October 2017 - The Service Council

Don’t Outsource Service Excellence, Deliver Value with the Aid of Service Partners

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

In field service not much changes year to year, right? Life for the field service organization is something breaks, send a technician out, fix the problem, and move on to the next work order.

But the field service world is changing. Two trends, in particular, are leading to a new world for the field service organization: the desire to deliver value-added experiences to customers and service being delivered through a partner network. Recent research from The Service Council (TSC) highlighted that a top priority for field service leaders was the desire to improve the experience being delivered to customers, as noted by 74% of respondents. This concept of an experience brings into focus a need by service organizations to engage customers beyond what is listed in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and create on-going partnerships with the customer to ensure mutual value is received. This is where the second trend noted earlier adds a layer of complexity, this value is often delivered through a degree of separation from the manufacturer or service organization. Third party service providers, dealers, and contractors are more involved in the service experience of today. TSC research highlights that 76% of service organizations and manufacturers rely on third parties for the completion of service work. These convergent trends of customers demanding more value while manufacturers lose control of the service that is being delivered require a new look at service. This new service world depends on a number of things to work well, but to get a start I will highlight just three which stand out to me as imperative for service success:

1- Work together to create a mutually beneficial long-term plan which addresses the needs of all stakeholders. As noted earlier, with three-fourths of OEMs and service organizations working with partners to deliver service, there is a need to ensure they work with their partner network to create a strategy which incorporates the needs and desired outcomes for all parties. Historically, the relationship between service provider and OEM was based around the installation of equipment which transferred ownership of the customer to the service company until the next piece of equipment needed to be sold to a customer. But this washing of hands by the OEM is changing as they realize the need to maintain a line of sight into the customer experience. For example, TSC field service research highlighted that the top priority for Service Champions was to improve the field service experience being delivered to customers. The interdependent partnership between the OEM, the service organization, and the customer must be built on an understanding of what the customer wants from the service experience. All three groups need to have a long-range plan in place to ensure everyone benefits from the partnership and all groups have visibility into the value being received and delivered.

2- Align the metrics and ensure visibility for all. Too often, metrics are internal facing as opposed to looking at the metrics which impact the service ecosystem (i.e., service partners, end customer, suppliers). As service networks and the number of service partners grow and transform, so should the KPIs that measure service performance. This also requires an improved focus on performance visibility across all stakeholders in areas that are most relevant to them. OEMs need visibility into the service experience being delivered and confirmation resolution has been achieved, service partners need visibility into changes or enhancements in the product, and customers need visibility into when and who will be providing resolution of the problem. This is important as in order for the manufacturer to be focused on product reliability and sales, they must have visibility into when service calls are initiated, what was the problem (i.e., factory defect, misuse), and if the customer is satisfied by the response. Without visibility across the network to performance, the OEM may be blind-sided when they look to sell the next piece of equipment, or the service organization may be overtaxed by a spike in services calls as they were unaware of a defect.

3- Make sure the end customer knows who to call when something goes wrong. As service partner relationships evolve, often the name on the equipment or product is not the name on the van that shows up to fix it when it breaks. Regardless of service provider choice, the end customer should have a seamless experience when requesting or needing service as the customer doesn’t really care who shows up to fix the problem. Delivering a seamless experience that is aligned with the OEM’s service brand is difficult to accomplish if integrations between systems and process flows are disjointed.

As we continue to see more manufacturers leverage service partners for the execution of service to the end customer, the attention paid to this service ecosystem will only grow and become more crucial to the shared success of all groups. The relationship between a manufacturer and its service partners is not something to be considered insignificant or trivial. These parties must work together to create a sustained value position to the end customer. Otherwise, they are bound to only see the short-term gains and miss the longer-range impact to growth, their business, and success.

Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, and GDPR – Notes from our European Research Advisory Board

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

We were extremely pleased to launch our European Research Advisory Board earlier this year. Our members include leaders from organizations such as BioTek, Canon, Fujitsu, Konica Minolta, Leica Microsystems, LiuGong Europe, Honeywell, IMAX Corporation, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Schneider Electric, and Vitec.

On Oct 5 2017, we hosted our quarterly conversation with several board leaders and the following topics were top of mind.

Global Consistency

Large, global organizations are always looking for that fine balance between global governance and local execution. This is vital in ensuring that best practices are shared across geographies while local requirements and needs are prioritized. With multiple language and cultural preferences in compact geographic area (not accounting for Russia), Europe presents a standardization problem for many organizations operating across the region. Yet, there is an increasing focus from organizations to standardize primarily focusing on product portfolio, product pricing, and contractual commitments across the region.

Digital Transformation

While investments continue to be made in the development of connected products and services, organizations are heavily reviewing what can be done with the aid of connected data. Internally, the focus continues to remain on using connectivity to develop predictive and responsive service models, but we see more organizations looking to build new products and services on the foundation of connected assets. Externally the focus remains on using connection to enhance the customer experience delivered to all levels of service customers, with the intent of driving long-term customer commitment.

Customer Experience

Our 2017 leadership and strategy research indicates a greater focus on customer experience from organizations that have traditionally been very operationally-oriented. For most of the organizations on our European Advisory Board, customer-centricity is a key component of their 2017 and 2018 business strategies. The desire now is to convert strategy into action and to measurably enhance customer journeys and overall experience. Immediate or short-term customer experience actions are focused on:

  • Understanding and meeting customer needs (both expressed and unexpressed)
  • Improving ease and effort of interaction, primarily via online services or self-support.
  • Establishing a focus on consistency of experience, from front-line to back office to self-service.

GDPR on The Mind

Our conversation also delved into the upcoming enforcement of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR and its counterpart the Data Protection Bill in the UK) in the EU on May 25, 2018 and the impact of that on overall businesses. Service leaders on our Advisory Board had varying levels of involvement in GDPR preparations but noted that the impact could be significant. Responses were mostly focused on:

Data Privacy Audits are Necessary

For those organizations with a large portfolio of service interactions, it is vital to perform business process audits (kick the tires) to determine which areas of security, data management, and privacy need to be strengthened. In some instances, the use of cloud-based software tools raised the question of where customer data is/would be
stored to ensure appropriate attention to the new regulations.

Initiatives are Led by HR and IT, but Service Does Touch the Customer

At most organizations, GDPR preparation paths were being led by IT (security, governance, data management) and HR (training, documentation). Yet, there was wide recognition of the role that service plays in accessing, storing, and updating customer data, and the potential liability assigned to poor customer data management.

Front-Line Agents Must Pay Attention to Process

As part of current (or planned) audits, there was a desire from leaders to ensure that front-line service professionals, especially field service agents, were trained and updated on the importance of securing customer data and in taking the necessary steps to ensure that customer data was protected and secure.

Compliance Already in Place

Many organizations indicated that their internal data security and privacy standards already met or surpassed those mandated by GDPR and that this initiative was more of a refresher to ensure attention and compliance across the organization.

At the end of November, we’ll get to spend some more time with our Advisory Board and will dive into topics around artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and 2018 business growth. If interested in joining our European Research Advisory Board, please contact:

Aly Pinder, Jr.
Director of Research
E: ap@servicecouncil.com

Industrial Strength Field Service: ServiceMax and GE Digital’s Vision from Maximize 2017

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Conference season is heating up. On the heels of a very successful 2017 Smarter Services Symposium, I had the opportunity to attend Maximize 2017 in Las Vegas (Note: If interested, you can donate to support the victims of the recent tragedy via the following page). Maximize is the annual user, customer, and prospect conference held by ServiceMax, from GE Digital, and the Las Vegas event was the first of three global Maximize events. Its also worth noting that GE Digital’s Mind & Machines event is scheduled for a few weeks from now and we wonder how long Maximize will continue in its current form. I hope it stays.

My summary notes and takeaways from Maximize are split into two sections.

Section 1: Future direction and plans from ServiceMax, from GE Digital
Section 2: Learnings and Takeaways from customer presentations and sessions.

Section 1: Company and Product Direction

Getting Tighter with GE Digital

Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax, highlighted that the vision for ServiceMax was to enable their customers to deliver “Zero Unplanned Downtime’.
ServiceMax, GE Digital Vision
In the realm of vision-related statements, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, echoed that the intent and plan was to enable customers to use GE Digital’s capabilities in Asset Performance Management (APM) to optimize and make the machine more efficient, and to use the capabilities of ServiceMax to make people (field service engineers) more efficient. Both leaders laid out the Predix + APM + FSM vision for GE Digital, one that aligns to our commentary around the acquisition earlier in the year. The combined offering is essential to increasing solution appeal to industrial manufacturing and other heavy verticals where GE Digital has a bigger footprint. We were made privy to the fact that the GE business units have experienced nearly $100M of enhanced productivity because of their usage of ServiceMax and that it was now time for these enhancements to be extended to GE Digital customers. It was also noted that none of ServiceMax’s 107% year-over-year revenue growth included customers acquired via the GE Digital customer list or funnel. The company is currently investing heavily in the sales, marketing, and its R&D infrastructure, to target customers in Industrial manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Energy, Mining, and more.

Vision Drives Product Strategy

Rei Kesai, ServiceMax’s SVP of product, keynoted Day 2 of Maximize and shared how the strategic vision was being translated into product roadmap and release cycles. In Winter 17 (press), the major push was on Optimization in real-time, an area where ServiceMax had originally chosen to partner with ServicePower. In Summer 17 (press), the focus was on the integration between APM and FSM for condition-based maintenance. In Fall 17, the focus will be on Machine Learning and some initial use cases for AI in field service. In my opinion, there was a concerted effort made to show off the enhancements made to dispatch and scheduling, areas that have traditionally been the talk of field service software companies but have recently been pushed into the background while more interesting topics like IoT, AI, or AR get all the attention. To dig deeper into this requires a little review of ServiceMax’s overall journey. When ServiceMax was originally introduced, one of the biggest strengths of the solution was that it was a simple solution built on the force.com platform. In time, the solution built on its initial traction with a great deal of focus on the mobile front-end and the mobile user in terms of UI, experience, and workflow. This was a great way for the organization to attract a growing list of organizations interested in automating field service workflows while allowing for a link with back-end CRM. As the customer base grew, and so did the solution needs, ServiceMax invested heavily in strengthening the back-end of its solution offering tied to scheduling, dispatch, parts, and installed base management. The attempt, echoed in messaging and marketing, was to exhibit that the solution was enterprise-ready for the likes of organizations such as Pitney Bowes, Becton Dickinson, and Johnson Controls.
ServiceMax, Product Roadmap
Now, the desire is to show an industrial-ready solution, which takes us back to the need for scheduling, planning, and work optimization. There is still a great deal of inefficiency built into traditional work triage, scheduling, and dispatch operations. While investments in the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI can assist in the reduction of these inefficiencies, maturity in business readiness is needed to accelerate these results. In parallel, organizations need to continue to shore up their processes which can then be augmented with the aid of various forms of machine, data, and business intelligence.

(Note: We did see a demo of a dispatch console and an updated mobile application. It was also mentioned that mobile updates would be made more frequently as a result of a more rapid innovation cycle. These updates would be decoupled from the back-end force.com updates. In speaking of the mobile front-end, Athani Krishnaprasad, ServiceMax’s Chief Strategy Officer, also spoke of the desire to fine tune ServiceMax’s capabilities to accelerate the productivity benefits to the field. This aligns with our vision of mobile maturity in field service, something that we have written about quite extensively. I can’t agree with this vision enough.)

What About the Customer?

We heard about the optimization of machines with APM, and the optimization of field service resources with FSM, but what happens to the end customer? As the chart below signifies, service leaders are greatly concerned with the end customer experience regardless of the channel of contact (phone, chat, remote, field).
Leadership 2017 Initiatives
This requires some back-end knowledge of the customer and not just the asset being serviced. Customer data and interactions are typically a forte of CRM. Both Bill Ruh and Dave Yarnold claimed that CRM-related functionality will continue to be the realm of partners, with the biggest being Salesforce. The relationship with Salesforce will continue to be a major talking point since ServiceMax is built on the force.com platform and that Salesforce has its competing Field Service Lightning product. Yet, there is complete commitment from ServiceMax and GE towards the force.com platform and there are no secret projects towards rewriting the architecture of the solution on a different platform.

Artificial Intelligence in Field Service

As is the case with Augmented Reality, everyone must throw their hat into the AI game. ServiceMax’s approach is to look at specific use cases in which machine learning, a component of AI, can be relevant to solving major field service problems. From a product point of view, the initial push from ServiceMax is in the field of dispatch to provide dispatchers with predictive service completion windows. I’ll have more to say on AI in field service and support, but the biggest issue I see is that buying organizations see AI as a net new technology purchase that requires a separate bucket of funds and evaluation criteria. For that, an attempt to introduce AI into an organization, especially one that has just been beaten over the head with mobile and IoT, is met with a “we’ll get to that later” approach. If I have it right, AI is more of an infrastructure play for the digital service organization and requires a long-term vision that is supported with short-term incremental investments. These incremental investments focus the removal of challenges in getting work done at the triage, dispatch, or field level. Once these investments have been accepted and become a part of the day-to-day, deeper learning and perception tools will garner interest from participating service organizations.(If interested, do participate in our AI for Service survey here)
AI in Service Usage

Section 2:Session Takeaways

What Happens when All Else Fails?

It was a special treat to hear Gene Kranz and Jim Lovell speak about their time in the space program and during Apollo 13. In the context of Apollo 13, It is commendable to think about all the things that these two individuals and their teams did right when everything else went wrong. It raises an interesting question about the future of field service where field service labor will become increasingly reliant on automation for diagnosis, support, and resolution. Will our field technicians have enough product knowledge (mechanical, electrical, digital) to solve service issues when everything else fails?

LASER Focused

Gary Johnson from Pitney Bowes shared the increasing role that service plays in an overall customer engagement strategy, especially in an organization that is transforming. He also introduced the customer lifecycle approach of LASER – Land, Adopt, Service, Engage, and Renew, that serves as the basis for Pitney Bowes’s investments and decision-making.

Man and Machine

Mark Drummond, President of LiftOne LLC, highlighted the steps that his organization is taking to address the existing (and future) technician shortage in several industries. The average age of his field service workforce is 56 years old and he must ensure that his hiring, training, planning, resource allocation, and automation strategies are aligned to meet the service needs of tomorrow. For his organization, field service automation investments can’t only be made with short-term productivity goals in mind, but they need to account for the longer-term workforce, customer, and organizational needs.

That’s a lot for a short update. If you were at Maximize, feel free to reach out and share what you saw/heard. We look forward to continuing to track the progress of ServiceMax as part of the overall GE Digital family.

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