Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation has become a very popular term over the last couple of years, and it is almost impossible to avoid references to it when looking at any industry publication, whether online or in print, that see it as a critical initiative for any forward-thinking company these days.

But what does the term mean for your organization? It would seem that this transformational journey would look very different depending on where you are starting and how much change you are willing to take on. Do you still have a fax machine? Your journey is starting from a very different place than the company that is wrapping up their go-paperless project.

Wikipedia states that “Digital Transformation is not necessarily about digital technology, but about the fact that technology, which is digital, allows people to solve their traditional problems. And they prefer this digital solution to the old solution.” This makes sense when old processes are significantly improved through the application of technology. So, where does your company’s digital transformation start and what benefits will you reap?

How Your Company Benefits from Digital Transformation

I recently viewed a presentation that former colleague and industry pundit Tom Rieger presented as part of a webcast by AIIM, an organization that focuses on information management and the technology that enables it. What I found interesting is that context here was not as important as the message. The fundamentals of his presentation transcended industries, job roles, and geographies and provided a brass-tacks assessment of what we’re all up against.

One of the most alarming points that Rieger makes early in his presentation is that our customers’ digital experience is not measured against a digital experience in the same realm, but rather against the “last best digital experience.” In a survey associated with the presentation, 94% of respondents agreed with that premise. So you’re not just competing against your traditional competitors, you’re up against the new hotel booking site, or someone’s latest banking transaction.

Having said that, only 8% of the survey respondents replied positively to the question “Compared to your competition, do you think your organization does a better job at using technology to engage and service your customers?” So, on the digital battlefield, we’re losing to non-competitors in overall online experiences, and we’re not even doing a good job leveraging technology in our own competitive landscape.

With the growth in the number of input channels coupled with the increased use of text-based, app-based, and social media-based communication between a business and its customers, companies must focus on improving the digital experience. Let’s talk about how you can leverage the broader FieldConnect portfolio to give you the tools to capture key data more effectively, leverage newer communication channels, and give your customers a better overall digital experience.

Access Tom Rieger’s presentation on Digital Transformation here.

And you can view the research behind the presentation here:

Invoicing delays – what is the real cost?

For many service-based companies, maintaining an efficient invoicing process represents one of the biggest challenges to success. This cash flow killer can be attributed to a number of factors – inefficient paper-based processes, low/no technology integration, and delays in capturing accurate and complete costs for labor, material, and equipment costs, among others.

These areas represent some of the obvious issues, but the bottom line is that delays due to manual and stand-alone processes represent a significant cost to your company in the following areas:

  • Direct Costs
  • Invoice Errors
  • Negative Cash Flow
  • Reputation and Customer Satisfaction

Exceeding Customer Expectations

With customer expectations at an all-time high, sending out an invoice quickly is your responsibility as a service provider. If you are still using manual paper processes, you aren’t getting invoices out as quickly as you could, or should. Your technicians complete the work, but the paperwork doesn’t make its way back to the office for multiple days, or sometimes weeks. It takes another 3-5 days for your office staff to create an invoice and send it out to the customer. By the time it lands on your customer’s desk it’s been weeks and if you’re lucky, they pay it right away.

Sterling Commerce, as part of their recent market analysis, determined that the average cost of a paper invoice can range anywhere between $12-$30. This includes direct costs like paper, ink, and postage. It also includes indirect costs, like paying an office administrator to manually enter all the data needed to create an invoice or the time it takes to stuff the paper invoices into an envelope to be mailed out.

The Costs Depends on How Many Invoices You Create Each Month?

Businesses also often overlook how much invoicing mistakes truly cost. On average, each paper invoice error costs companies $53.50 to rectify. It takes days for the client to receive, review, and send back an erroneous bill.

In the meantime, you have to pay for your technicians’ time, the truck and fuel to get them to the job, and any materials needed to complete the work. These invoice delays create a negative cash flow for your organization.

Lastly, how much does poor reputation cost your company? In today’s world of Netflix, Uber, and Amazon, your customers expect an exceptional customer experience. One way sure to disappoint a customer is invoicing them incorrectly or invoicing a month after the work was performed. Their perception will be that everything in your company is that inefficient!

Additional insights from the Sterling Commerce study found that manually-processed invoices cost, on average, $30 per invoice to process, while fully-automated invoices average only $3.50 per invoice to process. That’s a 90% cost savings by switching from manual paper invoicing to an automated solution.

It’s time to provide the experience that your customers deserve. Ditch the paper and adopt an automated invoicing process that will delight your customers and save you big!

LEARN HOW FIELDCONNECT HAS HELPED OUR CUSTOMERS IMPROVE BILLING CYCLE TIME BY 84%

 

Attracting and Retaining Employees with Technology

We often think about technology in terms of what it can do to make our businesses more efficient, more responsive, and more customer-centric. But what about helping us attract and retain good employees and the knowledge that they possess?

The Use of Technology is Now Expected

Studies show that the workers that you’re trying to attract today don’t just think technology is important, they think it is essential. The people entering the workforce these days have grown up with ubiquitous access to cell phones, online shopping, and mapping applications that get them from point A to point B without really looking at a map. They don’t know what a Thomas Guide is, never made a mixtape on a cassette, nor used a public payphone. So, if you’re addressing some of your company’s inefficiencies through technology, kudos to you! Just keep in mind that technology continues to evolve and will continue to address an ever wider range of business issues. To make sure your organization looks attractive to your best job candidates, keep the technology for your business evolving, too!

Capturing the Collective Intelligence

If the standard life plan plays out appropriately, most workers will get to retire someday. When that person is the last guy on your team who knows how to open up and fix the thermonuclear regulator on a TX-365-G, it can disrupt your ability to deliver the level of service and first-time fix rate that your company strives for. The beauty of a good field service management tool is that it captures key information about customer job sites and the equipment that needs repairing or maintenance. So, when the new tech shows up, they can look like they’ve been there before. This also creates a knowledge base that each tech contributes information to, and retrieves insights from, as they go about the responsibilities of the day.

Job Satisfaction = Retention

You’ve attracted the right people to your field tech team, trained them, and they’re doing a great job. Don’t lose them because you aren’t investing in the tools that allow them to be as efficient as possible. Employees using productivity-boosting tools that dispatch effectively, deliver the right information to them in the field, and allow business processes between the office and the field to flow smoothly are sure to experience a heightened sense of job satisfaction. Being satisfied at work means that employees are more likely to stay and the business can avoid the expense and aggravation of employee churn.

Mobile Workforce Solutions = Unseen Benefits

Again, congratulations on embracing some of the key technologies that help keep your employees happy and your business running smoothly! The benefits described above are not always the obvious ones, but these additional perks are sure to contribute to a work environment that attracts, motivates, and retains quality employees. For the sake of your workforce, keep an eye on technology trends, and don’t stop evolving.

What’s in Store for the Field Service Industry?

What’s just over that hill, or around that corner? Our curiosity to learn what’s ahead helps guide a lot of decisions we make, whether in our personal lives, or professional ones. Here are a few trends that we’re seeing that we think you might find interesting and that will be compelling in the near future.

Big Data, Data Analytics, and Augmented Reality Are Here

Early efforts that companies have made to better capture and manage the information that drives decision-making are now poised to bear fruit. By having a cohesive data and information management approach, businesses can look at trends in the data and can now extract some meaningful insights. Furthermore, this information can now be served up to a mobile workforce via traditional mobile devices, as well as wearable systems, such as goggles, or specialty glasses, helping to quickly pinpoint the issue that field technicians are trying to resolve. The wearable devices can also access a vast repository of schematics, performance data, and other information to help technicians complete their work.

The Internet of Things (IoT) Will Have An Impact Sooner, Rather Than Later

Our initial thinking suggested that software providers would drive the adoption of a network of connected devices. The truth is, we now think that manufacturers will be the ones that bring this trend to fruition. New equipment that is installed in industries such as HVAC, Construction, and Facilities Management will come standard with connectivity for IoT, at no, or minimal, additional cost. Adding these capabilities to a non-IoT conforming piece of equipment, or retrofitting for installed equipment with a lifespan that warrants the effort, will be a fraction of the IoT readiness efforts, as the capabilities will already come standard on assets that benefit from monitoring for predictive maintenance.

Accessible Artificial Intelligence Is Not That Far Away

Far from being a distant pipe dream, AI is already being put to use in a variety of ways, from placing advertising to piloting self-driving cars. While not 100% reliable in every scenario, AI has come a long way in a short time. While you might not yet be in a position to initiate an artificial intelligence pilot project at your company today, we expect that the technology will be embedded in many software solutions in the near future. This trend will make AI cheaper and easier to deploy, with an expected rapid return on AI investments when applied to the right business problems.

FieldConnect—Designed To Be Future Proof

While you may think that these newer technologies are a ways down the road, as the saying goes “objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.” Rest assured that FieldConnect is already working on ways to seamlessly integrate these technology advances into our field service management solution. When applied appropriately, we feel that these up-and-coming technologies can deliver significant additional value for the companies that deploy them. Our ultimate goal is making sure that your investment with us today will continue to deliver value well into the future.