About two months back Coresystems, the field service management software provider, announced the U.S. launch if its “crowd service” platform, which it claimed to be an Uber-like platform that uses crowdsourcing to instantly connect qualified technicians with businesses and consumers with service requests. Manuel Grenacher, CEO, Coresystems in an exclusive interview with Techseen, explains how the company is leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to power its new platforms. He also speaks about the growing challenges in the industry and how crowdsourcing can become a trend amongst enterprise technology companies in the coming future. Excerpts:
Techseen: Before you brought enhancements to your field service software platform, what was its USP and how was it different from the other project management solutions in the market?
Grenacher: The main differentiator is our easy to use user experience, which is based on Google Material Design. Unlike competitors, Coresystems does not need any third-party tools (i.e. Salesforce) to operate. Because of this, Coresystems has the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) among competitors. Our consumer oriented user experience and interface enable us to quickly onboard partners, subcontractors, employees of subcontractors and freelancers in the crowd to our connected platform, which in turn allows us to scale very quickly. Ease of use is one of the most important differentiators, as the user experience still presents challenge to today’s legacy platforms.
Techseen: You state that by using “crowd-service” delivery model, enterprises can reduce operational costs and risk, but increase customer satisfaction and revenue. How can the organization reduce risk?
Grenacher: Coresystem reduces the risk of an imbalance between size of personnel and operating costs. Needless to say, when there are too many employees and not enough projects, operating cost skyrockets. Furthermore, in the field service management (FSM) industry, when companies can’t provide service in real-time, you lose customers to churn rate. Our crowd service model allows companies to effectively bolster their workforce with partners, subcontractors and freelancers, thus giving them more control over operational costs.
Techseen: When you talk about crowd service delivery, how do you ensure that organizations are provided with qualified individuals and what is the process of deciding the qualification?
Grenacher: The companies themselves are responsible for certification process when they onboard and vet partners, freelancers, etc. We give our customers the platform to manage the steps, but the customer gives final approval. Some of our customers use online training, certification and/or background check websites such as Udemy and Checkr. Other customers rely on live, in-person training sessions for partners, contractors and even freelancers. Additionally, to ensure quality of work, our platform allows customers to build work instructions for their technicians to use while they’re in the field. These work instructions provide specific details for the task at hand, as well as reports and documentation of the services rendered.
Techseen: Do you screen these crowdsourced people or your client does? And does your client get a database of ready to work crowdsourced professionals?
Grenacher: Coresystems’ sister company Mila is providing a database of ready-to-work crowdsourced professionals with certification processes in place for the telco industry. Coresystems is building the platform for larger enterprises, who then use their own social networks to develop their crowd service community.
Techseen: Why do you say that IoT has been the trigger for organizations to rethink their customer service delivery strategy?
Grenacher: The IoT brings heightened expectations of real-time service. Before, if a machine stops working, you might not know about it right away. Now, machines tell you when they’re broken, which accelerates the need for it to be fixed.
Today’s devices are driving more service interactions. Cars will remind you every 5,000 miles when they need service. Coffee machines tell you when they need their filters replaced. To have forward-looking vision in IoT, you need to have your eyes on service as well to maintain the momentum of innovation.
Techseen: How does the artificial intelligence engine that is a part of your new model work?
Grenacher: The main goal of our artificial intelligence engine is to learn from the transaction to determine which person is doing which job. The AI collects data based on skill level, location level, information around traffic, mobility, etc.
Matching skills to the difficulty of the task is most important for efficiency in the field. The more technicians you manage, the more difficult it is to dispatch them to the proper project. The onset of AI allows us to optimize and streamline the matching process. It also allows companies to scale out their dispatch force and capabilities.
Techseen: Did you face any challenges or roadblocks while introducing this solution to your clients?
Grenacher: The biggest challenge is the variety of legal terms and conditions for each client, especially for employees versus freelancers. Every company that’s going into crowdsourcing and more on-demand models needs to deal with this. We can and often do recommend consultants to help our customers through these legal processes; however, the lion’s share of the work falls to them.
Techseen: What do you think is the future? Will crowd sourcing become a trend amongst other enterprise solution companies?
Grenacher: The future of field service is a big shift in how it is structured. Rest assured, the field service industry still needs people in the field, thus robots won’t be taking over the job anytime soon.
There will be a shift toward having less skilled technicians in the field with higher skilled experts in the centralized in the back offices. Virtual and augmented reality will allow the higher-skilled technicians to offer live guidance and support for the technicians in the field. This will be the uberization of field service.
This is all driven by the growing IoT and the need for more service interactions. Companies don’t just sell machinery anymore. Now, they sell use-as-you-go machines as a service. The IoT will reshape the field service management industry within the next 5-10 years.
Imagine this: You have a broken appliance and make a service request. The service technician drives up in his truck. However, instead of carrying piles and piles of spare parts that he’d have to sift through, the spare part will either be shipped to the site already or 3D printed on-site. That is the real-time service that Coresystems is working toward.