When customers feel that their problems are addressed quickly and competently, customer loyalty improves. This isn’t rocket science. But, unfortunately, CIOs have been struggling to keep up with the exploding demand created by the ongoing digital evolution.
In the United States, the average household internet speed has increased by 44% in the past year. With all of this new bandwidth, smarter homes and internet-addicted customers are doing more than ever before with the internet.
Telecom CIOs have struggled to balance high costs with the need for rapidly deployable teams of field technicians.
Supporting this internet evolution has required some out-of-the-box thinking. The gig economy has already helped countless industries lower their labor costs while improving their ability to adapt to changing demands from customers. But the gig economy hasn’t quite reached its potential in highly-skilled trades, like plant and telecom infrastructure management.
Field Engineer is a new type of platform for on-demand field techs – reducing overhead and improving flexibility.
Thankfully, this trend is changing. Malik Zakaria, a former Systems Architect and telecom industry executive, founded Field Engineer. His platform allows CIOs to hire on-demand engineers to handle advanced installations, repairs and maintenance.
I was curious about this new evolution in the gig economy, and how it would impact the future of addressing customer-facing technical issues. Zakaria shared with me that, “…the talent is already there to complete on-demand facility and infrastructure repairs, but during his experience at AT&T he witnessed the challenges associated with recruiting and maintaining a flexible workforce.”
The additional challenge was finding a way to move teams around the country based on client needs. Field Engineer is a global platform, but their success in the US is intriguing – proving a concept that will make the life of every CIO a little easier.
Imagine having experienced techs, locally based near every customer you serve, available on a moment’s notice. That’s the model that platforms like Field Engineer are working hard to produce – a world where freelancing is a viable option for even the most specialized trades.
The taxi industry was first, is the tech-sector next?
Uber completely revolutionized the way people access hired transportation. The telecom and broader tech industry is booming and experiencing growing pains. This has resulted in a surge in demand for IT contractors. This has most taken hold in the realm of cybersecurity, but CIOs need to look outside of the data center for opportunities to leverage outside contractors.
There are a number of companies already using contract firms to complete service calls and fix outages. But, a contract company is still a step away from what Uber did in the taxi space. A true freelance platform removes the costs of corporate management from the equation – providing a direct link between dispatchers and local, qualified talent that is standing by for work.
According to Zakaria, engaging telecom contractors is more than 30% cheaper than hiring a full-time team of engineers to cover remote areas – benefits and deadtime really add up.
What should CIOs look for when engaging a contract workforce?
If telecoms are going to continue to fuel our economic engine, they need to find a reliable workforce that’s cost-efficient and geographically flexible. 26% of IT hiring managers expect to increase their contingent workforce in the second half of this year. Here are the things I recommend focusing on when you’re shortlisting options to fill in the gaps in your workforce:
- Look for contractors that have been verified by an outside agency or respected third-party.
- Take a close look at contractors with past military experience – the technical training provided in our armed forces are unparalleled.
- Narrowly define the scope of the task or job that needs to be completed – a clear set of expectations and requirements will go a long way towards smooth completion of work by outside contractors.
- Find ways to review the past work history of the contractor you’re considering. Encourage your HR department to dig into the profiles of contractors to find where they’ve worked before – skills learned from the competition are always a plus.
- Engage platforms that provide project management, when necessary, but also allow your company to enjoy the cost-savings of directly working with contractors.
I’m very excited to see how effectively the gig economy intertwines with customer-facing problem solving. With customer churn as high as 67% in some telecom spaces, it’s time to find the magic bullet that allows for faster response to service outages and customer issues.
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