We would be exploring the key factors for selecting a suitable AR-based field support solution that can help an organization meet an aspiration of faster turnaround time to resolve an issue. These considerations will come in handy for choosing a suitable solution based on a specific use case. As there is a tradeoff between features and investments, we would be trying to incorporate ROI considerations as well. Also, we are only looking at the technical side and the availability of the features, excluding the financial parameters.
The primary components of a standard AR-based field support solution are Augmented Reality, Interactive Collaboration Platform, Development Platform, and Wearable Devices.
Based on our experience with large-scale service organizations, the enterprise-grade, out-of-the-box platform for digitizing field services should include the following "mandatory" requirements:
- AR Capabilities using Wearables
The way field support service organizations have been operating today is barely different from the way they operated in the past. This change is because of the advent of AR-based wearables like smart glasses, which is about to bring in an evolution. They will create new ways for field technicians, experts, and customers to collaborate to resolve technical issues, capture knowledge and access important online data. The capability to generate AR instructions and content online, and immediately share it with remote experts for resolving an issue, are the important factors for selecting the right AR solution.
- Integrations with Enterprise tool set
Back-office ticketing system can be a reliable way of speeding up problem resolution. The ability to link and store the interactive session’s content in the enterprise ticketing system (e.g. SAP, Salesforce and others) can be of great value. This functionality helps in investigating field activities, increasing accountability, ensuring compliance and facilitating the reuse of on-job practices.
- Privacy & Security Concerns
To facilitate an AR-based field support solution, we need to focus on cooperation between the field technicians, customers, and other experts who share data and other sensitive information with each other. So, it is of equivalent importance that these data are encrypted and protected against any unauthorized use. Chosen solution should support strong & reliable authentication mechanism, Other Security Protocols like timeout of data links can ensure higher security for the customer data.
- Knowledge Management
Hiring a skilled labor is a huge challenge in itself. To Augment this problem further, retirement or attrition can send the company operations downward spiral. To Address this problem, an organization need to setup a framework to retain the knowledge & make it possible to transfer it to another individual. AR based solution can come in handy here as they can provide a visual collaboration platform to assist in better intuitive approach. Knowledge Repository connectors can help retain this knowledge at a central place & accessible over cloud.
- End Users Involvement
If an organization is able to engage an end user in the ticket resolution process, it can bring in huge benefits. This Business Model can enhance revenues as organizations can save on technician travel cost, downtime reduction, Faster resolution etc. AR can enable this dream with help from AR based solutions like Remote assistance, Troubleshooting over phone & other diagnostics. These kind of enablement at an end user level can transition the support industry to new levels. Consider this parameter while evaluating the AR solution.
- Hardware Compatibility
In the modern world, technicians & support staff have access to various devices ranging from Desktop, Laptop, Tablets, Phone & Wearables. AR based solution must be compatible with different hardware & still deliver seamless experience to end user. There should be very less or no learning curve in moving across devices. Also, this gives a leverage to an organization to move from less expensive gadgets to more expensive ones based on response from field.
- Robust User Management
A typical service organization today is spread far & wide geographically. Typically, all the solutions are available centrally over cloud. Further, there are various roles in organization ranging from Field Technicians, Experts, Managers & customer. These varied roles need specific access & control on AR application to enable smooth operation. Integration with an organization LDAP can come in really handy to enable this.
- Existing Automation Systems & Sensors integration
When industry started towards automation journey, they used lot of sensors, automation enablers & IOT based systems. These systems & sensors re already generating lot of data that can help in troubleshooting & diagnosing the problem. Specially in the challenging environment where there is an extreme of Heat, Humidity & Pressure. AR based systems must be able to integrate with these pre-existing systems to be able to help technicians in their field support related work.
- Regulatory Validation and Compliance
There are various regulatory compliances & organization validation requirements that a field support team need to adhere to. Any AR solution that an organization is planning on deploying, need to be able to generate detailed reports. Compliances & validation need lot of measurements & proofs for the work that is completed or in progress. Most of these compliances need data related to measurements, location, time etc. AR based solution should have capability to capture & store this information.
Training the workforce is another key consideration for selecting an AR-based solution. As some of the machines are too expensive for training and machine availability is also a challenge to get the training slot for the technicians. With AR-based training module, it becomes very easy to train the workforce, give them more time on the virtual device, and train them effectively.