Prateek Chakravarty, CEO of Zinier, accelerating the digital transformation across field service teams and organizations through AI.
In today’s highly digital world, technology has redefined how companies fundamentally operate. Silicon Valley led the charge, but non-tech companies followed suit by rapidly hiring software developers, coders and information technology (IT) professionals to usher them into the digital realm. Now, digital technologies have integrated into nearly every aspect of business as a means to improve operations and satisfy evolving customer needs.
However, as market demands and customer expectations continue to expand, the extreme pressure for companies to accelerate their digital transformation has outpaced manageable IT workloads and necessitated an alternative approach to scaling IT development through low-code/no-code tools.
Low-code/no-code technology enables non-IT professionals to build internal applications by automating the underlying technical processes typically associated with customizing the features and functions of various software applications. Companies can now create and deploy new applications or augment existing ones without inundating their IT departments and in less time than traditional coding methods. The value in this is exponential, and Gartner, Inc. even predicted that 80% of technology products and services will be built by non-technology professionals by 2024 thanks to low-code/no-code capabilities.
Digitalization And Field Service Industries
In addition to shortening the distance between an idea and its execution, low-code/no-code solutions also solve the operational complexities unique to service-oriented businesses. Field service businesses, which span multiple verticals and operate at varying levels of digital adoption, are great examples of industries with a great deal to gain from implementing a digital-first culture. First and foremost, this is because delivering field services and managing workflows is complex by nature, and secondly, the uberization of services is now requiring companies to adapt in a much faster and effective fashion.
To begin the digital journey, field service businesses need to first consider the skill level of their technicians. Take oil and gas and industrial services, for example. Technicians in these organizations generally tend to be older since the job requires a high level of in-field experience. This also means they might tend to be less technologically savvy than, say, a 30-year-old millennial. Now, companies know they need to develop a user experience that’s unique to each technician’s ability level.
The next step is identifying any roadblocks the employees might face when navigating a digital platform. For a company with technicians who are non-native language speakers or might not read well, creating a work form heavy in text would be a significant barrier. Evaluating the best way to communicate with each employee is critical.
Understanding each technician’s specific needs, companies can customize workflows accordingly. For instance, to eliminate a language barrier, a janitorial service provider could build a graphical user interface unique for using images rather than text. The screen would show a picture of the work being performed, such as cleaning a window, and include a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icon below. By simply clicking on the images, the technology can capture which room they are in, what time it is (clocking them in and out automatically) and which tasks have been completed.
Or, imagine a company with 500 in-field employees, 400 of whom are proficient in using technology on their smartphone or tablet. The user experience for this group can take advantage of advanced technology capabilities. The remaining 100 employees can be given a different user experience in which they do the same work, answer the same questions and input the same data, but they do it in distinctly unique ways.
Unfortunately, traditional mainstream IT solutions make it difficult to support dynamic, shifting workflows or swiftly customize workflows for sets of users. Low-code/no-code, however, can provide a simplified alternative. Through drag-and-drop editors and code generators, companies can implement software changes without needing to tap a coder or backlogged IT department.
Hyper-Customize — The Simple Way
There are also companies in the field service space farther along in the digital transformation journey. Take home appliance services companies. Third-party dispatchers working on Amazon’s behalf, for example, must follow preset process guidelines, which could involve taking a picture when arriving, obtaining the homeowner’s signature upon leaving, etc. For this reason, many dispatch providers have already integrated software enabling the field technician to complete such tasks onsite.
The majority of these software providers offer a fixed solution set where making “outside the box” changes to workflows can take weeks and months to deploy, as it requires custom coding. To tackle challenges that arise when, say, these service providers work with multiple retailers, each with their own set of requirements, look for low-code/no-code tools where the company can build an online workflow on their site unique to each retail customer. Think about creating workflows that support multiple technicians who may be needed onsite at the same time as well as supporting the retailer customer’s standardized experience from start to finish. Be aware that adding too much to the standard algorithm code of traditional software offerings can break it.
The Power Of Low-Code/No-Code
For companies ready to accelerate their digitalization journey, determine from the outset how prebuilt and configurable low-code/no-code components can offer a faster route to hyper-customization. For those farther along their journey, explore how layering on low-code/no-code offerings to existing software solutions can begin to turn the tide on improved workflows without requiring wholesale shifts in existing IT infrastructure.
Through low-code/no-code, the democratization of technology across non-IT professionals has merged the silos of business and technology. From launching new applications faster (with lower development costs), automating workflows or adapting to customer needs, these advancements deliver quantifiable value to a company’s bottom line. Perhaps most importantly, companies at any stage of the digital transformation journey have the same opportunity to progress.