Mobility

Salesforce brings digital transformation to field workers with AI, analytics tools

The company introduced Einstein AI and Analytics for Field Service Lightning, helping mobile workers increase productivity and revenue while on site.

Mobile workers are about to get a tech upgrade: On Wednesday, Salesforce announced Einstein AI and Analytics for Field Service Lightning, its platform that helps the mobile workforce use technology to better respond to customer service calls. The introduction of new tools will allow service workers to tap image recognition, scheduling automation, and actionable insights to improve productivity and efficiency in the field, as well as drive more revenue.

The multi-billion dollar field service market is expanding into new industries, including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, according to a press release. This has led to more demand to deliver strong onsite service, despite complicated equipment and a lack of information about pre-existing customer problems. This can lead to issues that require multiple onsite trips, Salesforce noted, which the company hopes this platform can cut down.

"With the introduction of Einstein and Analytics for Field Service Lightning, our customers will be able to deliver a smarter, more efficient onsite customer experience," said Adam Blitzer, executive vice president and general manager of sales and service clouds at Salesforce, in a press release.

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The update to Field Service Lightning includes three new features to help managers, dispatchers, and mobile workers gain the insights they need to be more productive and improve first-time fix rates:

1. Einstein Vision for Field Service

This service uses AI to bring image recognition to field service, allowing companies to tap pre-trained image classifiers or train their own custom ones to handle a large number of image-recognition use cases. For example, the press release noted, dishwasher repairs can be complex due to a number of similar looking parts and serial numbers. But with this tool, a dishwasher repairman who needs to replace a valve can simply take a picture of the valve, and Einstein Vision for Field Service will identify the exact product type almost immediately, saving time.

2. Equipment and Inventory Management

This tool uses scheduling automation to see that the correct work crew, equipment, and vehicles are always in the right place. For example, the press release noted, a cable company dispatcher can use Equipment and Inventory Management to see which technician is both closest to a customer and has the right cable splitters needed for the service.

3. Field Service Analytics

This service "provides actionable insights for managers to improve productivity throughout their mobile workforce," according to the press release. With Field Service Analytics, service managers can integrate all of their data into one application for a more complete view of their mobile workforce. They can also make actions and decisions right from their dashboard: For example, the release noted, a service manager for a medical device company can see if technicians are having trouble installing an EKG machine, and identify if they need more training.

Salesforce launched its Einstein Analytics app portfolio in June 2017, leveraging AI to boost the analytics available to users on its CRM platform.

While customers have benefitted from company digital transformation efforts, field technicians often still find it difficult to deliver a modern, onsite experience, said Mary Wardley, program vice president, customer care and CRM at IDC, in the release.

"Customer expectations have escalated across the board, and so have expectations for in-the-field diagnostics and issue resolution," Wardley said in the release. "With features including image recognition, automated equipment tracking and analytics baked into the field service process, digital transformation is reaching the field and will enable companies to run their field service organization faster and more efficiently."

In terms of availability, Field Service Equipment and Inventory Management can be purchased today with any Field Service Lightning license, which start at $150 for organizations that have at least one Service Cloud license in Enterprise Edition or above. Field Service Analytics is also available now, with any Service Analytics and Field Service Lightning license. Einstein Vision for Field Service is now in pilot, and is expected to be available for purchase in the first half of 2018.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Wednesday, Salesforce announced Einstein AI and Analytics for Field Service Lightning, bringing new tools to field workers to improve productivity.

2. The new features include image recognition, scheduling automation, and a dashboard with actionable information on field workers.

3. Field Service Equipment and Inventory Management and Field Service Analytics are available for purchase today, while Einstein Vision for Field Service will likely be available in the first half of 2018.

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Image: iStockphoto/NicoElNino

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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