In 2015, field-based businesses saw the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the boom of Big Data. The growth of new business practices and technologies this year have made it easier for construction and service organizations to gain greater insight into project details, streamline the scheduling and service process, and deliver greater equipment uptime.
Now, looking forward to 2016, we’ll see a continuation of those trends as businesses scramble to take advantage of the newest and best mobile and back office software, become early adopters of IoT, and make sense of the recent influx of access to valuable data. But there are some new field productivity trends you should be aware of as you as you plan for success in the new year.
Here are the top trends we’ve identified as key areas contractors and service businesses should be aware of going into 2016:
1. IoT/ Telematics Will Automate and Inform Engagement with Customers
The IoT has been on service businesses’ radar for a while, so the trend isn’t exactly new, but as more businesses invest in connected technology, we’ll see it become an established industry best practice in 2016. Smart, connected products and access to in-depth equipment telematics data will provide a number of benefits for service businesses including:
• Added value for equipment users who will be able to see into the health and operating efficiency of their machines.
• Better machine availability and less downtime because preventive IoT data allows service providers to resolve problems proactively.
• Improved data analytics so contractors are more informed about project status and equipment performance.
2. Augmented Reality Will Inform Complicated Service Processes
Augmented reality is a natural fit for construction management heading into 2016. Field workers will use augmented reality devices, like smart glasses, to guide them through a project and put them in communication with equipment and other connected products on-site. Workers can pull service records, telematics records, report of out-of-order equipment, and identify performance or safety warnings signaled by machines.
3. Building Information Modeling (BIM) will help contractors produce better projects
Eventually, thanks to BIM, contractors and project managers will bring 3D models of construction sites to the field and be able to look at exploded drawings of a component while they’re in the field.
“A new market research report says the Building Information Modeling (BIM) market will be valued at $8.6 billion by 2020. That is a nearly 70% growth in market share,” said a recent article from Whatech.
4. Advancing Fleet Management Technologies Will Improve Safety, Fuel Efficiency, And Cost Savings
From self-parking to self-driving, the focus has been on autonomous vehicle systems that can utilize Big Data and next generation fuel systems. Harnessing the processing power of workstation grade chips in vehicles creates equipment capable of internal health detection, blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, lane departure warnings, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, and more. Add to that vehicles with new efficient fuel systems and you’re looking at big things for the future of fleet management and maintenance.
5. Field Workers’ Roles Will Become More Technology-Centric
As projects demand deeper insight to stay on track and equipment is built with more high tech sensors and screens, field workers’ skills will have to shift as well. Not only will incoming technicians need to understand the high tech that’s in the equipment, they’ll have to be able to use the field service management and construction project software to streamline the process.
6. Mobile Field Service Management Will Continue To Expand
While mobile field service technology has been a trend for a while, it’s not going away any time soon.
Gartner has made the following predictions for the state of mobile in field service by 2016:
• 2/3 of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
• 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile
• field service organizations will purchase 53 million tablets in 2016
• approximately 56 percent of smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe will be Android devices
Conclusion – Ask Yourself These Questions
As more organizations rely on mobile to automate the project management process and eliminate duplicate data entry, those who stick with manual, paper methods will get further and further behind.
As a construction leader, ask yourself the following questions to prepare for the year ahead:
• How will your organization exercise its digital advantage going into 2016?
• What are actionable steps you could take to get your business on the right track to take advantage of your opportunity in product support?
• What will your company do to grow and expand to take on greater challenges in 2016?
• What new strategies will you try in order to tackle growing competitive challenges in 2016.