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New Salesforce Field Services Platform Targets a COVID-19 World

Find out what makes the upgraded product different and how channel partners can capitalize.

Kelly Teal

September 1, 2020

4 Min Read
COVID-19 remote work elements
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The world slowed down, and even stopped, for COVID-19 earlier this year. The pause proved that work cannot stop. Hospital equipment still required repairs. Assembly line machines malfunctioned. Washing machines and air conditioners broke down. And so on. Companies understood they couldn’t serve customers in the same ways they did prior to the pandemic. But they didn’t necessarily have tools for the new environment. Enter the new version of Salesforce Field Services.

The cloud CRM giant on Tuesday debuted the latest iteration of Salesforce Field Services, underpinned and steered by artificial intelligence.

What Spurred the Upgrade

“When the pandemic first hit, many industries that send employees out to complete jobs in the field had to shut down entirely,” Mark Cattini, senior vice president of field service management at Salesforce, wrote in a Sept. 1 blog.

Problem was, stuff – for lack of a better description – kept failing throughout every imaginable industry. Businesses had to resume operations.

“After getting over the initial shock of COVID-19, frontline workers got back to work, and have been at it ever since,” Cattini noted.

Not surprisingly, Salesforce tracked a dip in Field Services usage in March. But between April and July, reliance on the platform jumped more than 50%, Cattini said. And now, organizations are using Salesforce Field Services “20% more than at pre-COVID levels as companies and frontline workers scramble to clear the backlog of service requests created earlier this year,” Cattini wrote.

In the meantime, Salesforce has been adapting Field Services to COVID-19 realities, mainly by beefing it up with four AI-driven components:

  1. Dynamic Priority. Salesforce Field Services now automatically highlights the highest-priority jobs. Think expiring warranties or level of importance — say, elevator maintenance. Expect this feature in the winter release, slated for October.

  2. Einstein Recommendation Builder. Salesforce is adding its Einstein capabilities to Field Services. Einstein will make recommendations — for example, pointing out which parts a technician will need to complete the job the first time or showing a next best action such as preventive maintenance. Einstein, as part of Salesforce Field Services, remains in beta. Look for general availability early next year.

  3. Asset 360. Thanks to a partnership with ServiceMax, users will be able to view asset uptime, warranty information and service contracts. General availability is expected late this year.

  4. Appointment Assistant. This new app lets techs alert customers about their expected arrival time. End users may monitor the tech’s route and progress to prepare for the appointment. Salesforce has Appointment Assistant in “pilot” mode, so it projects general availability next year.

In essence, the new Salesforce Field Services shows the whole life cycle of an asset. Plus, Gary Brandeleer, vice president of field service product management at Salesforce, told Channel Futures, it “contains all the details about COVID-19 precautions and job tools needed to get everything done the first time.”

Cattini agreed.

“Our customers tell us that it is more crucial now than ever for their field technicians to have the right information and tools to maximize equipment uptime and first-time fix rates,” he wrote. “Decades of industry expertise and innovation have gone into building our next-generation field service management product, and organizations across industries are deploying it to keep their equipment working, businesses running, technicians productive and end customers safe.”

What the New Salesforce Field Services Means for Partners

For Salesforce channel partners, the revenue opportunity looks the same as it has since Field Services hit the market in 2016: customizing and implementing the platform for clients. Partners, like their customers, are looking to innovate how they make money in a pandemic-conscious world. Field Services offers that support, Eric Jacobson, who leads global field services at Salesforce, told Channel Futures.

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Salesforce’s Eric Jacobson

“For businesses, it’s about creating new revenue opportunities,” he said.

Managed service providers, value-added resellers, system integrators and other indirect partners who team with Salesforce can use the platform to help clients craft unique brand experiences, he added.

Overall, services will prove key to the channel’s success.

“With COVID-19, you really need to make sure you ensure the best experience,” Brandeleer said. “We’re heading into a services future.”

The new version of Salesforce Field Services comes on top of an already busy year for the company. Despite the pandemic, Salesforce has had an active 2020 – something its second-quarter earnings underscore. So far, the company has:

Despite all that activity, and record quarterly revenue, Salesforce is laying off people around the world.

About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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