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Intro

Welcome, everyone, to the HSO of dynamics matters podcast, your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides, I’m Michael Lonnon and today I’m joined by our resident field service experts and solutions director, Dan Snowdon and in this edition, we discuss what is fuelling the technology advancements in the technology automation industry, and what impact those advancements are having on each organisation and how they take advantage to serve the needs of their customers better. So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon

Cloud or on premise.

Dan Snowdon

It used to be on premise but I’m getting quite old now, so i’ve had to fully adopt the cloud in the last few years and I love it.

Michael Lonnon

It’s changing things, isn’t it? It’s really advanced a lot of people’s use of technology, I think.

Dan Snowdon

When you think back to when you started back in the industry, you can remember those times when cloud was a new thing and you need to try and get yourself back into that mindset. It’s a very difficult thing to do.

Michael Lonnon

Yeah, and it makes you feel a bit old as well I find. In regard to the discussion of today, Field Services and the advancements it’s making what in your opinion, do you think is fuelling that growth of Field Services software?

Dan Snowdon

I think fundamentally, outside of even just thinking about field service, it’s the customer expectation, at the end of the day, everybody’s lives are changing to this whole version of getting everything as quickly as possible, and levels of expectation have increased. So, I think that’s the main driver behind everything.

Michael Lonnon

Yeah, I think so too, the advancements in technology, when it comes to field services, in particular, has been about automation. Why do you think that is? Why has that been a large part of the focus?

Dan Snowdon

I think it’s because there are so many moving parts, when you when you’re trying to meet customer expectations, and also organisational strategy, you’ve got all of these areas to think about, you’ve got all your resources, you’ve got the way in which customers can make requests of that resource and what it is that they’re needing you to do. So fundamentally it’s all of those different moving parts that if an organisation is going to get all of the efficiencies it needs, automation is the only answer.

Michael Lonnon

How would most organisations do it today that if they weren’t able to use more advanced technology or automate this process?

Dan Snowdon

Pen paper, clipboard, excel spreadsheet, it’s unreal the amount of people we talk to whose organisations are still dependent on those sorts of capabilities are unreal.

Michael Lonnon

I’d imagine a lot of the people listening to the podcast now probably thinking, yeah, some degrees we would probably still using some of those things ourselves

Dan Snowdon

I would imagine, so and even, and it’s churlish of me to say that everybody’s in that sort of boat, but in all honesty, there’s an element of being on the scale, somewhere between being fully automated and still relying on elements of the business that have pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets.

Michael Lonnon

I think there will always be an element of it no matter how far we take things, people are just comfortable with that, but, for a full service organisation who is able to get some investment into new software even to automate some of those process, what sort of advantages does that give them?

Dan Snowdon

Fundamentally, again, it all comes back to that customer experience, it’s the ability to not only work out what number of resources you need, when you need them, starting to identify trends or seasonal resourcing, for example. But also knowing that in order to meet a customer’s particular needs, we could start to look at different types of resourcing as well, different channels that we can support for them to create their issues, and really just starting to provide that level of expectation that they have, and that your organisation can meet.

Michael Lonnon

What sort of technology is coming through that we’re talking about here that’s helping organisations push those processes forward?

Dan Snowdon

It’s mostly automated scheduling in the background, that’s a large focus for Microsoft. For example, in the current climate is to work out how to identify the best way to get those efficiencies from making sure that the right person goes through the right job at the right time and increasing those first time fix rates, but also reducing the amount of time you need to send people out. This is where mixed realities got a big future to play as well

Michael Lonnon

Where do you think that fits? And how do you think that’s helping? Where can you see that working?

Dan Snowdon

I think it’s one of those areas where at the moment, a lot of organisations that aren’t considering it are probably sitting there thinking it’s just too advanced for us. But when you actually look into the use cases and how we can sort a joined-up journey of field service and mixed reality, they can probably start to identify use cases where there is a case for it, and it’s not necessarily going to break the bank. Especially with COVID times that we’ve recently had it will be pivoting towards using even mobile devices or more extensively a HoloLens type device, I think there’s a real market for it in the near future.

Michael Lonnon

I’ve seen a lot of the HoloLens demonstrations, and it looks amazing. Do you think Microsoft are pushing to try and make it a little bit easier for companies to adopt because you look at it and you think this is so advanced, this is going to be so out there that it’s going be completely irrelevant to me and it’s probably going be quite expensive. Do you think Microsoft is trying to change that now and make it more accessible?

Dan Snowdon

Absolutely, that’s exactly why you can get things like remote assist on your mobile device or your tablet device, because they want to make it not just exclusive to people who are willing to spend the money to get a HoloLens, but also for people who can get a subset of features that you know, granted, but they can still benefit from that sort of approach to providing expertise when it’s needed, rather than losing the time of all of those experts having to travel extensively to other locations.

Michael Lonnon

For organisations that are wanting to invest in new technology, who are wanting to look at their processes and think how can we automate a lot of this? Where do they begin?

Dan Snowdon

They need to work out what their main driver is or what is the main efficiency they’re trying to get. Because as I mentioned earlier on it’s not just about resource scheduling, there are so many moving parts, when it comes to a field service implementation. It can be thinking about what type of resources they are we wanting to work within the business? What type of services and products are we want to utilise within this area of the platform? How are we wanting to engage with not just customers, but people representing customers in that sort of b2b or b2c approach and how even we can look in things like asset management and the wider scope in which all these capabilities are continually being released that can benefit those areas as well. So, there’s, there’s so many areas in which you could start and that’s where a partner like ourselves comes in handy.

Michael Lonnon

You mentioned early on that a lot of the driver for changes customer expectations, what do you think is fuelling a change in expectation?

Dan Snowdon

Well, I think, without mentioning specific company names, I think there’s one particular behemoth of an organisation that have fundamentally changed everybody’s expectation when it comes to purchasing goods or services and how those goods and services are delivered, and how you can consume it across multiple devices, and how it’s basically at your convenience, rather than the organisations who provide those products and services. So fundamentally, I think you have to look at that sort of experience that is available elsewhere, that is now driving the level of expectation.

Michael Lonnon

That’s the beauty of technology. I think that that one or a small number of organisations and the innovations and the approaches that they’re taking that is completely off the wall actually transforms the approach for a lot of organisations. Other organisations, they just won’t be thinking about it, unless those organisations change things and the one you mentioned, which I’m sure everyone’s going to be familiar with, there are many other organisations out there that the room booking and the taxi booking and all those sorts of organisations, they just change the way things are being done

Dan Snowdon

Absolutely and if you know, as we mentioned earlier on, Michael, if we think back 10 to 15 years ago, all of these things were beyond belief as to where they would get to. I sometimes think back to what it was like being on a night out and getting a taxi and you know, just having the queue in the in the freezing cold weather in the northeast of England waiting for an hour in the queue. Now, you get yourself an account on your phone, and within minutes, you can see on a map where your taxi is and start planning your evening around that and not even leave the room until you get your taxis ready. So, it’s things like that that have completely revolutionised the way that we can achieve success with clients in field service.

Summary

If you were to take field services out of this discussion, many of the challenges and changes that Dan talked about can actually be applied to any business in any industry, such as an over reliance on manual processes, including Excel and pen and paper being driven and shaped by customer demand and adopting technology to meet those demands. Technology, of which is becoming increasingly accessible and cost and in use on my add. I recently read an article from us TV host Sean Plott, who said accessibility drives traffic in graphic technology, which is a point that Microsoft has taken while on board as they continue to strive to make their technology stack more accessible to more people in more ways. And on that note, thanks for listening, take care of yourselves, and do continue to check out dynamic matters for more great episodes.

 

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