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Basic Principles of Artificial Intelligence in Field Service Management



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It wasn’t long ago that the term “artificial intelligence” was reserved for sci-fi movies with talking robots. But in the last few years, we’ve seen one of the greatest technological leaps in history. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a reality that is part of our everyday lives. From the digital assistants on our phones to the recommendations we get on our streaming platforms, AI is all around us. And more recently, we’ve even started seeing the integration of AI in field service management. But before we get into that, let’s take a step back and understand the meaning of artificial intelligence.  

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

In its simplest form, AI is defined as the ability of a computer or robot to perform tasks commonly associated with humans. But that’s just scratching the surface. How these systems are built is a whole other story. 

AI machines are created with massive amounts of data. Using complex algorithms, these machines can learn from past experiences and make decisions on their own. These machine-learning models make up the majority of the AI applications we interact with today. You’ll find this type of AI in almost every business sector, including transportation, healthcare, banking, retail, entertainment, and e-commerce too. 

Now that we have a basic understanding of artificial intelligence as a blanket technology, let’s dive in a little deeper and examine the different types of AI and how they are used. 


What are the Different Types of AI Capabilities and Functionalities?  

Different artificial intelligence systems are built for different reasons. Thus, it’s important to understand the various types of AI and what they are used for. AI can be understood through two different lenses—capabilities and functionalities. There are three kinds of AI based on capabilities and four types of AI based on functionalities. 

AI Based on Capabilities 
  • Narrow AI - Also known as Weak AI, Narrow AI is the only type of AI that exists today. All other forms of AI are currently theoretical. Narrow AI focuses on one narrow task and can’t perform beyond its limitations. However, it can often perform that single task far faster and better than a human mind can. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and OpenAI’s ChatGPT are all considered forms of Narrow AI. 


  • General AI - Also known as Strong AI, General AI is the next iteration of artificial intelligence on the way. General AI can understand and learn any intellectual task that a human being can. It allows a machine to apply knowledge and skills in different contexts. While researchers have not yet accomplished this, it has received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft through OpenAI. 


  • Super AI - Strictly theoretical, Super AI would be able to think, reason, learn, make judgments, and possess cognitive abilities that surpass those of human beings if it were ever realized. 

AI Based on Functionalities 
  • Reactive Machines - This is the primary form of artificial intelligence. Reactive machines do not store memories or use past experiences to determine future actions. They only work with present data. They perceive the world and react to it to perform a very specific task. For instance, Netflix’s Top 10 algorithm assesses the current streaming data to serve the list to viewers. 

  • Limited Memory - These AI systems train from past data to make decisions. They can recall past events and outcomes and monitor specific objects or situations over time. Some examples of limited memory AI include generative AI like ChatGPT (or a similar AI Chatbot), virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, and self-driving cars. 

  • Theory of Mind - This functionality falls under the General AI bucket, and therefore, is only theoretical. Theory of Mind AI would be able to understand the thoughts and emotions of other entities if realized. The understanding could affect how the AI interacts with those around them and could, in theory, simulate human-like relationships. 

  • Self-Aware - With a Super AI capability comes this self-aware functionality. Purely theoretical, this type of AI, if ever achieved, would have the ability to understand its own internal conditions and traits and have its own set of emotions, needs, and beliefs. 


How is AI Affecting Field Service Management?   

We know what you’re thinking, how does all of this theoretical mumbo-jumbo affect my business? Fair question. While much of what we’ve discussed so far is still years away, plenty of AI applications have already made their way into the specialty trade industries via field service management software. With the field service management industry increasing in size and demand, AI can help organizations face their upcoming challenges. 

Artificial intelligence tools can be used to help contractors improve schedules, technician productivity, and customer outcomes.  

  • Improve Scheduling and Dispatching - AI can help a dispatcher quickly suggest the best technician for a job based on the tech’s capabilities, prior work on the account, closest location to the job, or availability based on the highest company priorities. From what used to be a time-consuming task, AI can allow for more time to improve customer service and satisfaction. 

  • Generate Reports - Using AI software, you can quickly create service summary reports to help get your technicians the information they need to get to work faster and be more efficient with their time. After the job is done, AI can even help create a report of what was completed including comments from the tech, photos of the equipment, and more.  

  • Predictive Maintenance - The fastest way to fix a problem is to find it before it happens. AI can help predict what might go wrong with equipment in the future based on common failures. It can offer solutions for how to fix these typical problems in real time and give less experienced technicians the confidence to solve issues quickly.  


What are the Advantages of AI?  

While many AI tools for field service management are still being developed, the advantages of artificial intelligence are already clear.

  • - Reduction in human error 

  • - Available 24/7 

  • - Helps minimize repetitive work 

  • - Digital assistance  

  • - Faster decisions 

  • - Efficient communication 

  • - Increase productivity 


How to Determine if AI is Right for Your Business  

The question isn’t if AI is right for you, it’s when. Like cell phones, the internet, and so many other advancements in modern history, technology only marches one way—forward. While there may be initial resistance and challenges in adopting new tools, it's inevitable that AI will become an integral part of our industry. Understanding how to use it to your advantage early can give you a leg up on the competition. Make sure to keep checking back on our blog as we dive deeper into the use of AI tools for specialty trade industries in the coming months. 


If you’d like more information on how technology can help your business grow, give us a call at 847-426-6000 or schedule a software demo today.