Software changes every year, so it should come as no surprise to anyone. What we learned in 2019 will apply to software in 2020. That’s called evolving with the times. Work order software is no different as the nature of field service changes from year to year. You only have to think of how at one point, being able to have a PDF file on a phone was considered revolutionary. Now put that up against today’s standards.

Considering how many work orders are being created daily by field service businesses across the world, it’s no wonder why managing them is of vital importance. As the complete digital transformation of the field service space continues, the work order is always going to be the main focus. It’s the literal heart of any field service operation. No work order, no jobs to complete, no information gathering and no data.

So, it seems entirely understandable that the work order is seeing the biggest changes moving forward. Automation, machine learning, new digital teams, and mobile field service apps are definitely altering how work order software works. And with those changes come more changes to the industry itself.

Heading deeper into automation

Field service businesses are facing a reality in this very competitive business that time is money. It’s the simplest form of explaining a service type business and has been on the top of field service leaders’ minds for years. And moving forward, it will be no different, as business leaders are trying to find every means possible to reduce administrative time and increase the working time of their technicians and back-office staff.

According to a recent survey by SelectHub, 50% of field service organizations identify automation as the greatest contributor to revenue growth. So, when we are speaking revenue growth and automation, we immediately have to look at the work order. Especially when you consider the shortage of skilled workers in the field service industry. Automation is becoming a welcomed asset, whereas, in other labor industries, the word automation generally means job loss.

You only need to look at the Internet of Things (IoT) and its relationship with work order software to see how automation is playing a role in future planning. It’s literally changing the industry, moving from a preventative maintenance cycle to a more predictive one.

“The idea that something breaks and a customer calls so you can come fix it is quickly becoming outdated,” said Sarah Nicastro, editor in chief of Field Technologies Online. “The capabilities that exist today enable service organizations to move from a reactive or even proactive model to a predictive model. Companies that aren’t embracing how field mobility and IoT can enable predictive service will quickly lag behind.”

It’s time to start time-stamping

Moving forward, the increase in time-stamping will be of increased focus for work order software and field service providers. Time-stamped data has seen a massive increase because of IoT and will continue to be a focus heading into 2020. Every piece of data entered can affect business decisions. Metadata is being tagged with time-stamps in order to increase the usefulness of it when driving business decisions.

IoT machines are producing enormous amounts of data every day which needs to be collected and analyzed. That means work order software needs to be adapted to monitor and measure that data. These time-stamps can help develop trends for analysis later on and are crucial to the success of IoT. More field service businesses are going to be looking directly at time-stamping as a way of making business decisions, with the full support of IoT and machine learning.

According to Mordor Intelligence, 42% of field service organizations have deployed IoT into the business. 31% are planning to deploy it shortly, within the next year or two.

Talking to voice technology

Speech recognition software has been around in some form since the 1970s. However, the shift is happening in field service to deploy it as a major asset in the future. Especially for technicians in the field who are having to complete work orders. In terms of multi-tasking, collaboration and other tasks like note-taking, phone calls, accessing job history or search a database, voice technology could keep both hands working while still gathering information.

“Any field service technician with a phone can easily track their daily activities,” said Brad Wyland, VP of strategic marketing at Datria Systems. “You can track ticket management, dispatch, report time and materials for projects, and record travel time and expenses.”

Market adoption of this technology has been slow, however, as technicians and businesses are sticking to what is familiar to them. But voice technology is seeing a movement forward, particularly with regard to work order software and completing work orders faster. And considering the mobile field service apps technicians use today, it’s even more valuable to add voice technology to something they already use.

“Voice technology targeting field service applications have evolved to become a genuine mobile technology,” said Dan Villanueva, VP of marketing at Vangard Voice Systems. “By that, I mean voice functionality and voice-application integration can now be deployed to existing mobile field service applications completely from mobile devices and computers used in the field. In this scenario, the mobile application is voice-upgraded without changing the core application.”

This frees up the hands of the technician, especially those who have to wear heavy gloves or can’t access their phone to complete a checklist so easily. Better information can be captured and administrative time is reduced.

The end of one-size-fits-all

The future is all about customization. Everyone wants software that is working for them, not a software that makes a business change practices that already work. That’s why the future is about getting away from standalone, one-size-fits-all applications and work order software. Specifically in field service, each job someone performs is different and requires a different application or function.

According to Gartner Research, business professionals are moving towards streaming like services, offering more options than just one.

“Historically, organizations have offered employees a ‘one-size-fits-all’ application solution,” said Kasey Panetta with Gartner. “Regardless of job description or needs, each employee operated within the same business application. Employees fit their job to the application — sometimes to the detriment of their own job.”

This means customizing the mobile field service apps and work order software to the person using it. Or allowing integrations to different software through different channels, making the potential for expansion with a work order software and other, outside software, virtually unlimited.

The bright future of work order software

As work order software continues to change, software providers will continue to listen to industry experts and get ahead of the trends. It’s always about adding time back into someone’s hand, freeing them up to do additional work. The direction many in the software world are taking is around automation and reducing administrative duties to increase work time.

Working towards the future, work order software will only become increasingly important to the success of any field service business. And those who continue to avoid the future of field service are at risk of running into challenges that can’t be solved with upgrades to manual processes they aren’t willing to abandon yet.