Ricoh reimagines field service with ‘merged reality’

The Smart Hands project brings together data, communications technology, and subject matter experts to help field-service technicians know everything about repairing and servicing more than 300 product lines.

Ricoh reimagines field service with ‘merged reality’
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No matter the vendor, technology sometimes fails. But when customers depend on that technology to keep their businesses running, vendors must repair that technology quickly, and that means having technicians with the right know-how at their fingertips. Japanese multinational Ricoh is tackling that problem with a combination of data, communications technology, and subject matter experts (SMEs).

The multinational imaging and electronics company has more than 300 product lines, including copiers, digital cameras, printers, projectors, digital whiteboards, and more. While its 3,400 field technicians, operating in about 200 countries and regions, are trained in all of them, keeping that volume of information top of mind is not possible — especially at the level of depth and breadth required for troubleshooting and repair.

"Our field technicians are A+, NET+, and Security+ certified, but because they work on such diverse technologies, it's impossible to expect them to commit everything about all the technologies we service to memory," says Edward Krzysik, director of service programs at Ricoh USA.

Ricoh measures itself by performance indicators such as first-time fix rate (FTFR) and mean time to repair (MTTR). Improving those measures has been a key focus of the company's multi-year digital transformation effort, which emphasizes empowering digital workplaces. To that end, the company developed Smart Hands, a project that brings together cloud-hosted knowledge repositories, SMEs, and a voice-controlled, head-mounted device to enable field technicians to access the knowledge and expertise they need while leaving their hands free to work.

"Smart Hands pairs a foundationally trained technician in the field with remote Tier 3 support staff with functional expertise specific to the customer issue," says Krzysik. "Smart Hands grants field technicians access to our even more highly trained remote technicians, who also have additional resources at their fingertips. There should be no technology we can't support with that combination."

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