As we start the new year, many of us are now planning for 2017, and whether you are looking at areas for future growth or investing more in what you already have, now is a good time to start thinking about what to expect from the field service sector over the next year. Here are three trends we expect to have an impact in 2017.

1) The Internet of Things

The number of Internet of Things devices is expected to grow from 6.4 billion to 12.8 billion by the end of the century and few terms have more of a buzz about them. In short the Internet of Things is a series of interconnected devices with the ability to transfer data over a network. This has a lot of practical advantages especially in the field service sector and it is already possible for customer hardware like printers to transmit data about when it is likely to need maintenance before it fully breaks. This is only the beginning of what the technology could do and the field service sector has yet to fully explore its potential applications, so we expect to hear a lot more about the Internet of Things over the next year

2) Greater focus on the environment

The government has set a target for the UK’s carbon emissions to be reduced by at least 80% by 2050 and field service companies with their high emission heavy goods vehicles and vans have a particular responsibility in achieving this goal. Furthermore, customer pressure to be more progressive about environmental issues is mounting. If you are yet to think about the environmental impact of your supply chain, 2017 may be the year to start.

Field service companies are going to have to start thinking more holistically about their supply chains in order to really tackle these issues. A lot of carbon inefficiencies lie in stock location and holding it closer to its end destination can drastically reduce emissions. Advanced planning can also limit the amount of same-day deliveries a company needs. These same-day deliveries often leave on lorries with a partial load, so planning to avoid them is much better for the environment.

3) More data sharing between suppliers

In a modern supply chain, visibility is paramount but traditionally there is a blind spot between suppliers and their customers. Many systems don’t have inbuilt integration, so if your supplier is on a different system than you, there is often very little you can do to share data. However, as customer expectations continue to grow, systems will have to start talking to each other. This is likely to put new strains on existing partnerships but will be necessary for continued growth. In a 2016 survey, 62% of suppliers that entered into these types of collaborative data sharing relationships stated they were seeing a clear return on investment, so the benefits are there for companies willing to start the discussion.

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