Field Nation Execs Predict Top Field Service Trends for 2021 and Beyond

4 min read

No one could have anticipated the massive industry disruption that occurred in 2020. As a result of the global pandemic, nearly every field service organization has adapted their business model in some way.

With a new year, comes a new set of challenges. While there will always be unknowns, we believe there are important scenarios to prepare for now.

Read on for our leaders’ predictions for 2021.

New technologies accelerate field service activities

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated technology adoption at an unprecedented pace. Technologies that many businesses thought were three years or more from being implemented are now being purchased and installed. 

According to a National Retail Federation study, 94 percent of retailers expect contactless payments to increase over the next 18 months. What’s more, digital signage has evolved from a nice-to-have technology to a necessity. This includes traditional applications like restaurant menus as well as emerging needs for signage around social distancing and public health guidelines in public venues.

Contactless transactions become standard

“In retail and other industries, contactless strategies are taking over. Consumers prefer and expect self-check out in stores, outdoor menu boards in restaurants, and self-order kiosks. This creates a greater need for qualified technicians to implement these new technologies, as well as the ability to deploy them fast due to the pace of change.”

Mynul Khan, Founder and CEO, Field Nation

Automation reigns supreme

“The top trend for 2021 is automation, automation, automation! Companies will continue their digital transformation using intelligent agents, data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and other technologies. Forward-thinking businesses will automate as many service transactions as possible to decrease costs and improve quality.”

– Shawn Fields,  Senior Field Service Strategist, Field Nation

Keeping up with new tech

“Companies will adopt more technology and faster refreshes to keep pace with changing technology, including networks, mobile, RFID, IoT, and more. Technicians will need broader capabilities to keep up with the changing tech stack.”

– Jim Doherty, Senior Enterprise Account Manager, Field Nation

Increased demands on service companies

“There is immense pressure and scale required of service companies to deliver tens of thousands of projects this year in response to a COVID-19 environment.”

– Mynul Khan, Founder and CEO, Field Nation

Remote service goes mainstream

The idea of remote service is by no means new, but it certainly moved front and center in 2020 as field service delivery pivoted to contactless solutions. Instead of waiting for a technician to arrive on-site, customers can have their issues resolved remotely by a technician with a click of the mouse. At the same time, OEMs are building diagnostic capabilities into their products so that in-person field service is no longer required.

“We continue to see heavy investments in remote services, such as remote help desks and network operation centers. In addition, remote resolution has become much more prevalent. We also expect a continued focus on self-healing technologies for OEMs, and machine healing or robotic process automation for managed service providers.”

– Steve Salmon, VP of Enterprise and Channel Sales, Field Nation

Retail transformation gains momentum

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail sales rose 6.7% year-over-year in 2020. E-commerce sales grew an astonishing 22.3 percent, as many shoppers stayed home during the pandemic. As a result, retailers are adjusting their strategies to meet shifting consumer buying habits.

Omnichannel retail requires better inventory management

“Tighter inventory control is required across stores because of multiple sell points. Retailers need greater visibility across channels to support in-store sales, as well as buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup. As a result, we see increased adoption of RFID technology and other technologies that increase inventory visibility.”

– Wael Mohammed, EVP of Product Management, Field Nation

Retail storefronts converge with distribution centers

“Driven in part by Amazon and the COVID pandemic, traditional retail storefronts are converging with supply chain and order fulfillment.”

– Steve Salmon, VP of Enterprise and Channel Sales, Field Nation

Adapting to supply chain disruption

“Service businesses must continue to be prepared for more supply chain disruption. Field services managers are pressed to diversify their parts and materials partners, and plan for longer lead times.”

– Wael Mohammed, EVP of Product Management, Field Nation

Access to talent is key

“To meet accelerated demand, retail businesses need two things: access to retail-experienced talent that will complete the job successfully the first time in a brand-positive way, and technology that reduces the operational overhead to find, vet, and manage that talent.”

– Steve Salmon, VP of Enterprise and Channel Sales, Field Nation

Shift to variable cost models

Due to ongoing market volatility, companies are increasingly embracing variable cost models by leveraging on-demand labor. A flexible labor model gives them the agility to respond to market fluctuations and take advantage of opportunities — while protecting their margins. 

On-demand labor reduces costs

“In the post-COVID world, companies are increasingly embracing variable cost models. These models reduce labor costs and provide greater flexibility during times of uncertainty.”

– Wael Mohammed, EVP of Product Management, Field Nation

More tech, smaller budgets

“Companies will push their service providers to deploy more technology on a smaller budget. The margin pressure will increase and push traditional service companies to look for new ways to meet customer demands.”

– Mynul Khan, Founder and CEO, Field Nation

 

Businesses that succeed in 2021 and beyond will adapt to these changes, embrace new technology, and implement new ways of working. Is your company ready?