AI is transforming the way service management companies do business. But what is already happening today, and what we can expect in the not-so-distant future.
“Artificial Intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already had an impact on the service led sector. For example, just a few years ago, if someone wanted to report a fault, the person taking the booking would need to manually go through their employee logs and schedules to find a skilled (and available) technician. And getting the engineer on site could take days (if not weeks). However fast-forward to today, and companies can schedule an engineer to check a fault almost immediately. So, issues are resolved faster and with minimal disruption to services.
Other ways that AI is being used to enhance service management software include:
- Tracking software. Remote workers can be location tagged so that the right tasks are assigned to the right engineers using location and scheduling data. The best technician for the job, and the one closest to the location, is quickly identified and booked
- Scheduling software. Companies can balance a range of scheduled and reactive work effectively; from planned maintenance and larger scale projects to urgent fixes
- Mobile Worker app Savvy businesses are using smart tools to remove the need for mobile workers to come into the office to share business-critical information
- Preventative Maintenance (PPM) software. Smart PPM software is being used to reduce the burden by enabling more predictive maintenance
- Business intelligence software. Companies can access intelligent information that helps them to improve decision making and turn insights into actions
- Cloud-based customer dashboard Providing at-a-glance visual dashboards and reports which help meet evolving customer expectations without placing any additional burden on a business.
As we can see, AI technology is already making a difference to service-led companies, but what else can we look forward to in the not-so-distant future?
We’ve all read the scare stories about how people are going to be replaced by robots, but according to a study when it comes to AI, it is largely computer-to-computer activities that are being automated rather than human activities. And automation could transform the industry.
Indeed, by using software to perform mundane and repetitive tasks, processes are simplified, standardised, and streamlined. This helps to reduce the time your people spend on paperwork while upholding regulatory compliance. For example, because everything is available via the cloud, your engineers can fill in automated forms using any mobile device, with protocols established that require all fields to be submitted. This information then automatically syncs with your back office systems, in real-time, so there is no need for your support staff to duplicate this information into another system.
“Machine Learning is a current application of AI based around the idea that we should really just be able to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves”. 
Better customer service
In 2018, for many service companies, customer issues are still dealt with via call/support centres. But the sheer number of calls being made can make excellent customer service difficult; particularly for non-routine calls.
However, as we have just discussed, with advanced AI technology basic, mundane tasks could be taken over by machines. This frees employees to deal with more complex issues and provide more proactive customer service. AI can also manage information about individual consumer preferences and behaviour. And, the more info you hold (and can use) the better your service experience. For example, AI will be able to tell you whether a customer prefers to schedule appointments in the morning, afternoon or evening.
In an era where every service is commoditised, customer experience is the critical differentiator. So, companies that use AI to improve their service will have an advantage over their competitors.
AI technology already exists that can calculate when tools or equipment require repairs. So businesses can make fixes or replacements before a breakdown. And soon, machines that predict when they need maintenance, and automatically order the parts required will be the norm.
AI capabilities will also ensure that these machines know when the best time to be taken offline for maintenance is. This bringing together of operational and informational technology can generate savings of up to 12% over scheduled repairs, leading to a 30% reduction in maintenance costs and a 70% cut in downtime from equipment breakdowns.
Of course, with cloud computing, a lot of this functionality is already available. Businesses are already using machines to control stock, manage materials, schedule engineers, control customer data, and manage hire contracts, all from one integrated system.
And, as AI continues to develop, its potential when it comes to enhancing productivity, saving money and delivering better customer service is only going to increase.
 Accenture LLP