Last week I ventured out to San Diego where The Service Council will be hosting the 2015 Smarter Services Executive Symposium (March 10-12 – Rancho Bernardo Inn). The trip was timed well as I had the opportunity to attend ClickSoftware’s annual customer conference, ClickConnect (#ClickConnect). Over 300 guests (a record for ClickConnect) came together and were treated to case studies from industry practitioners such as National Grid, KinCare, SaskTel and Ledcor. Guests were also able to hear the latest innovations from ClickSoftware and its expanding partner ecosystem which includes Fleetmatics, Accenture, Salesforce.com and more.
San Diego Note: While I didn’t literally “ride the wave” at ClickConnect, some did at the Wave House on Mission Beach. Kudos to ClickSoftware for putting on a very fun event on Tuesday night. A snapshot of some of the brave souls who did.
As is customary, the event opened with a keynote presentation delivered by Founder & CEO, Dr. Moshe BenBassat who remarked on several key milestones achieved over the previous year, including:
- Crossing the 600,000 Barrier Field Resource mark (note: in Sumair Dutta’s 2013 ClickConnect Analysis, highlights from Moshe’s opening keynote included crossing the 500,000 Field Resource mark which indicates continued positive growth for ClickSoftware)
- 55 New Enterprises added to the ClickSoftware Customer Community (an impressive tally for the 12 month period)
- 700 Million Consumers served enabled by ClickSoftware technology (equating to 10% of the world population)
Moshe, known for coining the phrase “Service Chain Optimization”, introduced guests to the ServiceEnvelope™; an index which looks at the “maximum attainable output for a given level of resource input”. He strongly urged guests to “Master Your Moment” and to identify and push their ServiceEnvelope™. This was an interesting philosophy presented, which aligns to our definition of Smarter Services™. I suspect this is something that could resonate at both the management, as well as, at the operations level (with the appropriate incentives to drive this behavior).
On Wednesday, a keynote presentation was delivered by friend of The Service Council (she keynoted last year’s Smarter Services Symposium) Frances X. Frei, UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at Harvard University and co-author of the book Uncommon Service.
Prevailing theme. Optimize. This year’s event theme was “Connect & Optimize”. Equating Maslow’s Hierarchy to the world of service, the pyramid featured 5 levels, which included (stacked in order from bottom to the top of the pyramid):
- Connectivity (Field Resources & Customers)
- Visibility (Into Field & Basic Reporting)
- Reporting & Analytics
- Decision Support
- Intelligent Optimization
Maslow’s Hierarchy applied to the world of service has close ties to a concept, the Mobile Maturity Model, we reviewed during a webcast we held in collaboration with ClickSoftware in early 2014 featuring ClickSoftware’s customer Severn Trent on the topic The Mobile Workforce Management Revolution (to request a copy of this webcast, click here).
Best practices of note. There were several key takeaways or best practices of note to take from the event, including:
- Demand more from & Invest in your Field Engineers. Jimmy Byrd, President, Technical Services at Ledcor (another friend of The Service Council who previously spoke at our event) encouraged guests to take care of their current field engineers but to demand more, providing an overview of an initiative where Ledcor aims to double the output from their existing field engineer group while also making them the highest paid in the industry. Opportunities for improvement (cost reduction) was boiled down to:
- Turnover ($25,000/tech x 100 techs = $2,500,000)
- Re-work (500,000 dispatches/year x $75/dispatch = $375,000)
- Productivity (10% improvement = 50 fewer technicians x $75,000 salary = $3,500,000)
- Utilization (Supervisors in load 40% of time = $500,000)
- Every moment of time is a moment of potential optimization. Karl Weber, Vice President of Sales at Fleetmatics led attendees through a discussion, which talked about the use of GPS Telematics in optimizing field resources. Comcast, a customer of Fleetmatics, projects to save $15 million as a result of saving 5 minutes per technician, per day. Guests were encouraged to think about what 5 minutes meant to their business.
- Empower your customers through confidence in your organization and 3rd party network. Lorraine Sikorski, Director of Customer Service Operations at SaskTel discussed the connection with 3rd party service providers (Ledcor, noted above, is a major service delivery partner for SaskTel) enabled by ClickSoftware. Lorraine shared SaskTel’s belief in customer empowerment and left guests with the following quote: “We’re letting the customer tell us when to be there instead of us telling them when we’ll be there.”
Technology to Watch. ClickSoftware announced the latest release of its ServiceOptimization suite, which includes Predictive Travel, which leverages time of day data and its impact on traffic patterns to deliver dynamic schedules, which avoid high traffic areas during peak travel times. But the biggest technology trend (or one could argue fad) discussed was that of Wearable devices (Google Glass, etc.). Accenture led a discussion on the latest mobility trends and Forrester featured an analyst presentation on the susceptibility of the field service market to Wearables. While The Service Council believes that Wearable devices can be valuable to support field service delivery, the cost-benefit case still doesn’t make sense for most field service organizations. We envision that field service firms will lag in their adoption of Wearable devices given the current economic model (we recently authored a blog on Google Glass in Field Service). As it happens, The Service Council is currently conducting market research on the Connected Service Ecosystem, which explores this very topic. We invite you take the survey here.
Cautionary Thoughts. Technology utilization. Maximizing the impact of new technology is a major challenge for service organizations. In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council on the topic of Field Service Process Review (Q1, 2014), 29% percent of respondents cited “solution adoption by the field workforce” as the most significant challenge when considering an investment in technology to improve field service operations. Making a major investment in technology doesn’t guarantee improvement. A full transformation requires a review of people, process, data and many other facets of service delivery and requires the entire service organization to embrace the technology.
I was able to have a conversation with Ankur Mathur, Partner, Accenture Mobility (Accenture was the Platinum Sponsor of this year’s ClickConnect). Ankur shared with me the work Accenture is doing with ClickSoftware with respect to managing service transformations and a belief he has which advocates the involvement of field technicians in the transformation. While some organizations would argue that you don’t want to overburden your field technicians in a service transformation, others might argue that you run the risk of “flavor of the month” given the assortment of technology changes they’ve witnessed over the last decade. Ankur believes when possible, field technicians can be an important component of your team, which could have a decided impact on the success of a field service transformation.
Quote of the event. “I want our field technicians to be the highest paid in the industry. While I want to double their output as part of our cost containment strategy, I’d also like to double their salary”. Jimmy Byrd, President, Technical Services at Ledcor
I welcome your thoughts on some of the trends we observed at the event.