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Pressure to Meet Slas, Lack of Skilled Workers, and the Need to Reach Tech Superiority: Field Service Companies Reveal Their Biggest Challenges and Bright Spots in Ifs State of Service 2023 Research

  • Nearly half (46%) of respondents struggle to meet customer SLAs

  • Technology superiority ranked the number one competitive differentiator, overtaking customer experience

  • Sustainability reaches top spot as primary focus area

IFS, the global cloud enterprise software company, announced results of its global research study which uncovers field service companies’ biggest challenges and key priority areas over the next 12 months. The findings highlight immense tension between opportunity, skills and technology, to outpace market disruption.

Technology superiority has become the most significant competitive differentiator in field service, overtaking customer experience. Yet with nearly half (46%) of respondents reporting that their companies still struggle to meet service level agreements (SLAs) and 37% citing outdated or insufficient technology as an ongoing pressure, there is a clear technology gap which needs to be closed.

Combined with the other top concerns of lack of a skilled workforce (40%), and change management and user adoption of new technology (37%), field service organizations are under considerable pressure to not only fulfill customer obligations, but also to remain competitive and achieve future sustainability goals. The latter is now ranked the number one future-focused initiative, followed closely by updating legacy service management systems and leveraging emerging technology.

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Field service companies recognize the benefits of digitalization

Since 2018, there has been clear uptick in technology adoption and critical investments. The 2022 research shows the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has more than doubled, from 22% to 46%, Reverse Logistics grew, from 25% to 54%, and the implementation of Chatbots has almost quadrupled, from 11% to 44%.

The respondents citing technology superiority (29%) as their most significant differentiator has tripled since 2018, and has overtaken customer experience (26%). This trend underscores how companies understand that not investing in the right digital technology means they are at risk of becoming obsolete in a highly competitive market characterized by disruption.

Emerging investments for Service, and planned adoptions

Additional findings in the State of Service research revealed that while technology is leading investment trends, some of the consideration is pointing to a continued focus on the customer experience, with FSM technology solutions ranking highest in terms of planned adoption being: Remote Assistance (44% of respondents planning to implement), Wearables (44%), Knowledge Management (42%), Simulations (41%), Scheduling Optimization and Automation (40%), and Customer Self-service (36%).

Marne Martin, President, Service Management, IFS commented: “Our latest State of Service study paints a vivid picture – while customer centricity remains high on the agenda, the realization of the importance of technology as an enabler has become much clearer. Success is, however, dependent on the ability to orchestrate people and skills alongside market dynamics and customer demands for consistency in service.

Martin added, “In an economy of scarce resources and rapidly rising costs, remaining competitive is based on modern service management tools that can help companies serve customers more efficiently.

Martin concluded, “Having the right technology has never been more vital than at the moment that organizations interact with their customers, provide services and deliver their best: in their Moment of Service”.

In addition to the research results, the State of Service 2023 Global Report also delivers insights and advice from some of the world’s most innovative business and service leaders across manufacturing, telecommunications, utility and service provider organizations.

*The research was conducted by Mindforce Research, polling 400 senior-decision makers in Field Service across North AmericaWestern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. It is the third State of Service study commissioned by IFS, following versions in 2018 and 2020.

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