Extending Field Service Management with AI-Based Crowd Service

“Dad! The Wifi doesn’t work!” How many times have you heard your kids yell at you when they can’t stream their favorite television show or play on-demand music on their mobile device? And they expect that you fix it immediately.

We all take it for granted that things will work. And for the most part they do. But we also know that things break once in a while: the internet is down, the dishwasher won’t start, the elevator is stuck, a turbine or engine suddenly stops running, an MRI machine won’t turn on, or a city’s entire power grid is down.

These are the moments when customers put your service organization to the test: How quickly can you respond and how long does it take to send someone to fix the problem? Many organizations struggle to respond quickly and solve the issue in a timely manner. We’ve all been in the situation where we’re waiting impatiently for hours or even days for the cable guy to show up or the power to turn back on. For business customers it’s even more critical that the equipment you sold them is running with minimal downtime, as an entire production line may be impacted and significant revenue — or in some cases, even human life — may be at risk.

Field service has become not only a critical factor when it comes to the overall customer experience, but a key competitive differentiator in many industries, including discrete manufacturing, industrial machinery, medical equipment, telecommunications, utilities, and home and office appliances. But creating and managing an agile, high-performing field service organization is a huge challenge.

That’s why SAP acquired Coresystems, a Switzerland-based pioneer in crowd service and a leading field service management platform, to be part of the SAP Service Cloud portfolio. The artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform provides advanced scheduling of field service activities in real time, and easy-to-use mobile apps that enable service technicians in the field to perform installation, maintenance, and repair tasks. With its unique crowd-sourcing capabilities, service organizations can build and expand service networks beyond their own workforce.

Coresystems’ cloud platform uses AI to match qualified internal and external technicians to incoming service requests, based on skills, location, and availability. The platform will enable SAP customers to create a flexible and powerful service ecosystem with internal experts and external resources, including experienced freelance technicians. This will allow them to respond faster to their customers’ service needs, lower the cost of service, and support entirely new business models.

Crowdsourcing technical experts from outside one’s organization also means taking advantage of the gig economy trend, with more freelancers becoming available. For example, a leading Swiss telecommunications provider expanded its service ecosystem within 36 months by 6,000 vetted technical experts who were installing the company’s products in customer locations. The company’s net promoter score went up by 15 percentage points in that time and churn was reduced by 20 percent.

Combining Coresystems technology with intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and asset networks from SAP, the vision of the intelligent enterprise now extends to customer service. For example, with predictive maintenance capabilities from SAP, field service resources and the needed replacement parts can now be scheduled and dispatched ahead of time to perform the required tasks even before a product breaks or equipment fails. This will help significantly minimize downtime and increase customer satisfaction. And ad-hoc requests from consumers can be met in real time using the expansive service ecosystem.

With this innovative and unique crowd service approach SAP will revolutionize field service and lead the “Uberization” of field service: Companies can multiply their available field service resources, expand geographical coverage, and offer better and much faster customer service on demand. The ability to send the best available expert drawn from a wide ecosystem of service technicians to solve any customer problem quickly can turn field service into a competitive differentiator.