Field service management technology has transformed the industry in so many ways, from using mobile devices, to having real-time data, to being connected to your customer 24/7. How different do you think things are going to be in another five years? Keeping up with the industry trends is the only way to stay competitive. The latest buzz is blockchain. What is a blockchain and how can it be applied to the field service industry?
What is a blockchain?
Blockchain is a transparent and verifiable system that will change the way people think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts, and sharing data. The technology is a shared, secure ledger of transactions distributed among a network of computers, rather than resting with a single provider. As it’s not in one place, the information can be encrypted and split across everyone in the network. Doing this means that there is no central location for someone to hack and steal from or alter. In theory, this makes it safer than a centralized ledger.
If someone were to hack into one of these computers and change the information on the blockchain, the software would recognize it as a glitch (as it doesn’t match every other record on all the other computers) and remove it or rectify the issue.
Blockchain has this name because, at scheduled intervals, information on transactions is recorded and added to the chain as a block. This ‘blockchain’ is a continuously growing link of information records, giving you complete historical transaction transparency.
Here are 5 ways blockchain can be applied to the field service industry:
1.Smart Maintenance Contracts
Field service projects can be incredibly complex with lots of things going on and many parties involved. That means multiple contracts, with some that are multi-faceted or last for a different stretch of time than others. It’s not always straightforward on what the conditions are for payment and whether they’ve been met. That’s when costly disputes arise, setting your project back and just generally giving you headaches. A smart contract is a contract stored in the blockchain without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. Accordingly, both building owners and contractors can enter into ‘smart contracts’ to ensure payments are made when the contract terms are fulfilled. Ideally, the blockchain could help you avoid payment disputes by allowing you to create contracts that force the parties involved to move through a certain checklist before being paid, giving you control over the payment process so everyone is on the same page.
2. Supply Chain Communications and Proof of Fulfillment
Most of the equipment and parts that contractors use aren’t made or supplied by a single source but by a chain of suppliers who sell components up the ladder to the company that assembles and markets the final product. The difficulty with the system is that if one of the companies fail to deliver, the final supplier, often the contractor, takes the brunt of the backlash from the customer. Using blockchain technology would allow the contractor to provide digitally permanent, auditable records that show the customer the state of the deliverable at each value-added step.
3. Equipment Service and Operating Performance Records
Using a private blockchain to keep track of regular maintenance and service visits from contractors would provide traceability and accountability. A process of executing smart contracts to release payment once work has been verified as completed can be developed to handle and record transactions and the work involved. For example, most HVAC equipment comes with the option of on-board smart interfaces, sensors and controls which can verify once regular maintenance and servicing work has been completed as these tasks are specific and have an established sequence of steps. Once the specific set of tasks have been completed by the contractor, smart contracts can be initiated to automatically release payment and document and update the record.
4. Verifying the Qualifications of Job Candidates
With the shortage of technicians in field service industries such as the elevator and HVAC industries, any advantage HR personnel can have in recruiting candidates is welcome. HR can use blockchain technology to assist with the recruitment duties of sourcing and managing the talent pool. Blockchain technology can help assess the accuracy and verify the validity of a candidate’s qualifications, credentials, and certifications. During the resume authentication process, verification is mainly conducted through reference checks. A blockchain-centric verification process could allow employers to develop databases of comprehensive employee profiles that compile authenticated data related to their work history. This system could significantly cut down the time it takes to select candidates for an open position. Assessments would be made based on the skills a candidate has been verified to have, not just the skills they chose to highlight in their resume, thus eliminating the need for extensive skill checks during the interview stage. Instead, talent professionals can focus their efforts on the critical factors of evaluation during hiring, such as assessing for cultural fit and goals alignment, ultimately saving time and money.
5. Using FIELDBOSS and Microsoft’s Blockchain as a Service using Azure
Because FIELDBOSS is built with Microsoft Dynamics 365, our customers get to leverage the entire Microsoft Platform when running their business. Microsoft now offers an easy and quick way to create and deploy a Blockchain and test if the Blockchain technology is capable of making your current business more transparent. Learn more about it here.