In this special guest feature, Aviram Hinenzon, SVP Marketing at Verisae, discusses AI in the field service industry, including AI’s role in long term strategy and the five key areas where AI is currently bringing assistance to the industry through increased automation. As Senior Vice President of Marketing, Aviram Hinenzon oversees market development, corporate marketing, and product marketing. Previously, Aviram was Vice President of Product Management for ViryaNet. Prior to joining ViryaNet in 2006, Aviram served as the VP, Products of Wadago, Ltd., an Israeli-based privately held company. His extensive technical experience also includes positions of senior product management and system engineering positions at ECI Telecom (ECIL), TTI Telecom (TTIL) and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Aviram holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
The potential of artificial intelligence (A.I.) to streamline operations, increase customer satisfaction and improve bottom line reaches far and wide, especially within the field service management industry. AI is not only helping to improve automation, but also provides assistance for field service workers to do their jobs more efficiently. Instead of replacing humans in their entirety, AI is helping workers add to their current skill-set and bring context through data to make better informed decisions. When it comes to field services, there are five key areas where AI is currently bringing assistance to the industry through increased automation:
Monitoring Assets to Ensure Optimal Operations
Historically, in order to know the health of machines, expert technicians would routinely go on site to perform a check-up and ensure that everything was running properly. They would determine the health of the assets and try to make their best prediction on when potential issues may arise based on the age of certain parts or current operating capabilities. During the checks, the machines would either be deemed as performing in working order or needing new parts that would need to be ordered and later installed, making the entire process time consuming.
Today, with the advent of connected devices, A.I makes it possible for all assets to be monitored by computers instantaneously on a daily basis. Now, the process of identifying and predicting issues with assets has the potential to be fully automated. Streaming data from connected assets gives technicians the ability to analyze data remotely in real-time and produce analytics-driven insights to make faster, more informed decisions. A.I can help companies make use of that data and understand the conditions in which their assets are operating and make predictions for the future. In today’s automated world, we have the ability to not only leverage data and predictive intelligence to help humans make smarter, but also make more data-driven decisions automatically.
Playing the Role of the Assistant
A.I can help remotely control and monitor assets through connected devices to ensure they’re working at an optimal operating point. For example, A.I can fully automate identification and the control of assets to make sure they are operating at optimal levels without the need for workers to constantly be checking. It’s beneficial for machines to monitor themselves so that they can report issues and predict potential breaks to the virtual assistants to schedule a service worker to go and provide maintenance as needed. With A.I constantly keeping the lights on and running things smoothly, this allows workers to focus on other priorities and areas and be alerted only if/when there’s an issue.
There are situations however, when a technician may still need to come on site and survey the equipment. At times, computers can identify that there is a problem, but not necessarily what the specific issue is or what parts are needed to solve it. In that case, technicians today are adding mobile devices and apps to their toolbox to act as a virtual assistant when they are on site. From the moment they enter the room, their app will tell them what assets are in the room, their model numbers, health history, etc. With mobile devices, technicians are connected to the maintenance infrastructure immediately to save them upfront time on surveying the situation and allow them to get down to fixing the problem.
Improving the Dispatching Process
With the emergence of A.I technology, we will see a need for fewer dispatchers in the future. Incorporating an A.I function in to the dispatching process can help automate and assist dispatchers in collecting data quickly and efficiently. There’s also potential for A.I to fully replace the role of the dispatcher in the near future: A.I can help organizations to stay on top of technicians’ schedules and determine in real-time what parts a technician needs in the field, what parts they currently have and what additional parts are needed to fix the issue.
Enhancing Customer Engagement and Developing a Plan to Resolve Issues Quickly
Currently though, not everything is able to be remotely controlled and issues are still reported through call centers. Until remote control and assets are fully connected to technicians, call centers will continue to be a vital connecting element for the two. A.I can help collect and process information immediately so that dispatchers have the information they need to determine the right person with the right parts in the right location so that customers aren’t left waiting for a fix for long periods of time. A.I can also enhance the role of the call center agent by helping to schedule maintenance appointments, report customer inquiries and capture/record critical information from customer calls. This not only helps streamline the admin process, but also allows agents to take on new roles and responsibilities.
Enhancing Strategic Decision-Making
A.I and bots have the potential to increase employee productivity and automate overall business processes. Through deep learning capabilities, the potential of artificial intelligence has no ceiling; machines can be programmed to grow smarter over time and have the ability to evolve with new tasks. While A.I will take over more menial tasks and inevitably replace some jobs, for example, in the instance of dispatchers, it will also open new opportunities and create new jobs that require strategic decision making based on the data and analytics presented from computers. As technology continues to advance and machines grow smarter, humans too will continue to learn new skills and fill more complex roles.
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