With infrastructure initiatives such as 5G rollouts, as well as residential customer support, there are many opportunities to increase the efficiency of the service operation. By taking advantage of artificial intelligence and mobile technology, telcos and ISPs can increase operational efficiency and customer satisfaction at the same time as reducing costs. The opportunity lies in automated the scheduling and dispatch processes associated with work orders. By using state-of-the-art algorithms, companies can make sure that the right resources are deployed at the right place at the right time, and with the right skills and parts to complete the job effectively. By using real-time and historic traffic patterns, field service teams can understand how best to deploy their resources in a way which will optimise the route, and minimise time spent in traffic – resulting in greater employee utilisation, as well as an improved ability to predict time of arrival to support customer service.
What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment?
We’ve been using artificial intelligence to solve schedule optimisation problems for many years, but the mainstream adoption of machine learning has enabled us to add a greater level of precision to our decision making. For example, using historic traffic patterns and information about the length of time specific jobs take enable more and more accurate predictions of travel time and job duration. Taken together that means you can get better at predicting the schedules of your mobile workers, as well as make more reliable estimates of service delivery to your customers. Other technologies that are exciting include augmented reality, as a way to improve the efficiency of workers by coaching them through complicated procedures.
What are the biggest obstacles to digital transformation?
As with many projects, success requires a combination of people, processes and technology. While software is an integral part of things, it’s the processes and people involved in the change management aspects where challenges often arise. One specific obstacle is general resistance to change, which can be overcome with the right phased approach, with expectations clearly set, and early buy-in from important stakeholders.
What predictions do you have for the industry over the next 12-18 months?
Telcos and ISPs will continue to seek cost efficiencies (leveraging IoT and predictive field service), even as they invest in enhancing customer experience to minimise churn and increase up-sell and cross-sell. From a field service point of view, organisations will continued to adopt a blended approach to the workforce by combining employees with contractors and freelancers.
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