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5 digitization trends in public sector field service

How digitization is changing the future of public sector field service

5 digitization trends in public sector field service

How do most public field service operators cope with the problems they face? What technologies have emerged that could add improvement? Where is the field service going in the next few years?

Digitization is a broad term that generally refers to the converting of information into a digital format. But, how does that apply to public sector works? Over the past five years there has been an ever-growing trend towards digitization in the public sector. This does not mean that the process has been easy or without pain. Public sector services tend to offer a wider range of services and have complex challenges compared to their smaller private counterparts. Public organizations must face the concern of the whole public that they service. Additionally, they tend to be known worldwide for being slow movers on decisions as they are very bureaucratic. Thus, getting them on board with digitalization is no easy task. However, although it is challenging to meet requirements the public sector demands, the digital transformation of the public sector is already happening and there are a few major trends as to why.

1. Mobile devices and apps

The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 81%, up from just 35% according to a Pew Research Center’s survey of smartphone ownership that has been conducted since 2011 [1]. This trend appears to be increasing year over year as more people begin to realize the mélange of benefits that occur from using smartphones. In most other major countries, smartphone penetration has reached between 70-75% of the entire population. These percentages are even higher amongst the younger and middle-aged population. This shift towards smart gadgets, that being either phones or tablets, has shifted how people see and use mobile technology in different ways.

These trends mean that mobile devices and apps offer new service focused outcomes for constituents of the public sector. The use of apps across the public is also growing, with over half of millennial owned businesses use apps, while a much smaller percent of baby boomer businesses uses apps, at 13%. However, the trends are clear, each year businesses are growing their use of additional services that apps offer for them. There can be many reasons for this including the need for flexibility, cost, customization and more. The benefit to the public sector is growing too, more businesses are looking to offer these options for the public sector which brings more competition into the market and allows for the best services to be given to the public.

2. Field service management software

Field service management software (FSMS) is solution that provides dispatchers the ability to schedule, optimize, and dispatch jobs (i.e. work orders) to an organization’s field workers. The benefits provided by the software allow workers to have more information and control in the field with any information necessary to perform work effectively. In the public sector, field service management can be used to improve process efficiencies, boost productivity, enhance public services, and most importantly, result in notable cost savings amongst workforce as you tend to need less field workers. This happens once this software is incorporated and optimized to your operations.

During any given day there are many common questions that any field manger will have to ask themselves at the beginning of any given day. These include but are not limited to:

  • What are our goals for the day?
  • Who is on shift today?
  • Where are my field workers at any given moment?
  • What is the best route for my field workers to avoid traffic?
  • How can I optimize my field workers to get the best results?
  • How long are my field staff spending at any given site?
  • What if something changes on a job and I need to update my field staff?

In the public sector, most challenges revolve around manual data entry, process inefficiencies, miscommunication, and data inaccuracies. All these problems and questions can add up to a field service program that does not deliver a quality customer service. However, with a quality field service management software, these problems should no longer be a cause for concern, but something you know can be easily solved with a few clicks on your computer or smartphone.

3. Privacy and Security

With the implementation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in basic everyday life, employers can now monitor their mobile workforce like no other time in history. This is an idea that 15 years ago was only a thought in the minds of people in the know. Yet, as technology changes and improves how we conduct our lives and business, new issues arise. As such, there are things to consider before using tracking technologies to monitor employees. For example, in the U.S, these include constitutional rights of privacy, state criminal statutes, labor issues, and ethical claims. If you are looking for more information on privacy around monitoring employees see our previous article, Tracking your employees with GPS in California? The law is changing! , that goes into more depth around the topic.

Most public sector offices that digitize will eventually confront the cybersecurity risks inherent. With SaaS, the risks associated with this form of software are different from commercial software. In commercial software, the vendor takes responsibility for removing security vulnerabilities from the physical product itself, think of Microsoft Office before it became Office 365. The customer, however, is responsible for installation, configuring, and has responsibility for security of the software once it is on their devices. For SaaS offerings, the vendor takes on many of the security responsibilities previously assumed by the customer, because so much of the data remains in the cloud (i.e. not only on the customers servers) bringing in new potential areas of concern. According to Mckinsey, security executives tend to focus on four key issues when confronting SaaS capabilities [2]:

  1. Encryption and key management
  2. Identity and access management (IAM)
  3. Security monitoring
  4. Incident response

These issues focus on the interface between the customer and the SaaS provider rather than with the providers’ intrinsic technical protections. SOC2 guidelines are another area of interest for any would-be purchase. SOC2 goals are to make sure that systems are in place for the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of customer data. SOC 2 is a two-sided guideline, it is both a technical audit and a requirement that security policies and procedures are written, followed, reviewed, and documented. Security and privacy should be major topics to focus on when discussing with any SaaS provider as they amount to some of the largest risks the public sector will have to account for in their digitization process.

4. Big Data Analysis

Big data analysis is a ubiquitous concept. While we will not go into all the intricacies included in big data, one of the greatest parts of big data in the public sector is the amount of flexibility and efficiency. Big data has an enormous impact on governments at all levels, whether that be municipal, regional, national, or international. Filtering through all the information governments receive on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis can be exceedingly difficult; verifying and understanding how to use that data can be daunting. However, there are so many benefits that come out of big data. Governments are realizing the benefits of leveraging big data and analytics to improve a multitude of service offerings, collect key data with the Internet of Things (IoT), improve transparency for constituents and increase the efficiency in public management. With the implementation of big data platforms, governments, their institutions, and agencies can realize benefits from enhancing the way they utilize data, these include:

  1. Discovering new capabilities and services
  2. Understanding trends in underlying data
  3. Improved decision making
  4. Higher ROI
  5. Lower cost services
  6. Greater communication
  7. Workforce Demographics

Workforce demographics is one of those concepts that everyone hears about, but maybe they do not seem to understand the power behind. Let me put it in a way that makes sense, in the United States between 2020-2030, it is expected that 12,000 baby boomers will be retiring every day! That is the power of demographics. This means over the course of the next five years, specifically by 2022, that most of the workforce will be Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. This workforce is the one most comfortable with the use of technology, applications, and software because they have grown up with it. They will be looking to use the previously mentioned benefits of technology at their day jobs, and what’s more, they already have a lifetime learning how to use these services.

There are many benefits to digitizing in the public sector. It allows public sector organizations to take advantage of the same benefits that many in the private sphere already know including increased savings, better data collection, greater team efficiency, sustainability, and more adaptability in offering services.

Making improvements is a necessary part of public service. People are coming to expect more out of the services they are required to pay for. In field service, making those improvements can mean more than happier constituents, it can also mean an increased efficiency and cost savings. Improving your field service operations does not have to be difficult, if you are looking to improve your field service operations then take a look at Hellotracks and see what solutions and advice we can offer you.

[1] Pew Research Center. Mobile Fact Sheet. June 2019.

[2] Cracknell, Rick, Kaplan, James M., Stewart, Celina., Richter, Wolf., and Shenton, Lucy. Securing Software as a Service: Here is how SaaS providers can meet the security needs of their enterprise. McKinsey & Company, September 2019.

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