Everywhere you look, it seems the world of field service is talking about only two topics - the Internet of Things or “wearable” technologies. And sometimes, both!
I have written previously in this blog on the topic of Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, its history and identified some of challenges around widespread and rapid adoption of this kind of connectivity. Ian Mapp also contributed some comments to the current issue of the UK-based Field Service News magazine.
As well as articles and conversations inside the industry, they have become topics of general interest and appear in mainstream media too (see here and here for two recent examples). It is easy to see the appeal, but the coverage is often characterised by more emotion and hype than solid information or informed commentary.
That is perhaps understandable for what is perceived as a ‘new’ technology but, as I pointed out in the earlier blog, the M2M idea is not as new as it seems. What has certainly changed is the ease with which connectivity can be achieved with the widespread availability of mobile networks and common protocols arising from the ubiquity of the Internet.
And connectivity may actually be the catalyst for driving adoption and causing the widespread business disruption that is being talked about. “Disruption” here taken to mean a forced rethink of business and service delivery models, and a search to understand the consequences for organisational competitiveness and financial results. For example, the equipment manufacturers’ adoption of the servitization1 concept is closely coupled with ideas of remote connectivity and monitoring.
Certainly, the results of connecting people via the Internet have been significant changes in behaviour and dramatic shifts in the business landscape. Some are predicting the same for connecting machines. My own opinion is that, if it happens at all, it will be a much slower revolution, as altering the behaviour of an installed base of equipment is not so easy as people adopting new ways. Yes, I know what you are thinking – people resist change. But, if the motivation is right they will embrace it. But, it’s seriously hard to motivate something like a washing machine to change its ways!
Respected research organisation, The Service Council talks about the “connected service enterprise” and has recently launched a survey that seeks to balance the over-excited discussion with some hard-headed facts and analysis. You can contribute your own information to this work by following this link.
I, for one, am keen to see the results and to improve my own understanding of the current state of play in this area.
1 Find more about ‘servitization’ research and practice on the Aston Business School website.