The Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management is a highly-anticipated piece of research each year, both for the vendors hoping they’ve achieved a prominent placement and for those in the industry who rely on the Magic Quadrant to help steer their technology investments for the upcoming year(s). As I read through the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, I was impressed by the progress the report illustrated. Not only as it relates to the technology provided by the vendors evaluated, although that progress is interesting too, but by the statistics that painted a picture of significant progress by service organizations.

I’ve been interviewing service leaders from brand-name businesses across a wide variety of industries for more than a dozen years – sometimes it feels like those years have flown by and other times it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime. But what has been clear to me over the past three or so years is the seismic shift taking place as service becomes a strategic differentiator for businesses in almost every industry. This progress has revealed itself to me one conversation at a time, but when you pause to look at it collectively you can see the hard work these leaders are putting in to really innovate their businesses, embrace digital transformation, and meet customer needs in new and exciting ways. My personal collection of conversation after conversation that reveals immense progress is reflected in some of the research shared in the 2020 Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management.

Outcomes-Based Service Takes Hold

In Gartner’s strategic planning assumptions, shared at the beginning of the report, Gartner states that, “By 2025, over 50% of equipment manufacturers will offer outcomes-based service contracts that rely on access to digital twin data, up from less than 20% in 2019.” In a later section of the report that shares survey results from 84 customers of 14 vendors evaluated, Gartner reveals that, “One third of respondents are already using this model, up from 19%, and 34% intend to offer this model within the next 12 to 24 months.”

As we’ve discussed, Servitization and outcomes-based service are the future – but we know they are not easy evolutions and take time. Gartner’s research illustrates not only the recognition of the importance of offering outcomes-based service, but also the progress the industry has made – and has plans to make – in doing so. This corroborates what we’ve seen in covering how companies like Cubic Transportation, Tetra Pak, Munters and Alfa Laval are embracing this journey.

Software Use Advances to Meet Service Needs

As service organizations continue to proceed down the path to outcomes-based service, they need more advanced technologies to enable the delivery of those outcomes. The software vendors featured on the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management have evolved quite a bit over the last couple of years themselves, and we see some of the solutions offered becoming simultaneously more sophisticated and simpler to use.

Gartner shares two other strategic planning assumptions that reflect more advanced technology demands. First, “By 2025, 50% of field service management deployments will include mobile augmented reality collaboration and knowledge sharing tools – up from less than 10% in 2019.” We’ve seen even more enthusiastic adoption of AR since COVID-19 struck and, personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number in 2025 is even higher than 50%. In the survey of 84 customers from the 14 vendors, 64% of respondents are using or plan to use knowledge management within 12 months. Both AR and knowledge management hold great potential in a number of critical areas for field service organizations: improving customer experience, increasing productivity, more efficient training, and the prevention of loss of uncaptured knowledge as older workers retire.

Gartner also shared in their strategic planning assumptions that “algorithms and bots will schedule over two-thirds of field service work for field service providers dependent on automated schedule optimization, up from less than 25% in 2019.” In the survey results, Gartner revealed that “Sixty-three percent of the respondents (up from 39%) indicated that they were already offering their customers a means to self-serve.” Moreover, the report states that “In 2017, Gartner predicted that, by 2020, 10% of emergency field service work would be both triaged and scheduled by AI, up from less than 1% in 2017. Of the surveyed reference customers this year, 23% indicated that they already schedule some work automatically.” Respondents also stated that “the overall average number of technicians handled by each dispatcher was 47, compared with the 21 reported by respondents to the survey conducted for the 2019 Magic Quadrant.” We see here an interest and readiness from field service organizations to leverage more advanced tools, which I believe stems from a recognition doing so is essential in being able to evolve the ways they need to in order to remain competitive and successful.

I think it’s also interesting and important to keep in mind that much of the work for this report was completed prior to the real impact of COVID-19. While the challenges of the pandemic are vast, I do also believe that once we’ve recovered, we will see an acceleration of innovation among field service organizations because navigating the challenges has resulted in more openness to change, increased agility, and greater recognition of the importance of technology.

If you haven’t yet read the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, you can download a copy here.

Sarah Nicastro
Author

Field Service Evangelist, Future of Field Service