October 17, 2018

How Blockchain is Changing IT Security for FSM

Written by
Laura Hudgens

Field service inherently comes with a lot of responsibility. You need to ensure you are getting to your customers when you said you would, that you are exceeding their expectations while you’re there, and that they are satisfied with their experience with your service once you leave. It’s not easy to do all of this—customer communication, important transactions, and service providing—while on the road.

An additional element of responsibility is added when you consider the security issues that come with field service. Field service providers have and need access to lots of sensitive data while in the field. And hacking of this type of data is only getting easier. Fortunately, protecting sensitive information and improving security is getting easier, too, with the help of Blockchain.

So, what is Blockchain? In the simplest terms, Blockchain is a network that utilizes cryptography to store records and information (the block) securely and link them with other records (the chain). The thing that makes Blockchain different from other peer-to-peer sharing networks is its high level of security. Once data is stored in a block, it cannot be easily altered or edited. Doing so would require the entire block to be added to, and there would need to be consensus among the other network users.

Which FSM software
is right for your business?

Incorporating Blockchain into your field service management system can improve the security of your internet-based transactions in a number of ways:

Safer communication and consumer data protection

Anyone who works in field service knows the importance of communicating with your customers. They need to know who is coming to provide service, when they will arrive, and what they are going to do when they get there. Customers also love a way to contact a company after a service has been provided. There are currently tons of ways to communicate with customers, but many of those methods come with some risks. Most messages and notifications to customers can easily be hacked, which puts their sensitive information at risk and harms your reputation, on top of potentially causing some confusion if they receive an incorrect or misleading alert.

Blockchain-based communication offers secure, decentralized messaging that can be used for alerts and notifications, and it is much harder to hack than traditional communication platforms. We’ll see this technology in customer relationship management systems, invoicing, and financial software in addition to FSM software in the coming years because of its security and ability to hold an indelible record.

Currently, options for blockchain-based messaging are mostly in the start-up stages, so your options for this secure communication method are limited for now. But Blockchain is still a great option for storing your customers’ data securely. By breaking your data up into blocks, limiting who has access to it, and always having a record of how data is being used and retrieved, you can help ensure your customers’ sensitive information is safe in the hands of your business.

Since field service usually requires names, home addresses, contact and credit card information, and sometimes even details about a house or place of work, this added measure of security is especially important.

Smart contracts for field dispatch, plus safer payment options

While customer privacy and protection is a priority for businesses, Blockchain can also help improve IT security internally and in B2B transactions. Smart contracts are a valuable feature of Blockchain that allow you to cut out the middleman when conducting certain business, such as paying a contract worker or dispatching someone out into the field. Events can be automatically triggered by code, such as reaching a specific date or meeting a predetermined goal.

The smart contracts automated system takes care of the fulfillment and execution of an agreement, which helps avoid conflict and disputes. Businesses can also save some money since smart contracts don’t require fees like intermediaries do. And, conducting transactions in the blockchain means payment can be sent and received immediately, eliminating the wait times associated with third-parties.

Perhaps most importantly, not relying on a middleman increases security since any exchange is happening solely within the Blockchain between the individuals or businesses involved. This helps reduce the risk of sensitive personal or financial information being inappropriately shared or stolen. Relying on Blockchain means there is a permanent, uneditable ledger of every step of the transaction.

Keeping things secure in the office

Of course, field service management security begins in the office. Blockchain is incredibly useful for protecting customer information and making secure transactions for your employees in the field, but it can also help ensure your important data at home base is being protected as well. Invoices, scheduling, onboarding, and other types of HR paperwork can all be stored digitally and shared in Blockchain.

Trusting this sensitive information about customers, employees, and every inner working of your business to a decentralized network means you have greatly improved control over who can access it and what they can do with it. And any changes that are made will be part of the complete audit trail.

Once associated only with Bitcoin, Blockchain has the potential to completely change the way we store our data, which is a win for consumers and businesses alike.

Laura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.