Pressure on telecoms and utilities companies to cut costs and provide better service to customers will fuel demand for field service management applications, according to research by Gartner.
The analyst said that, with sales and marketing automation so far failing to deliver business improvement to service organisations, companies can slash their service costs by 30 per cent by using field service technologies.
But Alexa Bona, research director of customer relationship management (CRM) at Gartner, warned that high field service project failure rates were rife because companies are failing to address the people and process changes needed across multiple departments.
"Failure rates of CRM projects as a whole stand at about 55 per cent," Bona said. "One of the key reasons is that companies don't do change management. Without that, all you succeed in doing is getting your customers to hate you faster."
Bona also warned that no single technology supplier was currently in a position to supply more than 30 per cent of the field service capability on offer in the market.
"Field service management has been a difficult sell because you need to go to so many different departments," she said.
"Siebel and other major CRM players put their marketing dollars behind other sexy CRM technologies, and field service management has been ignored. But now customers are realising that there are cost savings to be made."
Major CRM suite vendors, including Siebel, Oracle and SAP, currently rely on workforce scheduling capabilities from specialist suppliers such as AP Solve for the complex algorithms needed.
"But they're starting to recognise it's an area they need to be in with more credibility," Bona noted.
Field service has traditionally been seen as a back-office function, but cost pressures and the increasing importance of customer service have led to it gaining credibility and moving from an operational to a strategic function.
Research conducted by Gartner among its customers found that use of field service management applications offered significant benefits and savings.
Of the respondents, 93 per cent said it improved efficiency, 90 per cent reported improved effectiveness and 67 per cent said they had gained competitive advantage as a result.
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