June 2015 - The Service Council

Video and Assisted Field Service

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | 2 Comments

As mentioned in previous blogs, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to attend major user events in the fields of service management and field service over the previous 2 months. One of the interesting technology takeaways from all of these events is the increasing number of providers focused on augmented reality and video-assisted resolution solutions for field service.

Video for self-service and customer support is not a new phenomenon. Google tried to bring video support and community together with its Helpouts solution but quickly shuttered that initiative. Yet, there are a number of use cases, with the most popular one being the Amazon Mayday service. These types of solutions are offered by Networking and Communication partners such as Avaya and Cisco as well as by contact center solutions partners like NICE systems and LogMeIn (I’m sure there are more).

In field service, there has yet to be a major splash in video. However, our research shows that more and more organizations are trying to wrap their heads around the use of video-enabled solutions to assist field service work. In our late 2014 research on the next wave of field service (185 participants), 18% of organizations indicated that they were building the business case for the adoption of vide0-assisted field service solutions in the short-term. These solutions are meant to connect a technician or agent in the field with a higher-level support agent in a technical support command center. With the aid of video, the technical support agent can view what the field agent is seeing and offer guidance to ensure that actual resolution takes place.

Eighteen percent (18%) doesn’t sound like a large number, but thats 1 in 5 responding organizations highlighting that they have a project in mind. Whats more, nearly 40% indicate that they are considering the use of video-assisted solutions for the near future (greater than 12 months, less than 5 years). Now thats a much larger number.

Slide1For these organizations, the biggest considerations regarding the use of video:

  1. Quality and reliability of video streams
  2. Integration of video into field service work streams
  3. Capture of video-assisted sessions and integration into knowledge-base (We do have a knowledge management survey that asks the question about the capture of video for knowledge management purposes. Participate here)
  4. Medium through which video is deployed (handheld, heads up display etc.)

In terms of the assistance eventually provided to the field agent, most organizations are currently looking for a one-way stream of video from the field to the higher-level support center, with instructions then being relayed via audio. There is also the idea of contextual information being overlayed on live video (augmented or assisted reality) for the field service agent to view as he/she works on a particular piece of equipment. This addition of context to images is extremely appealing to field service organizations, but there just have be more use cases of work actually being done with AR-enabled applications outside of demo environments.

We’ve touched on demand and interest, now for the supply side. At PTC Live, we saw a live demo of PTC’s augmented reality application for field service, as enabled via the digital twin concept. At Servicemax’s Maximize, I was introduced to SightCall and Pristine, both of which are focused on providing vide0-assisted solutions for the field service enterprise. At the IFS World Conference 2015, I had the opportunity to demo an assisted reality solution developed by XMReality, where gestures and actions from a technical support agent are overlayed on a live video stream. There are several others such as Vidcie (focused primarily on public safety), LiveGenic, and ResolutionTube who offer similar solutions.

Most of these providers have smartly chosen to be device agnostic when it comes to mode of video capture (body cameras, helmet cameras, smartphone cameras, tablet cameras). This is also the case with the handful of augmented or assisted reality applications. I say its smart, because there is a growing list of hardware providers looking to offer cameras, helmets, glasses and more, for the purpose of field service work. This is on top of the providers of smartphone, tablets and other devices on which video and other contextual content can be shared. Some of these hardware providers include (my thanks to Lucas Schlager from Pristine for his input):

  • DAQRI – Smart Helmets
  • Vuzix – M100 Enterprise Smart Glass
  • Recon – Jet Smart Glass
  • ODG – R-6 and R-& Smart Glasses
  • Epson – Moverio Smart Glasses
  • Sony – SmartEyeGlass
  • m-View – Wearable Cameras
  • Google – Glass 2.0

There are significant implications to the use of video-assisted or augmented reality applications in field service. This goes beyond improving the efficiency of field service workers in getting jobs done. It impacts recruitment, training, procedure documentation, knowledge management, resource allocation, and more. For organizations facing an aging field workforce, video also offers an option for the capture and transfer service knowledge while creating new office-based support career paths for senior field agents who might be interested in reducing their travel.

More about the next wave of field service can be found in our research library section as well as in the following presentation.





Early Takeaways from PTC Live Global 2015: Integrating the Voice of Products

By Sumair Dutta | News, Perspective | No Comments

This week we’re tracking the PTC Live Global event in Nashville. There are a lot of announcements made and discussions being held across all of PTC’s businesses, but our major focus resides with PTC’s updates on IoT and Service Lifecycle Management. Today’s post will focus mostly on strategic business announcements made in keynote sessions that impact service organizations.

There is plenty to talk about with PTC and IoT given the recent acquisitions and investments that the company has made over the previous 2-3 years. Some of the discussions and announcements made today (similar to those made at LiveWorx in May) revolved around:

  • Increased consideration of how IoT data impacts existing CAD, PLM, and SLM applications. While net new IoT-enabled applications are possible via the ThingWorx platform, PTC is finally addressing how IoT data will impact its traditional PLM and CAD businesses. At PTC Live, we saw demos tied to the development of an Enterprise Bill of Materials aimed at providing the entire organization with visibility into the as maintained product.
  • The concept of the Digital Twin. On the heels of the Enterprise BOM, PTC also discussed the concept of the digital twin, essentially a digital representation of a physical product as supported by the Enterprise BOM. Think of it as a VIN for each product delivered but with enhanced data available in a digital representation.
  • Integrating IoT data with other Enterprise Applications. For those not running the entire PTC stack, the ThingWorx Converge platform allows for integration of machine data into non-PTC enterprise applications. While you don’t get capabilities such as the Digital Twin, you are able to take advantage of data transmitted via instruments in the field.
  • Integration and Co-innovation with ServiceMax. The PTC-ServiceMax partnership was announced a month ago. Nothing new was announced today, but worth noting was the fact that PTC and ServiceMax will be co-developing IoT-enabled apps to enhance field service. These organizations have a unique opportunity to deliver a slew of IoT apps for a receptive field service audience. Success will be determined by functionality, ease of use, and ease of scale.
  • Augmented Reality for field service and support. One of the field service demos shown today featured the delivery of augmented information and augmented procedures in a field service environment. These augmented capabilities are enabled via the digital twin and Enterprise BOM updates highlighted earlier. While Augmented Reality (AR) can have a significant impact on improving field service resolution (and there is interest in the use of AR for field service), I believe that it will still be sometime before the use of AR becomes ubiquitous in field service work. Nonetheless, PTC is showcasing whats possible and that’s often necessary to get organizations thinking. Prior to that, there will need to be a greater acceptance of video-based support to enhance field service delivery.
  • ColdLight Predictive Analytics for service and more. PTC acquired predictive analytics provider Coldlight in May 2015. While Coldlight’s Neuron solution is still being integrated into ThingWorx, PTC envisions a future where the ColdLight solution analyzes IoT-enabled data and enables an organization to:
    • Predict product maintenance needs prior to failure
    • Understand buyer behavior
    • Allocate service resources tied to future demand
    • Detect patterns leading to production yield issues
    • Optimize the supply chain

The announcements represent PTC’s continued focus on becoming the IoT platform for the manufacturing enterprise. We are also seeing more information from PTC on how IoT data will be integrated into existing PLM and SLM applications. This link back into existing applications is key to moving IoT from a ‘nice to have’ concept to one that disrupts and drives businesses. What waits to be seen is how IoT-enabled enterprise wide applications will be accepted by businesses that are typically extremely silo-ed. In addition, what role will PTC play in helping manufacturers convey the IoT value proposition to customers? Customer acceptance to connectivity will also be key in the success of PTC’s IoT push.

On a final note, the opening keynote sessions also featured a talk by Malcolm Gladwell, who is as good a storyteller on stage as he is in his books. Gladwell outlined the three attitudes/attributes necessary for an individual to take advantage of transformation.

  • The individual must be disagreeable with the norm and willing to tackle something unpopular
  • He/she must have an active imagination and be able to reframe challenges in the wider business context
  • He/she must be filled with a sense of urgency

If you’re at PTC Live Global 2015, drop me a note at sd@servicecouncil.com or join my session in the service track on Wednesday, June 10.

Is Customer Success Good for Humanity?

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

Many years back, I remember the first time I took my now 6 year old daughter to the dentist (I was grateful that my wife handled these appointments before this time, so this was my first experience with her). For a 4 year old, the dentist typically isn’t the most exciting appointment. It can be frightening that a person with a mask is sticking something in your mouth with a bright light shining in your eyes. God forbid you get a cavity at a young age as this only compounds the fear of going to see the dentist as a result of that drill sound inside your mouth.

During our car ride over, I thought my role was going to be “coach”. I assumed that Maggie (my 4 year old at the time) would need her big (I stand 5’10” tall…I’m big to her), brave Daddy to talk her through the dreaded visit. Boy was I mistaken.

It started off as a quiet ride until I hesitantly asked her the question, “Maggie are you ready to visit with the Dentist today?” Her response lasted the rest of the car ride to the Dentist with increasing pace in terms of her excitement. She told me how wonderful it was to say hello to the nice receptionist who looks like her Nana. She talked about the fun rainbow colored room where she could read books and play with fun toys. She talked about how cool she felt to wear sunglasses while they cleaned her teeth. She talked about being able to sit in the Dentist’s chair, as her Dentist always allowed her to, to pretend she was the dentist to her doll she always brought with her. She talked about how nice it was to be able to pick out a toy at the end of the visit and how the Dentist always allowed her to get an additional toy for her sister (her brother wasn’t born yet). And lastly, she talked about how happy it made her to give the Dentist a high five when she left the office for doing a good job getting the sugar bugs off her teeth and not getting any cavities.

I asked her Dentist as we were leaving, what makes him care so much? His response: “I have a deep PASSION for making the world a better place”. His answer shocked me. It wasn’t the standard dentist answer: “…a deep passion for clean and healthy teeth”. He wanted to make the world a better place. And by making the Dentist office experience from start to finish (both the journey to the office, the visit and leaving the office) an enjoyable one, he felt he was accomplishing his goal.

While many of The Service Council™ community represents companies who manufacture and service a certain product (65%) which serves a certain purpose, whether it be medical equipment, industrial machinery, HVAC and building automation, etc., it is encouraging that we continue to welcome more non-asset centric and hospitality driven industries. I ask those who are manufacturers: does your organization strive to make the world a better place? Or does it strive only to have the product you manufacture serve its functional purpose?

At our annual Smarter Services™ Symposium last March in San Diego, I was grateful to have my wife join me and to have her pen a statement which we included in our program guides to communicate our passion for Service. I didn’t change or edit a single letter of what she wrote (below) as it so accurately and eloquently hit the nail on the head:


The Service Council™ delivers numerical guidance and hosts an enthusiastic community. In hopes of an easier life, an easier pace, while dealing with the daily struggles the “outside of work” world presents. The broader mission of the Service Council™ is to make things “Better for Everyone”. More precisely, The Service Council™ hosts a community and strategies to make companies flow. To make the outreach more personable, not only the customer, but for you! The kind of interaction which leaves you saying, “Wow, I just did a great job!” The “I want to do that again”, mentality. The analytic data we provide come from a person who is knee deep in his line of work. Sumair Dutta exposes the secrets, which when applied, make businesses tremendously successful. It wasn’t necessarily “what these companies were doing”, but instead, “what kind of people were working for them”. Hard workers. People who find value in making life “easier for everyone”. These companies “listened” to the customers, but first listened to themselves. This derives from making our work environment more conducive to what we need to be successful. Walk toward your customers. We sometimes walk away because we have another deadline, we are dealing with a staffing issue, we have a pressing client who just won’t quit. We walk away because we are tired, we are overworked dealing with the side of the business, which isn’t fulfilling. Every job has a “sweet spot”. This is the time of the day where we really thrive and LOVE our work. It’s what keeps us coming to work every day. The part of the job we LOVE. Imagine if “sweet spot” time, could be most of the time? The data The Service Council™ provides is geared to do just that: put YOU and YOUR LIFE in the “sweet spot” of your career. That’s why we are here: YOU. The constant in this group: We all strive to be better, do better and recognize opportunity for improvement. It doesn’t start with data. It starts with us. Motivators: Money, a Coffee, a Picture on your desk you daughter/son drew, a comfortable desk chair, a new suit, the vacation you are taking next week with your family. Take your personal motivators and make someone’s day. Hearing, “You just made my day” is the best feeling. “You just made my day”. Because we all have real lives, we know how much that means. Making someone’s day is: Better than the new chair, the money, the coffee. Those are all short term satisfiers. Feeling great about giving another person a “great day” lasts, sometimes, forever. People, at the end of their career, reminisce about stories where they made things wonderful for someone, and it’s never themselves or their family. It’s often a nameless, sometimes faceless customer of whom they did something great for. This event is your chance to shake a hand, to put down our task list, close our laptops, look people in the eye and ask questions. This time can be used to share your experiences to the enhancement of the greater community. Without all of these components, and your active contribution, we’re just another event. And, that’s not us.

In Q3, The Service Council™ will conduct a research effort on the topic “Improving Customer Satisfaction & Success” which will explore how organizations have improved customer-oriented metrics and whether or not customer success is an area of investment. I believe Customer Success starts with a passion. Are you giving your Customers the gift of passion as the Dentist did for my daughter? It will be a good thing for humanity.

I welcome you to share your stories where in your everyday life you witnessed this type of passion. If you would like to participate in our upcoming “Improving Customer Satisfaction & Customer Success” research initiative, please feel free to contact me directly via email at jtc@servicecouncil.com or via telephone at 617-717-8300.

Knowledge Management and Participation: My Question to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Over the course of the previous 3-4 weeks, I’ve had the privilege to attend some wonderful user and customer conferences. One of these was the IFS World Conference held in Boston. The conference featured the announcement of major milestones (1m worldwide users for IFS Applications) and the continued push around IFS Applications 9 to customers and prospects.

The conference also featured a keynote from Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. In his speech, Wales spoke about innovation, disruption, and the principles of business and community growth. (Did you know? In 1919, it took 62 days to get across the US). He also spoke of the mission of Wikipedia (seem image below) and the challenges tied to diversifying Wikipedia’s contributing community.

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, IFS World Conference, May 2015.

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, IFS World Conference, May 2015.

After the keynote session, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Mr. Wales and I managed to shoot over one question. The question revolved around knowledge management and why major organizational initiatives around knowledge management struggle. It seemed like an appropriate question for someone who has supported and enabled the creation of one of the largest and most effective knowledge sharing platforms. His answer (and my interpretation of his answer) focused on three challenges:

  • Design – Organizational knowledge systems are typically not designed by average users and therefore difficult to access, navigate, and use.
  • Focus – Organizational focus on knowledge isn’t strategic to the point where knowledge is treated as an asset. At all levels of the organization, knowledge creation, categorization, and curation, are treated as side projects and not as strategic initiatives.
  • Culture – It still isn’t ok to ask for help. Culturally, asking for help can be viewed as a weakness especially when we are all supposed to be ‘experts’ in our fields.

These are all extremely interesting topics as we embark on a research project tied to knowledge management for service effectiveness. The project will also focus on the extension of knowledge to customers to improve customer self-service opportunities. If interested in participating in the research or in sharing your knowledge journey, feel free to reach out to me at sd@servicecouncil.com or via @suma1r on twitter.

On a final note, Wales shared a video highlighting the impact of knowledge access on social change. Do spend a minute on this –

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