Salesforce has announced some new Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities for its Service Cloud console to enable companies to automate requests for sending out customer service representatives. Launched today, Salesforce IoT Insights for Field Service Lightning lets companies use connected devices to troubleshoot problems with machinery before they get on site. Salesforce said it is easy to add customize new capabilities on Lightning through drag-and-drop functionality.
With the insights gathered beforehand from IoT, data workers in the field will know which tools they'll need to bring to a job. In addition, IoT data will let dispatchers for an organization such as a utility company remotely diagnosis a problem happening at the edge. Then they'll be able to send the right technician to address the situation. Salesforce lets companies combine this IoT data with data from a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Sales Cloud Lightning Professional to personalize customer experience. The new capabilities let dispatchers and technicians view IoT signals within the mobile app consoles for Service Cloud and Field Service Lightning along with CRM data. This visibility lets companies predict when customer service reps will be needed. The Salesforce CRM app also incorporates analytics to let companies get a visualization of a customer's history. It's a common problem for workers to have to make an extra trip to a warehouse to pick up a part they forgot or didn't realize they would need. The IoT data will help service organizations avoid this scenario. The ability to monitor the whereabouts of customer service reps in Field Service Lightning is similar to how passengers and Uber drivers track each other, according to Paolo Bergamo, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Field Service Lightning. And with this visibility, "it's really about the direct connection with the customer," Bergamo said.
IoT and CRM can be combined to track any type of mobile worker, according to Bergamo. "It could be as complex as a simple break-and-fix, all the way to building something really complex with people who need to show up at a different time of the day or a specific situation like construction or oil and gas," Bergamo said.
Just as hospitals use electronic medical records (EMRs) to keep track of patients' health, health care organizations could use an IoT-powered CRM platform to track nurses dispatched to patients' homes. Meanwhile, in the maritime industry, a company called Samson Rope is already using Salesforce IoT in Field Service Lightning to track the health of rope in the fishing and mining industries. By monitoring this data in a platform like Field Service Lightning, Samson Rope will know when it needs to replace the rope.
From Jacuzzis to Traffic Lights
According to Salesforce, even Jacuzzi is using the IoT capabilities of Field Service Lightning to monitor the filters of hot tubs. "Salesforce IoT will essentially give Jacuzzi the possibility to capture the data and bind it to the data in the CRM," Bergamo said. "Before, Jacuzzi did not really know when to try to sell their filter replacement. Now that they have data on usage, they can be a lot better at offering the right solution with the right placement component at the right time."
In another use case, the town of Cary, North Carolina uses IoT data to connect its traffic lights to the Salesforce CRM so it can track when the lights go out. "Since they have connected all the traffic lights to Salesforce IoT, they can dispatch technicians right away to fix the problem," Bergamo said. "That's really important so that it minimizes the problem for their citizens."
A challenge that companies face when collecting IoT data is to make it usable, noted Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research. "This [Salesforce platform] actually puts the data into the hands of the people that need it in a way that helps them be productive," she said. "This is about the power of the Salesforce UI and really making IoT data usable."
Wettemann said the visibility that a CRM platform with IoT capabilities provides could increase the amount of work orders for companies while reducing their inventory costs. "Many customers are [in the] very early days, but in terms of accelerating work-order resolution and reducing inventory costs, this will help them take that next step," she said. What that means is that for professionals like field service reps, the combination of data from IoT and a CRM could help them diagnose problems faster and accelerate customer service.