The latest software algorithms use AI, machine learning and big data to analyse real-time feed from the field to optimise workforce operations.Ron Shpilman, ClickSoftware\n\u201cWhen a customer needs your service, you need to be there quickly. You need to find a crew with the skill set as quickly as possible and also find the crew that is not engaged in other high priority work,\u201d relates Ron Shpilman, senior solution consultant at ClickSoftware.\nHe says the ideal situation is when companies can tell customers exactly the time the technician is coming, so customers do not have to call the contact centre. \u201cWe can give them an Uber-like experience, where they see the technician is on it way.\u201d\nThe technician assigned also has the skill set for the problem to be solved and is aware of the issues, so the customer need not explain the problem all over again.\nA combination of technologies already have the ability to make this happen, says Shpilman, who spoke at the CIO leaders\u2019 luncheon on \u2018A roadmap to drive digital transformation in the workplace\u2019.\nInsights from the fieldThe technology infrastructure is already here, he says. Customers are using smartphones connected to the internet and their social networks, while software vendors offer quick to deploy SaaS solutions. The latest software algorithms use AI, machine learning and big data to analyse real-time feed from the field to optimise workforce operations.\nA hyperconnected world (Source: ClickSoftware)\nThe other speaker, Audrey William, director ICT Asia Pacific, for Frost Sullivan, notes how analytics, mobility and field force management are changing the game for a range of industries.\nThey allow better use of field force staff, she says. Without proper analytics, field force workers can turn up at a site and not be needed.\nAnalytics can also be used to predict the malfunction of equipment and provide real-time alerts to field engineers. Moreover, these technologies can help reduce costs by providing a plan for better use of resources, says William.\nAudrey William, director ICT Australia and New Zealand for Frost Sullivan talks about \u2018How Digital Disruption Will Impact Organisations In The Next Decade\u2019 (Photo by Jason Creaghan)\nIt is great to have all these technologies, but the cybersecurity discussion must be there from day oneAudrey William, Frost Sullivan\nShpilman, on the other hand, notes, there is a difference between what technologies are available and what customers sometimes get from a service provider.\nThis view is affirmed by the results of recent research ClickSoftware conducted among customers across the United States, Europe, the UK and Australia.\nThe survey finds most companies still use phone calls from their call centres and even service engineers, to update customers on their booked appointments.\nCustomers mostly complain on waiting for technicians to arrive and explaining the problem all over again (Source: ClickSoftware)\nTime issues top the list of customer complaints. These range from late arrival of the technician, not knowing when the technician will arrive and having to explain the problem all over again when the technician arrives.\nAs Shpilman notes, these days the benchmark of customer service is not the competitors, but the likes of disruptor companies like Google, Uber, AirBnB and Amazon.\nThese companies are changing the perception of service and customer expectations from any service provider.\nHe thus lists two key principles organisations can use to boost their digital workforce.\nThe first is customer engagement, where the goal is to increase the value of every interaction with customers.\nThe change comes from looking wider, while considering external workforce as your service promoters, he says.\nTechnicians, engineers, operatives, and crew can become ambassadors of your brand, he states. Having this perspective, the workforce can better engage, bring more value and spend more time doing what they ought to do.\nThe customer journey map as explained by Ron Shpilman, Senior Solution Consultant of Click Software.\nThe second principle is what he calls \u201czero touch\u201d.\nTo better engage with customers and maximise the time and engagement on site, he is a believer in the \u201czero touch\u201d concept, of using optimisation and mobile to automate labour intensive and error prone processes.\nThis is done using a blend of AI-based optimisation algorithms with mobility and an automation platform, to lower operational cost and deliver better productivity.\nTechnicians use mobile application to receive work and provide updates, while the system tracks their location and ensures services are delivered on time.\nContractors and external resources also use the system to complete the jobs and provide evidence of their work so they can get paid faster, while the service company can deliver better customer experience.\nHe says it may be difficult for companies to explore all the different options for their field staff. But, he points out: \u201cWhat if we can feed the machine intelligence and all the big data we have, all the information from the field so we can track and test all these different strategies?\u201d\nRon Shpilman, senior solution consultant at ClickSoftware, talks about the principles of the digital workforce\n\t\nUse the strategy of maximising customer engagement and minimising human touch in the back officeRon Shpilman, ClickSoftware\nThese, he says, are among the possibilities organisations can tap into as they digitise the workforce. \u201cUse the strategy of maximising customer engagement and minimising human touch in the back office,\u201d he advises.\n\u201cA lot of data is coming into organisations, in most cases we just see them and don\u2019t track or analyse them.\u201d\nShpilman recommends a key step organisations can take in the next three to six months, is to have the capability to receive input from staff and IT devices from the field. Find out where they are and what they are doing, and start to understand what the skill set is around your organisation.\nThen feed the data into your optimisation and field force management processes.\nAudrey William of Frost Sullivan and Ron Shpilman of ClickSoftware at the CIO Leaders' Luncheon on 'A roadmap to drive DX in the workplace'\nBlockchain beyond bankingWilliam, meanwhile, discusses how organisations are using data to move into other industries. Google is not about search anymore, it is moving into industries like advertising and automotive. Uber is investigating driverless taxis and has started a food delivery business UBEREats.\nAudrey William, director ICT Australia and New Zealand for Frost Sullivan shows a prime example of disruption\n\nThe reason these companies are starting to innovate like that is because they themselves are now data companies, says William. \u201cThey get so much information and they know what is happening all the time. They have tremendous insights to then say, 'yes, we are moving into these industries, we will acquire these companies'.\u201d\nShe says this insight can be applied to other industries.\nFacilities management companies, for instance have the power to become big data companies, offering advisory services, because of the amount of information they are looking at on a daily basis.\nWilliam also calls on organisations to assess how emerging technologies can impact and benefit their respective businesses.\nFirst on the list is blockchain. Blockchains are a new infrastructure layer for data and digital services, which can be deployed between servers, on mobile devices or with the Internet of Things.\n''You hear a lot about it in banking, but it is already being used in other industries.\u201d\nWilliam says a transportation and logistics company in Singapore uses the technology from when the goods leave the warehouse to getting them to the supermarket.\nBlockchain was implemented because the company wanted to make the process \u201cseamless\u201d - the moment goods left the warehouse, everyone was privy to the transaction.\nIn the event the truck reaches the supermarket and there was spoiled vegetable or milk that need to be discarded, the company does not have to go back to the manufacturer to say this is how much they need to reimburse. It will already be done seamlessly, explains William.\nShpilman advises to start a pilot test on these new technologies with business colleagues. It could be a small group, so you can test how it will work in the organisation, he says.\n\u201cYou don\u2019t have to spend a lot of capital money, but you will have the proof point that it works.\nWilliam underscores a key issue facing organisations on their journey to become digital businesses: ''Security is the biggest elephant in the room.\u201d\n\u201cThe role of security is a more complex one in the connected world...It is great to have all these technologies, but the cybersecurity discussion must be there from day one,\u201d she concludes.\nThe CIO Leaders\u2019 Luncheon on \u2018A roadmap to drive digital transformation in the workplace\u2019 was sponsored by ClickSoftware.\n\nAudrey William, director ICT Australia and New Zealand for Frost Sullivan on top issues to consider.\nSend news tips and comments to email@example.com\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\n\nJoin us on Facebook.