What Impact has COVID-19 had on the Field Service Management Sector? Is the Omicron Variant a Threat as well?

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As a Founder & CEO of i4T Global, a Disruptive Field Service Management Software and having closely worked with other FSM Companies over the last four decades, I was curious to know how severely the Global FSM Market has been hit by COVID-19 and how the work from home culture made an impact among the Field Service Workforce. While discussing with some of the Business Owners in the FSM Industry, I realized that the COVID-19 crisis has thrown a wrench in the works with regards to Field Service and the adoption to the 'New Normal' appears to require a high level of strategic planning in business models and processes.

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2020 and 2021 have come and gone. But its legacy lives on…

Watching the Global News, we cannot say that we are yet in a Post-COVID-19 Era. Nonetheless, we can and must conduct a quick assessment on what has already changed in the Field Service Sector and there are some significant trends to be observed. So let’s get started. This article covers a wider area in terms of the impact of COVID-19 on the FSM Sector, challenges faced by the Field Service Companies,  strategic solutions and recommendations for the future.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Field Service Management (FSM) Market

Field Service Management (FSM) is the process of Managing a Company’s Field Operations and Resources by allocating them strategically in order to improve Customer Satisfaction while also increasing the Company’s Efficiency and Productivity. The COVID-19 Pandemic originated in China and then spread throughout the world. Governments had to impose lockdowns and take precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus in order to safeguard the people.

According to the Market Research Future (MRF) COVID-19 Analysis, more than 50% of the Global Workforce was Working from Home to avoid human contact and limit the spread of the Pandemic

Due to the increase in remote working, the Field Service Management Industry was facing significant setbacks in nurturing customer relationships, aligning various teams on the same schedule, and maintaining effective communication among Field Service Suppliers/Technicians and Admins, which became more complex. 

Field Service Management was widely adopted by large enterprises owing to the existence of a large number of employees, extensive customer records, and a larger workforce. However, the temporary shutdown of manufacturing firms due to the lockdown was hindering the growth of the market. Once the lockdowns were lifted in many countries, companies restarted their operations with limited resources.

During the pandemic, many FSM Companies were investing in tools and techniques that ensured employee safety, as well as changed their Field Service Working Models. On the other hand, the massive production of PPE Kits, Masks, and Medicines, among other products in the Healthcare Sector, required Field Service Management, as larger Companies were facing challenges in assigning Work Orders. Large Companies were focusing on implementing Field Service Management Software to manage their business operations and processes.

The Oil Field Service Sector, which includes equipment manufacturers, drilling rig operators, and hydraulic fracturing crews, was hit the hardest by the economic downturn

Field Services are essential services, especially in highly regulated industries like Telecommunications and Utilities, as well as Oil & Gas, where Compliance and Safety Management are 24*7 tasks. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, operations in these industries were carried out with slightly compressed schedules in order to follow social distancing or to comply with the regulations set by local government and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) whenever possible.

According to Field Service Management experts, Companies that were the Early Adopters of Digital Transformation had the data of how much uptime the equipment has taken, and what capacity it is running at in the field. During the Pandemic, FSM Companies that have been slow to adopt Digital Field Service Management are now using Digital Technologies such as IoT and Artificial Intelligence.

North America dominates the FSM Market due to the presence of a large number of IT Behemoths

COVID-19 Challenges Faced In FSM

COVID-19 disrupted Field Service Organizations in many, sometimes diverging ways. Unfortunately, providing critical on-site service in these industries became far more difficult. Travel bans were implemented, Landlords closed their facilities to visitors, and non-essential personnel was restricted from accessing the equipment in the field. Delays in cross-border transportation, a lack of air freight capacity, and delays in ocean transport resulted in critical issues in Supply Chain and Operations.

  • Restricting on-site dispatches to customers that can be serviced via car travel vs air travel.
  • On-site dispatches for local areas only – no air travel or overnight stay were permitted.
  • Increased reliance on local third-party providers when local employees were not available.
  • Restrictions based on the need for and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Critical personnel or downtime events were only permitted, and preventive maintenance wasn’t permitted.

Clearly, operations were disrupted making it difficult for Field Service Organizations to meet their commitments. While shortfalls may be understandable, i4T Global recommends Real-Time Communication with your customers notifying them of potential service disruptions and providing clear instructions on how to escalate emergency needs.

Is the Omicron Variant Also A Threat To The FSM Sector?

Omicron, also known as B.1.1.529, is a new strain of the COVID-19 Virus that has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation.

Just as companies were about to bring employees back to the office, even on a part-time basis, the delta variant emerged and shattered those plans. And just when it appeared that the mutation was somewhat under control, omicron reared its head. This latest COVID-19 Variant — Omicron—has spawned new health and economic concerns, and it could have an impact on the Field Service Sector.

The emergence of the Omicron Variant of COVID-19 is once again forcing employers to reconsider the measures they are taking to protect employees, customers, suppliers, and distributors.

Google, Uber, & Ford, the 2nd largest automaker, have already postponed their return-to-work plans – and in the case of Google and Uber, it’s an indefinite postponement at this point. (Ford plans to try again in March.) Meta (the former Facebook) is still planning to open its headquarters at the end of February, but employees were told earlier this month that their return could be delayed until June. Lyft is taking things a step further, opening the office in February but informing employees that they will not be required to return for the entire year.

The Omicron Variant of COVID-19 has dimmed hopes that the pandemic will soon fade away and once again has employers pondering how they can fulfill their difficult obligations to keep their workforce safe and to meet their business needs.

The Path Forward and the Role of Digital Technology

It is critical to remember that Field Service is a people business, and the safety and security of employees and customers must be prioritized. i4T Global recommends that you assess your customer base by determining which customers require critical support and then Conduct a Risk Assessment of providing that support. As previously stated, the use of PPE, social distancing, and safety must be taken into consideration.

With customers scrambling to enable remote workers, it may be easier to overcome health and safety concerns and expand your remote service capability. Each issue resolved remotely eliminates the need to expose your Field Service Suppliers & Engineers to the virus, allows for faster resolution, and the data collected will lead to more value-added opportunities in the future.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, the traditional fix Field Service Support Model is no longer feasible. Increasing the number of connected products in your install base and leveraging technology to enable safe, remote support with highly skilled Field Service Suppliers ensure that the world of on-site repair will never return to Pre-Pandemic Operations. Being able to satisfy your customers and communicate with them in real-time while also keeping your Field Service Suppliers engaged is the best option. Let’s stay safe and keep the workflow going!

Field Service Management Software

Field Service Management Softwares allow businesses to automate and simplify their processes. If you are still running your Field Service business with spreadsheets, email, and phone calls then you really should consider upgrading your business operation processes to thrive in the market space. Technology Systems & Software have created an immense amount of value across many facets of our life and the Field Service Management Software is one more of these value creation software. If you have adopted FSM Software into your company already, then you should consider the functionality of the software. Is your company designed for the needs of the current business environment? Does your FSM Software give you the flexibility for growth that your business needs? You need to prioritize improving your workflow and ways of communication between employees and customers. 

Further reference: Challenges Faced By Property Managers When Communicating With The Landlords

i4T Global Is Here To Help You

We understand that COVID-19 has had an impact on our community, the FSM Industry, and the world at large. We need to work together now more than ever to get through these challenging times.

i4T Global is here to disrupt the FSM Industry with an Innovative Platform for Authorized Service Agents, Field Service Suppliers, & Property Occupants with Transparency & Safety.

i4T Global caters for a Start-to-Finish Lifecycle, Tracking Work Orders from availability, Review, and Lead Generation to Quoting, Invoicing, Payment, and Seamless Integration with Third-Party Platforms.

Summary

All in all, 2020 and 2021 brought much innovation in the Field Service Management Market and accelerated the adoption of Digital Transformation and Remote Working. Looking for positive aspects, we can definitely say that these years boosted our productivity, and now FSM organizations are transforming much faster than before.

Key Takeaways

(A) We’re so excited to share with you, i4T Global is one of the major sponsors of the 13th Annual Field Service Management (FSM) 2022 Conference, that’s happening on 09 – 10 March, and we will be in person at Dockside Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia!

At this Year’s Event, we will equip you with the Strategies & Best Practices you need to Deliver an Effective Field Service Culture to Increase Efficiency & ROI of the Field Service Workforce While Improving Your Business Processes Through Real-Time Data-Driven Solutions.

(B) You might also be interested in reading about;

(C) To stay updated with Latest Trends, Marketing Strategies, and other FSM Resources,
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