Innovation: Can Field Service Organizations Harness This Power?

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According to new teen millionaire Nick D’Aloisio; “The bigger the corporation, the less the innovation.”  For many people, it will appear that this young, British, 17 year old may have a warped perspective of the world and business but he does not: his news summary app was just sold to Yahoo for $30 million so he’s pretty shrewd.

As most businesses grow, it is normally the case that they eventually reach a point when it’s time to start introducing various rules and regulations – controls – to better manage operations.  But such restrictions can also hinder the out-of-the-box thinking and creativity that helps drive a company to success and keep them in the limelight because they encourage a standard way of working.  It is argued therefore that innovation is stifled. The Harvard Business Review has even gone as far as creating nine “anti-rules” that organizations often follow that engenders such a stifling of creativity.

But that is not always the case.  Just take a look at the Formula One motor industry which is one of the most regulated and controled imaginable.  This industry thrives on innovation and, here, it is argued that too much innovation can actually impair performance.  This may be an extreme argument but, still, it shows that every subject has conflicting views!

When people think about innovation, their minds often wander to eye-catching, and game-changing products – such as the iPad or Tesla’s growing range of electric cars – or product-related services – such as mobile banking apps that let you deposit a check by simply uploading an image, or field service organizations being able to send accurate updates of a technician’s estimated time of arrival.  Innovations like these capture the imagination of people and make their lives better.

But if D’Aloisio is to be believed, then how can organizations capture and show innovation in their day-to-day operations?  Maybe the answer lies in software, and using the latest and greatest as ways to harness and present people’s thoughts.

Here are just three innovative ways where new software changes the way people operate in their daily jobs:

1.     Brainstorming

You may argue that there’s “nothing new here” as brainstorming has been with us for decades and, in some circles, the word is now a cliché and just a piece of business jargon.  But the point is, brainstorming – either in groups or individually – helps to harness thoughts and the key is to capture these in an easy way.  This is where new software such as Mindjet – or the free alternative, XMind – plays a role.  The information that you capture here could very well lead to the next product or service that transforms your business.  And iPad users have an abundance of choice too.

2.     Presentations

There was a time, long ago, when salespeople didn’t need to present: the technology didn’t exist.  A few conversations and leather bound proposals were the norm but now, everyone presents.  In fact, Microsoft PowerPoint has existed as such since 1990 and today it is run-of-the-mill software that is expected.  It is the norm.  So how do you present new ideas in a way so that your audience will actually listen and pay attention? Simple: change the game by using innovative software that encourages you to present, well, innovatively: Prezi.

3.     Mapping

Just a few years ago, having GPS in your vehicle meant investing many hundreds of dollars in a dedicated device that served the purpose of directing you from A-to-B, and that was all.  Online mapping services are a great example of previously innovative software – today the likes of Google Maps and Bing are the norm: we need them!  GPS directions are now available on any smartphone and some, such as Waze, are free.  Here, GPS converges with social media and the users keep it alive and updated.  And while this may not necessarily harness innovation, it is a great example of how innovation changed the way we run our businesses, almost overnight.

Nothing that you do as a business will guarantee innovation and success but this approach is, at
least, a start.  The best innovation comes from a drive to do the best and to be the best. Being innovative may not lead to a $30M acquisition but harnessing people’s ideas can certainly be the difference between being a market leader and lagging as an ‘also ran’.

In the world of field service, what innovative ideas are you seeing that are changing the way you do business?

One Response to "Innovation: Can Field Service Organizations Harness This Power?"
  1. Erin Petruk says:

    “The best innovation comes from a drive to do the best and to be the best.” That’s absolutely right. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. Upward movement, increase profits, improved customer satisfaction, etc. all come from innovative change. Brainstorming, presentations, and mapping will definitely help with that. Great post.

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