Bill Quinn
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With IDC forecasting the worldwide market for Internet of Things solutions to be $1.29 trillion by 2020, IoT is shaping up to transform businesses in virtually every industry. And no service domain has the potential to benefit from IoT more than Field Services. From industrial applications to home service and everything in between, IoT has a role to play. Following is an overview of where IoT can be used in Field Services.

Problem Detection

IoT connected devices have the ability to immediately identify and send an alert when a part has failed or is about to fail, saving costly downtime in industrial applications, and reducing property loss in consumer environments.

For example, one of the most costly sources of property and casualty claims for insurance providers is water damage. A common source of water damage is from water supply hoses breaking on the back of refrigerators. Hose ruptures are often not detected for hours or days. By then, water damage is extensive, creating a mess for homeowners and an expense for insurance providers.

An IoT connected water sensor that can identify the leak and automatically open a service request in a CRM system such as Salesforce Service Cloud or Field Service Lightning to dispatch a pre-identified service technician can both save a mess for the homeowner and a cost for the insurance provider.

Send the Right Service Tech, With the Right Equipment

IoT connected parts and devices allow field service operators to gather specific information about mechanical failures. No longer do they simply know that, for example, a pump has failed. Now they know which part on the pump failed, allowing them to send the technician with the skills to replace the broken part. IoT connected replacement parts and field service vehicles also mean sending the tech with the required replacement parts on their vehicle.

Give Service Technicians Remote Access to Homes/Buildings

Another challenge with dispatching service technicians is making sure they have access to the property to make the repair. In the past, a homeowner had to leave work in order to provide access to the home. This creates a loss of productivity for the homeowner and a poor customer experience.

IoT connected locks and security systems allow homeowners or property managers to grant service technicians temporary access to a home or building once they’ve been visually verified via a video monitor or the technician’s mobile phone. This not only improves efficiency but also dramatically improves customer experience.

Monitor Activities of Service Technicians and Provide Remote Support via Wearables

Once a service technician has been granted remote access to a home or building, the owner will want to monitor the technician’s activities. Using the camera on connected devices worn by the service technician can provide this visual engagement and make remote access feasible from a customer experience and security perspective.

In addition, service technicians can use wearable devices to provide hands-free visibility of parts schemas to assist them in the replacement or repair of a part, get remote support when they encounter a problem, and exchange Salesforce Chatter messages with their team members.

Identify Cross-sell/Upsell Opportunities

While the service technician is on site repairing the broken part, an agent back in the office could perform a diagnostic evaluation of the other connected devices on the property to see what other services might be appropriate.

For example, while the service technician is repairing the broken water hose, a service agent could evaluate the HVAC system in the house and find the furnace’s air filter hasn’t been changed in 6 months, and the unit hasn’t been serviced in over two years. The service agent could proactively send a message to the homeowner with an offer to replace the air filter and service the furnace. In fact, an Artificial Intelligence platform such as Salesforce Einstein could provide this diagnostic evaluation without the need for human intervention, making the process even more streamlined and automated.

This both creates an upsell opportunity for the service provider and delivers an exceptional customer experience for the homeowner. They’ve been able to address two issues in their home without having to make a single phone call, or miss work to stay at home to greet a service technician.

Verify Repair Completion

Once a repair is completed, the IoT connected device can communicate that the equipment is again working properly and can update and close a Service Cloud or Field Service Lightning ticket, preventing the need for a field service agent to complete this additional step.

Salesforce Thunder and IoT Explorer Edition

While the use case I described above may seem like science fiction, all of the capabilities are commercially available today. The challenge is performing these services at scale, which can quickly become such a daunting endeavor that most companies put off developing innovative capabilities until a competitor or newcomer in their market has launched a superior service.

The key to implementing innovative capabilities is to start small, learn fast, and continually iterate. Salesforce’s newly launched IoT Explorer Edition is designed to allow businesses to do exactly that. IoT Explorer Edition’s low-code interface can be used by non-technical business users, reducing the number of technical resources required for a project, preventing long development cycles and enabling a rapid test, learn, iterate the process.

TCS’ Salesforce Practice IoT Capabilities

To learn how you can leverage the Salesforce platform and IoT Explorer Edition, register to meet with us during Dreamforce 2017, November 6-9 at our executive lounge in the Trace Restaurant at the W Hotel in San Francisco, where we will demonstrate all of the IoT capabilities and Service Cloud integrations described in this article.


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