Salesforce IoT Insights Gives Field Service Agents a Head Start

Salesforce enhances its Field Service Lightning offering with IoT Insights to give field service agents more predictive and proactive information on equipment and products in need of customer service.

Salesforce

Salesforce said its latest offering will help field service agents better serve customers by leveraging internet of things data to get better information as to when products in use need servicing or replacement.

The new Salesforce IoT Insights, released on Dec. 5, also overlays IoT data with customer relationship management (CRM) data so both the customer service agent at a company’s main office and the mobile worker in the field see a complete record of the customer’s service history to deliver more personalized service. With this more comprehensive view, the agent will not to have to ask the customer things like “Has this problem happened before?” because they have easy access to the product’s service record.

The news of Salesforce’s new offering comes at a time when the number of IoT devices and smart sensors are exploding. Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected “things” by 2020. But companies are still developing the best ways to make use of all the data these devices generate, and there is also a shortage of IoT expertise and skills. A study by Dun & Bradstreet in May 2018 titled “Are Data Silos Killing Your Business” stated that 80 percent of businesses report that data silos exist within their organizations, which can keep important information—like device breakdowns or outages—from reaching the people on the front lines who could actually solve the problems.

“You collect all the data, but there is a gap where it’s not getting in the hands of people who can do something with it,” Paolo Bergamo, senior vice president and general manager of Field Service Lightning at Salesforce, told eWEEK. “Where is the context with CRM to check the SLA [service-level agreement] with customer support?”

Salesforce IoT Insights is designed to bridge that gap by bringing data from the connected devices to the CRM system. Rather than the traditional scenario where companies have to wait for something to happen, they can use the system’s orchestration capabilities combined with IoT signals to automatically trigger the creation of cases and work orders. Rules can be established where, for example, if a part malfunctions a case order is automatically created and a field service agent is notified to address the issue.

How Long Can a Rope Last?

One early customer, Samson Rope, is a 140-year-old company that offers ropes across a variety of industries including for fishing vessels, mining and forestry.

“At Samson Rope we have over 8,000 lines of rope in use that each last around 8-10 years, and we service them throughout the life of the product,” said Dean Haverstraw, director of IT at Samson Rope, in a statement. “These post-purchase services are a large part of our business, and we chose Field Service Lightning to manage all of those lines, and provide customers with tools to monitor rope health, manage compliance requirements and more. We’re now piloting high-tech rope threading that—when connected to Field Service Lightning via Salesforce IoT—will help customers monitor rope conditions and know when it needs to be replaced.”

Jacuzzi, another Salesforce Field Service customer, uses the technology to let it know when its hot tubs and related products are likely to have a component failure. “When you collect all this information, you get companies like Jacuzzi creating new business models,” said Bergamo. “Now that they know when a filter needs to be replaced or some other part, they engage with the customer and that leads to greater customer satisfaction.”

In a demonstration for eWEEK, Salesforce’s vice president of IoT, Taksina Eammano, showed how Field Service Lightning makes raw IoT data from a piece of equipment more accessible. “We take that raw data and categorize it into business logic so the service agent can see it’s a battery issue in their dashboard and see the context of the issue,” said Eammano.

While it’s possible to create similar automated functions using traditional developer tools, Bergamo said that could take much longer than using Lightning’s drag-and-drop menu that requires a minimum of coding. Projects can be completed in a few days or less using Lightning versus weeks or months using other tools. “This really empowers business users,” said Bergamo.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...