers with Siebel Service Applications

As mobile and social technology has evolved, the number of channels that customers use to engage with organizations has grown exponentially. With such a diverse range of service channels and touchpoints to manage, how can you ensure you’re able to help customers, such as delivering the right information to the right customer at the right time?

Watch our live Webcast on Thursday, September 12, 8:30 AM Pacific / 4:30 PM BST, to discover how you can deliver consistent, personalized customer service experiences across all modern channels, and:

  • Increase brand loyalty by delighting customers with relevant information and offers
  • Boost agent productivity with complete access to customer information
  • Deliver field service excellence 
  • Identify emerging service issues with social media monitoring tools

Don't miss your opportunity to learn how you can enhance customer experiences and resolve service issues faster with Oracle Siebel service applications. Register Now

Monday Aug 12, 2013

Webcast: How Dell Leverages Big Data to Improve the Customer Experience

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently investigated how successful companies use big data to transform the customer experience. Join us for an Oracle webcast in association with Intel® to learn how top-performing organizations, including Dell Inc.’s Global Demand and CRM Center, are harnessing big data to understand better their customers and their business. The webcast is on Wednesday, August 14, 10-11 AM Pacific / 6-7 PM London.

You’ll learn how Dell leaders are:
  • Focusing on data-driven approaches to meet business objectives
  • Fostering a culture of customer insights through leadership and collaboration
  • Innovating customer interactions, marketing, and sales through automation

Tuesday Aug 06, 2013

Expand the Siebel User Experience onto the Newest Devices

A friend works for a well known financial services company that uses Siebel CRM. I asked how he likes using Siebel. He said that it works great. However, he wishes that he could use it on an iPad.  Well, I have good news for him and good news for you. Now, you can.

Learn more about how to expand the Siebel user experience in our webcast on June 15, 8:30 AM Pacific / 4:30 PM Paris CEST. While you are at it, register for future Siebel webcasts about customer service, mobile and social sales and service, and other informative topics.

Friday Jul 12, 2013

How Siebel Solves the Next Generation of Business Challenges

Keeping up with technological changes and increasing customer demands is challenging. The latest innovations in Oracle's Siebel CRM help you increase your competitive advantages. Watch this informative replay of our June Oracle Siebel CRM Webcast to discover how you can:

    • Enhance productivity and efficiency with new usability features
    • Understand your customers with new social media capabilities
    • Increase customer engagement with new mobile solutions
    • Deliver superior customer experiences
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