How is Automation Impacting FSM?

The Pressures of Field Service Modernization, Part 3

We’ve reached part 3 of our Field Service modernization series. This month, we’ll take a closer look at the trend of automation. How is it impacting Field Service and Field Service Management (FSM)? To begin, let’s review our definition of automation in Field Service:

  • Automating processes to reduce error and increase efficiency.

Let’s break that down further. By automating processes, we mean using technology to more easily do something a human can to do. For example:

  • Regulating temperatures within a home.
    • Technology automatically switches your heating and cooling off and on based on your thermostat setting.

When we examine our daily activities, we can see automation everywhere. With this in mind, what trends are we seeing in automation and FSM? In addition, what exactly would a focus on automation mean for your organization?

The Future of Automation and FSM

If we’re seeing automation everywhere in our lives, consequently it’s having a big impact in FSM. In order to explain further, we need to discuss the Internet of Things (IoT). In the very simplest of terms, it refers to connecting things to the internet, or ‘smart’ technology.

To illustrate, we’ll revisit the temperature example from above. With new ‘smart’ technology thermostats:


  • You can set temperature preferences or change the temperature with an app
    • That information is transmitted wirelessly
    • The data is then stored in the ‘cloud’
    • As a result, you, your thermostat, and heating and cooling systems are connected via the IoT

It’s this connection and a push toward smart technology that’s driving a lot of change in FSM today. Consumers want convenience. Moreover, a desire for more automation is shaping the bigger picture of what FSM will be in the future. What Field Service specific needs are causing a move toward more automation?

  • Customer satisfaction
  • An increase in competition as customer expectations rise
  • Doing more with less, or increasing productivity and efficiency
  • Saving money and increasing profits
  • Future proofing or preparing for further FS innovation.
    • In the discussion above, we gave a definition for the IoT
    • It’s becoming more and more common to see these connections
    • For example, smart devices are more common across a number of Field Service industries, e.g. smart HVAC systems.

Automation and Your Organization

How does more automation meet those needs, or drivers, highlighted in the previous section? In short, by:

  • Connecting data for more meaningful use
  • Taking data and applying it accurately and efficiently
  • Reducing error
  • Reducing time and resources needed
  • Increasing organizational adaptability

To illustrate what automation is capable of delivering, let’s examine a modern FSM solution.

Above, we see automation in action via Field Service Lightning. Going back to our last blog, this FSM solution is a multi-functional single platform system. That means it keeps all the information in one place. As a result, automation can connect that information and use it to more efficiently complete tasks, without error.

What we see above is, from left to right:

  • A mobile signature
  • A technician schedule, including new jobs in a list on the left of the screen
  • Real-time GPS coordinates of technicians in the field

Automation in action meets the needs listed in the previous section in several ways. For example, the image is showing that without any human intervention:

  • Connected devices can generate work orders for repairs
  • Those repairs are shown as new jobs
  • The jobs go to technicians based on what makes the most sense
    • Who is closest, has the right parts, is available, etc.
  • The technician or job can be rerouted based on traffic, availability, or any other changes that happen in the field.
  • The client gets an update sent indicating job details and arrival times
  • When a job or task is complete it updates the information immediately
  • That information is connected to the client in the system
  • No paperwork is needed. Invoices and customer copies can be sent immediately.

When reviewing your own organization’s needs, where does automation fit in? Specifically, does the trend toward automation reflect your own business drivers?  We’ll be continuing with this series next month by reviewing optimization.

For parts 1 and 2, please check out: