The global pandemic has challenged us all personally and professionally and for field service businesses, including pest control companies, technology has filled the gap as traditional social interactions have been limited. Technology that has been able help to streamline day-to-day activities includes online scheduling/dispatching and remote customer communication management.

Interestingly, field service technology already was moving in this direction. Field service technology is helping businesses digitize operations and allows owners to manage a business on-the-go through mobile devices. Looking into the future, how will these technologies evolve further and what implications will they have on field service industries? Here are some of the trends driving the next generation of field service technology.

REMOTE SERVICING. With the launch of the new iPhone and Android devices this year, 5G is now a reality for consumers, but the next-generation network will have even more implications for the business world. As 5G deployment increases and developers create applications and technologies using 5G, firms of every shape and size should be able to fully realize the potential for emerging technologies, like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, industrial IoT and much more. Compared to other network technologies, 5G mmWave networks can provide increased bandwidth and capacity, and lower lag to make applications possible at scale.

For instance, the next-generation network could support the processing power technicians need to make virtual visits to a client’s home. Currently, technology exists to capture the 3D image of physical objects. 5G networks can increase the speed it takes to process 3D hologram images and as the network expands, applications could be developed for customers to share their spaces with technicians prior to a visit. This could mean that the appropriate experts are assigned to each job so resources are used efficiently where they are needed. Ultimately this could help improve a business’s bottom line, with fewer technicians on the road (but still in the office working) and the ability to improve the efficiency of field time, reducing costly spending while increasing revenue.

ENHANCED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. In the age of online customer reviews, happy customers are essential. Technology is an important tool that business owners can use to help keep customers happy and is an important consideration as customers are increasingly using digital tools in their daily life. In the future of field service technology, something as simple as an intelligent job scheduling tool with artificial intelligence could help give a fleet manager significant time back in the day. This means pest control professionals can focus on the most important part of their business — delivering great customer service.

This shift is an opportunity for businesses to further improve customer service and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Spending less time on scheduling and data tracking means more time to raise the bar on customer service, educate technicians and provide feedback — all things that can help you stand out from competitors.

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES. Technicians in the field and the vehicles they drive are the heart of field service industries like pest control. Autonomous cars aren’t yet a reality for field service professions at a wide scale, but when they are, it could mean increased safety for drivers and lower business costs for field service industries. As vehicles become more autonomous and connected to a smart transportation system, drivers should be able to quickly respond to real-world traffic conditions as the driving process becomes more regulated and early warnings are provided. Early reports on driverless vehicle development suggest commercial vehicles may save gas by following each other in “platoons,” which is an application of autonomous mobility. While a truly driverless transportation network is still on the horizon, the impact this technology could have on the business of fleets could be immense.

FUTURE THOUGHTS. In the future there will be exciting new tools and technologies for those in field service, which should help keep drivers safe, boost customer experience and forever change the nature of field service work. While these ideas may sound far-fetched, 2020 has already been a year full of changes. In the past 10 months alone, we’ve all had to adjust quickly on the job. For example, we’ve had to increase the remote management of our businesses and improve sanitation measures to keep workers safe. Breakthrough technologies seen as “nice to haves” are now more essential and these emerging technologies will push for even quicker evolution.

The author is head of global product success at Verizon Connect (www.verizonconnect.com).