How FYLD puts data at the heart of its product roadmap

Anish Patel, FYLD’s COO, taps into his extensive experience and approach to data and product innovation to uncover how FYLD creates and develops a data-driven product, and how it transforms fieldwork operations.

Data-driven innovation is non negotiable at FYLD. This could be data deep in our databases, in-person feedback, or a customer wide survey. What’s important is that, in this digital age, where information is power, data-driven product development drives progress and success. Data ignites innovation and is the fuel behind FYLD’s mission to deliver greater efficiency and safety by removing pen and paper from the field. 

However, with disruptive technologies emerging at a greater rate than ever before, it is imperative that data-led insights are at the core of any product development decisions, and are rolled out efficiently. This commitment to continual improvement and productivity gains is evidenced in FYLD’s customers.

For example, to improve the safety and productivity of its fieldworkers, SGN wanted a real-time view of job sites to increase spans of control to cover more sites per manager. FYLD rolled out its platform across 750 workers during a 12-month period. As well as improving communication between fieldworkers and managers, FYLD oversaw a £1.2m reduction in operating costs, saved 10,400 fieldworker hours per year, reduced mileage by 36% by optimising site visits and prevented £240,000 worth of fines in just three months. 

FYLD had a similar impact with Trinity, which wanted an innovative and flexible solution to increase fieldworker performance, productivity and safety. After an initial trial of 20 users was successful, FYLD was rolled out to over 130 fieldworkers. Proven benefits have included over 1,500 video risk assessments (VRAs) completed and reviewed by remote supervisors in real-time, a 15% increase in completed jobs, over 2,400 fieldworker hours back on the tools each year, a reduction in CO2 emissions, and 5,008 hazards identified and avoided, all of which has saved an estimated £430,463 in one year. 

What are the building blocks needed to achieve these results?

A good user centric innovator (be it Product Manager, Account Manager or Data Scientist) knows that using data to its full effect is a must, but the reality is that not enough use it effectively or indeed at all. To successfully design, deliver, and implement a data-driven product, an organisation needs switched-on proactive employees who can see data-driven trends, align them to KPIs, and iterate from there. It also needs input from an experienced leader whose philosophy is aligned to the company’s goals.

This can only be done with the correct team, a robust roadmap and a clear process in place, which is exactly what Anish Patel, FYLD’s COO, has helped to develop at FYLD and implement across its users. 

“My role is to create happy high performing teams. My belief is innovation is not a miracle,” he says. “It’s just doing the harder work.”

Guidelines and boundaries are key

FYLD’s product process involves six steps that go from idea to outcome, starting and ending with data. And that’s not just quantitative data – FYLD also uses qualitative data. “We are outcome driven. You can have as many meetings, write as many documents or user stories as you’d like – what I care about is what the user and buyer says.

“People are at the core of all operations. This means that it can’t just be number-crunching and raw 1s and 0s that is analysed when creating a product for fieldworkers. It needs the human touch. The qualitative data we capture informs the quantitative, with the two working hand in hand. This was crucial when developing our six-step process.

“Ultimately, our customers want to stop using pen and paper,” says Anish. “So, we start our process by ensuring we have an understanding of what that problem space is. 

“The second step, and this is where we do things slightly different to other businesses, is we get the data person and the designer together. And the data person will define – what does success look like for this problem? Regardless of any coding, or designs or anything, what is success? Then they establish the OKRs – objectives and key results. Our talented designers will then set about creating low fit prototypes.”

At this point, other organisations tend to involve an engineer. Not at FYLD, though. FYLD believes data and design are where innovation starts, and then engineers do what they do best: building on and iterating that innovation. 

“After settling on the OKRs, the designer will knock up the prototype,” says Anish. “Then, I ask the product manager to figure out whether this problem is worth going after. Is the way they define success legitimate or not? And does the prototype look like it can do what is said on the tin? Ultimately, what I’m looking for is, does it matter if we build it? Is there any value in it? This technique is something we learned from our investors, Boston Consulting Group.” 

If the product manager believes there is value, then FYLD sets up an alpha group. Anish says, “This is a small set of users to test the feature on. Again, this is slightly different to other businesses, which often just release and see what happens. I like to release it to a small group, make sure we meet the OKRs, and then release it more widely. Ironically, the team’s eyes often tell me if something is working or not, I feel like I can tell and so can my other co-founders.

“I call it a very predictable process, but it’s dependent on data all of the way through.”

Communicating this thought process is proving to be a major draw in attracting the best talent to FYLD. “Articulating why and how we develop our data-driven product is key information for both prospective customers and employees to be exposed to. We are a transparent and inclusive partner and employer – you can read more about our practices and my thoughts on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in my blog here.”

FYLD drives results 

FYLD uses data to support fieldworkers and managers, automatically transforming video and audio footage into real-time workflows, risk assessments, and analytics dashboards. The platform delivers critical data in real-time, improving the processes of multinationals and SMEs across the energy, highways and water sectors.

Too often, when companies migrate to digital systems, they are simply creating an electronic version of the old system. We call this ‘digital paper’ at FYLD. This is a lot of expense for no gains, no step-change. Instead, a genuine data-based tool, like FYLD, will transform fieldwork operations and deliver a significant return on investment (ROI). 

“We’re not here to digitise what fieldworkers do, we’re here to digitalise and enhance,” says Anish. “How can technology fundamentally change the way you do your job for the better?”

Empowering fieldworkers 

Technology doesn’t stand still, and neither does FYLD. By looking to stay ahead of disruptive technologies, FYLD can offer new data-led solutions to ongoing problems. 

“We have an AI roadmap that helps to keep us ahead of disruptive technologies,” says Anish. “Generative AI is really interesting, and we’re working on this in the background at the moment. The ability to quickly summarise succinctly using data is already really important for the industry and for our customers, and generative AI, alongside a human answer, will deliver a very high IQ summary of what’s happening in the field in an instant.”

However, while data and new technologies drive FYLD’s platform, one thing remains constant: ensuring the user experience is as simple as possible. 

“FYLD has data at its heart. Built specifically for fieldworkers, by fieldworkers, the sole focus of our platform is to enhance the everyday safety, productivity and compliance-related operations of all fieldworkers, across heavy civils and utilities industries around the world.

“I’m incredibly proud of the impact FYLD has on so many fieldworkers. We have scaled our product despite several global challenges in the past few years, with our commitment to making a difference for every fieldworker using FYLD unwavering. We’re not in the business of creating a product that’s too confusing for, say, my Dad to use,” says Anish. “Essentially, we’re a digital buddy for fieldworkers. We exist for fieldworkers and FYLD is built to support them.”