Service call centres to become wasteland and tumbleweed by 2024

Aye, son, I remember when this was all industrial estates...

Capital equipment will outlive the working life of the engineers who service it, self-healing systems will do away with everyday maintenance, and call centres will be replaced by automated dispatch notification.

All this will come to pass in the next five years, according to predictions arising from a Forrester Consulting study of 675 "digital transformation decision makers" across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Participants are said to be working in infrastructure roles at global industrial enterprises, including manufacturing, utilities, telecoms and healthcare.

It's not good news if you work in a call centre, with 62 per cent of respondents in the survey saying that technology will "completely automate" the process of dispatching service technicians to where they are needed.

Basically, customer service systems will identify fault flags as they happen, locate the nearest appropriate field technician and send them the job details directly. Or so the claim goes.

This already happens in certain cases, but to have so many VPs in charge of "digital transformation" at major industrial orgs saying call centres will be wiped out within the next five years could be a scary prospect for subcontracted IT companies fulfilling SLAs.

Some 72 per cent of respondents agreed that capital asset equipment will last longer than the working life of its current service engineers. Another 85 per cent said self-healing and remote monitoring will enable field service technicians to focus on more complex specialist tasks.

"As service data continues to mature in organisations, companies are able to make better operational decisions around predictive maintenance and customer service," said Sumair Dutta, director of Global Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, which commissioned the study.

"Likewise, the ability to extend the working life of capital equipment through better service data, combined with the shift to as-a-service delivery models, are reframing how businesses best schedule, dispatch and maximize the value from their precious technical service talent.

"The next five years will bring disruptive and major changes to service workforces globally." ®

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