Original article by Shloma Baum
In February 2015, it was reported that various hackers stole €650 million from over 100 British financial institutions across a two-year span. That was early 2015, but in December 2009, Wired already had enough fodder to list “the decade’s 10 most dastardly cybercrimes” (One went all the way back to 2000.) Despite increases in IT security over the past 16 years, cybercrime is still a very real aspect of any business, especially those with a technological infrastructure of some kind (Read: virtually every business in existence right now).
The implications are immense for field service organisations, as well. The growth of field service management organisations in the last decade has been driven by two sets of concepts: revenue-facing and technology. From a revenue-facing standpoint, field services have become more important to decision-makers because of “servitisation” models. This refers to selling a core product (a single business line) and charging clients to service that product (a second business line). This shift toward a service-based manner of business thinking helps at the margin, and it is also broadly indicative of more major business shifts around designing great experiences for customers and clients.
On the technological side, the field service industry’s growth has been powered by:
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- The Cloud
All three of those are potentially hackable. Your field service organisation is at the very least vulnerable to cybercrime. Any organisation or individual can be vulnerable to cybercrime though.
What can you do, though?
- Consider your entire supply chain
Field service organisations often work with different sub-contractors. Cybercrime attackers are trained to focus on the weakest link. If a subcontractor or supplier has access to your field service management solution systems, make sure you’re sweeping and monitoring that very closely. A cyber-attack can often occur at a point not specifically within your organisation.
- Focus on prevention and detection
Many organisations spend a lot of money and resources on prevention, and not nearly enough on detection. While breaches are a longshot – we pride ourselves on providing enterprise-level security options on mobile – you still need to spend time and effort on developing and testing response plans and protocols though.
- Integrate IT issues into business issues
There are, at times, a tendency to group anything involving technology (at the broadest level) as “an IT issue”. That’s a foible in this case. A well-done cyber-attack on your field service organisation is a huge business risk. It reduces your trust from customers, exposes their information and creates a host of other problems. The key here is to integrate IT issues into business issues, which is commonly known as service-level management.
- Protect as well as comply
Field service organisations can be focused on company-wide compliance with data and information policies or processes. In reality, the focus should be on protecting the most important assets of the organisation – whether that’s customer data or some type of proprietary information. Process for all is important, but nothing should trump protection of crucial assets.
Your field service organisation is, unfortunately, probably not fully protected from cybercrime, which is why you do need to dedicate time and resources to thinking about these issues, protecting key assets and having an action plan. The future of field service is exciting; from innovations from robotics to wearables. Augmented reality will also shift business models, revenue streams, efficiency of work and customer interaction. As we see here though, the future is also a little scary. As we house sensitive information predominantly in phones, Clouds and connected devices, we’re vulnerable to hacking and other attacks, which is why it is incredibly important to select a solution provider that takes cyber-security seriously. The pros do outweigh the cons, though. To visualise the future of field services, download the field services eBook. The threats are there too, yes. But preparing for the threats is worth it once you see all the forward-thinking, KPI-linked innovations coming down the pike.