×

June 27, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

3 Opportunities to Upskill Your Technicians for Today’s Field Service Landscape

June 27, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

3 Opportunities to Upskill Your Technicians for Today’s Field Service Landscape

Share

By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

In the world of automation this and artificial intelligence that, the role of the field technician is often questioned. Will technology eliminate the need for technicians altogether? I think not. But the role and responsibilities are undoubtedly changing and will continue to do so. The good news, for your technicians and for you, is that this world of automation and intelligence frees them up from manual, preventable tasks to do more value-added work.

The challenge is, this often isn’t a shift that comes naturally. In addition to the proliferation of technology, the entire field service ecosystem is changing. Customers have new and more sophisticated demands, companies are competing less on product and more on service, and data is now our most valuable resource. With all these changes at play, it is time for you to consider the ways in which you need to upskill or reskill your technicians as their time is freed up in a way that will offer you competitive advantage or impact your bottom line. As you incorporate tools like IoT, AI, and ML that reduce the drain of manual tasks on your workforce, consider these three areas in which it might make sense to upskill or reskill your talented technicians.

#1: Hone Their People Skills

As customer focus becomes prioritized every field service operation, one of the biggest challenges I hear tell of is the need for more soft skills. Technicians that are highly skilled and knowledgeable in repairing a certain product may not have historically needed to be all that people-friendly. Those times have changed. Today, service is the frontline of your brand – it is the impression that will matter most in how you are viewed in the eyes of your customers. It is a, if not the, major differentiator for organizations today. Therefore, you need to focus on improving the people skills for all your frontline workers. These skills include communication, empathy, problem-solving, empowerment, engagement, and confidence – as well as a solid understanding of how to be respectful of someone’s time and property. Going beyond those basics (which, believe me, many need to work on), you will want to consider how to equip your technicians with the skills and ability to be consultative, to suggestively sell/cross-sell, and to become an expert at providing real-time insights.

#2: Harness Their Knowledge to Train and Educate

When you find yourself successfully leveraging technology to the point you’ve reduced your demand for field visits, and you will, you’ll want to think about how you can re-deploy some of your most skilled technicians in an impactful way. One avenue is to mold your technicians to be master trainers and educators. There are several applications for this – you could use expert technicians to train new field talent, you can enlist their customer-facing knowledge to educate product and sales teams, and you can even look to use skilled technicians to train and educate your customer base.

#3: Develop Their Data Analytics Abilities  

Data is the foundation that the future of field service is being built on. Service organizations that are embracing Servitization and outcomes-based service are determining not only how data can be utilized internally to provide more predictive service, but how data can be used to create new offerings and revenue streams with customers. If you are collecting data from assets, you are undoubtedly sitting on a wealth of insights that your customers would likely be willing to pay you for. The hard part is finding out exactly what those offerings are, how to deliver on them, and how to monetize and market them. This is where businesses are really evolving, and this evolution necessitates more masters of data. Depending on your industry and their skills, your technicians may be able to be leveraged in analyzing and creating intelligence from data or in aspects such as determining what insights your customers would be willing to pay for, how those insights could or should be delivered, how best to market and sell these new offerings.

June 26, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Ericsson’s Shannon Lucas On The Intersection of Innovation & Inspiration

June 26, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Ericsson’s Shannon Lucas On The Intersection of Innovation & Inspiration

Share

Shannon Lucas, EVP of Emerging Business at Ericsson, talks with Sarah about why it is necessary for those tasked with innovation and change to determine how to tap into what inspires and recharges them and gives tips on how to do so.

To learn more about Catalyst Constellations, and to sign up for an upcoming retreat, visit http://catalystconstellations.com/

Most Recent

June 25, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

The Craft of Creating Digital Value

June 25, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

The Craft of Creating Digital Value

Share

By Greg Lush

With each passing year of the digital age, we ironically get further away from the significance of technology. Hey, fact is that transactional systems will always be in play, however, it is with the "valuable applications” where the last mile of value exists. If you are interested in a truly digital enterprise, you must go WAY past those frankly boring, transactional systems (finance, operations, email, file storage). Are you nodding your head? In order to transition your organization to this next step of digital adoption you must think outside of the box. It is not for everyone, no shame — achieving the first step of digital adoption is quite an accomplishment. For those of you who just know work could be executed more efficiently and are frustrated that the value you have extracted from the cloud is just barely more than you had ten years ago, read on! Contextual computing is your next step of the digital adoption continuum. The first, and for many the most difficult step, is to stop thinking about digital change in the context of software applications. Nobody gives a crap, what they really care about is their employees, clients, and businesses. Start your conversations about business aspirations or challenges. Consider framing your discussions in terms of what needs to "be done,” the "pains" and "gains" expected. Once you have framed the business context, align what you can provide via products or services. Clearly articulate what you will do to offer "pain relievers" and "gain creators.” Your background will determine the level of complexity with this exercise, and technologists may struggle the most. However, you do not, and should not, do this alone. You may consider creating the first one with you and your team for a client group. Once you have a practical example, extend this exercise as a working meeting with your clients (internal or external). Contained at the bottom of this section you will see a high-level example for a business owner with the desire to improve. To get your head in the right space, repeat this five times before your session: "listen, listen, listen and get a clear understanding of why.” Do not bite on the temptation to show the client an application which would solve their problems during this session, leave your white horse back at the office. The customer does not need to be saved, instead their words need to be translated into pragmatic solutions, which in many cases will be digitally-driven. Your main purpose is to help the client. As you delve into the value proposition exercise, these tips will help you stay on track:

  • Center of the right wheel: who is the intended audience? This is absolutely your first step.

  • To be done: For me this is step 1a, although you may start at any place on the diagram. Keep your words direct and to the point. Taking too narrow of an approach will make it very hard to complete the other sections, and too high level will make it tough for readers to derive action from your statement. The example, is for a transformation services business, communicating the business case, yet a bit high level to drive action and subsequent change.

  • Pains: consider a few things; the pains section must communicate that you "get it,” leave enough latitude to adjust to the client’s needs and resonate with executive leadership. If you get too deep you will run out of solutions and narrow the path so tightly that the readers may not be able to get the big picture.

  • Gains: while this is not the end of your value proposition, I like to think about the right side as identifying the problem while the left side is all about the solution. Before moving to the left side, you must make certain that you have clearly identified the problem or opportunity. Socialize and adjust as required, the left side is simply responding to the right side…

  • Pain relievers: armed with clearly identified pains, how will you fix it? Often, I will jump to the products and services first and then complete the pain relievers and gain creators. However, this is not always the case, you will need to experiment. Regardless of which happens first, the pain relievers should address the items in the wheel to the right.

  • Gain creators: you are on the home stretch and need to connect all the pieces. Keep in mind that some will only read a few of the boxes, this is always on that list. These gain creators will be leaning into your final section, products and services.

  • Products and services: this is a hard section to complete as transformation is a movement and not products. However, you do not want to sound aloof either. Once you are complete, and you read the first and last box, does it make sense?

So often these value propositions are bypassed. The fact is, they are hard if your goal is to capture the customers true value from digital tools. For me it takes multiple iterations after reviewing it with as many and diverse individuals as possible. You must ask yourself, are you deploying applications or helping your clients become a transformed digital enterprise?

Most Recent

June 24, 2019 | 2 Mins Read

Five Leadership Lessons from Marne Martin

June 24, 2019 | 2 Mins Read

Five Leadership Lessons from Marne Martin

Share

By Tom Paquin

Marne Martin, President of the IFS Service Management Business Unit and CEO of WorkWave, recently sat down with Thrive Global to discuss her experience, interests, and her vision for the future—not just in business. As the article says:

“If two impressive titles aren’t enough, Marne is also an award-winning competitive dressage rider and breeder (in her spare time!). She’s an avid supporter of girls and women pursuing STEM careers and uses her professional time to help IFS deliver top notch service management solutions by working with customers to uncover and solve business challenges.”

Marne’s experience spans an eclectic and diverse set of circumstances, and in her own words, she is able to explore her personal history, and how it influences her role as a dynamic presence in the world of field service. Marne’s leadership lessons in particular highlight the wisdom that she’s garnered through her years of personal and professional experience:

  1. Lead from the front, but don’t micromanage. Micromanaging is done in an effort to control, but a strong leader doesn’t need to control every detail if you are setting clear objectives for the team and hiring capable employees.
  2. Hire the best talent you can afford, and then trust and support them. Great talent is worth the investment and you must have confidence in their ability to perform.
  3. Be modest. Believe enough in your abilities that you don’t need to talk about them — let your actions speak for themselves.
  4. Don’t rest on your laurels. A good leader is always evolving and growing — you can never feel you’ve “mastered” leadership, you should always be expanding and sharpening your skills.
  5. Pay it forward. Think about the opportunities that you were given that allowed you to achieve what you have and look for ways to provide similar opportunities to others.

Beyond the professional, Marne took the opportunity to discuss what is important to her on a global scale. “I would love to play a part in improving and increasing the level of education around the world,” she says, “Especially for girls and women.”

Marne’s insights are certainly a great read, so be sure to check out the full article here.

Most Recent

June 20, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Make The Most Out of Your People With Service Thinking

June 20, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Make The Most Out of Your People With Service Thinking

Share

By Hilbrand Rustema

With commoditisation and decreasing growth rates on product sales, the service business is now seen as the new area for revenue and profit growth for manufacturing companies. However, recognising the need for a new business model and actually implementing the change are two different matters. So, the question is, how can you best deliver on these expectations and turn services into an area of sustainable growth and profits? The answer is Service Thinking.

What is Service Thinking?

Service thinking is a mind-set. With this mind-set the focus is no longer on making something (a unit of output), but rather on assisting customers in their value creation processes. The value of services is not solely created by the manufacturing company, but instead it’s created through a co-constructive process together with the customer, by applying technical or business knowledge to improve whatever it is the customer is trying to achieve.

The Importance of People

People are critically important in the service business. People represent 60 to 80 percent of the operational costs of a service operation and, in the end, it’s people who have the biggest impact on the customer experience and the satisfaction level of the customer. To apply Service Thinking, it is imperative that your people become ‘trusted advisors’ to your customers. Apart from technical or business knowledge, this also requires the ability to create a relationship with the customer, built on communication, trust, flexibility and adaptability.

The Challenge that Organisations Have to Face

The big challenge for organisations is that nearly every change, improvement or transformation requires change in behaviour and attitude of your people. The first step in doing this, is making sure that each layer of your company knows what the strategic change means and understands why it is needed. The next step would be to develop the required skills, knowledge and attitude people need to fulfil their role in this new situation.

What Can The Organisation Do?

In this route for applying Service Thinking, an organisation can do the following:

  1. Create awareness and explain why Service Thinking is so important to the organisation and what it means for its employees.
  2. Help its people to change their behaviour and develop their skills, by providing them with training for acquiring new skills, as well as with tools and coaching.
  3. Improve customer insight to get a deeper understanding of real customer needs by putting yourself “in the shoes” of your customers.
  4. Design your desired customer experience instead of leaving it to chance.

Furthermore, technicians and support employees should also be guided into developing their customer skills. This means their ability to communicate, build relationships, sense customer and company needs and so on. Developing these skills and attitude is something an organisation can begin to do internally. However, it is often more effective to kick start such a program by using an external more experienced facilitator who can bring real-life examples and case studies to accelerate staff engagement. Furthermore, changing the mind-set of sales people is also very important. Selling products is definitely not like selling services. The intangible nature of services requires that their value is articulated and linked to customer challenges and customer outcomes. What is required is to develop a new sales approach focussed on services, which includes training sales people, develop customer insight, provide support in developing sales tools to increase sales effectiveness, and define the sales strategy and performance management. All in all, it is clear that there is an enormous potential in services and companies which choose to take the path of unlocking this potential have to start applying service thinking. A prerequisite for this is a change in people’s behaviour and mind-set such that your company becomes truly customer centric. Read more about how Noventum can help you unlock your full potential with regards to Service Thinking, as well as People Development.

Most Recent

June 19, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

4 Rules for Successfully Transforming a Service Operating Model

June 19, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

4 Rules for Successfully Transforming a Service Operating Model

Share

Robin Butler, Transformation Lead and Interim Director of Enterprise Field Service at BT, shares his hard-earned insight on what it takes to achieve positive outcomes when you’re faced with redesigning or introducing a new operating model.

Most Recent

June 18, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

LiveWorx19 Recap: Words of Wisdom for the Digital Transformation Journey

June 18, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

LiveWorx19 Recap: Words of Wisdom for the Digital Transformation Journey

Share

By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I wrote an article on day one of PTC’s LiveWorx19 event last week that discussed what I heard during the keynote: an acknowledgement of the complexity of the digital transformation journey. I find it refreshing when executives within the technology community seem to genuinely appreciate how significant of a shift is really taking place in service and own the fact that the transformation isn’t just about the technology, but about really re-engineering the business from delivering service to delivering outcomes. As Gentry Pate, Global Supply Chain Director at Dell said in his session on Monday, “To accomplish our objectives, we really had to change our DNA.”

Technology is, however, an undeniable aspect of staying relevant, remaining competitive, and acclimating to this new way of doing business. At LiveWorx19, it was said time and time again that Digital Transformation is not only critically important, but an absolute necessity. Throughout the remaining days of the event, I had the pleasure to attend several exciting keynotes and informative sessions and wanted to take an opportunity here to share how some of the attendees are tackling the challenge of Digital Transformation head on. I spoke with Aly Pinder Jr, Program Director – Service Innovation & Connected Products at IDC Manufacturing Insights, who shared a number of important points in his session. “We can’t be good digitally by buying siloed technology to solve point-specific problems – there has to be a cohesive strategy,” he says. “Further, education needs to happen across the business on the move to outcomes-based service, not only within the service function. You will accomplish more if you create a strategy that service leaders advocate with all functions of the business.” I met with Aly after he delivered his insights and asked him his thoughts on what is the #1 barrier to Digital Transformation success. “Digital Transformation is both a complex, complicated journey and simple things we can do today,” he says. “Companies get hung up in trying to sort out the long-term, 10-year journey and fail to focus on the small wins that can be achieved now. Ultimately, success is a mixture of both – but you can’t let the overwhelm of the entire journey stop you from taking the first step.”

Digital Transformation is Both a Technological and Cultural Evolution

Larry Blue, CEO of Bell and Howell, echoed this sentiment when we chatted about his company’s use of ThingWorx IoT and overall digital transformation. “To succeed in digital transformation, you first need to understand what your true goal is – know what you’re working toward. Then I suggest starting with a small team and an initial project – don’t try to bite the whole apple all at once. Success breeds success, so if you can get an initial win you will be in a position to build from there,” he says. “Also keep in mind that this is both a technological and a cultural shift. It needs executive attention. There’s a saying, ‘People respect what you inspect.’ If you take the time to be personally involved, people take note of its importance.” Consider your most practical path to Digital Transformation. When Dr. Maria Wilson, Global Leader Data Driven Advantage at Howden, joined Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC, on stage for his keynote, she said “We chose to stay focused on our core strengths, and built a strong system of partners for digital enablement. We’re using those digital tools, including IoT and AR, to deliver a better customer experience than ever before.” So while Digital Transformation is certainly multi-layered and complex, LiveWorx19 was ripe with examples of companies making significant, impactful progress. As Peter Diamandis, MD, Founder, Executive Chairman, XPRIZE Foundation and Executive Founder and Director, Singularity University, said during his keynote, “When you’re at the top of your game and sitting pretty, it is really tempting to stay there. But you must question – not defend – your position.”

Most Recent

June 13, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Decisions Behind IT Outsourcing

June 13, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Decisions Behind IT Outsourcing

Share

By Dr. Marlene R. Kolodziej

Executive decision-makers cannot always anticipate and fully understand the implications of information technology outsourcing (ITO) decisions for the long-term processes, capabilities, and performance of their organization, especially when considering ITO for cloud-based services.  My doctoral research explored the decision-making process, and particularly the criteria used by executive decision-makers, for identifying and selecting organizational competencies when engaging in Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) using cloud-based services. Findings indicate that executive decision-makers are unable to articulate decision-making criteria and to define processes used for identifying and selecting organizational competencies to consider as part of ITO engagements for cloud-based services.

While the study participants were asked a number of questions, the desire was to answer the question “How do executive decision-makers describe the process followed for the identification and selection of organizational competencies to consider as part of ITO engagements?”.  Of course, there were additional questions, such as a) “How do executive decision-makers describe the criteria used for selecting organizational competencies to consider as part of ITO engagements?”; b) “What methods do executive decision-makers use to anticipate the long-term impact of their ITO decisions on organizational processes, capabilities, and performance?”; and c) “How do observations on anticipated impact differ from realized impact on organizational processes, capabilities, and performance from ITO decisions?”. The good news is those questions helped identify these five things regarding executive decision-making when outsourcing to the cloud.

#1: Executive decision-makers identify competencies primarily using intuition. It’s not new news that executive decision-makers select organizational competencies to target for ITO for cloud-based services based on the need to fulfill application, security, regulatory, or compliance requirements; to fill a gap; and/or to increase capabilities not found within their organizations.  What is new is the research found executive decision-makers identified organizational competencies to outsource to the cloud through a process of intuitively understanding the gap or criteria in their applications, security, regulatory, or general requirements. These decision-makers also made sure those competencies were not a core part of their business.

#2: Executive decision-makers thought they used a formal decision-making processes (but not really). While executive decision-makers used their intuition to select organizational competencies to target for ITO for cloud-based services, they also believed a standard decision model was used. Executive decision-makers assumed they used a formal multi-criteria decision-model (MCDM) as part of their decision-making process, when in actuality, their decision was intuitive but happened to align with a formal MCDM.

#3: Executive decision-makers rely on external expertise (though they really used their intuition). While now know executive decision-makers intuitively identify competencies to outsource to the cloud prior to initiating the outsourcing process, but the researched also showed  executive decision-makers engaged in a formal request for proposal process with external vendors. Although some participants used the expertise of external vendors to identify competencies to reduce cost, the identification of organizational competencies is much more of an organic process. Executive decision-makers decided to retain core competencies such as customer-facing applications and business relationship management activities while moving noncore competencies such as internal corporate systems, architecture design, cloud operations, simple sales management, and support to an outsourcing provider.

#4: Executive decision-makers build in contingencies (and are flexible). Executive decision-makers retain some onsite infrastructure for business continuity but also construct their ITO using cloud-based services with the flexibility to move data to another cloud-based service provider or back in house. Executive decision-makers also avoided outsourcing core competencies and are willing to insource those previously outsourced competencies should those competencies change to core competencies and become strategic. Essentially, executive decision-makers identified their core competencies prior to engaging in outsourcing to the cloud; understood their internal strengths, what made them unique, and what competencies were missing; and used the cloud to strengthen internal competencies or add new competencies to remain competitive, and revisited those competencies they outsourced to make sure those competencies were where they should be.

#5: Executive decision-makers built muscle memory (practice, practice, practice). Executive decision-makers experienced negative outcomes when engaging in their first cloud-based outsourcing, but subsequent cloud-based outsourcing engagement were perceived as having more successful outcomes. The an initial outsourcing engagement requires creating new frameworks and processes, whereas subsequent outsourcing engagements rely on the previous structure and lessons learned from prior engagements, thereby reducing the negative impact. Essentially, the more outsourcing you complete, the more successful each engagement will be. Previous research suggests the decision to outsource is an organizational strategy considered by many organizational leaders a requirement for staying competitive in the marketplace, given its potential for reducing costs, increasing profits, or developing competitive advantage. Executive decision-makers agreed that decision-making regarding ITO for cloud-based services commonly ignores the effort required to integrate applications into the infrastructure and underestimates the people, effort, and cost implied. Essentially, executive decision-makers are intuitive in their decision-making for ITO using cloud-based services, do not purposefully use a formal MCDM, rely on external expertise when needed, ensure they have contingency plans and are flexible, and are more successful as they outsource more.

Most Recent

June 12, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Bill Pollock on The State of Field Service

June 12, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Bill Pollock on The State of Field Service

Share

Industry analyst and founder of Strategies for Growth, Bill Pollock, shares his perspective on the state of the service industry and his thoughts on where it’s headed from here.

Most Recent

June 10, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Digital Transformation: Critically Important, But Incredibly Complex

June 10, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Digital Transformation: Critically Important, But Incredibly Complex

Share

By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I am excited to be spending this week at the PTC LiveWorx event in Boston. The Servigistics Symposium kicked things off today, which brought together leaders from a variety of industries to discuss top-of-mind service trends and to share success stories. Leslie Paulson, General Manager of PTC’s Servigistics Business Unit, delivered the keynote address along with Marne Martin, President of Service Management at IFS, and David Williams, Principal at Capgemini.

Leslie first discussed that in order to reap the rewards of service being recognized as a competitive weapon rather than seen as a cost of doing business, companies must embrace the digital journey. She outlined three phases: to digitize (the data phase), to digitalize (the process phase), and to transform (the business phase). While companies seem to universally recognize the need to digitally transform, many struggle to execute their vision (or, in some cases, even to develop and articulate the vision). Why is this? As Leslie put it, “Digital transformation is critically important, but it is not simple.” Service organizations feel the pressure to get this right, and that pressure alone can cause confusion and fear that prevents necessary progress. “The stakes in service are higher than ever,” says Marne. “The reality is, all service has become mission critical – whether you’re sending rocket ships to the moon or providing equipment to customers. Customers want outcomes – they want seamlessness. And those demands are only increasing.” It’s become impossible to deliver the kind of experiences customers want without a well thought-out, impeccably executed digital strategy. This strategy must be built on a foundation of deeply understanding what it is your customers want and need from you, aligning your resources to work collectively toward this vision, and investing in the technology that will enable you to achieve your desired outcomes. As emphasized in today’s sessions, and as illustrated by the partnership between IFS and PTC, the ability to get the right person, with the right skills, with the right part, to the right job, at the right time, and at the right cost, is what it takes to provide the experiences customers are seeking. If you’re off on any one of the criteria, the customer experience suffers. “Customers want asset availability and readiness – they want outcomes,” says Leslie. This is entirely true, and your customers don’t care what behind-the-scenes blood, sweat, and tears it might take to provide those outcomes. They want what they want, and they want it to be effortless. Which is why it’s critical to overcome this complexity of digital transformation in order to better equip your organization to deliver. Keep in mind, as Leslie said, “the goal isn’t to become a digital company, but to leverage digital technology.” Luckily for today’s service organizations, there are a multitude of options to assist you in mastering your own digital journey. Leslie discussed the need to “stay ahead of the digital curve.” I’d argue that many organizations have already fallen behind, and if you feel you’re in that boat then the time is now to overcome the obstacles holding you back from achieving your digital transformation vision. The pace of change is only intensifying – a quote was shared by Ray Kurzweil that says, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.” I’m looking forward to hearing more this week on how PTC customers across industries are working to master digital transformation and I will of course report back with my findings!

Most Recent