Symposium Series: Southwest Airlines’s Sonya Lacore on Customer Centricity

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

The Symposium nears – 5 weeks to the day. Last week we introduced one of our keynotes John Rossman and today we’d like to feature Sonya Lacore from Southwest Airlines.

Welcome Sonya

Last month, we were pleased to welcome Sonya Lacore, Vice President of Inflight Operations from Southwest Airlines, to our Day 2 keynote roster that focuses on customer-centricity. Sonya has been with Southwest from 2001 and started there are as a flight attendant. (Her Southwest Profile)

What Will Sonya be Sharing?

On her session on September 12, Sonya will be sharing her thoughts on what customer-centricity means to Southwest Airlines. The airline is often renowned for its operational efficiency and employee friendliness and Sonya believes that the latter makes all the difference in creating a differentiated service and customer experience. She’s quick to bring up that every employee should understand what their function is. This relates to what they do on a day in and day out basis, and it’s something that can be acquired via education and training. What creates a differentiated service or customer experience is the ‘essence’ of an employee’s role. These are the intangibles that lead to an employee considering what else can be done to improve a customer’s situation.

For those in service leadership, Sonya believes that there are three vital questions that need to be top of mind:

Who are your customers?
This goes back to internal vs. external customers. Its key to understand that a service leaders time need to focus on employee empowerment to support customer strategy.
What do your customers want?
Listening to internal and external customers is key to understanding what they value. Delivering on that value is where service leaders need to invest their time and energy. If the gap between what we deliver and what our customers want is large, then the service leaders mission is to bridge that gap.
Have you given your customers something to talk about?
Customers will talk whether you like it or not. What you can shape is what they will talk about. Negative talk can do irreparable damage to a brand, while positive talk can create

How Can I Join the Symposium to Hear Sonya Speak?

We can’t wait for Sonya’s session on September 12 at the Smarter Services Symposium. She promises to share more about the past and future of customer-centric behavior and why she believes that personal interactions become more important in a world where customers are less and less ‘conversational’. If you’d like to hear Sonya at the event, we encourage you to research the event and join us in Chicago.

To learn more about The Service Council’s 6th Smarter Services Symposium, please visit our event page at If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success,, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer,, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer,, 617-717-8300

Unable to make the Symposium this year, but would like to stay in the loop of what’s discussed? Then feel free to save your seat for our post-event webcast (September 21 at 11am Eastern) here.

Symposium Series: The Amazon Way with John Rossman

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

As we near the 2017 Smarter Services Symposium (Register Here), we wanted to introduce you to several of our keynote speakers. Today we focus on John Rossman, Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal and Best-Selling Author of two books on The Amazon Way.

Why we Approached John?

Service expectations are getting consumerized. For all service businesses, the experience that is delivered to customers is evaluated not only against others in the space, but also against the likes of companies like Nordstrom, Zappos (also Amazon), USAA, Ritz Carlton (also at the Symposium), and Amazon. These companies are trailblazers in service and support and we strive to share the perspective of these leaders at the forum that is our Symposium. Our research continues to indicate the growing importance of customer experience as a differentiator for service and support businesses.

At the 2016 Smarter Services Symposium (recap report, blog, webcast), discussions on innovation centered around customer experience and most innovators were looking at aspects of the Amazon experience to model their own strategies and investments.

What Will John Be Sharing with The Group?

John is the author of 2 well reviewed books that talk about The Amazon Way. His first book chronicled the 14 leadership principles that are central to Amazon’s overall culture and philosophy. Principle 1 deals with obsessing over the customer, which is appropriate given our event focus on service and customer journeys. We wont give away the 13 other principles, but they will provide a great roadmap for service leaders who are looking to inject a greater level of customer-centricity into their businesses.

If you can’t wait till September, here is a short preview.

When Will John be Speaking?

John will kick things off on Day 2 (Sept 12, 2017) at approximately 8:30am Central. Day 2 of our event focuses on customer-centricity and customer journeys and is supported by Day 1 (Operational Journeys) and Day 3 (Commercial Journeys). Attendees to the session will also receive a copy of John’s book The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company. These books are being made with the support of our Sponsor Plus Partner ClickSoftware. John will also be available to sign a few copies of his book.

How Can I Join the Symposium to Hear John Speak?

To learn more about The Service Council’s 6th Smarter Services Symposium, please visit our event page at If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success,, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer,, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer,, 617-717-8300

Unable to make the Symposium this year, but would like to stay in the loop of what’s discussed? Then feel free to save your seat for our post-event webcast (September 21 at 11am Eastern) here.

IFS Expands its Service Management Capabilities, Enters the Customer Engagement Game

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Today, IFS (a member of The Service Council) announced the acquisition of mplsystems Limited (mplsystems) and Field Service Management Limited. (See Press Release). Both acquisitions are intended to strengthen the Enterprise Service Management and Field Service Management capabilities of IFS.

In this blog, we’ll speak more of the ramifications of the mplsystems purchase. Field Service Management Limited is a current reseller and implementation partner of IFS in the UK and this acqui-hire is intended to bring FSM implementation experience in house and to strengthen IFS’s implementation and professional services teams.

The acquisition of mplsystems is interesting as it brings new functionality to the IFS service management stack. While there is minor overlap of field service capabilities between mplsystems and IFS, there is major additive functionality afforded via mplsystem’s focus on the omni-channel customer engagement center. In addition to having the staple tools for call handling, email management, social media integration, and workforce management, mplsystems’s claim to fame is in the simplicity of its solution and the ability for customer organizations to provide agents with a simple desktop of relevant customer interactions to resolve customer inquiries. IFS also informs us that mplsystems is investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence in order to:

  1. Improve the contextual relevance of customer information available to service agents when interacting with a customer
  2. Leverage natural language processing capabilities to enable customers to develop service assistants or ‘bots’

This is an interesting move for IFS as previous service acquisitions have focused primarily on the field service and asset management, a natural extension of the core ERP and EAM solutions delivered by IFS. With this, the ideal customer has always been and continues to remain a manufacturing organization that has assets in the field that need to be repaired, replaced, or maintained. In terms of functionality, customer engagement has not been a traditional focus or solution area addressed primarily because it hasn’t been a top priority for manufacturers globally. Most manufacturers care about uptime, efficiency, and productivity in their asset-oriented service models and IFS’s solution was built to offer those capabilities. As a result, customer engagement was typically managed by the customer’s CRM of choice.

That said, manufacturing organizations are changing, and so is IFS. IFS’s move from traditional field service into customer engagement is in the opposite direction of moves made by traditional CRM providers such as Salesforce and Microsoft. These providers have recently taken a keener interest in expanding the field service capabilities of their CRM solutions and in marketing towards a more integrated service management suite. These organizations feel an increasing amount of pressure from customers and prospects to bring the likes of customer engagement, customer support, and field service management together to reduce the burden and complexity of piecing together multiple solutions while ensuring the delivery of a more integrated experience to their customers’ customers.

Our research of service and manufacturing companies continues to show the greater interest in customer experience management (Figure 1, from TSC’s 2017 benchmark of service leadership and strategy). In addition to improving customer listening and voice of the customer activities, CEM initiatives are focused on improving the ease with which customers have access to service, support, and pertinent information.
Leadership 2017 Initiatives

In late 2016 research on customer experience management, the following were the primary objectives of customer experience initiatives at service organizations.

  1. Reducing hold and wait times at time of contact
  2. Connecting customers with the most appropriate service agent on contact
  3. Consistently listening to customers (outside of VoC)
  4. Making it easier for customers to find pertinent information

The following were prioritized outcomes of CEM initiatives:

  1. Improving customer visibility into the status of service events
  2. Ensuring customer communications are carried over regardless of channel
  3. Improving notifications for customers around a service event
  4. Making it easier for customers to connect with the service organization

In field service management, there is an increasing focus on the experience delivered via field service resources (Figure 2 – From TSC’s 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark). While there continues to be a consistent focus on efficiency and effectiveness, there is an increasing amount of attention being paid to the field service experience. Call it FSEM – field service experience management. As in the case of the CEM initiatives identified above, the intent of FSEM is to provide customers with greater access to information and with more control over their field service events.
Field Service 2017 Initiatives
At our 2016 Smarter Services Symposium (2017 event page), every single session had a reference to how the Amazon or Uber-effect was impacting customer expectations. These statements were being made not only by retail or transportation businesses, but even by those in the areas of industrial manufacturing, facilities management, or medical device manufacturing. Organizations are no longer competing against their traditional foes for customer mindshare, they are competing with the likes of Uber and Amazon in the delivery of the best customer experience. In a world where customers can choose lower cost service providers, the customer experience delivered becomes a vital differentiator for service and manufacturing organizations. In our opinion, IFS’s move to bring in mplsystems is a recognition of this trend and a step in the right direction.

Symposium Series: Our 2017 Speakers

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Our 2017 Smarter Services Symposium is less than 2 months away. Last month, I previewed the theme for our 2017 event and now I’d like to do a brief introduction to some of our announced main stage speakers. We anticipate announcing a few more over the course of the next week.

Once again, the agenda for the event is built on the theme of Invigorating Service Journeys, essentially bringing together operational, customer-focused, and commercial journeys.

The following speakers have been confirmed for participation at this year’s event:

For Day 1 (September 11)

  • JOE QUITONI, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation, The Ritz Carlton Leadership Center
  • GREG SHARP, Vice President and General Manager, IMS Division, STERIS Corporation (TSC Board Member)
  • JOHN SHALABY, Vice President, Continuous Improvement, Stericycle Compliance Services
  • BOB FEINER, Senior Vice President, Global Services, Dell EMC

Concluding Day 1, there will also be a special visit from several Chicago-based world champions. More soon…..

For Day 2 (September 12)

  • JOHN ROSSMAN, Digital and IoT Strategy and Execution Leader, Author of The Amazon Way
  • RUSTY WALTHER, Vice President, Global Escalation Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (TSC Board Member)
  • SONYA LACORE, Vice President, Inflight Operations, Southwest Airlines
  • BRIAN DENNIS, Fmr. Vice President, Customer Experience, Kohl’s Department Stores
  • MARK GROVEUNDER, Vice President, Customer Service, Acer Corporation

For Day 3 (September 13)

  • JEFF SMITH, Vice President, Service Operations, Brady Services
  • BRUCE BREEDEN, Leader of Service Operations, Fairbanks Scales (Author of The Intentional Field Service Engineer)
  • KATIE MARTELL, On-Demand Marketer and TEDx Speaker
  • As mentioned earlier, we have several more announcements planned for the coming week. We’re also going to be spending some time introducing what each one of these great speakers is going to be covering at the Symposium. This week, we’ll be publishing blogs introducing John Rossman and Sonya Lacore.

    If interested in learning more about the Symposium, please visit our event homepage. You may also contact me directly at to learn more.

Don’t Let the Complex Stop Your Success – Four Steps to Avoid Service Supply Chain Failure

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

The service leader of today has a lot on his or her plate. Just a few years ago, he/she was primarily expected to manage a service team to efficiently and cost effectively deliver service per Service Level Agreements and service contracts. Show up on time, resolve the issue, and move on to the next job.

But, today the service leader is now looked upon to drive at revenue opportunities and wow customers with an enhanced experience at each interaction. With often contradictory goals, service leaders can’t be blamed for looking for a new line of work. But to their credit, service leaders and their front-line employees love what they do and take the delivery of excellent service on as a challenge not a burden.

However, the complexities of the service supply chain (i.e., parts visibility, variety of parts, lack of internal focus on service) have made these goals of delivering customer value more difficult, but not impossible. Customer-centricity demands more than just the establishment of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program from the marketing department or the sending out of feedback surveys after customer service calls. Service organizations and manufacturers must come to the realization that in order to deliver exceptional experiences, functions beyond the field or customer support team must be aligned and accountable for their role in the delivery of service. Specifically, stakeholders in the service supply chain must recognize the impact that they have on customer experience. In the past, the service supply chain which includes service parts planning, forward and reverse logistics, repair, and inventory management, was not looked upon for its impact on the customer. Service parts were typically managed by the supply chain group or business function and the tools to manage parts were primarily concerned with containing costs and enhancing visibility. This mindset is outdated.

To connect the service supply chain with the support organization, service leaders must focus on four critical areas:

Revisit the Metrics of Success
As the focus of service leaders has evolved from being primarily operationally focused to become more customer-focused, so too must the metrics that determine success. Fill rates and probabilities of stock outs are important to measure, but organizations must review a hierarchy of metrics that touch upon operational results, customer outcomes, and commercial success. Is a secondary truck roll required because the technician didn’t have the right or a good part? Did a customer call in to the contact center because the part on their new piece of equipment was defective? Service leaders need to understand how all of these metrics tie together to ensure that they are driving at the right results.
Respond to the Information Needs of the Team
Customers expect faster and better service. The complexities of the service supply chain make this challenging. At the core of this challenge is information and the confidence that key decision makers are basing their actions on the right information. This requires an integration of information silos. For example, effective parts planning requires the planning tools to pull information from case management and field service execution systems. Similarly, effective parts execution requires that inventory solutions are integrated with field service scheduling and dispatch.

Retool the Service Technology Infrastructure
The tools that have supported the service supply chain have provided only a partial view into parts. Service parts management accounts to more than just parts tracking or inventory management. The dynamic nature of customer expectations and the need to balance suppliers, partners, and a field support team demands a more robust technology infrastructure which is specific to the needs of service. The solution and technology infrastructure for service parts must be able to be scalable to support new regions, product lines, and customer types, accessible by multiple groups, and flexible to changing needs of service.

Rethink the Service Strategy and Team
Where do parts sit within the organization? This is a question that hasn’t been resolved for many organizations just yet as highlighted by 40% of organizations managing parts within service and 32% under supply chain. But whether service parts are managed by supply chain or by the service function, there needs to be dedicated processes, dedicated resources, and a dedicated strategy to support its success. Parts and the service supply chain touch upon too many aspects of the business to be siloed. Organizations that fail to prioritize service parts and integrate the discipline into a broader customer support framework will suffer.

If you would like to explore more of the trends regarding the topic of the service supply chain, feel free to listen to an on-demand webinar I participated in with service leaders from Becton Dickinson and Lexmark here. When you download the webinar recording, you will receive exclusive access to a recent report from The Service Council which further highlights the challenges facing the service leader regarding parts management and what they need to do to excel. Finally, if you would like to join the on-going discussion of parts management and the service supply chain please join our research group of Parts Leaders. As a member of this research group you will be able to benchmark your organization’s maturity against your peers and gain access to research highlighting a path to improvement.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities

Friday Service Recap: Tesla, Safety, Zappos, Culture and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.

For the nineteenth installment, and week 23 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Zappos & a Culture of Customer Care
Source: Forbes (

Commentary: Customer service is not a department. This is not a new tagline or a wholly unique idea. The impact of the customer experience has become a focus area for many organizations, and the realization that service is something that must be engrained in the DNA of the organization has gained steam across a number of industries. Many of these organizations come to this realization as the result of changes to their competitive environment which has forced them to re-evaluate the way in which they woo customers. This is not the case for Zappos and never has been. And, I know I highlighted Zappos during our seventh installment, but Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, has long been one of the leaders I have admired as being forward-thinking in regards to creating a customer-first culture, and I couldn’t resist sharing another glimpse into their story.

A few years back I had the pleasure of touring their new headquarters in Downtown Las Vegas. What was most intriguing was their customer centric mentality wasn’t just plastered on posters across the office or a focus on their employee blog, but a part of every aspect of what we saw within that building and everyone we met. From the tour guide who took us around the office, to the employees that were still “working” when we showed up, to Tony’s desk which was right there amongst the other employees (no corner office), we felt the vibe of customer-first. Too often we think a customer-first mentality needs to focus solely on the client-facing staff, but I would argue that as shown by Zappos it must start at the top and become entrenched in everyone’s mindset across the entire organization. We should all take a page from Zappos and look at customer service not as something that can be measured by a score but as part of the value that can be delivered by anyone within the organization to show customers we care.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Taking Safety Seriously at Tesla
Source: Inc. (

Commentary: In speaking about this with several service leaders, the jury is out on if this is good or poor leadership. It’s good because it shows the leader’s passion for the topic and how safety truly is an executive priority. It’s poor leadership and it points to unsustainable growth and development practices, ones that aren’t supported with the right processes. I tend to see this as good leadership, as employees are driven by an emotional leader, one that is willing to invest his/her personal time in ensuring that their basic needs are met. That said, emotion will only go so far. An emotional response without an appropriate long-term fix will reduce the impact of the next emotional response. Safety, as a topic, requires executive sponsorship and direction. If it’s a priority at the top, it will be a priority at all levels of the organization.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Leveraging Your Brand’s Digital Presence for Customer Service Initiatives (HuffPost, 6/15/17)
2- Amazon delivers a new standard of retail and customer service (Orlando Business Journal, 6/15/17)
3- Apple Undercuts Facebook in the augmented reality platform war (Tech Crunch, 6/13/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer

Symposium Series: Invigorating Service Journeys

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

We are now 3 months away from The Service Council’s Smarter Services Symposium (Sept 11-13, 2017, Learn More). Last month, we took a few minutes to introduce the theme for the event, Invigorating Service Journeys, on a preview webcast (Access On-Demand). In discussing the theme with speakers and prospective contributors, I’ve realized that we seem to have hit a nerve. Let me explain.

The theme for this year’s event is Invigorating Service Journeys. While it works as a stand-alone theme, it does build on the themes of past events while staying true to our broader foundational research principle of Smarter Services. The core of Smarter Services is that the forces of customer satisfaction and business profitability are not adversarial but actually work hand-in-hand. It makes business sense to satisfy, retain and grow your customers. Many have pushed this message in numerous flavors but I vividly remember this concept being shared by Joe Pinto from Cisco Systems at my very first service event nearly 15 years ago. Joe spoke of the importance of taking a customer lifecycle approach and comparing customer acquisition cost with customer retention cost. Joe continues to share his vision at service leadership events.

In reviewing the results of our 2017 service strategy and leadership benchmark, we’ve identified that leading organizations (Service Champions) are those that have embraced the concept of service journeys. For these Champions, service success isn’t limited to operational efficiency, customer-centricity, or commercial success. Its about bringing all three of these together to ensure the delivery of value to the customer, the service network, and to the internal stakeholders in the organization.

In building their service strategy and portfolios, most organizations start by tackling the operational aspects of service delivery. They then mature to focusing on customer-centric activities, typically with an initial foray into customer surveying or voice of the customer. The more mature organizations then review customer feedback and begin to re-evaluate the portfolio of service products available to customers. Bringing these three areas of focus together is the sweet spot, and thats exactly what we’re looking to investigate this September.
Definition of Service Journeys

If you are interested in Invigorating your Organization’s Service Journey, I encourage you to join us in September. You can:

  1. Request the Agenda (Link)
  2. Register for the Event (Link)
  3. Share Your Story (Link)

If you can’t wait till September, and you’d like to learn more about Service Champions and their business maturity, I encourage you to participate in our Service Leadership and Strategy Benchmark for 2017. To do so, please join our service leadership research group and you will receive an invite to participate in the strategy assessment.


The USPS, First Female Postmaster, Lego, Camping and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service experience minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.2
For the eighteenth installment, and week 22 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: The Customer-Centric Lego Rebuild
Source: The Guardian (

Commentary: According to Forbes magazine, Lego was the most powerful brand in 2017. This is incredible considering the struggles that the company was going through in the early 2000s. There are multiple reasons for this turnaround documented in the article, but the one factor is most interesting is the concept of “Camping with Customers” wherein Lego conducts one of the largest ethnographic studies of children in the world. What’s really interesting about this customer-focused approach is that the company not only studies what toys kids want to play with, but they also spend days and days in understanding the ebbs and flows of their customers’ lives. In other service scenarios, this would equate to not only learning about how customers use your products, but how the products fit into the overall routine and livelihood of the customer.

Aly’s pick:

Topic: USPS and the Customer Experience
Source: The Buffalo News (

Commentary: When you do a word association with the United States Postal Service, customer service is probably not one of the terms that comes to mind. And, this sentiment is coming from a son of a postal worker. But the USPS is one of those public services that is riddled with inefficiencies and gets a reputation for not being the most customer-friendly institution to work with (i.e., long lines, increasing prices, fewer services being offered). But what this article highlights is one leader’s focus on delivering high levels of service experience not only to the customer but also to employees. This incoming postmaster has figured out that in today’s competitive environment, you win with customer service and engaged employees. Historically, in industries that have had monopolies or few competitors, the customer experience was less of a focus. But now regardless of the number of competitors, customers have options and service organizations need to be mindful of this factor. The citizens of Buffalo should be ecstatic that they are getting someone who values customer experiences because that mindset means they will also receive value and innovations. When service organizations listen to customers, the good organizations work to improve the product or the service.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Apple unveils Business Chat, which brings customer service and shopping into iMessage (Tech Crunch, 6/9/17)
2- How plant-protein brand Vega uses Instagram for customer service (DIGIDAY, 6/6/17)
3- Harvey Nichols’ marketing boss on transforming the brand through a focus on customer experience (Marketing Week, 6/2/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer

LiveWorx 2017 Recap: Two-Part Series – Service Takeaways

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Last month, I attended PTC’s LiveWorx event in Boston, MA. Once again, this event brought together technology vendors, systems integrators, manufacturers, service organizations, the analyst community, and academia, to explore the possible as it pertains to the Internet of Things and other innovative technologies. This year was headlined by a few announcements which will be detailed by my colleague Sumair Dutta (check back for his thoughts on the event). But, I wanted to focus on the Service impact and takeaways I found from the conference pertaining to service parts management, field service, and the customer experience. Below are my three main takeaways:

Service Parts Management captured the lion share of time regarding service transformation.
This should come as little shock as over the years PTC has acquired several organizations with strong offerings in this service parts space including Servigistics, MCA Solutions, and Xelus. Though those acquisitions go back a few years, PTC is still determined to lay out the strength of their industry-specific capabilities:

o Simulation – This year’s event highlighted an increased spotlight regarding service parts simulation. During this session, an executive from Philips Healthcare which uses a PTC partner supported solution for simulation discussed not only the solution which enabled some interesting analysis techniques and modeling (i.e., Monte Carlo Simulation, network assessments) but more importantly for me was the customer talked about the team behind the data analysis. We continue to see investments being made not only in technology to support better analysis, but service-specific teams to make this data actionable for service. Recent TSC research showed that in order to improve parts focused metrics like fill rate or inventory turns, organizations needed to focus on better planning. The need to improve planning for service across a more complex service supply chain is one of the reasons that there is a great deal of interest in simulation for parts management. The emergence of analytics for service parts is a brave new world which I am interested to see evolve as machines get smarter, customers demand more flexibility in service interactions, and customer feedback comes from a higher variety of channels. With investments in teams and technology for service parts analytics, I expect to continue to see more advanced modeling and analysis come to service in future events and discussions.

o Pricing – At this year’s LiveWorx, parts pricing was centered around the connected asset with a discussion regarding supplier management and the link with pricing. A link was made between the data from parts failure gleaned from the IoT and how that could be used to not only adjust prices based on the scarcity of available replacements but also allowed service organizations to go back to suppliers to have a data-driven discussion around quality. These discussion points went well beyond the argument of moving past a cost-plus pricing model, which I believe has been settled, to explore the impact that pricing has on profitability, supplier relationships, the customer, and the field’s ability to deliver resolution.

A New Service Focus on the Manufacturing Floor Enters the Spotlight.
At past LiveWorx events, service often focused around solving an equipment failure (or predicting one) in the field. Key industries this approach focused around where heavy equipment manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, and aerospace and defense. But announced this year, PTC is looking to provide tools to support both service in the field and also move to a focus on the manufacturing floor. The PTC team feels its history in PLM, CAD, and Product Innovation will provide an integrated approach as to service needs delivered inside a manufacturing facility. There are specific requirements a facilities manager must abide by regarding servicing assets which make this focus an opportunity for PTC (i.e., quickly notifying design of failure modes). It seems like this is a natural progression to expand offerings to an install base which has unmet needs. However, I do think in this environment which is often already rich with ERP players, will demand PTC be cognizant of supplanting solutions already in place which is an area they haven’t wanted to play in. Also, a focus on the manufacturing shouldn’t mean PTC turns away from a field service market which continues to search for solutions that enable technicians and support teams to better service customers efficiently while driving the customer experience and revenues.

The Field Needs a More Prominent Role in the AR/VR Discussion.
In year’s past, field service as it relates to technicians fixing things in the field was more substantially featured. This prominence could be perceived a result of many of the customers of PTC coming from heavy equipment and manufacturing industries where equipment was out in field locations. But at this year’s event, as noted above, the focus has come inside the walls of the manufacturing facility. I see a lot of promise and activity in field service across OEMs and service organizations. In recent research tied to Augmented Reality, nearly two-thirds of organizations are evaluating AR for their service teams. These organizations are looking to improve field service performance support, diagnosis of failures, and remote support. The focus on the manufacturing floor is important, but I think the field is still a fertile ground for innovation broadly speaking but also when we specifically think about the future of AR and VR. At last year’s event, the killer app for AR was Service and PTC has the opportunity to show more use cases of service organizations using AR to promote field outcomes and value being delivered to the front line.

This year’s LiveWorx was once again a fun exploration of the future of technology for service organizations and manufacturers. I do think there is an opportunity for PTC to tie technology innovation closer to the service leader’s roadmap when thinking about getting the right information to the field team to solve more complex problems. The service story took on a lesser role at this year’s event compared to the Manufacturing use case. I would like to see more examples of how PTC service customers are leveraging the solution to deliver resolution and service outcomes. AR and VR show promise, but still being early days with this technology we need to ensure the service story connects the dots both on the manufacturing floor as well as out in the field for service.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities

Your Machines are Talking. Now What?

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Data must drive action. Otherwise, all the strides that your organization has taken to get connected to equipment in the field have been taken in vain. Internally, other stakeholders will be frustrated that the connected journey isn’t yielding any results. More importantly, your customers and partners will wonder about all the value that was promised.

We can’t assume that assets and equipment are connected. While it is easier and cheaper to connect from a technology point-of-view, there are still significant security challenges that need to be addressed when looking to remotely capture performance and health information from a serviceable piece of equipment. Yet, organizations have made progress in developing a connected infrastructure, especially when it comes to net new assets. The major selling point has been value for the stakeholder to who connectivity needs to be sold.

While our research points to increasing maturity around connectivity, we still find that most organizations are in the early stages of acting on the connected data that they have. In a simplistic manner, we find that service organizations embark on 4 stages with the aid of connected data:


At the very core, most service organizations are trying to go from right-to-left, with the right being a field service interaction, and the left being a remote resolve. In that, organizations need to be able to analyze performance data to appropriately resolve service situations when they arise (or even before they do). An analysis of service events, as driven by the products being serviced themselves, can provide organizations with a priority list of actions and investments that they can make when addressing their service response portfolio.


Eventually the hope for most organizations is to predict future failure and service events. That is a nice vision, but one that will continue to be out of reach for most even with their connected infrastructure. The issue isn’t tied solely to technology, but also to the service resources and business models available to deliver predictive service. That said, there is a great opportunity to deliver value in reactive service and support. A better understanding of the service issue can drive a better experience for the customer. This isn’t only reflected in response times or first-time fix, but also in the ability of the service organization to guide the customer through the service event. Enhancing the customer experience around service events continues to rise to the top of the action list for service business leaders.


We spoke about going right-to-left from a field support model to one with a greater incidence of remote resolves. There is another version of right-to-left that is desired by service leaders, one which involves the creation of a service event prior to its occurrence. To accommodate this, organizations need to understand and isolate the leading indicators of pending service occurrences and then have the infrastructure in place to resolve these issues prior to their occurrence.


The first three stages are transformational in how service is delivered. Yet, they don’t significantly transform the interaction and consumption model for customers. As service organizations get a better handle of service events, service needs, usage patterns, and usage preferences, they can begin to tailor products and services to different types of customers. In this, these organizations need to evolve to focusing on the utility that their customers desire, as opposed to relying on the standard product-service purchase/transaction.

I’ll be talking about these four stages on an upcoming discussion with leaders from Microsoft and PowerObjects on June 14 (Register). If interested in learning about the connected service journeys that organizations are taking, I’d encourage you to join in.

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