Field Service Technology Glossary

Clear up the confusion with our Field Service Technology Glossary

Many confusing words, acronyms, and phrases are used when referring to technology in field service management. To help clarify this complicated vernacular, Mobile Reach, a leading provider of mobile solutions and mobile apps for field service organizations, has compiled this set of terms and definitions from varying sources. If you have a recommendation for a term that is not included, please let us know.
Audio mining — A technique by which the content of an audio signal can be automatically analyzed and searched. Audio mining systems used in the field of speech recognition are often divided into two groups: those that use Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognisers (LVCSR) and those that use phonetic recognition.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) — A technology that appears to emulate human performance typically by learning, coming to its own conclusions, appearing to understand complex content, engaging in natural dialogs with people, enhancing human cognitive performance or replacing people on execution of nonroutine tasks.
Asset Performance Management (APM) — Encompasses the capabilities of data capture, integration, visualization and analytics tied together for the explicit purpose of improving the reliability and availability of physical assets. APM includes the concepts of condition monitoring, predictive forecasting and reliability-centered maintenance (RCM).
Augmented Reality (AR) — A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.
Back-end — The server side of a client/server system.
Barcode — An optical, machine-readable, representation of data; the data usually describes something about the object that carries the barcode. Originally barcodes systematically represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later two-dimensional (2D) codes were developed, using rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions. Barcodes were initially scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers. Later application software became available for devices that could read images, such as smartphones with cameras.
Best of breed — Enterprises often purchase software from different vendors to obtain the best-of-breed offering for each application area. For example, enterprises may purchase a human-resource package from one vendor and an accounting package from another. Although enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors offer numerous enterprise applications and claim that their integrated system is a superior solution, all modules in an ERP system are rarely best-of-breed.
Biometrics — The measuring and analysis of such physical attributes as facial features and voice or retinal scans. This technology can be used to define an individual’s unique identity, often for security purposes.
Bluetooth — A wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — A phrase that has become widely adopted to refer to employees who bring their own computing devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to the workplace for use and connectivity on the secure corporate network.
Business Intelligence (BI) — A technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help executives, managers and other corporate end users make informed business decisions.
Business Analytics (BA) — Refers to the skills, technologies, practices for continuous iterative exploration and investigation of past business performance to gain insight and drive business planning.
Call center — A group or department in which employees receive and make high volumes of telephone calls. Call centers can have internal customers (help desks) or external customers (customer service and support centers). The call center uses a variety of technologies to improve the management and servicing of the call. A center that use both phone- and non-phone-based communication channels (e-mail or the Web) is known as a contact center.
Case management software — Applications designed to support a complex process that requires a combination of human tasks and electronic workflow, such as an incoming application, a submitted claim, a complaint, or a claim that is moving to litigation. These solutions support the workflow, management collaboration, storage of images and content, and processing of electronic files or cases.
Cloud computing — The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.
Contact center — A business entity that supports customer interactions across a range of channels, including phone calls, email, Web chat, Web collaboration, and the emerging adoption of social media interactions, and is distinct from telephony-only call centers.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) — In customer relationship management, an important KPI that measures the degree to which a product or service meets the customer’s expectations.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) — Practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.
Dashboards — Software-based tools that provide at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to a particular objective or business process.
Data center — A large group of networked computer servers typically used by organizations for the remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data.
Data mining — The computing process of discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems.
Enterprise applications — Business software designed to integrate computer systems that run all phases of an enterprise’s operations to facilitate cooperation and coordination of work across the enterprise. The intent is to integrate core business processes (sales, accounting, finance, human resources, inventory and manufacturing). The ideal enterprise system could control all major business processes in real time via a single software architecture on a client/server platform.
Enterprise Architecture (EA) — A discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) — The optimal lifecycle management of the physical assets of an organization. It covers subjects including the design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning or replacement of plant, equipment and facilities.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) — The integrated management of core business processes, often in real-time and mediated by software and technology. These business activities can include product planning, purchase. production planning. manufacturing or service delivery.
Field service management — A business methodology that includes the detection of a field service need (through remote monitoring or other means, inspection or a customer detecting a fault), field technician scheduling and optimization, dispatching, parts information delivery to the field, and process support of field technician interactions.
Field service management software — Business applications that enable field service technicians or dispatchers to diagnose problems categorically, identify the required parts and information, and dispatch them to the client or site. The system identifies the proper tools or materials required for the specific problem and their current location. It includes field service workforce schedule optimization, support for wireless mobile technicians and intelligent device management of equipment. Field service management ties into an overall service resource planning system that includes contract management, warranty, claims, parts management, depot repair, enterprise asset management (EAM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems.
Field service mobile app — A comprehensive mobile app that fully enables field technicians with real-time access to work orders, parts and inventory, contracts and other customer information allowing them to provide the very best in customer service.
First-time fix rate — An important KPI in field service management, it’s the percentage of field service calls that are resolved with just one site visit.
Gateway — A link between two computer programs or systems. A gateway acts as a portal between two programs allowing them to share information by communicating between protocols on a computer or between dissimilar computers.
Geographic Information System (GIS) — A system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.
Global Positioning System (GPS) — A radio navigation system that allows land, sea, and airborne users to determine their exact location, velocity, and time 24 hours a day, in all weather conditions, anywhere in the world.
Graphic User Interface (GUI) — A type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and visual indicators such as secondary notation, instead of text-based user interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation.
Helpdesk — A department inside an organization that is responsible for answering the technical questions of its users. Most major IT companies have set up help desks to respond to questions from their customers. The questions and their answers are usually transferred using e-mail, telephone, website, or online chat. Additionally, there are internal help desks aimed at offering the same form of help, but only for the employees within the organization.
Internet of things (IoT) — The network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data
IT Asset Management (ITAM) — A methodology that provides an accurate account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks to maximize the business value of technology strategy, architecture, funding, contractual and sourcing decisions.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — A measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs to evaluate their success at reaching targets.
Knowledgebase — A technology used to store complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer system.
Logistics — The detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers or corporations.
Machine learning — A field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.
Managed service provider (MSP) — A managed service provider (MSP) delivers network, application, system and e-management services across a network to multiple enterprises, using a “pay as you go” pricing model. A “pure play” MSP focuses on management services as its core offering. In addition, the MSP market includes offerings from other providers — including application service providers (ASPs), Web hosting companies and network service providers (NSPs) — that supplement their traditional offerings with management services.
Mobile application development platform (MADP) — A type of software that allows a business to rapidly build, test and perhaps deploy mobile apps for smartphone or tablets.
Near Field Communication (NFC) — A short-range wireless connectivity standard (Ecma-340, ISO/IEC 18092) that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they’re touched together, or brought within a few centimeters of each other.
Parts management — The main component of a complete strategic service management process that companies use to ensure that right spare part and resources are at the right place (where the broken part is) at the right time.
Product cost and lifecycle management (PCLM) — A methodology that is core to maximizing product profitability from introduction to end of life. PCLM helps product management and operations executives address the many reasons why products fail to meet business targets. Unbalanced product portfolios can bring the wrong products to market or sacrifice the operations excellence needed for efficient, reliable customer service. PCLM speeds the right products to market, while ensuring profitable growth.
Reverse logistics — All operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is the process of moving goods from their typical final destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) — A technology that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or person.
RFID reader — A device used to gather information from an RFID tag, which is used to track individual objects. Radio waves are used to transfer data from the tag to a reader. RFID is a technology similar in theory to barcodes.
RFID tags — An electronic tag that exchanges data with a RFID reader through radio waves. Most RFID tags are made up of at least two main parts. The first is an antenna, which receives radio frequency (RF) waves.
Service level agreements (SLAs) — An official commitment that prevails between a service provider and a client. Particular aspects of the service – quality, availability, responsibilities – are agreed between the service provider and the service user.
Software as a service (SaaS) — A software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software.”
Technician utilization — A field service management KPI, the percentage of technician debriefed time of planned work time.
Virtual Reality (VR) — The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
Wearable technology — Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing. One of the major features of wearable technology is its ability to connect to the Internet, enabling data to be exchanged between a network and the device.
Work order — A work order is usually a task or a job for a customer, that can be scheduled or assigned to someone. Such an order may be from a customer request or created internally within the organization. Work Orders may also be created as follow-ups to Inspections or Audits.
Sources: Gartner IT Glossary,,, Wikipedia,, Merriam-Webster Dictionary