The Right Digital Transformation Strategy is Critical for Field Service

During the past five years, digital transformation has been a key focus area for field service companies. Today, this sentiment holds true, and it has been exacerbated by the recent global pandemic. COVID-19 has created a highly competitive labor market, changed people's customer and employee experience expectations, and increased adoption of newer technologies.

Pre-pandemic, many companies were choosing to engage in digital transformation initiatives, whether they were doing so to be leaders or to jump onto the bandwagon. With the global mindset shift stemming from the pandemic, digital transformation has become, and will continue to be, a fundamental requirement for any field service organization that wants to see the end of the decade.

For companies that operate in status quo and choose against digital transformation, know this approach will only work for so long. Companies that implement a successful digital transformation strategy will win over employees and customers alike, wooing them with superior experiences. For other companies that have started their journeys and believe they are close t, or done with digitally transforming, consider that while your initial goals may be close to complete, no one is safe from disruption. In 2022, technology advancements happen overnight. Things that were not fathomable 20 years ago are now commonplace, and that will continue.

For the majority of field service business leaders who are somewhere amid their transformation journeys, stop for a moment and look at your strategy. Does it have all the ingredients for success or is it missing a key element or two?

Ingredients to a Successful Digital Transformation

Often, leaders hear digital transformation, and they may think "buy the shiny new technology!" Of course, shiny new technology is a critical element of digital transformation, but it's not the only one. Technology without other key ingredients looks cool, costs a lot, but doesn't do much good. So, here's the winning recipe:

People: Employees are the lifeblood of the organization and will inevitably need to be a part of the journey. First and foremost, this means sharing the why behind your transformation initiatives with your people. If your people don't understand this, it will be easy for them to become frustrated and reject changes to come. This can be challenging, especially in field service organizations where many of your people are the first and main touchpoint to your customers. Furthermore, it's likely that your employees have firsthand experience of what works today and what doesn't. Think of your people as customers of your transformation journey. How would it fare to exclude their feedback?

Process: As with most new things in life, you cannot simply remove the old, add the new, and expect to operate in the same exact way. Some aspects might be the same, but some will undoubtedly change. Digital transformation will lead way to unfamiliar systems, new faces, and different devices, just to name a few. With these changes, understand that it will not be plug and play. You'll need to consider how these changes will be incorporated into your organization and your culture. Do you need to introduce data protection team members based on new data you're collecting or sharing? Do users understand how new systems will interact with old systems, and does this change the users' day-to-day activities? Changes can create complications to processes that previously were wrinkle-free, and uncovering these complications can take some serious time and effort.

Leadership: The last critical ingredient is leadership. Maybe this one is obvious, but this article would not be whole without it. Strong leaders tie together the technology, people, and processes. They have high-level visibility to ensure things are running smoothly and inspire their teams to embrace change. These captains help their teams prepare for digital transformation journeys, and without them, organizations would be lost.

The Optimal Transformation Approach

Articles like this one always make complex things sound easy. Digital transformation is no easy feat, and just like Rome, it cannot be built in a day. When crafting a transformation plan, consider a crawl-walk-run approach and create strategic milestones to move you through the process.

Start with an MVP (minimum viable product). For example, create or choose a cloud-based field service management tool that captures digital work orders and service contracts, select a pilot group to trial it, and then deploy to additional groups of users.

Enhance and automate the MVP. This is the stage for fixing things users don't like and automating time-consuming processes, like work order creation for preventive maintenance.

Gather insights to create opportunities. Once you have a trusted, tested system you can analyze the data the system has collected and use it to answer questions than can identify new ways to operate and deliver value for your customers. For example, you can query your data to see if there are commonalities in break-fix or reactive work orders, perhaps by part, technician, region, and other categories. You can also use your data to determine the frequency of preventive maintenance and adjust cycles as needed for specific parts.

Digital transformation is way more than just technology. With a leadership focus on processes that empower their people, field service organizations can implement or extend successful digital transformations and deliver more engaging customer experiences. These types of transformations take time, but with some patience and a transformation plan that sees beyond new systems and tools, your organization will be on the fast track to satisfied customers, engaged employees, and a healthier bottom line.

Alexandra Pucci is a Salesforce managing delivery architect at Capgemini Americas. She works with clients from a variety of industries, guiding them through digital transformation journeys. She’s spent the last 10 years on the Salesforce Platform with a focus on field service.