How will mixed reality change the service industry?

At Service Geeni, we are always looking forward to the technology trends that are poised to shake up our sector. And, one exciting development that all service-companies should be aware of is mixed reality.

What is mixed reality?

Mixed reality (MR) is the result of blending the physical world with the digital world. It is the next evolution of augmented reality (AR), and it as the potential to be game-changing.

  • Virtual reality (VR) provides a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world
  • Augmented reality adds digital elements to a live view, often by using the camera on a smartphone or tablet (e.g. Pokemon Go)
  • Mixed reality combines AR and VR. So, with MR, real-world and digital objects interact. At the moment, MR is headset-based.

How important is mixed reality?

According to one expert, “the opportunity to decouple ourselves from our physical bounds will change how we exist in the world”.[1] But how will it impact the field service industry?

Boost productivity

Well, first and foremost, if engineers have access to MR headsets, they will be able to communicate and share information on an unparalleled scale, even if they are miles apart. They will be able to share what they see and simultaneously call up manuals and other product/equipment information. This means that firms will be able to deploy less-skilled engineers to jobs, while allowing more skilled staff to instruct remotely. This can save both time, and money. And, as well as productivity benefits, it will have a huge impact on first-time-fix rates and fix-times.

Training

MR also has benefits when it comes to training. For example, by wearing Mixed Reality headsets, trainee engineers can simultaneously learn new skills, either in a shared training facility or wherever they are in the world.

Beat the skills shortage

As we all know, many engineers are retiring and taking their expertise with them. In fact, when surveyed, 70% of field service professionals envisioned an outflow of experienced field service talent[2]. And that’s a huge loss of knowledge and expertise.

But, in the face of a skills shortage, MR could provide a compelling solution. Senior engineers could simply give up the pressure of the day job while guiding a new generation of staff from the comfort of their own home.

Improve self-service repairs

Eventually, we might even see a situation where consumers and business customers use MR to show engineers any problems they are having. Customer service teams could see in 3D exactly what the customer sees, allowing them to help solve the problem.

This will enable businesses to instruct self-service fixes remotely and in real-time. This is likely to be a much more successful approach than trying to identify faults over the phone. In fact, a number of companies are already experimenting with these technologies. And, of course, this also brings benefits when it comes to travel costs and time.

How soon will mixed reality start to impact the field service industry?

Well, at Service Geeni, we don’t expect to see changes happening overnight, but Microsoft is already exploring how MR can be used to serve business needs. Also, the MR gaming market is estimated to be worth US$187.13 million by the end of 2025. And, business tech almost always follows consumer trends. So, it is coming.

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[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/solrogers/2018/12/04/what-is-mixed-reality-and-what-does-it-mean-for-enterprise/#3e98812f5df9

[2] https://info.servicecouncil.com/hubfs/Content_Documents/2017%20Reports/TSCRI-W-2017-FSTalent.pdf?t=1499365293971