CRN Exclusive: Field Engineer Platform Connects Skilled Telecom Pros To Channel Partners, Service Providers

Service providers and partners have long struggled with the disconnect between booking new telecom business and the actual deployment of the service for the end user, which can take weeks or even months. Field Engineer, a new global, on-demand service for carriers and channel partners, is looking to close that gap by connecting partners and providers with the right engineering expertise in minutes.

On the heels of its successful beta test that the company kicked off in Oct. 2016, the Field Engineer marketplace is officially open for business for communication service providers, VARs, MSPs, and system integrators who are looking for qualified engineers to help fulfill telecommunications work orders, including the installation and setup of networking, voice, cloud, and SD-WAN services.

More than 15,000 network, voice and cloud engineers, architects, project managers, and technicians in 132 countries have registered on Field Engineer during the beta test, and the company wants to have 250 channel partners using the platform by the end of 2017, Malik Zakaria, CEO of Field Engineer told CRN.

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Zakaria has more than 20 years of telecommunication and professional services experience, having started his career as a network engineer for insurance provider MetLife and carrier giant AT&T. Today, he has turned his attention to helping the reseller community grow by leveraging the on-demand industry.

"Our platform can reduce the average time frame of finding the right engineering resources from four weeks, to minutes, and complete the work in a speedy timeframe," he said. He added that the service includes RF engineers, security and wireless professionals, as well as engineers who are experienced with cloud, data center services, and newer solutions, such as SD-WAN.

Most of the engineers that are a part of Field Engineer have experience working for the major telecom providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, or have worked for channel partner organizations, Zakaria said.

The Field Engineer app is available today on Apple's App Store and Google Play.

The Field Engineer platform manages all paperwork associated with bringing an engineer onboard, such as liability insurance, on behalf of the service provider or solution provider. Field Engineer conducts background checks and vets all prospective engineers that apply, he said.

Zakaria said that by the end of the beta, more than 4,500 jobs from 45 different service providers had been completed using Field Engineer. He hopes to sign up more service providers this year and is already in talks with several interested carriers and an SD-WAN provider.

"We are trying to prioritize some of the customer-facing engagements. Their existing workforce aren't always able to handle the workload, [and this] results in delays for service delivery," he said. "If a customer orders a 10-meg circuit, it can take [carriers] between 45-60 days because they don't have the workforce that can go do the site surveys and site readiness work. That work can be outsourced to a Field Engineer."

By deploying services more quickly, partners will start earning revenues faster, he added.

Companies can use the app to post a telecom work order, and the platform uses smart algorithms to alert relevant engineering candidates that are located within a 25-mile radius of the job, and those that also have the appropriate certifications, who can apply to the job in one click. Solution providers can then either interview engineers or simply select and deploy an engineer to their job, and track the engineer's location and progress along the way.

"This really helps with resellers offering [service-level agreements] SLAs to their end customers," Zakaria said.

The service is white-labeled so that engineers deployed using the app represent the solution provider or carrier at the customer site.

Engineers can use the app to create a bio that includes their IT certifications and work history, as well as to "clock in and clock out," so that the company can see when they arrived at the customer site and how long the work took to complete. Engineers either can be paid by the hour or are paid by the job, depending on the hiring company's preference.

The platform also connects with third-party payment tools, like PayPal, making it easy for service providers and partners to pay engineers on the same day that the work is complete to their satisfaction. Engineers aren't paid until the hiring company approves their work, Zakaria said.

While the platform is available globally, Field Engineer is seeing the early success in the U.S.

"The U.S. is our primary market," Zakaria said. "but, with the international expansion that most companies are experiencing, we decided to make it an international platform as well."