By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
According to IDC’s Top 10 2019 Predictions for Digital Transformation, at least 55% of organizations will be digitally determined, transforming markets and re-imagining the future through new business models and digitally enabled products and services, by 2020. Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas, Inc. is one company that is leading the way.
Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas, Inc., headquartered in Wayne, NJ, is focused on imaging technologies including digital radiography, ultrasound, healthcare IT, and service solutions. In the Americas, Konica Minolta Healthcare employs 50 direct service technicians and 250 dealer-based technicians. Kevin Chlopecki is the VP of Service and Operations for Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas. Chlopecki’s passion for digital transformation is impressive, and the company’s journey is one that offers valuable lessons for others along their way.
Define Your Vision
Chlopecki’s mission to evolve Konica’s service delivery model from reactive to prescriptive has set the stage for many changes the company has made over the past couple years and will continue to drive further evolution in the years to come. Not only does Chlopecki desire to make Konica’s service operations more effective and efficient, but he has a genuine interest in making the lives of Konica customers easier as well as improving the care those customers provide to their patients.
Moreover, looking for ways to differentiate on service is important to Konica as a relatively small player in its industry. “We are providing tools and services to our customers that enable them to improve productivity and maximize return on their capital equipment investments. We realize that optimizing our service delivery and leveraging powerful data analytics gives us a real opportunity to ‘beat the big guys,’” says Chlopecki. If you aren’t on a level playing field with your competition from a resource and budget perspective, looking for opportunities to leverage technology and streamline processes to win at the service experience level is a brilliant approach.
Having a clear vision for what you want to do and why is important, according to Chlopecki, because you will inevitably be challenged along the way. “Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight – it is an ongoing process,” says Chlopecki. “As such, you’ll go through a cadence of change where your strategy, methods, and choices will be challenged again and again. You have to have a strong vision, and hold tight to that.”
Lay The Proper Foundation For Digital Transformation
Chlopecki has had an “end state” in mind for Konica for quite a while but recognized long ago that you can’t rush the process. This is an area where many companies could benefit from taking notes, because all too often you get an end goal in mind and start rushing to get there. The rush results in overlooked ground work that needs done, oversight of cultural shift and change management, and often short-sighted technology selection. Taking your time and laying the proper foundation for your desired end state is crucial to success.
For Konica, this meant that Chlopecki and the company had to start with some simpler building blocks of modern mobile devices and proper service management. These elements were fundamental in being able to build upon with the use of IoT, and most recently AI. “To be able to be intentional about how you leverage data, you first have to effectively collect it,” says Chlopecki. “Our first step was to ensure we had strong systems in place for field automation, as well as strong adoption, and from there we could begin to build on the next phase of our vision.”
Konica equipped its field technicians with iPads, deployed a service management solution, and then began to take advantage of IoT data. In leveraging the IoT, Konica began to realize the potential of layering on AI to further derive value from its data. However, with limited resources, it wasn’t realistic for the company to employ a team of data scientists to realize the value of AI. Instead, Chlopecki worked to find another way.
Find Ways To Simplify Complex Technology
Small to medium size business are fortunate to have a wide range of tools at their disposal today that are incredibly sophisticated but relatively inexpensive. In order to capitalize on the potential it saw with AI, Konica has coupled its connected devices and data derived from them with a business intelligence platform provided by Domo.
“Not only can we use IoT as a way to provide greater value in our service contracts, but we also use it internally to examine failure points, failure rates, and so on,” says Chlopecki. “By layering on AI, we have been able to go back through our data and triangulate to see and anticipate problems we can fix. For instance, in examining hard drive failures, we were able to use historical data to predict – and avoid – upcoming failures. We’re taking our connected devices, failures reported over an aggregate of time, and cross-correlating to learn and then apply to all current inbound events.”
This insight is useful to Konica in many ways. First, to improve service operations – including the ability to perform remote repairs. Two, to feed data back into product development. And third, to better serve its customers – both in the form of using data as a value add on service contracts, as well as to be able to provide customers custom data that they may be willing to pay for.
“Not only are we able to provide data our customers find incredibly valuable, but we are working to do so in a way that is different and unique,” says Chlopecki. “We have released an app that displays this data in a customized, easy-to-consume way so that a technologist can see information in a way that will resonate with them instead of having to pour through charts and graphs. Again, we’re always coming at this from the perspective of how we can make the lives of our customers easier.”
Chlopecki noted during our chat that while there’s incredible potential with AI, many companies just “don’t know what to do with it yet.” Based on his experience at Konica bringing this project to life, his advice is as follows:
- Define a clear vision. “Our vision is for service to be our primary differentiator, so every decision we make is measured against how it helps us achieve that goal,” he says.
- Start with your service data. “You have to start with your internal systems and ensure you have optimized, automated service processes and a good flow of data from the field to the back office,” he says.
- Incorporate IoT. “Once your service management is solid, work on connecting to the field using IoT. It is best to start small with a pilot group so that you can test, learn, and refine before broadening,” he says.
- Enlist AI help. “Look for partners to help you develop your AI vision. There are affordable options – you don’t have to employ a team of data scientists. AI is more attainable than people think,” he says.
Passion Leads To Perseverance
In summary, Chlopecki cautions that you prepare for a bumpy ride – and when challenges arise, hold tight to your vision. Having a true passion for what you’re doing is what will enable you to be as persistent as you need to persevere until your vision comes to life. “You’ll have thousands of opportunities to give up,” says Chlopecki.
Passion for what you’re doing is what will see you through.