2021 Field Service Sentiment Survey

field service field service management Oct 07, 2021

Blumberg Advisory Group has officially released its first Field Service Industry Sentiment Study for 2021. The goal of this research, which was sponsored by Help Lightning, a major supplier of Remote Visual Assistance Software, was to gauge current opinion in the Field Service sector on a number of subjects, including new and upcoming technologies, recruiting methods, and workforce structure. The Field Service Industry Sentiment Study findings give an intriguing perspective on the existing and future state of the industry.

 Below are the key findings of the study:

  •  Field Service Industry participants have a bullish outlook on the future of their service business and the industry as a whole.  
  •  Many FSOs plan to hire additional field service engineers in the next 12 months but have skepticism about their ability to find qualified candidates.  
  •  A significant percentage of FSOs indicate that their service business is in hypergrowth mode and transforming their companies.  
  •  While many Field Service Leaders view AR-enabled software as an effective alternative to delivering onsite service during the pandemic, a significant number believe it has become an essential tool for providing field service ongoing.

Field Service Organizations may use these insights to guide their business goals and decisions over the next 12-18 months.

COVID-19 Recovery Data Summary

Most people's thoughts are focused on a quick business recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, more than half of our respondents (53%) are optimistic about their organizations’ capacity to fully recover from the Covid-19 crisis in the next 12 months. Another 45% are hopeful but reluctantly so. Only 17% expect the sector will return to normal over the next 6-12 months, while 4% say it will take a year or more. Only 2% feel it will never return to normal, which corresponds to the percentage of pessimistic respondents about their companies' capacity to recover.

Augmented Reality Data Summary

Many Field Service Organizations (FSOs) used Augmented Reality (AR) powered Remote Visual Assistance Software solutions to provide “Contactless” or “Touchless Service” to their clients during the pandemic. This practice is why many industry participants, from analysts and consultants to software providers and field service executives, have established strong views on AR. Even though most respondents (41%) think that AR is a viable alternative to onsite service during the pandemic, one-third (33%) say AR has become critical for their company. Another 21% believe that augmented reality is useful in a restricted or specific set of scenarios.

Key Influencers in the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

FSOs can use various technologies to improve customer experience (CX) and service quality. Augmented Reality (AR). IoT, AI & Machine Learning, 3D Printing, and Smart Contracts are some of the other tools and technologies that can help you achieve these goals. One-third of respondents (32%) believe AI and machine learning will greatly impact the field service industry. IoT comes in second place with 30% of respondents. However, these technologies support more than just field service use cases.

 

Many stakeholders within an FSO can influence the adoption of new technologies. According to more than a third of respondents, the board of directors (34%) and the C-Suite (42%) are very influential in adopting new technologies.  According to 44% of respondents, the Service Organization has a significant influence in encouraging the adoption of new technologies. While the CEO and Board may not have the greatest effect on new technology adoption, they do have a lot of power.

Field Service Labor Outlook Data Summary

There has been an increasing concern that the labor pool of available field service employees is declining. This issue stems from the baby boomer workforce, as shown by the growing number of baby boomers who have retired or are about to retire, as well as a scarcity of qualified technicians among younger cohort generations.

According to the Blumberg Advisory Group study, 37% of the respondents are somewhat confident. In comparison, 41% are extremely confident that the available labor pool of skilled field service engineers (FSEs) will expand in the future.  The amount of confidence varies depending on the job, generation, and type of business. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Board Members/Owners/Presidents are highly confident, compared to 15% of C-Suite Executives, 5% of Vice Presidents/Directors, and 42% of Managers/Supervisors.

Technology and Labor Shortages Data Summary

The common belief in the Field Service Industry is that new technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) may help address the problems of replacing an older workforce. Almost three-quarters (72%) believe that these technologies can be used to upskill new hires or younger, less experienced employees.

More than half (60%) feel that new technology can assist in attracting a younger/newer workforce interested or enthusiastic about adopting these new tools (figure 15). Another 54% believe it will increase the productivity and efficiency of their present staff, removing the need to employ additional FSEs.

Conclusion

Industry members are optimistic that the Field Service Industry is now recovering from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A substantial proportion of Field Service Leaders feel their service companies are back to normal or will be in the next six months. However, there are some differences of opinion among generations, types of businesses, and people's positions or roles inside their companies when it comes to the rate of recovery. These disparities reflect various cohort groups' beliefs and objectives, as well as the visibility and control each cohort group has over the change in their companies.

 

Important Note: This is just a quick summary of the whole study. Should you need more details about the 2021 research, you can download the full report here.

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