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Driving empathetic, connected service experiences with Dynamics 365

The ongoing global pandemic has permanently changed our lives—from how we interact, where we work, and how we work. If there’s one major takeaway we’ve learned from the continuously evolving macroeconomic climate, it’s that efficient, reliable, and timely service delivery has become more critical than ever. The sophisticated, often complex machinery and equipment that keep…

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The ongoing global pandemic has permanently changed our lives—from how we interact, where we work, and how we work. If there’s one major takeaway we’ve learned from the continuously evolving macroeconomic climate, it’s that efficient, reliable, and timely service delivery has become more critical than ever. The sophisticated, often complex machinery and equipment that keep our businesses and society running smoothly depend on regular servicing and maintenance.

Efficient field service management is an area that is fast becoming a top priority for organizations worldwide. With the infusion of cutting-edge technology including mixed reality, machine learning, and AI, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service has enabled organizations to deliver timely service to their end customers and drastically reduced the need for onsite visits especially during a time of stringent travel restrictions and border closures.

For frontline workers who previously had to only focus on how to install, diagnose or repair a device, they now needed to focus on getting the job done with minimal in-person contact and social distancing measures. TSIA reported that 78 percent of field service organizations ceased deploying technicians to customer sites during the height of the pandemic.1 This may have been a reaction to 75 percent of consumers not wanting a field technician physically in their home unless absolutely necessary.2

The heart of field service lies in its people-centricity—thus, having to physically distance oneself from the customers whom you serve inevitably puts most companies in a challenging position. This frustration led to an evolution in service delivery. The pandemic compelled field service workers to rethink their overall approach to daily operations, including completing initial diagnostics and troubleshooting by telephone, video calling, and other digital tools where possible. To comply with social distancing measures, field technicians often had to arrange onsite visits only when customers would be on break or away from the site. Technicians made every effort to minimize their time onsite and needed to ensure they had all the right parts and tools ready so they would not have to return for follow-up visits to complete the task. These accommodations may have helped to maintain or at least reduce any negative impact on service delivery rates despite limited resources due to travel and other restrictions but may not be sufficient when organizations are faced with a sudden deluge of service requests.

Now, many companies have begun investing in tools like Dynamics 365 Field Service and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist that can help ensure the health and safety of both the technician and customers while maintaining business continuity regardless of ongoing global situations. Together, these tools enable organizations to deliver exceptional service—be it remote or in-person, if needed—to customers, automate time-consuming case creation and work order processes to ultimately help organizations develop resiliency to weather through challenging times.

Adoption of Connected Field Service

During the COVID-19 pandemic, service organizations pivoted to new work arrangements faster than they expected, and companies jumped quickly ahead into the future workplace. One of these pivots was the turn to virtual productivity platforms, namely Connected Field Service, which has provided a wealth of advantages. These platforms allow service providers to fix problems remotely and even proactively—all while avoiding onsite services that could otherwise compromise employee and customer safety. The enormous value of this technology was realized during the height of the pandemic, making it useful and applicable across many industries. This realization fueled explosive growth in Connected Field Service, which would’ve taken a longer, slower path without the urgency of digital transformation during these critical times.

The global pandemic greatly accelerated innovation in service delivery with Connected Field Service and rapidly became a prerequisite for not only survival, but success in a variety of industries. Transitioning from the typical break/fix model, Connected Field Service has revolutionized this traditional business model, going beyond proactive to now even predictive service models that utilize multiple facets of asset maintenance, Internet of Things (IoT) diagnostics, scheduling, and inventory management on a single platform.

Connected Field Service has been proven to dramatically improve productivity and achieves a quick return on investment. This cohesive solution using Dynamics 365 Field Service and Remote Assist has truly transformed the field service management category—what used to take several technicians hours or even days to manage manually can now often be resolved in mere minutes with real-time support from remote experts using 3D mixed reality annotations right within the technician’s real-world environment. Now, service management cases can be easily created, edited, and managed end-to-end through one connected system to help track issues from ticket creation all the way through to issue resolution.

By using Connected Field Service, companies can identify and address issues more effectively with remote monitoring of IoT devices that can send IoT signals and trigger alerts via Dynamics 365 Field Service. Technicians can remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues even before the customer detects the issue, minimizing costly downtime and time-consuming service calls. Field service organizations can also leverage device diagnostic data to proactively schedule device service and leverage predictive analytics with AI, increasing productivity and reducing costs associated with the reactive break/fix model.

Connected Field Service offers a solution to the dilemma of service delivery in a landscape where physical and digital environments are blending. As devices, sensors, gateways, data, and applications become more advanced and as connectivity methods become more economical like IoT plug and play, more technologies can be easily connected to these networks and achieve even greater efficiencies.

Predicting the future of Field Service Management

The need for Connected Field Service will undoubtedly continue to grow—accelerating response times, increasing productivity, reducing operational costs with the ultimate goal of exceeding customers’ expectations to drive long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, Juniper Research estimates that the number of IoT devices this year will reach 46 billion and this figure is expected to jump to 125 billion by 2030.3

Contact-free service will continue its evolution as more and more customers become advocates of the experience, embracing the idea of new technologies, processes, and procedures while driving migration to IoT devices. Meanwhile, AI-driven technician scheduling will help organizations optimize resources and minimize costs by ensuring that technicians with the right skillsets are dispatched whenever and wherever they are needed.

Advances in AI and mixed reality will help spur additional growth by increasing productivity with leading-edge tools such as Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on both iOS and Android mobile devices and the HoloLens 2. Field service organizations can enable Dynamics 365 Remote Assist One-Time Calling (OTC) for customers to walk them through processes to deliver remote, contact-free service. Mixed reality will also enable customers to share their real-time views with remote experts to help minimize the need for in-person, onsite support. No wonder some industry analysts expect shipments of mixed reality devices to exceed five million in the next three years.4

Of course, there will always be issues that will require in-person onsite support, such as emergency response or complex machinery repairs, but for a large segment of work, remote work is certainly a valuable option and is likely here to stay. For jobs that must be serviced onsite, advances in AI will help enhance the process by optimizing scheduling resources and dispatching technicians with the right expertise. For instance, advanced AI capabilities within Dynamics 365 Field Service will optimize technician schedules by automatically dispatching the most experienced technician closest to the customer site. Plus, the Field Service mobile app will automatically notify the customer by text so that they are aware of the service technician’s estimated arrival time, and can easily track the technician’s geolocation via the app.

When onsite, technicians can use mixed reality technology like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens 2 to access critical information about the device they’ve been sent to repair, including service history and diagnostics—all anchored within their real-world environment. If they encounter any unexpected complexities during the repair, they can simply connect with a remote expert to share their real-time view, and leverage 3D annotations right in their physical work environment to help guide them along.

Embracing innovation

Cloud-based technologies, the adoption of mobile-based, and Connected Field Service management solutions have all helped create the right conditions to enable field workers to complete their service requests remotely and efficiently—much to the delight of customers.

These challenging times in human history have taught us to embrace innovation—not just to merely weather through the storm, but to ensure long-term resilience. Connected Field Service is no longer an option and mixed reality technologies like Remote Assist, HoloLens 2, and Dynamics 365 Guides are anything but science fiction. These technologies have all earned their place in service delivery and together, help to fuel business continuity, create additional revenue streams, and most of all, ensure customer satisfaction and long-term engagement. Discover how to deliver empathetic, connected service experiences today.

Find out more on Connected Field Service.

Learn about Dynamics 365 Field Service and delivering proactive service.

Get the latest on Dynamics 35 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Guides.

1-“Impact of COVID-19 on OEM Field Service Organizations“, Vele Galovski, TSIA, April 9, 2020

2-“Enhancing Remote Maintenance using Visual Technology“, Andrew Mort, CustomerThink, September 10, 2020

3-“How Many IoT Devices Are There in 2021?“, Juniper Research, March 29, 2021

4-“Mixed Reality For Field Service“, Danny Wieder, Field Service News, June 3, 2019

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Accelerate sustainability progress and business growth with Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability — starting June 1

It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1. Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance)…

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It’s a moment we’ve been building toward — new capabilities from Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability that will enable faster, broader transformation for organizations at varying stages of their sustainability journey. We are pleased to announce the general availability of Cloud for Sustainability on June 1.

Now, a growing set of ESG (environmental, social and governance) capabilities from Microsoft and our global ecosystem of partners will give organizations the opportunity to accelerate their progress and business growth.

Watch the video.

Turning sustainability commitments into action with better data intelligence

To stabilize our future and build more quickly toward a global net-zero carbon economy, organizations of all types, sizes and sectors are facing the need to transform common practices. This includes more effectively managing their environmental footprint, embedding sustainability through their organizations and value chains, and making strategic business investments that drive value. And this starts with solving a data problem.

Organizations need more accessible, centralized data intelligence to make the high-stakes decisions that are required right now to address complex issues, weighing both business and ESG criteria to direct capital toward investment opportunities that balance growth and impact.

Wherever organizations are in their sustainability journey, together, we can accelerate progress to reach our collective goals.

Microsoft is energized about helping our customers accelerate their progress. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solutions will provide the intelligence and data management capabilities organizations need to respond to changes with agility and confidence.

Building on more than a decade of work on sustainability

Our own sustainability journey began when we set our first carbon goal more than a decade ago. This led us to better organize our data and realign our company’s vision and strategy with our sustainability goals. We continue to build on our commitments to innovate and invest in technologies that address environmental sustainability and to transparently share our achievements and setbacks so that we can all learn together. We’re also considering how to deliver on our ESG commitments while continuing to grow our business and drive shareholder value — not an easy challenge!

Now, with the release of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, we’re bringing together powerful capabilities delivered by Microsoft and our partners to help organizations:

Unify data intelligence. To effectively drive sustainability reporting, sustainability efforts, and business transformation, organizations need better visibility into activities across their enterprise and value chain. Collecting and connecting IoT data from devices using sensors — combined with rich services at the edge or in the cloud — provides the basis to monitor and measure activities at scale. And now, Microsoft Sustainability Manager will empower organizations to more easily record, report and reduce their environmental impact through increasingly automated data connections that deliver actionable insights.

This extensible Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solution centralizes previously disparate data in a common data format and offers organizations an increasingly comprehensive view into the emissions impact of their entire operations and value chain.

Sustainability Manager is available for a free test drive or to purchase June 1.

Build more enduring IT infrastructures. Organizations can reduce their environmental impact and increase business value when they replace tools, systems, or activities with more efficient options. Moving workloads to the cloud, for example, can increase both carbon and energy efficiencies. Emissions Impact Dashboard applications provide Microsoft customers with transparency into emissions produced from their use of Microsoft cloud services. Devices also contribute to an organization’s environmental footprint. Surface devices maximize sustainability of materials and extend product life while minimizing product carbon footprint and energy consumption.

Reduce the environmental impact of operations. With digital solutions delivered through Microsoft and our growing partner ecosystem, we’re already helping organizations maximize asset and production efficiencies, reduce the environmental impact of their buildings and spaces, and advance their transition to clean energy.

Create more sustainable value chains. Digital technologies are also helping organizations facilitate greater transparency and accountability through their value chain, from raw materials to product creation to distribution. A data-first approach can help organizations achieve data integrity and gain the visibility they need to drive efficiencies, reduce emissions and design out waste.

Learn more about how we’re helping organizations achieve positive impact on Microsoft.com/sustainability.

Global partners, a critical piece to extending impact

Much of this important work is being achieved through collaboration with our global ecosystem of partners who have helped us land our ambitions and transform our business. Today, they’re also pivotal to helping customers advance sustainability through robust, innovative solutions powered by the Microsoft Cloud.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability partner solutions span industries, from transportation to real estate to manufacturing, such as these early solutions that are already in market:

There are many more solutions coming. Our sustainability partner ecosystem also includes trusted advisers like these, who are actively helping organizations plan, design and implement strategies to enable sustainable growth:

Learn more about breakthrough work being done by our sustainability partners on Microsoft AppSource.

What’s next?
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability availability coincides with Hannover Messe 2022. Watch for news and announcements around this keystone industry event — and stay tuned for additional solutions and capabilities.

Tags: Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, sustainability

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Facebook: Giving Senior Dogs Loving Homes

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Celebrating many identities within a global community of impact: An Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month conversation

Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective,…

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Srinivas Prasad Sugasani: It’s such fun to connect with you on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As Asians and Pacific Islanders, I feel that we have so much to celebrate. At the same time, as we think about some of the events and realities that we have navigated recently, I’m curious from your perspective, Jane, what do you feel is different about this past year?

Jane Hesmondhalgh: We’ve continued on our journey of working to create an inclusive culture at Microsoft. And there is still a gap between our aspired culture and everyone’s lived experiences today. For some, that gap may be small; for others it may be larger. But the fact that at Microsoft we have this value system we’re aspiring to is, I think, very much aligned to the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

We’re consistently working toward respect, accountability and high integrity at Microsoft. I would say that our continued work to make progress is not so much different this year, but that we’re focusing even more effort on it.

Unfortunately, this past year we have seen the continued trend of acts of hate toward Asians globally. But the fact that Microsoft is strongly supporting the community in the face of those is super critical for the community. And that much-needed support is not a one-time event where we say something and then we’re on to the next thing. It’s the ongoing recognition that acts against violence, injustice and inequities across the world are unacceptable.

SPS: That’s right. We’ve also been focused on community education in the wake of this alarming rise in acts of hate and violence — how the community can leverage safety practices, and how can we work with the local government communities to increase safety.

JH: Our Inclusion Council has also been really engaged in these discussions. Other examples of sustained commitment to the community include the events we’ve done to engage with external experts in ongoing learning such as Microsoft Include, and of course the support of our Asians at Microsoft Employee Resources Group (ERG). I have heard from the community specifically that one of the most powerful things they’ve attended this year are our community calls, where people have had the opportunity to talk through how they’re feeling with others who may have experienced similar things.

SPS: Based on what we heard from our community, we’ve also been increasingly focused on how we strengthen and support the advancement of the ERG and its members at the company. I am really proud of how we’ve been working with outside experts on leadership development across the company, all the way from entry-level employees to the most senior in the company. This is the kind of year-round investment that is directly benefiting the community.

JH: I’m so passionate about this piece — the leadership education for Asians and Pacific Islanders. When I started as the sponsor for the Asians ERG, that was the No. 1 feedback, that the community wanted unique and tailored leadership education.

As we know, there are 4.7 billion people in this broad community across the world. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 60% of the world population. That really strikes me. Because within that, there are so many different perspectives. So, a question for you is, how do we ensure that different types of conversations and perspectives from the entire community are brought in?

SPS: As you said — 60% of the global population! And we are trying to represent diversity within the community at that scale. It’s actually one of our strategic pillars in our ERG — including all community members. I think we’re doing a really good job with that. The leadership team has ensured that we include many voices, and as a result of that diversity of thought, we’ve seen new steps and actions being taken. For example, we had an Asians ERG art exhibition. We had a day of remembrance where people could talk about their practices, cultures, ancestors. We had a stand-up comedy event. And we’ve focused specifically on women inventors. Those are just a few examples.

So, focusing on the many dimensions of identity within our global community ensures that we can all share our experiences and learn from each other.

JH: This leads me to reflect on the word “community” and what does that mean? With a global team located all over the world, how do we bring everybody together in a sense of community? At Microsoft the community is a combination of people, cultures and beliefs. So, I think that community piece is our connection to the history across the Asia Pacific region. Within this vast land mass, we can appreciate and understand the differences and uniqueness of the people in the sub-communities and societies. We talked earlier about Microsoft’s culture and values. I think one thing that helps us is that Asian values around integrity and respect are very similar to the company’s. And then of course we go beyond respect to actually celebrating our cultures. Each of our ERG chapters and groups, each culture, is a contribution that is valuable to the world.

And these values are actually critical for the work ahead, right? This year, next year and beyond, we want to tackle the biggest problems that divide us as a society. And we’ve got that microcosm of society within our Asian and Pacific Islander community. We can play a huge role in landing the mindset of interconnectivity and learning both within and outside the company. Each person must be committed to driving positive change, be more intentionally inclusive in the workplace and build our empathy. With this, we can build momentum to meet the challenges of the world.

SPS: Well said Jane. As you’re speaking, I’m thinking about my own personal journey as well. Part of my life I lived on a farm in a small village. I experienced a community there where everybody looked like me, spoke like me with a very similar kind of language. When I lived in various cities, that was the first time I’d experienced people looking like me but speaking different dialects.

And then when I started working on a multinational level, I encountered people who had such a range of cultural differences from me. What I’ve learned is whether it is living in a village, in a small community or at the global level, human values remain the same. I’ve realized more recently that as things become more complex, more turbulent, and we do not know what future will hold, the constant is the values that we all stand for. And that is true across the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and all across Microsoft and our nine ERGs and many dimensions of identities.

JH: You know, I never thought about it in this way but because you shared a little bit about your own background, I’ll share something about when we moved from the U.S. back to the U.K. In his new school, my son felt left out, and suddenly struggled with questions around “I am British, but do they think I am American or Chinese?” He didn’t feel that sense of belonging, and all these new questions of identity came up which he held to himself. Things did get better, but it reminds me that it’s all of our responsibility to help each other understand that while people are different, everybody has something to offer. People need to feel like they’re valued and that they can contribute without being judged.

SPS: It is so true. Thank you for sharing that. Are there any misperceptions about the Asian and Pacific Islander community that you would like to address?

JH: I’ve heard people say things like, gosh Asians are good at math and science, and they have an easier entry to STEM fields and occupations. I don’t know that I would ever categorize it as easier or not easier. There are many Asians who are not good at math and science, right? It’s a generalization, and there are a lot of these.

Another misconception is that because the Asian population is large, there are a lot of Asian leaders. But actually, the statistics have shown that we’re the least likely of all racial groups to become managers and executives. We need more role models and pathways to that senior level, which is where those development efforts we spoke about earlier come in. And of course, some other misconceptions came up during the pandemic around Chinese people.

So again, what combats these types of misconceptions and harmful stereotypes is learning and building our understanding and empathy for one another.

SPS: I absolutely agree. We will continue this work with the Microsoft communities and our leadership. I look forward to the impact we will make in the coming year. Thank you so much, Jane, for the chance to have this conversation. I look forward to our celebrations and recognition this month!

JH: Thank you, Srinivas! Happy Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Tags: diversity, inclusion

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