Sajith Sahadevan - Senior Product Marketing Manager, Dynamics 365 Field Service
Technology is transforming quickly and evolving at an accelerated pace. That evolution is significantly impacting how we work, what we work on, and how we serve our customers. As technology is speeding forward, creating greater efficiencies, it’s also pushing bleeding edge technologies into the mainstream.
Mixed reality is a combination of realities—augmented, virtual, and real world, where the user can interact with all views. Mixed reality starts with the real world where virtual objects are overlaid onto that real world view. The user remains in the real world environment while digital content is added to it.
Mixed reality has inspired countless novels and movies, painting a futuristic portrait of life, where any web-based file can be immediately accessed with a blink, swipe, or mental command. Some analysts predict that mixed reality will be a multi-billion dollar market in the next few years and some listed it among the critical technologies that businesses should prioritize. One area of business where mixed reality is playing a significant role is field service. It’s safe to say that mixed reality is creating not just ripples, but a tsunami of change within the field service landscape.
Field service often consists of a boots on the ground labor force making service calls and often, ordering much needed parts and rescheduling site visits to complete the repair. All of this costs the customer and the field service organization time and money.
Enter mixed reality
Imagine the efficiencies that could be created through mixed reality. For example, your technician is at a job site inspecting a part that has failed and doesn’t have the knowledge to fix it. Your technician has a couple of possible solution pathways:
- Call the office and reschedule a service call with a more experienced technician.
- Leverage mixed reality to fix the part now.
The first choice extends the customer’s downtime and cuts into customer and field service operating costs by creating not just one service call, but another. Days or weeks can pass until the repeat call is conducted by a more experienced technician. This choice will inevitably decrease customer satisfaction and lower first time fix rates.
The second choice empowers technicians with the ability to collaborate and solve problems faster. With heads-up, hands-free video calling using mixed reality eyewear like HoloLens or through a mobile app or PC, technicians can access the customer’s history and technical documentation, and view an overlay of instructions, diagrams, and specifications with step by step guidance to repair the device. Using mixed reality, technicians can share a real world view and 3D content to collaborate with remote, more experienced technicians anytime, anywhere. Through mixed reality, technicians can access technical documentation, speak to a colleague, and follow guided instructions all at the same time, thus ensuring the device is repaired properly the first time.
Leveraging mixed reality can positively impact first time fix rates by reducing repeat visits. Repeat visits are one of the most commonly tracked field service performance metrics and any movement, no matter how slight, can significantly impact operating costs and customer satisfaction.
But that’s not all
Mixed reality has other benefits to field service. Possible use cases to consider include, but are not limited to:
Remote customer service. There are times when maintenance or a repair is so minor, it can be completed by the customer. Through mixed reality, a customer can be guided by a technician or customer service agent through a quick repair in minutes. The service is instant, easy, and straightforward, eliminating the cost of an onsite visit and minimizing customer downtime.
Training and onboarding. An aging workforce is a constant struggle within field service. Mixed reality can be used to train new recruits or used to support novice technicians in the field. Imagine when the newly hired technician arrives onsite, a repair sequence is received via mobile or PC, complete with 3D technical illustrations. The technician is guided through the repair process without the need of a more experienced technician. Or if the repair is more complex, the technician can receive assistance from a more experienced technician.
Remote inspections. Consider conducting inspections and walk throughs using mixed reality. You can avoid scheduling hassles to cover for out of office staff and save on travel time and expenses.
Product lifecycle information. Assuming your parts and service information are up to date, your service team can use mixed reality to confirm equipment details in the field including part numbers, device model and generation information, and operational data such as response to humidity, cold, heat, or other environmental factors.
Improve your field service world
These are just a few areas where mixed reality can improve the delivery of field service. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist is a mixed reality tool specifically made for field service. Remote Assist empowers technicians to collaborate more efficiently by working together from different locations with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens, Android, or iOS devices. Remote Assist helps technicians share their real time view and solve problems with experts in remote locations. It helps reduce costs with remote inspections by combining video, screenshots, and annotations for more seamless workflows. Remote Assist is the perfect companion tool with Dynamics 365 Field Service.