Think of door-to-door food delivery services such as Deliveroo or Foodora, urban mobility platforms such as Uber or Lyft, freelance networks such as TaskRabbit or Upwork: these are all examples of digital businesses leveraging the Internet to match suppliers and customers in specific industries. Their booming success forced analysts to describe this peculiar business model with a new label, which is gig economy.
The gig economy refers to temporary, flexible employment models, as these companies mostly hire independent contractors and freelancers to undertake specific, short-term tasks in return for an agreed wage. By 2020, 40% of US workers are expected to be self-employed, and the trend is nowadays becoming significant in Europe too.
Leaving aside any labor or social consideration, let’s focus on a specific side of the gig economy: workforce and field service management. To be effective and timely, gig platforms need to define accurate processes for planning and dispatching workers to customers’ locations and meet service commitments. This means they need to predict service requests, forecast staffing, efficiently schedule tasks, and provide workers with adequate tools to secure delivery.
As it is inconceivable to manage such complexity manually, gig businesses are looking for the same software tools as field service companies, so implementing Field Service Management solutions and taking advantage of innovative analytics and Business Intelligence tools.
Solutions such as IBM® Maximo® enable a real-time, precise management of field assets, work orders and maintenance records, with the opportunity to perform predictive analysis of resource usage, possible issues and related prevention measures. Field service businesses can therefore improve customer and staff satisfaction, reduce workforce management costs and even respond more quickly to potential emergency situations.
In the near future, Field Service Management solutions will integrate artificial intelligence, machine-learning tools and augmented reality. What if we could include weather forecasts and data into workforce planning processes? Safety and efficiency would further increase, as service delivery would be scheduled avoiding extreme and dangerous weather conditions, staff security would be better ensured, service cancellations and reschedules would be minimized.
Technology evolution and its impact on field service management was one of the topics at Think 2018, IBM’s landmark conference which took place in Las Vegas last March. To learn more, access the event sessions and keynote speeches on IBM website.
Photo Credit: Franklin Heijnen | flickr