The Next Big Shift in Field Service since the Cloud

Hari Subramanian speaking

As we start our recovery from the pandemic, a major force is about to sweep the Field Service industry.

No, it is not remote resolutions, predictive intelligence or outcome-based models. While all of these have their legitimate roles in shaping a highly dynamic industry, I anticipate a major shift from the traditional workforce models to gig-worker models. The companies that embrace this early on are not only going to be the visionaries, but will have secured their future.

Let me take a step back. Justifiably so, Field Service is people intensive. It has become one of the most strategic touch-points a business can have with customers. In order for this last mile experience to be effective, every business needs highly skilled, experienced and motivated workers representing their brand. How is this possible when 52% of all workforce will be Millennials and Gen Zs that no longer share the lifer mindset of the previous generations?

Changing expectations from new generations

The new workforce is a tech-savvy dynamic bunch with different aspirations. They don’t subscribe to the same ideas of what constitutes work, work space, incentive, lifestyle, even purpose. Just in the last ten years, digitally-driven enablement of car rides, deliveries, rentals, errands, even care have all resulted in an explosion of hybrid work opportunities, exposing millions in the new workforce to a multitude of possibilities. 

When a consumer whose life is streamlined through amazing digital experiences brings the same digital right-now mindset to work as a business customer, it will undoubtedly affect how Field Service businesses organize themselves to respond. You can no longer rely on traditional models to organically build your workforce nor can you rely on traditional partnership models. 

Delivering to the right-now culture

The whole premise of the Gig Economy is to connect the new workforce mindset – the ultimate freedom of working whenever, wherever, and in whatever way they want – with the new customers’ right-now expectations. But just because the Uber-ization of Field Service is to meet the outsized expectations from customers and employees, doesn’t mean that a business doesn’t benefit from this shift. In fact, shifting from a traditional field service model, to a Gig model, can offer enormous benefits to the business.   

Being able to tap into a massive latent workforce on demand changes everything. You now can source more work, offer more services, and expand into markets that you could not access before. It gives you the potential of explosive growth. On the other hand, you also have to rethink how you plan inventory, source work, schedule & dispatch, deliver great customer experiences, and on-board partners.

Reimagining how to enable your “team”

Talking of partners, the new gig workforce is exactly that. Your partners – just more dynamic, more self-enabled, more digital, and more demanding. You have to go beyond dusting up an old partner portal to on-board partners and start routing work. You must offer them incentives to stay with your brand, represent and promote it too. Here’s the rub: No partner portal platform, old or new, was built for this new reality. This is about completely reimagining -proactively now, forcibly later- how you think of your service business end-to-end.

In the next 12-24 months, we are going to see this shift in the B2C end of the service spectrum. But before long, this will find its way in B2B businesses as well. Common repetitive services, for even the most specialized products, can be delivered via gig models. Service organizations will be forced to adapt quickly or become severely vulnerable to competition. And how you tackle this new force is as important because speed is everything. You can spend the next 3 years building it, or find a no-code platform (like Appify) that gets you there in 2 months (and makes it easy to adjust as you learn what the market wants).

This. Changes. Everything.

This may, in fact, be the biggest shift since the introduction of the Cloud to Field Service software. As the co-founder of ServiceMax, we saw this magnitude of market shift 15 years ago as the delivery method of software changed so dramatically – little start-ups like ours could explode into the industry-leading software giant that ServiceMax is today. In a similar manner, businesses that have the agility, technology, and tools necessary to capture this shift in workforce, will be able to capture markets and take on market-leading positions seemingly overnight. Companies that want to capitalize on the Gig opportunity need to re-think and re-tool (Hint: Appify can help with that).

Hari headshot
Written by Hari Subramanian Founder and CTO at Appify. Hari has worked for more than 30 years in Enterprise software in various roles including support engineer, programmer, solution architect, and engineering leader.