News Archives - The Service Council

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.

Symposium Series: NCR’s Sophia Weatherby Williams on Designing Customer Experiences

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Our Smarter Services Symposium kicks off in less than 1 week and we’re in the final planning stages. Our thanks to all our great speakers for their interest and dedication to making this the finest keynote line up yet. As mentioned previously, we still have a few major keynote announcements to make. Today, we’re pleased to announce that Sophia Weatherby Williams from NCR Corporation will be bringing down the house as the PM keynote on our Day 2 roster. Sophia serves as the Vice President and General Manager for the Telecom and Technology Business Unit at NCR Corporation.

Sophia’s session will focus on the concept of customer experience design and how NCR has reinvented and continues to re-invent the experience that it delivers to its B2B customers. Customer experience and service design aren’t new concepts, but have typically been embraced to a greater degree in the B2C world. In research conducted by The Service Council in 2015, 20% of respondents indicated that they were focused on customer experience design as a core component of their overall CEx programs.

Whether organizations like it or not, it is difficult to survive now without focusing on the customer experience. And focus on the customer can no longer be relegated to an online survey program. In 2017 polling of service business leaders, changing customer expectations were the most disruptive factor driving leadership action. With that, more organizations were injecting resources into broader CEx practices and processes. We’ve seen an uptick in the focus on Voice of the Customer, Customer Segmentation, and Journey Mapping practices, all which are components of customer experience design.

L-ExternalChallenges

At its core, Customer Experience Design is the practice of designing products/services with the focus on the quality and thoughtfulness of the user experience. Every touchpoint within the customer’s interaction with a product/service is designed to deliver experiences based on the brand’s promise. (Source: UX Magazine, February 2016). There are two important things to consider here. The first is the focus on the user experience regardless of the type of interaction. The 2nd is the alignment of the user experience with the organization’s brand promise. Most definitions of CEx design only focus on the first piece.

We’re excited to hear about NCR’s customer experience journey and how they deliver a Best-in-Class experience to their customers. We’re also looking forward to hearing about the NCR focus on the design and development of unique and thoughtful experiences for its customers. If interested in hearing Sophia’s talk, please join us at the Symposium this year. Attendance passes can be acquired here. If interested in attending a specific day of the event, please feel free to reach out directly to myself or to Ray Morley, Director of Member Services, at rm@servicecouncil.com. And finally, if you won’t be able to make it to Chicago September 11-13, please join our Symposium Recap webcast where we highlight the key learnings and takeaways from the event.

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.

Friday Service Recap: Jeff Bezos on Business Success, Artificial Intelligence, Generation Z

By Sumair Dutta | News | One Comment

Every week, Aly and I will post our most interesting service-minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 2-3 others for your review.

For the tenth installment, and week 15 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Aly was traversing the world this week and will send in his travel report next week.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Customer Obsession at Amazon
Source: recode: Link

Commentary: Jeff Bezos’s annual shareholder letter hasnt reached the acclaim of Warren Buffet’s but given all the accolades that Amazon receives, and for the fact that Bezos is now the 2nd richest person person in the world (besting Buffett), its worth a read. There are many interesting areas in this letter, but the one that stands out the most is his focus on customer obsession. I really enjoy this line:

“Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

In our 2017 benchmark survey of service leaders (GET INVOLVED), nearly 6 out of 10 indicated that customer-centric initiatives were their primary area of focus for 2017. While not all of these leaders are looking to invent on their customers’ behalf, they are beginning to understand that success requires more than an obsession with operational efficiency or with product development.
2017 Objectives - TSC Data

Our Three Other Articles
1- Can United Recover (Knowledge at Wharton, 4/13/17)
2- How Companies Are Using AI (Harvard Business Review, 4/14/17)
3- Amazon will pay you to stay home, work customer service (RetailDive, 3/29/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group 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
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Tesla, Customer Loyalty, the Banking Industry and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting 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 fifth installment, and week 10 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Sales practices threaten customer satisfaction in banking industry
Source: HousingWire: http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39475-jd-power-sales-practices-threaten-customer-satisfaction-in-banking-industry

Commentary: A customer’s trust should be invaluable to a service organization. Customer loyalty and advocacy are levels of satisfaction that most service organizations strive to achieve. This article highlights how this trust and loyalty should have been treated with reverence and not like a blank check. The customer and their best interests should always be a priority and not only when times are tough, as was the case after the financial crisis in the banking industry. To avoid some of the issues in regard to a sales team and a customer support team with different goals, organizations must look to create a culture of transparency, collaboration across functions (i.e., sales, service), and a customer first attitude. These three areas combined force a long-term vision of the organization and its responsibility to its customers, and not a short-term return.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Tesla Faces Customer Service Hiccups as it Ramps Up
Source: Motely Fool: https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/03/07/repairing-my-tesla-model-s-has-been-an-utter-night.aspx

Commentary: There are several Tesla customer service stories hitting the web, but the overarching concern is if Tesla can ramp up its service operations to support nearly a half-million new customers in the next two years tied to its Model 3 release. If the company continues to follow its current model of company-owned sales and service centers, then it certainly needs to ramp up its capabilities to effectively meet service needs. This might create an untenable capital situation given the number of stores and employees needed to support a growing mass of customers. In that, Tesla might have to rethink its direct sales and support strategy and adapt a hybrid version where dealers are introduced into its network. The company currently uses certified third-party stores for cosmetic work, a strategy that has led to this current customer service storm.

Our Three Other Articles
1- McDonalds simplifies its Ice Cream machines to Cool Customer Complaints (Inc., 3/6/17)
2- Machine Learning Used to Improve Customer Service (Tech Republic, 3/9/17)
3- DFW Airport named No. 1 in customer service in North America (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/6/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group 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
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Human Voice, 24-hour Customer Support, Hulu Live and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting 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 fourth installment, and week 9 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Human Voice and its Impact on Work
Source: MIT Sloan Management Review: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/why-the-human-voice-is-the-years-most-important-technology/

Commentary: Voice can be a powerful agent, especially when it relates to field based work. We (The Service Council) have previously commented on how voice-based interactive agents can support field service engineers get their work done. Quite often the eye shifts to augmented reality and the impact of that technology on solving field-based issues. We do believe in the long-run impact of AR in the field, the impact will be more significant in the area of training. In saying that, voice-based interactive agents can greatly assist field agents complete basic tasks of order entry and recording without actually having to spend the time on recording those tasks in a mobile application. In our direct-to-engineer surveys, we found that the time spent on administrative tasks was the most significant headache for field engineers in their day-to-day work (Read more here). Removing these headaches can have a significant impact on field-based productivity.

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Hulu adds 24-hour customer support as it goes Live
Source: Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-hulu-services-idUSKBN16904T

Commentary: Competition and customer attrition have shown a bright light on the impact of good customer service. This is not unique to the world of TV services such as Hulu, and has led organizations in both B2B and B2C markets to focus on customer experience as a key differentiator. For Hulu, investments in a 24-hour non-stop customer support team should have been a no-brainer and not a result of seeing at times up to a 50% customer defection. But a lost customer isn’t the only threat, poor customer service can lead to negative social media which has a broader reach than just a factor of one. Customer support in the age of social and heightened customer expectations demands that service agents can be reached (across support channels) and they have the right answer when an issue arises. Customer service still seems to be a reaction to unmet customer needs as opposed to a strategic aspect of the service business. Businesses, regardless of industry, need to view support as a strategic differentiator and not something to be added as a response to a growing number of complaints.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Alexa could pick up your next customer service call (CNET, 2/28/17)
2- Great Customer Service Starts with a Clear Purpose (Harvard Business Review, 2/28/17)
3- How to Get Better Customer Service, and Skip the Rage (New York Times, 2/28/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group 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
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Data & Hans Rosling, The NFL’s Customer Service Story, and More

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting 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 first iteration, and week 6 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:
Topic: The NFL, Customer Service, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Source: http://www.buccaneers.com/news

Commentary: As we put a bow on another NFL season with the exhilarating or demoralizing (depending on your perspective) Super Bowl earlier this week, it is interesting that the NFL and one team in particular understands the value of great customer service. Four out of the last five years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finished #1 amongst NFL teams in customer service. A cynic may say, sure they need to win in CSat because they haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 2003. But I would actually argue that the Bucs in particular and the NFL as a whole understand that they have to win first with a heightened in-person customer experience. The alternative is fans staying home on their couches sitting in front of their own 4K TV and keeping their dollars in their pockets. The Bucs have turned high levels of customer satisfaction year over year into increased attendance. Share of wallet is a concern, even for the #1 sport in the US and the customer experience is how they intend to win. Competition even impacts the NFL.

In 2017, I expect to see more activity around the customer experience and organizations in seemingly non-customer focused industries emphasize CSat and service innovation. Not only are dollars at stake, but also the desire to build life-long relationships with customers. If you think you are not in a customer-focused business, you might just be proven wrong this year.

Sumair’s pick:
Topic: The passing of Hans Rosling
Source: Multiple

Commentary: This isn’t a service story per se. It’s a data story and one that will touch most in analytical professions. It was sad to hear about the passing of Professor Hans Rosling this week. If you haven’t heard of Professor Rosling, it’s worth spending some time on his extremely popular TED Talks. I’ve included one of my favorites below:

Professor Rosling spent a lot of time arguing the importance of data and insight to combat ignorance and bias. While he applied this to socio-economic situations, his wisdom is applicable to most situations. In service businesses globally, there is an attempt to become more predictive. In that, organizations must rely on data and information to overcome biases about customer needs, desires, and expectations. As Professor Rosling states, “The first thing to do when seeking the future, is to know the present.” In a previous talk, he also cautioned against the use of general averages to drive business actions. The action aimed at 20% of a customer base might be very different when compared to that of another 20%. Yet, data is the necessary recipe for strategy.

Our Three Other Articles:

1- Chipotle to tie employees’ pay to customer service in comeback move (HR Dive, 2/9/17)
2- Dish Network’s new ad campaign wants to hear customers’ comments, complaints (The Denver Post, 2/6/17)
3- The Impending Crisis of the Internet of Things (Pacific Standard, 2/3/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment.

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com or @suma1r

Drones, the Super Bowl, and Service by Machines

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

The American tradition of watching the Super Bowl is even more spectacular when the game is good (sorry Falcons fans and the throngs of fans that dislike the Patriots). This is one of the last bastions of shared experiences we have in pop culture – where DVRs, cord cutting, and a general cynicism that leads “spoiler alerts” in every Twitter feed!

But this past Sunday night, most of us (based on Nielsen rating of 48.8 or 48.8% of US households watched) got to share in the fun and / or agony of defeat, together. But beyond the spectacle of the game and the comeback, we also got to share in a variety of other pop culture traditions (i.e., commercials, Half-time show). And again, as I’ve said before my posts try to avoid social commentary but instead look at the customer service and service impacts of the things around me.

The halftime show this year was very much so a meeting of technology and entertainment. If like me, you had to do a double-take when you saw the sky behind Lady Gaga light up with the American flag thinking “wow that’s cool CGI”. But I later Googled to find out those were drones!

Drones and the IoT Go Beyond the Cool

The evolution of drones (definition – any unmanned aircraft or ship that is guided remotely) in the commercial and enterprise worlds are beginning to take shape. No longer are these just cool mini-flying helicopters, they now provide the light of a fireworks shows used for entertainment, video surveillance tools for inspections and security, and a new logistics delivery channel for the supply chain. The latter two areas, I think, provide the future promise for the value of the drone – a service being delivered by a machine as opposed to a human.

The Amazon drones dropping off my 2-day shipment at my condo in Boston may not have become reality just yet, but machines are delivering a high quality of security surveillance services now. Connected machines which can capture data and can be operated remotely is nothing new but the applicability in business is becoming far-reaching. Drones are just one in a line of use cases. We’re still in early days for drones being used in everyday service delivery, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon – there are still organizations which are in the process of making the leap from paper-based processes to mobile tools which enable knowledge capture, data sharing, and resource tracking. The future promise of drones might be immense, but there is a lot of work to do to get it past the spectacular and cool to attain the business value some organizations are targeting.

Another connected technology and movement that is very relevant right now is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is changing the way we think about the world around us and the role that machines should play in service. Connected machines and products have changed the amount and type of data we can gather in real-time. But what is really important for business, is not the amount of data we are able to gather but the fact that we can have data access in real-time and can make decisions based on the now and not on a report cultivated three weeks ago. And this access to data also enables service leaders to proactively stage resources in advance of failures or contact customers to engage in a different type of conversation – one that occurs before there is a break or equipment failure. Without the connection between customer or operational value being created, the IoT like drones would just be a cool thing and not a valuable technology advancement. We have a current project available for your participation in regard to the IoT journey of service organizations. You can participate in a short survey here and share how your organization is ensuring that IoT isn’t just a cool technology but part of the infrastructure which is driving service in 2017.

Other Predictions for 2017 (this year will be more than just Drones)

I expect that there will be tangible service advancements this year, well beyond those seen by drones and maybe even more than the IoT. A few of my predictions are below.

– Technicians will be asked to deliver more than resolution, and will become partners with customers.
– The walls between sales, marketing, and service will begin to fade away to allow for customized service offerings and better communication of value.
– Engaged service workers will provide heightened a service experience for the end customer.

These are just a few of my predictions for the coming year. To hear more of my predictions and better still the initiatives from two service leaders from HPE and Sterilmed, please listen to our recent 2017 Preview Webcast.

The Super Bowl highlighted the future of technology which will have an impact on service as well as entertainment. But I believe the future isn’t too far off for more tangible service advancements, many of which will be aided by technology.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

What’s New in 2017? Ritz Carlton Culture Workshop & More

By John Carroll | News, Perspective | No Comments

As we put a close on 2016, we felt it was necessary to briefly, yet appropriately, thank The Service Council community (you) while calling attention to major milestones reached this year and those to come in 2017. In 2016, we’ve achieve so much with your support, including:

  • Research Panel grew to 33,000 global customer support executives.
  • Solution Partners grew to 20 of the leading technology innovators across their respective domains.
  • Advisory Board grew with the additions of newcomers Mike Romeo (VP of Field Operations at Xerox Technical Services), Danilo Elez (SVP of Service, Americas at KONE Corporation) among others.
  • The Service Council Team grew with the addition of Aly Pinder announced as Director of Member Research & Communities.

To our Advisory Board, Solution Partners, Contributing Partners and to the broader Research Panel Community, it is with a tremendous amount of gratitude that we thank you for supporting The Service Council in helping to foster the community and information platform we aim to create to the global services, customer support and customer experience community. With your support we are filling this promise.
As we wrap 2016 and usher our way into 2017, The Service Council team is anxious to hit the ground running with several new initiatives we feel will continue to broaden our value to the community, including:

  • Research Groups organized around 9 categories (Leadership & Strategy, Field Service, Parts, Data, Customer Experience, Sales & Marketing, Workforce & Talent, Safety and Technology). We feel this will assist in building sub-communities with specialized interest around certain functional and strategic parts of the customer support organization.
  • Subject Matter Experts organized by Research Group and recognized for expertise/experience in a certain area of the service and customer support business but also for their willingness to support their peers through facilitated dialogue supported by The Service Council.
  • 2017 Smarter Services Symposium announced to be held September 13-15th in Chicago (Swissotel).

We are very pleased to announce that the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center will return to the 2017 Symposium. At last year’s Symposium, we welcomed Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director of Culture Transformation at Ritz-Carlton, who delivered an impassioned speech on Memorable Customer Experience. This coming year, Ritz-Carlton will both address the main conference delivering a keynote presentation while also hosting a Culture workshop which attendees can partake in. We encourage you to RSVP early as this workshop is sure to be in high demand. To reserve a seat, please follow this link and Ray Morley, Director of Member Success will assist in confirming.

Thank you once again for an outstanding year and wishing you a happy holiday!

John Carroll
CEO
The Service Council
jtc@servicecouncil.com or +1.617.717.8300

The Killer App for IoT is Service: GE Digital Acquires ServiceMax

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

As GE prepares for its Mind and Machines Internet of Things (IoT) conference, it added an interesting item to the agenda with the purchase of field service powerhouse ServiceMax for $915m (Press Release). ServiceMax has previously had a footprint in several GE businesses (since Sept 2010) and now GE expects to connect and extend its Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) vision and Predix platform into the field.

It’s long been rumored that ServiceMax would eventually be bought. Initial signals pointed to Salesforce, the platform on which ServiceMax was built. As Salesforce began the pursuit of its own field service journey, most eyes turned to PTC. Yet, $900m or so seems like an asking price that PTC was unlikely to swallow given its wave of IoT and service investments.

Our First Take (of Many)

First and foremost, this is a big field service play. Recent acquisitions of enterprise field service software providers have been in the $400-$500m range and this is quite an investment by GE Digital. GE’s transformation from industrial giant to digital partner has been well documented and the company most recently purchased Meridium and its Asset Performance Management capabilities. Where Meridium excels in enhancing maintenance processes within the four walls of a manufacturing facility, ServiceMax offers a similar value proposition for assets in the field. The same type of machine performance data and intelligence can be used to:

  1. Improve reactive service and maintenance opportunities
  2. Develop predictive support models
  3. Develop new products and services (driven by service information)
  4. Develop new relationship models (output-based, consumption-based)

ServiceMax’s enterprise customers and prospects will greatly benefit from the added investment, especially in the areas of connected field service and analytics. A number of these enterprise organizations are looking for assistance in the development and execution of their IoT roadmap and strategy, and the GE Digital-ServiceMax combination will likely offer the key components in a productized form. (Note: ServiceMax and PTC currently offer a connected service product for which the organizations have recently signed early customers)

For GE Digital, the purchase opens up IoT-ready verticals in medical devices, building services, and Industrial Manufacturing. While many within these industries already have pockets of an IoT strategy (primarily for reactive service or predictive maintenance), these organizations are making build vs. buy decisions on their future IoT roadmaps and are looking for partners to help them get started.

From a broader IoT perspective, GE’s investment points to the fact that improved service and maintenance processes still offer the clearest form of ROI when it comes to IoT investments. While IoT and IIoT holds a lot of promise, very few organizations have really been able to scale into servitized business and operating models. This takes time. For a number of organizations, servitized models only work with products that were designed and manufactured with connectivity in mind. But in a world where customers continue to hang on to legacy equipment, there is work to be done. (See challenges below)
IoT Challenges
Yet, organizations understand the language of efficiency. Field service is still bogged down by manual processes and even though mobile devices are common in the hands of field service teams, most organizations have only leveraged mobile capabilities to replace paper-based forms. A greater use of mobility promises further efficiency gains and this continues to be the major selling point of mobile applications even though the revenue and customer experience ramifications are significant. Most organizations want to get some quick wins from a cost-saving and efficiency point-of-view before they have the bandwidth to invest in other capabilities.

It is the same with IoT. Organizations want to use enhanced intelligence to reduce unnecessary field service visits. In the case where field service is necessary, service organizations want to make sure that first-time fix rates are high. Moving the needle on a first-time fix from low 70s to the high 70s or mid 80s can have significant cost ramifications (as seen from our data below). These are easier, more measurable wins that can be pointed to as organizations collect more and more data to enable more predictive service algorithms. It also offers a greater deal of time for service organizations to implement a digital-first strategy, one where products are designed, manufactured, and sold with connectivity in place.
Cost of Field Service
The vision of IoT is easy to understand. Converting that vision into action has been difficult for a number of organizations for many reasons (unclear and overlapping IoT landscape, poor transformation roadmaps, a lack of connected solutions). Connected service or connected manufacturing products offer organizations a way to reap the early benefits of IoT while focusing in on a long-term digital strategy. We anticipate that GE Digital’s purchase of ServiceMax will offer service and manufacturing organizations the opportunity to scale with focused IoT-enabled products while planning out an overall digital strategy.

We will have additional comments regarding this over the coming weeks. We’re currently in the throes of an IoT-related research project where service organizations are telling us about their strategies to address key IoT-related challenges. If interested in participating, do reach out to me.

Update 1: Had the chance to speak with ServiceMax co-founder Athani Krishnaprasad. I’ve known Athani for a long time and it was great to hear the excitement about the future of ServiceMax, as part of the GE brotherhood. He did confirm that the worlds of field service and asset management (ServiceMax and Meridium) are converging and that GE’s vision is to bring together the manufacturers and consumers of industrial machines with the aid of data. In a connected world, output and performance are responsibilities of both parties and it won’t just be the manufacturer’s field service engineer who has access to service information. The customer (plant manager, facility manager) will also play an increasingly informed role in service decision-making.

Update 2: We’ve spoken to several ServiceMax and ThingWorx customers for their comments on the acquisition. Most welcomed the investment in field service and in ServiceMax’s capabilities but believe that it’s too early to tell. Others were unclear on how the GE Digital-PTC-ServiceMax trifecta will work moving forward. We anticipate that there might be more on the horizon at Minds and Machines.

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