July 31, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Jurassic Park as a Cautionary Tale for Service Automation

July 31, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Jurassic Park as a Cautionary Tale for Service Automation


By Tom Paquin

Back in December, in honor of the holidays, I was compelled to write about service through the lens of a popular movie series. It now being the end of July, when the sun-bleached late afternoons carry a certain sense of ennui not present at other times of the year, I feel compelled to again go to the well of movies as analogies for service delivery. This was inspired in part by the fact that, due to COVID, a 27-year-old movie was the #1 film in America last month. It just so happens that the film in question was one of my favorites: Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park is remembered for a variety of reasons. It was a return to top form for Steven Spielberg, who would close out 1993 with another instant-classic, Schindler’s List, two dramatically different films that exemplified his incredible range and talents for visual storytelling. It represented the start of a revolution in visual effects as one of the first films to render realistic-looking creatures using computer animation. And it had dinosaurs, which are inherently cool. No movie since has quite captured the awe, nor the terror, of dinosaurs in the same way. I was just old enough to convince my parents to let me see Jurassic Park in theaters when it came out and not be traumatized, and it ignited my imagination like nothing ever had.

For those of you who don’t remember, Jurassic Park is about a lot more than running away from dinosaurs. The inciting incident that initiates the action, oddly enough, is corporate espionage. In the film, Jurassic Park’s lead programmer, Dennis Nedry (played by the incredibly underrated Wayne Knight) strikes a deal with a rival genetic engineering firm to steal live dinosaur embryos. In order to access the cold storage and flee the island, he needs to deactivate a series of automated systems that he developed, so he creates a piece of malware that tramples through the subsystems, deactivates dozens of automated systems, and ultimately releases several dinosaurs from their enclosures to destroy the park and threaten the guests.

Watching the film recently, it was impossible not to draw some parallels to the increasingly automated world of service management systems. Jurassic Park’s automation existed on a closed system, but was, just like in service, a series of interlocking systems. There were internal assets, there were the dinosaurs themselves, there were both electric and gas-powered vehicles. These all existed on a singular platform, just like service systems strive for today. So what went wrong, and how can we prevent the same mistakes from manifesting themselves in service?

The truth is that the management of Jurassic Park made a series of mistakes that are just as repeatable—or avoidable today. Below are a few of them worth considering, both within the context of the film, as well as the context of your business.

Having One Subject Matter Expert
It’s easy to lay the blame for Jurassic Park’s failure at the feet of Nedry, but we need to take a look at his bosses. In this instance, we’re talking about Lead Engineer Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson), and the owner of Jurassic Park and its parent company InGen, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). When Nedry executes his “white rabbit” program, which goes on to deactivate the door locks, allowing him to steal the embryos, as well as certain sections of fencing, allowing the T-Rex to escape, he attempts to cover his tracks by saying that he’s running a debug program, and that some systems will go off and on as a result. When attempting to fix the problem, this is the result:

Now we can’t assume that every company will carry with it a bad actor that will sabotage systems and sell off intellectual property (I genuinely hope that is a rare prospect), but for service firms, it’s an obvious mistake to put the entirety of your mindshare in the hand of a single individual. This stresses the importance of choosing technology and automation tools that are adopted widely across the organization, and teaching employees not just the how, but the why behind the decision-making process. We actually talk about this quite a bit, and it’s imperative to developing a system, especially an automated system, that you have stakeholders from across the business. The days of IT existing in a vacuum are over. IT touches every area of the business, and business leaders need to develop systems to meet that.

Let’s take this out of the realm of IT for a minute as well as talk about mindshare in general. What do you do when a technician retires or quits? What about within the context of COVID-19, when travel restrictions and public health issues make travel impossible? It’s important to have a solid plan for knowledge management to meet those moments as well. Perhaps it’s as simple as employing augmented reality, or perhaps you need to look and different ways of passing on information to your technicians in the moment.  

A Lack of Redundancies
In Jurassic Park, even the door locks in the office are automated, so when the system is deactivated, the characters are unable to barricade themselves safely anywhere within the facility. This becomes a particularly dangerous problem when the velociraptors figure out how to open doors.

I never quite understood why the security doors were networked to begin with, it seems like a terrible idea, but a three-dollar latch really could have solved that problem for them in that moment. In fact, we see one being employed expertly three minutes earlier in the film.

I’m not saying every single automated process needs to be backed up with a manual one. For complex automation systems like planning and scheduling optimization, that would be nearly impossible to manage at the same scale. Nevertheless, continuity plans are the key to successful business operation.

Depending on your business, this could be extremely low-fi. If, for instance, you can’t manage inventory virtually via field service software, are you in a position to bypass that, pick up the phone, and get inventory levels quickly from a warehouse or depot? Or, on the technical side, could you offer service parts visibility through, for instance, your ERP software? And in either example, how do you ensure that if one system goes down, it corrects itself when it’s back up and running?

We know that in the context of the film that Nedry built the automation systems from the ground-up himself. The “build or buy” discussion has more or less flown out the window in the world of service, and for good reason. Organizations who want reliable systems trust companies with the domain expertise to build those systems to their specifications. By doing so, you create a secure framework that can easily be managed and serviced internally or externally. Configuration is now the name of the game with any software implementation. That way you can avoid issues like this:

You never want to be in a situation where you say, “I cannot get this system back online without one individual.” You always need to have a support system available. This starts with a diverse and powerful technology partner, through to integration. And it all needs to be predicated on the fact that you do not over-encumber your systems with complex customizations.


Cloning velociraptors was a terrible idea. In the film they’re six-foot tall super-predators that are bred to kill (we’ll ignore the fact that the velociraptors in the film are ostensibly a fiction. In real life, actual velociraptors were closer to the size of a turkey). They are way too scary for a zoo attraction. Kids will not like them. They exist only to maim and horrify.

Ok, that last point is a bit of a joke, but for the others, it’s surprising how much modern service systems can learn from the mistakes of Jurassic Park. I can’t promise that any of these lessons will help you successfully launch a theme park full of cloned dinosaurs, but they certainly offer some food for thought when it comes to service.

July 29, 2020 | 19 Mins Read

Darren Roos on the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management

July 29, 2020 | 19 Mins Read

Darren Roos on the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management


IFS CEO Darren Roos talks with Sarah about key themes from the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, what he believes is most critical for technology providers to offer service organizations, and how he as a leader has managed change at IFS.

Sarah: Hi, Darren. Thank you so much for allowing me to talk with you today about some exciting news we had this week. IFS has been named a leader for the fifth consecutive time in Gartner's 2020 Field Service Management Magic Quadrant.

Darren: Yes.

Sarah: Not only are we named a leader but this time we are clear ahead of the competition. As we've all said on social media the picture paints a thousand words. So I'm excited to talk with you today about the recognition.

Darren: Yes.

Sarah: So to start off, our position on the MQ this year is fantastic, so I want to talk a bit about that. What would you attribute our success to?

Darren: I think that there are some qualitative things and some quantitative things. I think that on the qualitative side clearly we have an amazing talent pool. We've been very focused in our determination to become the outright leader. And what that means is that we've gone and we've built this fantastic talent pool across our product organization, across the consulting organization, really throughout. And I think that that's made a huge difference, because it means that we have a much better understanding of the domain now. That investment, listening to our customers, investing in the talent, having that domain expertise means that we're able to really engage with customers and get to where the pain is with them much quicker, and then be able to address that pain. And you can't do that without the domain expertise. If you're a vendor that specializes in something else and now you're trying to pretend to be an expert, it doesn't really work. And when we look at the other vendors in that quadrant, by and large they're not specialists. Whereas we legitimately are specialists in the space now.

Darren: And then from a quantitative perspective, obviously there's been consolidation. And I think that the fewer players there are there the more obvious it becomes where everybody fits. And I think that it's played well to our strengths and the investments that we've made. So we're super happy with where it is and the next mission is how do we stretch that?

Sarah: Yes. I love that one of the first words you said was determination. I think that is a really good adjective to describe the culture at IFS, determined. And even you as a leader, right before I joined IFS I heard you speak at World Conference, I was there as a journalist, and that was one of the things that I noticed right away is the way that you are determined to make the company strong and to win. And it's been really fun to be a part of that.

Darren: I mean, it'd be interesting, you obviously joined us, I think that what we've tried to do is we've tried to really focus on this domain and married to that focus on service management is this real determination, I use the word again, to be focused on our customer. So I think it's not about the software that we provide, it's not about the revenue that we have, it's actually it's not about the MQ. What it is about is how do we really help our customers better serve their customers? And I'm curious from your perspective, you're obviously chatting to a lot of people in this space, I imagine COVID-19 and what's happened with the pandemic has made this more relevant.

Sarah: Yes.

Darren: And I think that's what we're seeing, but I'm curious what your input is.

Sarah: Absolutely. And I think that IFS has always had strong products. I think it's that commitment to be even more focused on customers and even more focused on what customers need from us in the domain expertise and outside of just the software that is why we see the strong showing that we have on the MQ this year. And I think that people are taking notice of everything we're doing in this space and really seeing us as not only a leader, but a leader that has great potential going forward. And I think that we're going to discuss COVID-19 in a bit so we can come back to that more specifically, but I absolutely agree that it's going to be even more important going forward.

Sarah: So let's get to that. But before we do, what I wanted to talk about next is what you led off with when I asked you the first question, which is we've been determined and that determination has paid off, but the work is not done right? So it's really just started because now we have a responsibility to defend this position and continue to strengthen. So what is your thoughts on how we maintain and even build upon the success that we've seen with the MQ this year?

Darren: I think listening to customers is critical, and you do a lot of these discussions. I see emerging technologies playing a really critical role. We've done a lot with IFS remote assistance, and there's no question that emerging technologies are in reality, machine learning, next generation IOT technologies are all things that are definitely moving the needle for customers. And I don't know about you but when I talk to them, what they're looking for is they're really looking for us to be able to make these accessible for them. How do I, within the technology that I currently have, get these new capabilities embedded in their technology rather than having to go and buy another bolt on or something else, that's really not what customers want. They're looking for simplification.

Darren: The technology world in general is becoming increasingly fragmented and what they're looking for is for us as technology vendors to make their lives simpler. How do we bring them these next generation or emerging technologies into their environment, into their workplace, so that they can leverage them to better serve their customers? And I think that if we double down on that, and we've already done a lot, but if we continue to focus on what is going to help our customers easily serve their customers better, than I think that helps us to extend the need. And that is the focus, ease of use, ease of deployment, time to value and leveraging emerging technologies to deliver value to their customers.

Sarah: Absolutely. Yeah. I think the simplicity that you mentioned is critical. I think back to when I started covering this industry everything was its own like you said bolt on, it's own piece of software, its own solution, and it's so complex and so hard for companies that we tend to forget that investing in technology and running these projects for a lot of these organizations is in addition to their day job of keeping their businesses running and being successful. So making it easier for them to do and putting more value into one solution instead of having them have to look so many different places is a huge value to them, so that makes sense.

Sarah: So we touched on this a bit but let's revisit it. So I want to talk about what leading in service is going to take. So we're obviously making immense progress in doing, that and having a great product is important but to your point it's not the only element that's important. So what are some of the other elements that have trajected IFS's position in the leadership and really helped us to stand out from our peers on the quadrant?

Darren: I've touched on it already but I think it really comes down to two things. It comes down to focus, not being de-focused, not trying to do lots of different things, not trying to be a CRM vendor and be an HR vendor and lots of different things, right? We are focused now on the service management space and what we believe it takes to put around service management in order to really move the ball forward. And I think that's critical, that focus without a doubt the most important thing.

Darren: And then the second thing for me is back to people. The best talent is going to help us progress the solution, it is going to help us to be able to engage with customers, to understand their problems at an industry level, because the problems happen in an industry, in a business rather than horizontally, broad horizontal service management is not a thing. Utilities and telcos and manufacturers all have distinctly unique challenges that they're facing, and us having the talent that have that domain expertise in a specific industry is going to help us to be able to both interpret the problems and build solutions that are going to help customers to see real value quickly. So I think it's about people and about focus.

Sarah: Okay, good. So let's talk about how service management excellence impacts in a couple areas. So I remember hearing you say at a conference service is the future of IFS, and I would say that that future is here now, right? We see that with what we're talking about today. So how does service excellence... First I want to talk about how does this position on the MQ and our commitment to service, how does it impact our service management customers?

Darren: So look, I think it impacts all customers. I think there isn't a business out there today who isn't in some way making the transition to be more outcomes based, more service based rather than just building a product. We talk about the servitization and we want customers to know that they're really in safe hands choosing IFS because in the industries where we focus and the technologies that we focus, we really can help them based on the depth of experience that we've had across a broad customer base.

Darren: And then we offer configurations that are really catered to the customer's business today. We offer them the power to cater to their business and the insights that we get from our tooling and from other customers, and help them to do a better job of serving their customers, whether that's leveraging components of the enterprise asset management or the resource planning capability that we have to compliment the service management, but without adding complexity to their environment. If they need capability out of the rest of our suite then it is natively integrated and can bring that capability to bear without adding complexity to them.

Darren: So I think that that's really, really important, that we're committed to supporting their business model, the workforce changes, the technology changes that they need today and into the future without adding complexity. And I think that's the challenge that we see. Everybody's very aware that digital transformation is something, a journey that they need to go on. But I think a lot of companies and CXOs that I speak to I'm daunted by the complexity, this idea that they need to go and buy lots of bits of technology from lots of different vendors and then try and stitch it together is incredibly complex. And it's made more complex by the fact that a lot of vendors purport to have an integrated solution when in fact what they have is a very heterogeneous set of products that aren't natively integrated, that don't have the same user interfaces that frankly confused their IT departments and confused their users.

Darren: Whereas what we bring is this homogenous suite of technologies, single data model, single technologies that really enable customers to have cross business processes that really help them run their business more effectively. And that's what we remain committed to, making it easier, quicker to deploy, and help them to really streamline the processes in their business.

Sarah: Yeah. So what you're touching on is some of the very common missteps or really significant challenges that companies face when they look at the world of digital transformation, right? So that overwhelm is one, the complexity is one, and I think that there's a lot of marketing tactics, there's a lot of technology terms that are used to really distract people from what's important, which is determining their business case and finding solutions that fit that and not worrying so much, to your point earlier, about the terms IOT or ARAI.

Darren: Stories shouldn't be the tech, the stories shouldn't be the tech at all.

Sarah: Yes, exactly.

Darren: The story is not what we do. The story is what is the problem that they're facing and then how do we leverage the depth of experience and the technology that we have in order to help them solve those problems? That's the story, that needs to be the narrative. And people often say to me how do we go about this? And I go don't worry about the digital transformation, worry about the business pain that you're facing. What is it that you're trying to do? Is it that you're trying to make your organization more efficient in terms of how you provide that service? Is it about improving the service levels? What is it that you're trying to do? And then let's figure out, given the experience that we've got in your industry, how we can help you do that.

Darren: Don't worry so much about the bits of technology behind the scenes, worry about time to value, worry about how easy it's going to be to maintain those systems afterwards, let us talk to you about those things. Don't worry about the bits of technology as much. The vendors that don't have an integrated, homogenous story are going to worry about the pieces. When vendors start talking about the pieces they're on the wrong track.

Sarah: Yeah. And I think that what's really compelling about IFS is we have the ability to meet those customers where they are, right? So digital transformation if you look at it, or servitization, any of these big evolutionary trends in service, if you look at them on a continuum there's companies that are really at the foundational level and they need to start building from the ground up. And then there's companies like Munters right? I mean, we did an article with them about their use of remote assistance. They had some strong foundational technology in place, but they were really ready to evolve and take it to the next level and solve a new problem. So I think it's really interesting and compelling that we have the ability to meet those customers where they are and help them on that journey no matter where they are on that continuum. I wanted to also ask how this MQ placement and our commitment to service has an impact on some of the other areas of our business. So our ERP customers, EAM, and the A&D business, how does this impact all of them?

Darren: Yeah. So I think, look, what is increasingly important is I've talked about the fact that we have this integrated suites, and this has been our direction for some time, it continues to be our direction. And I think that it's a bit difficult because the markets, the analysts, in fact many customers still think in terms of ERP, EAM, our aerospace and defense solutions and FSM. But it's really... I don't think it's helpful to be thinking in those terms because in reality you can't solve an internet business problem with one piece of technology. You have to be thinking from the problem backwards and saying okay, how do we solve this problem? For every customer we engage with it will take pieces of the ERP, pieces of the EAM, and that's the way we should be thinking about it is how do we solve the problem? It doesn't matter which bits of technology in this single core we need to use, because it doesn't matter. We can find a commercial proposition that makes sense, but what matters is how do we solve the problem efficiently?

Darren: We don't want to be thinking about these systems as silos of data or process silos that then needs to be bridged by technology if you're with another vendor, that's not the way it should be being done. If you need information out of your warehousing system or out of your invoicing system, it needs to be able to go get that information without the complexity of, okay, well now we need an API and an integration point into another system, that's not the way it should be working. So for us it's really a focus on what is the business problem, with the industry expertise that we have, and how do we bring these things together in order to solve the customer's problems. And that's the way it should be.

Sarah: Yeah. And what you said earlier is really true. This servitization journey is a journey that most businesses are or outcomes based service, depending on the nature of the business, are on. So companies in the A&D space, companies in all different industries, it doesn't matter what acronym they fall under, they're all somewhere on this path and we can help them with that.

Darren: Well I think, and I've said this before and it's a little, I don't want to say controversial because it shouldn't be, but really if you're the CXO in a business, and you're not thinking about how you innovate leveraging technology in your business, probably won't be there for long.

Sarah: Right.

Darren: There isn't a scenario where any C level person in an organization can not be thinking about how they leverage technology in their business today. I know as CEO of IFS we're constantly looking at ways that we can better serve our customers leveraging technology and had it not been for the technologies that we have we would never have been able to weather the storm of COVID-19 without there being a disruption to our customers. So I think that's really, really important. And all of our customers have got to be thinking about how do they make their businesses more resilient to the types of disruption we've seen now? How do they improve service levels to their customers because of the types of disruptions we've seen? And I think that's really important, the ways in which technology can help them do that.

Sarah: So you gave me a perfect segue back to the COVID-19 topic. And I certainly want to talk about that because the reality is it's top of mind right now and has been throughout most of this year. So to answer your earlier question about what I've seen in talking with different service leaders, there are a couple of big trends. I think that it's an unfortunate situation obviously, and it's heartbreaking, and I myself am very frustrated that anyone is dealing with it. But that being said, when I talk with the service leaders there are some positive things that are going to come out of this from a business perspective and even personally. And I think a couple of those trends, one is in areas where there have been some barriers to change, they're really being broken down. It's been a huge wake up call for companies that not only is changing important and critical right now, but they're more capable of doing it than they ever thought they were.

Sarah: And as such, I think we're going to see big acceleration in these digital transformation initiatives because companies that fall into the camp of already having strong technology are ready to take that next step. And companies that maybe were lagging on their adoption of these tools have realized that they need to get in gear.

Sarah: And the final thing is I think we'll see that path to servitization or that path to outcomes based service really speeding up as a result of what it is their customers are demanding right now. So I think that there are going to be some positives that come out of this, and I think it'll be really interesting over the next six, 12, 18 months to be speaking with these companies about how they've evolved and how they'll continue to evolve. So I wanted to ask you your thoughts on those changes, any other changes that you've taken note of and what you see for service organizations going forward?

Darren: Yes. Look, I think no question things have accelerated, there's definitely a recognition in all companies that something that maybe they were unsure of or vacillating about in terms of whether they should go ahead and do it or not, they've overcome that now. In fact I did an interview with Ganesh [inaudible 00:21:02] from TCS yesterday and Ganesh was saying there's this huge realization that some of the problems that people perceive with technology problems, it's now turned out that they're actually organizational inertia problems. And because there hasn't been the option to wait, they've overcome those organizational inertia problems because organizations have gone look, we've been thinking about this problem for six months, we've just made the decision, we're going to go ahead and do it now, and the technology is there to enable it.

Darren: So there's no question that this fast changing environment has led to a compression of decision making cycles and I'm confident that we'll see technology being leveraged more quickly. There won't be as many modifications done, people won't customize things as much as they used to, that'll bring down the cost. People will see value faster, more efficient use of technology, I think there are loads of positives that will come from it. In addition to the changes around the way that we deliver these projects with less time being spent, traveling, lower carbon footprint for projects, there are loads of benefits that will follow.

Sarah: Yeah. We talked about this openness to change even at the employee level, right? So if you think about a technology like remote assistance, historically I've talked with some organizations where there were pockets of employees that maybe had been there for 25 years and they were just a little bit resistant to a new tool. And even those folks, I mean, there hasn't been another option this year, right? It's if you want to continue to work, if you want to continue to deliver service, this is how we're going to do that. And that little bit of force has really, I think, opened the eyes of even the frontline workers of how powerful these tools are and how helpful they can be and how they're not meant to replace any of their knowledge or talent, so it's been really neat to see that. And like I said I'm excited to see how that continues to evolve over the next while because I think those positive changes are going to be lasting changes that is going to really create a new waive of innovation in this space.

Darren: Yeah, for sure. Look, I think everything you've said is right. We'll see this compression of timeframes, more value quicker, definitely going to make a huge difference.

Sarah: So the last thing I wanted to talk with you about Darren is I was reflecting on the timeframe that you joined IFS and how much has changed since then, in my opinion in very, very positive ways. But I was thinking about how that parallels the changes that are underway within a lot of the service organizations that I'm talking to. So when you think about these trends, these digital transformation, innovation, servitization, outcomes based service trends, I think a lot of times we as vendors have a tendency to oversimplify those things and we can make them seem like this is what's happening in all these businesses and this is where you need to go. But when you dig into the layers of what that really means for these businesses in terms of just redefining their business strategy and changing their processes and selling differently and marketing differently, I mean, there's so much to it, it's significant change.

Sarah: And I was just wondering, I think the journey you've been on leading this company through some significant changes, not really unlike the journey a lot of leaders within our service customers are on leading their businesses through significant change. One of the questions I almost always ask our podcast guests is what's the biggest lesson you as a leader have learned, whether it's recently or during COVID-19 or et cetera? So I wanted to ask you, what do you feel is the biggest lesson you as a leader have learned with your time at IFS so far?

Darren: I think having been in the industry between the ideas and coming to IFS which is a really good business when I joined, I'd like to think it's a great business today. And I think that's reflected in our financial results, it's reflected in our customer satisfaction, it's reflected in these MQs frankly, I think it is that everybody today, generalists, don't ever place. The days of being the big behemoth that does a little bit of everything just doesn't work, it doesn't certainly doesn't work in technology. I don't know whether it's particularly relevant anywhere but I think it is incredibly important that you are really, really, really good at the things that you do well, because customers, they have choice. We live in an incredibly globalized time and people can buy the service or product that they want anywhere from anyone. And that means that you are being held to a higher standard.

Darren: And I think that the biggest lesson that I've learned is in focusing the business at IFS, in really striving to be outstanding and being customer obsessed in driving value for our customers, that that value comes back to us. And I think that's probably the biggest lesson that I've learned. I felt like that was the case, I believe that that is what would happen that has been great to see over the last few years, that that strategy was validated. And really the way in which it's impacted the culture of the organization in getting behind that customer centricity and that focus to be really outstanding at that one thing that we do better than anyone else.

Sarah: Absolutely. It's been great to be a part of the journey and I really appreciate you letting me talk with you about the FSM MQ. So thank you so much for your time and look forward to having a very similar conversation next year.

Darren: Thank you Sarah.

Sarah: Take care.

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July 27, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Understanding the Forces Behind Service Transformation (So That You Can Chart Your Path to Success)

July 27, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Understanding the Forces Behind Service Transformation (So That You Can Chart Your Path to Success)


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

We share a lot of stories of companies on the path to servitization or outcomes-based service – companies looking to leverage service more strategically by moving beyond their traditional product or break/fix models. I’ve recognized within the leaders I speak to a now common understanding that advancing service within their businesses is the way forward, but I do wonder how they’ve gained that recognition. Is it an active, true understanding of what’s driving this evolution? Or is it more of a passive acceptance that this seems to be the journey everyone is on (and therefore we should be too)? The fact of the matter is that this is a journey everyone is on, so the latter mindset isn’t wrong, but do I think that digging in to understand the forces that are driving this evolution can really help in avoiding some common pitfalls along the way. Click to enlarge the image.

I had a conversation recently with The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School and they shared with me the image you see here. I want to dig into some of what’s illustrated in this image and discuss, in my own words, what it means when it comes to what’s being demanded of companies undergoing service transformation today.

What’s Driving this Service Evolution?

First, let’s talk about the text you see around the perimeter of this photo – this is defining four forces that impact need for and progression toward what Aston refers to as advanced services. I believe that understanding these forces before you begin this journey is helpful in helping you chart a successful path. I’ll discuss each and try to summarize what’s important to consider.

  • Market-centric forces. I put this force first because I believe it is the most important. The market-centric forces are really what should drive your desire to evolve and what should dictate what the evolution needs to look like. The market-centric forces are what your customers need or want from you – they are the opportunity that exists for your company to do service in new and different ways to create revenue growth and drive profitability. But all too often, companies start with the desire to create that growth rather than starting with the market-centric forces that will ultimately provide it – this results in offerings created that “miss the mark” because you started without first understanding what your market wants from you. Market-centric forces are being shaped by companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix that are leading in providing a stellar customer experience with the utmost ease. To really drive service success, you must begin with determining what your customers need and want from you. This entails both asking them directly, but also understanding that they may have unmet needs or desires they can’t articulate – so also do some research on what unsolved problems they have, what else they are purchasing, and so on.
  • Technology-centric forces. In many ways, technology-centric forces are tied in with market-centric forces as the world’s digitalization has completely transformed the customer experience across industries and brands. The market demands of things like guaranteed uptime, peace of mind, pay-per-X, real-time data flow, and super simple customer experience are made possible by how companies have transformed digitally. Just think about how experiences have evolved from even a few years ago – why would a customer call to schedule an appointment when they can easily self-book online or through an app? Why should a customer accept an eight-hour service window when technology exists to get the right person there at a specified time? Why would a customer accept a technician needing to return to complete a job because they don’t have the necessary information/parts/skills to do so the first time? Why would a customer want to wait for downtime to ask for service when they could be guaranteed peace of mind? The technology that is driving these expectations is also what is enabling them. Look at the technology-centric forces as your catalyst to meet the market-centric demands that present the greatest opportunities for your business. You cannot achieve advanced service success without fully embracing digital transformation.
  • Organization-centric forces. This is where you begin to examine what within your company’s current structure and processes will either spur you to or hold you back from success. Most often, we see the latter. The reality is that the change needed to evolve in the ways being demanded of companies on this journey is immense and far-reaching. This evolution can’t be done in a silo, it needs to be a company-wide strategic initiative. What’s required of companies to meet these market-centric needs reaches into every facet of the business – your value proposition is changing, how you market and sell needs to change, how you deliver service will change, how you develop products and take them to market will change, how you use technology will change. That’s why this is a journey, not a sprint. There’s no way to circumvent these organization-centric forces but knowing how important they are to consider, realizing how often they stand in the way of progress, and being prepared to tackle them head on is an important first step.
  • Value network-centric forces. When you begin to work through the last phase of the advanced services journey, you will realize that you could meet more customer needs and demands by working with others, or perhaps acquiring other parts of, the value chain. While this is good to be aware of, it’s important to work through the other forces and steps of the journey before really needing to dig in to this aspect and I think, for the most part, the majority of companies we speak with are not quite here yet.

Charting Your Path to Advanced Services Success

As you look at the main part of the image, you see that The Advanced Services Group has defined four phases on the roadmap to advanced services: exploration, engagement, expansion, and exploitation. I would say that most of the companies I interview are in the engagement or expansion phases, although some are certainly still exploring, and few are in the exploitation phase. Taking a detailed look at this roadmap, and The Advanced Services Group’s research in general, is well worth your time. But I’ll comment here on what I’d pick out as the most critical step in each phase of the roadmap based on my observations of where companies most commonly veer off course.

  • Exploration. Okay, I lied – here I have two points to note. First is understanding the business landscape. This goes back to all that I said above about digging into the market-centric forces. You must start this journey from a place of understanding your customers’ wants and needs, what the competitive landscape is for those, and how you are able to meet those needs. Beginning this journey from an uninformed perspective to “grow revenue” is a recipe for failure. Secondly, secure senior management buy-in. As I said before, this evolution is a company-wide strategic play – it can’t be done in a silo and the willingness to do the work must be shared.
  • Engagement. I think the idea of hiring a senior leadership role dedicated to advanced services is important. Achieving success in this transformation while also trying to “keep up with your day job” is a tough proposition. Someone dedicated to researching, planning, testing, and implementing specifically on this is a good investment (and I’d note that this could also be a promotion from within or a dual role as long as the person is given the time to dedicate to this).
  • Expansion. What stands out here is the importance of building a service culture. Recognizing the need to manage this change at the company-wide level and considering how the culture will need to evolve is really important, because this can be a sticking point for many organizations even after significant progress in the first two phases has been made.
  • Exploitation. Thinking about what the integration of products and services will look like is important. The marrying of these two things is really what most customers are after – it provides a more seamless experience and is what helps you achieve the trusted advisor or solutions provider (versus product or service provider) status in their minds.

Being able to hear about and witness so many companies’ journeys to advanced services is really neat – I love the conversations I get to have and the collective perspective they bring. The Advanced Services Group is putting on a virtual World Servitization Convention September 14-16 which I’ll be speaking at. If you’re interested, check out the agenda and join us.

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July 24, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Back to Basics: What is Service Management Software?

July 24, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Back to Basics: What is Service Management Software?


By Tom Paquin

We spend quite a lot of time around here discussing what defines exceptional service delivery, whether it be the strategies for managing customer retention, transitioning to new business models, or navigating an unprecedented crisis. Through our often lofty discussions about these topics, it’s easy to forget that each organization is at a different point in their service journey, and for some, investing in field service software might not even be on their radar.

I was reminded of this recently when I was asked to answer the question in the title of this article. What an incredibly refreshing question! Putting aside all the bluster, all the acronyms, and all the business goals, actually defining the tool for its purpose was a great reminder of what it is that we are actually talking about here every day. So let’s try to answer the question:What is service management software?

I used to be a high school teacher, so would like to think that I’m pretty good at synthesizing definitions into as close to a singular idea as possible, then using that as the foundation to explore and connect more complex theories and practical applications, so let’s try that. Here’s what I came up with:

Service Management Software is a tool, or series of tools, that allow businesses to track, record, and optimize their field operations and service processes.

That doesn’t actually say much about what makes service management software important, or what makes for good service management software, or even what sort of things are tracked, recorded, and optimized, though. The truth of the matter is that answering those questions requires more than the software itself allows. It requires an intimate understanding of not just service operations, but business operations on the whole.

And that’s part of the challenge with defining service management software. Service functions for businesses are so complex, so diverse, so tribalistic, and so disconnected that getting a piece of software that fits around all the flailing tendrils of your business is not as easy as installing a new piece of project management software.

Don’t tell that to some vendors, though, who build their service software based on a binary checklist of service needs. Many companies, especially those new to the service game who are seeing the revenue potential of service management, build products with feature sets as basic as their other applications. This requires businesses to shove their service processes into a pre-built mold, which always means that you have to saw off elements of your service delivery plan (sometimes entrenched with years of experience) to compromise to software limitations, or invest in even more products to get back to square one.

Because of this, service management vendors that simply have a long list of capabilities, even if those capabilities look particularly flashy in a demo environment, need to be held up to greater scrutiny. Will this parts management system work for the multiple tiers of service appointments that I deal with? Does this crew management system allow me to manage my workers the way that they actually work, or does it just throw names into a list? Does this optimization software manage the scope of global appointments that my company much have oversight for?

So does that mean that depth of execution always trumps breadth of capabilities? Obviously not, but it’s important to understand how the two areas compliment each other. Then you’ll need to take it a step further, and look at what embedded systems exist today, and how they can be integrated or deemed redundant. Then you need to look at your one, five, and ten-year plans for implementation and ensure that there’s a development roadmap that matches up. Then you need to look at implementation, onboarding, the list goes on.

Each of these steps could take months or longer, of course, and there are often hundreds of considerations, stakeholders, and use cases. This new “Back to Basics” series hopes to tackle those issues one by one, and explore all those elements of service delivery, starting with the capabilities that set service apart. Whether you’re looking to invest in a whole new system, or pare down and streamline the systems you have, or just focusing on perfecting service delivery, these will service as an opportunity to revisit, dissect, and perhaps reimagine what actually defines service management software.

There are obviously a dense web of contradictions in even writing about this topic depending on the industry that you are in, and I’d like to flip over as many stones as possible. If you want to share a story or have a question with respect to this series, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Most Recent

July 22, 2020 | 33 Mins Read

Mita Mallick of Unilever on Having Courageous Conversations on Race

July 22, 2020 | 33 Mins Read

Mita Mallick of Unilever on Having Courageous Conversations on Race


Mita Mallick, Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Marketing at Unilever, has an important discussion with Sarah about how to tackle courageous conversations on race, how to be an ally in both professional and personal settings, and how to foster greater diversity and inclusion.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host Sarah Nicastro. I'm very excited for today's conversation because I think it's a very important conversation to have. I'm very excited to welcome to the podcast, Mita Mallick of Unilever, and we're going to be talking about having courageous conversations around race. I came across Mita recently on social media with some of the content that she's written on this topic and she graciously accepted my invitation to come on and talk with us all today about something that is top of mind for a lot of folks right now. So, Mita, thank you so much for being here and joining us on the podcast.

Mita Mallick: Thank you, Sarah, for having me. I'm delighted.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Okay, to start let's just learn a little bit about you. So anything you feel comfortable sharing with us about who Mita is, what your journey has been, and your current role as Head of Diversity and Cross Cultural Marketing and Unilever.

Mita Mallick: Well, I'll start by saying I'm in week 18, day two of the pandemic. I live in Jersey City in 1500 square feet with my partner who's also working full-time and a five-year old and a seven-year old. So I lead with that because that's my reality and I always say behind the best banana bread you've ever baked and drive by birthday parties and all the pictures on Instagram, we don't know what's going on in people's homes and lives right now. Everyone's on their own COVID-19 journey and my journey is different, but it's not harder or easier than yours and to really just have a sense of empathy for what people are going through. You don't know if somebody has grieved the loss of someone. And you can't even grieve during this time and you don't know and I think, Sarah, we've talked about this because you also have children. I had a friend not too long ago say to me, and there was a Washington Post article about this, about single women during the pandemic, saying to me "I remember the last time somebody touched me and it was when we went out to dinner months ago." And also being alone during this time and what that means for your mental health. So I just start off by saying that. That's really important. That's where I'm at right now. That's me-

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, that's everyone's journey right now and it does look different for everyone, but it's hard in different ways for everyone. And I know that we just recently met, but if you listen to a lot of our recent podcasts, it's been a recurring theme this idea of more empathy and more humanity because it's just a such crazy time for everyone and you see that through different industries and varying levels of management and leadership, how people are really prioritizing that human connection because it's super important to us all. Also, a good disclaimer because if either of us have any guest interrupters, everyone will know why.

Mita Mallick: Popping in. That's the soundtrack of our lives, right?

Sarah Nicastro: Exactly.

Mita Mallick: It's the soundtrack of our lives.

Sarah Nicastro: So I know you had said to me that with your current role at Unilever you feel like your personal purpose has started to be realized. So I want to hear a bit about what your role entails and what you mean when you say that it's been a good vehicle for you to realize that personal purpose.

Mita Mallick: Absolutely. So my role is a mouthful. It's Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Cross Cultural Marketing. I know many people also have equity in their title. I think equity is at the heart of this work, so I don't have an extra word because it would really another word in my title. But diversity inclusion, it is about diversity with thought doesn't happen without diversity representation, so we're trying to build a workforce that represents North America and the changing demographics. That's what it is. I think Unilever is really ahead of many companies and I know many companies are joining us, especially particularly with what's happening in this country over the last several weeks, is that it is equally as important to think about how your products and services show up in the marketplace. So no longer can you afford to separate those two things, right? You have to think about how you authentically serve with purpose all different communities, backgrounds, individuals, right? And so you can't separate, I think, those two things anymore. So that's my title.

Mita Mallick: Why it feeds my purpose? I think there's two big personal reasons. I would say that at Unilever we're helping everyone unlock their purpose and we know that when you think about your purpose and your capabilities that's when the real magic happens. It's tied to my family history. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrant parents. My younger brother and I were born and raised here. My dad's mother was married when she was 10 years old and my mother's mother was married when she was 12 years old and they were both married to men in their 20s. They had very large families and they were simply remarkable women. And I share that really openly because it is the truth of what still happens in many parts of the world today, but it also is I am living proof of what progress can look like in less than just three generations when you think about what gender equity means. And so that's really important to me and I know purpose is a lofty term. It's like what's my purpose? My purpose singularly is to be present with Sarah right now.

Mita Mallick: It's to be a good mother, sister, wife, daughter. But it's also what is it that gets you up every day other than the paycheck or my four year old kicking me in the head, well, now she's five. But what is it? Or your children. What is it that gets you up? And I think I would answer the second piece of why it matters to me is it matters to me in terms of being an ally because I didn't have a lot of allies growing up and in particular, I grew up outside of Boston in a time where it was not cool to be Indian, wasn't cool to listen to Indian music, wasn't cool to bring Indian lunch, wasn't cool to wear Indian jewelry and I was physically and verbally bullied for much of my life and it started with the name calling, sticks and stones don't break my bones, names can never hurt me. No, names can hurt you and I think that's what we have to sort of reeducate our children on as well. And racial slurs that showed up on our driveway, the n-word, the s-word. I had no idea what any of this meant growing up when I was that age.

Mita Mallick: But it escalated into my freshman year Intro to Physical Science class where two of the white boys who had been bullying me decided to set my hair on fire and decided to throw, it's just very vivid when I tell this story, right? Any of those memories you think you're transported back, but lighting matches and throwing them into my braid, which was quite long at the time, which was to my knees. And my lab partner who hadn't spoken to me in the four weeks that we were doing lab together said, "Oh my God. Your hairs on fire." And so that was the first moment in my life that an ally actually stood up for me. The boys were suspended and it was my guidance counselor at the time who also happened to be the coach for Cross Country I think figured out I was not really coordinated, but I was really fast so I could run fast and so he pushed me into joining Cross Country. And so sports is a great equalizer and running is what I go to throughout my career now and my life in points of crisis and points where I need solace and comfort.

Mita Mallick: But I say all that to say one of the other reasons why this work is really important to me is I wish I had more allies standing up for me in my life because there are perpetrators, there are people who are doing terrible, mean, evil things, the spectrum. But where are all the other people that could stand up and intervene? And so that's what really drives me.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So I can imagine how some of those early experiences translated into what I found in an article you read about being painfully shy and some of the lessons you learned as you started your career on how to become a more vocal leader. So to kind of find your voice and get comfortable using your voice after all of those years of feeling probably the need to stay quiet to avoid more hurt. And so just looking at your title, even if I hadn't read some of the content you've written recently, it's clear that having a voice and being able to use that voice is imperative in your current role and in the current landscape. So tell us about the journey to finding that voice and how you're able to use it today.

Mita Mallick: No, thank you for that question, Sarah. Now that I've explained so much of my upbringing, you wouldn't be surprised now if I had said I was painfully shy and actually, I think that's different than being introverted. It's painfully shy. And people who meet me now as I'm on stage or speaking on podcasts, I would have showed up sick five years ago. I would have been like, "No, Sarah. I'm out." But only my younger brother and mother remember that and I would say it's a journey and I would say using your voice is a skill. It's a skill like being an athlete. I'm not an athlete, but it is with practice and I had someone years ago on my team who was comfortable presenting in 20, 30 groups of people but as soon as it got larger she froze. And she would laugh at me, but I would say it's practice. And what do I mean by that? You can ask my husband. From the time I started my career practicing in empty rooms getting ready for presentations, practicing in the shower, practicing in my empty bedroom, practicing on the drive to work, practicing if I was going to be presenting something, practicing actually if I was just going to be in a meeting because I was in a place where I couldn't even make comments or questions in meetings because I was so nervous about exactly to what you said.

Mita Mallick: I didn't want to be noticed because early on in my life, I think you've just hit the insight, when I was noticed then I was picked on. So I just wanted to disappear and you can't really do that in corporate America. So I found a lot of mentors and allies who helped me along the way, but you have got to practice using your voice whether that's in writing or a podcast or just speaking up in meetings.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So that's a really good point and I want to come back to that because later one we're going to talk a bit about some actions companies can take to really put an emphasis on fostering diversity and inclusion and equity in the sense of doing it, not talking about it. And I want to come back to that point of using your voice because I have a story to share around some things I think can happen in organizations that make people be quiet and then do a disservice to that sort of mission. But before we get there, we're talking about finding our voice and using our voice and we were chatting a bit before we started recording about some of the things that are happening in our country and in our world today and I was so happy to have you on because I think that it's such a critically important conversation for us all to be having because to your point, when you were that little girl that was being bullied, where was everyone?

Sarah Nicastro: Where was everyone that could be standing up for you? And we all have a responsibility to use that voice for the greater good right now and it isn't easy to do, but it's important to do and so I think it's a good conversation to have. So before we talk about kind of the meat of having hard conversations, what I want to talk about first is, and I found this in some of the content you've written, is that the very first step is an important step, which is to acknowledge that color does matter and racism does exist because we sometimes have a tendency to think that if we default to terms like we all bleed red and all of those things that we're helping, but in reality, to affect change we first need to acknowledge the fact that it is not the same and that it does matter and that the racism does exist because if we don't do that we can often unintentionally reinforce different stereotypes. So I got that question from some content you've written, so can you share your thoughts on that and why that's so important?

Mita Mallick: You have to stop being color blind. I had a leader years ago say to me "Well, I don't see color." And I was like, "So you don't see me as brown? What do you see me as?" And it is this idea that we live in a utopia, everyone is equal. But it's not. And I do think it's something that many of us were raised on that we have to unlearn now and there's so many things that we have to unlearn or relearn or learn for the first time. And so this idea that you would look at me and say, "I don't see color," my browness has defined me from the moment I've entered this world. It defines me when I walk into meetings. People see that before they even hear me speak or before I sit down or before I present.

Mita Mallick: And so I think it's also a privilege, I would say, it's a privilege to use that term if you think about it. Maybe there are. I don't know many people of color who would say they don't see color. I could be wrong, but it's just thinking about too is who is the person that's actually saying they don't see color? Because it's not something I would say because it's defined my existence since the day I was born. And it's defined, it's actually you're not acknowledging that persons existence or identity or what they might have been through in their lives. So I think it's so important. I don't think you can have a courageous conversation on race if you don't acknowledge that race exists.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I think it's a natural inclination of white people because that acknowledgement... There's a lot of fear around saying the wrong thing and there's a lot of fear around should I acknowledge? Am I doing something wrong by acknowledging? And so I think that's where some of that comes from. I've been reading the book White Fragility, I don't know if you've read that book-

Mita Mallick: Robin DiAngelo. We had her come to Unilever a few years ago-

Sarah Nicastro: Did you?

Mita Mallick: She's amazing. It was the most profound professional experience I've had going through her workshops. Phenomenal.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. I would love to do that. But what she says in the beginning in the book I think it just made me wish that everyone would read it because I think that there's this perception of racism as this active, bad intent. And what she kind of explains to disarm people is that's not always true. That can be true, but there is a lot of racism that exists passively and subconsciously. So if you want to better yourself or if someone points on something you're saying or doing that you shouldn't be, it isn't that they're attacking your character or they're accusing you of this malicious intent. We have to get comfortable examining some of those thoughts and behaviors that are so built into our society if we really want to start breaking down some of those barriers. So I think that we can't do that from the stance of I don't see color. It's not only failing to acknowledge people's history and people's roots, but it's not going to help us get better going forward. We need to acknowledge that it is a thing, that it's okay to not know the right thing to say or do, but you shouldn't let that prevent you from positive forward motion.

Mita Mallick: Absolutely. I think that's a super important point, especially as you think about microaggressions. Microaggressions are a form of racism and that's we experience every day. It's the subtle remarks, the jokes, the comments and the moment you have to ask yourself who are you going to be in that moment as an ally when those things happen? Are you going to laugh uncomfortably? Are you going to sit in awkward silence? Or are you going to say something or do something? And so microaggressions, I'll give you examples, is if I come off stage from speaking and somebody comes up to me and says, "Wow, Mita. I just want to say, your English is so good." That's happened to me on many occasions. Or constant mispronunciation of my name or people thinking I speak Spanish and get very angry at me. I don't speak Spanish. Bengali is my first language and then English is my second language. I just think in those moments, how can you intervene when you are witnessing that? And that's what I think Robin's talking about is that it's just so pervasive in everything we do and what you think racism or racist looks like and sort of even that's stereotype and debunking that.

Mita Mallick: And I will tell you, spending time with Robin DiAngelo as a person of color validated my life experiences because it's also very uncomfortable to read that book or go through her work as someone who's not white and then you're like, "Wow. This is everything that I've been through. Suddenly I feel validated. Somebody else is telling me that this is hope." So it's pretty remarkable.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah and as a business, as an employer, I think it's amazing that Unilever had her come, but when you think about how those microaggressions take place in the workplace, it is important to consider how are you providing education and training that breaks some of those down and fix some of them because it makes it not a great environment for people of color and I think there's far more of that happening in the workplace than there is overt racism because it's easier to notice and address. Those microaggressions can go on and on and on because they can be more difficult to kind of rise to the top and be addressed by leadership or what have you. So educating the workforce and arming people with information on how statements that they might not realize are hurting someone hurt someone and why it's important to not use that type of language.

Sarah Nicastro: So okay, so we talked about the fact that acknowledgement is a critical first step. Acknowledgement of differences, of color, of the fact that racism exists, all of that. So next I want to talk a little bit about what it takes to be a good ally. I shared with you before we started that this is something that I'm really focusing on right now and you have, again, a lot of articles on this. So share your thoughts on why... We talked about why it's important for you to be a good ally, some of the experiences that you've had, but let's talk a little bit about how to do that. What does a good ally look like?

Mita Mallick: I would say the first part is there is a piece, there's a balance between education, learning, listening, and acting, and I think they have to be in parallel. There is a great Washington Post article I saw that I posted on which said when black people are in pain, white people start book clubs. And I was like "wow." I read that piece and there was such great commentary because people are also scared. Allies are like, "I don't know enough. I have to learn more." But I would say it's continuous, it's dual path. It's not like you're going to learn and get a certificate in school. It's not like there's a point where you're like, "Okay, you're an ally." No. It's a continuous journey and I think the thing we have to acknowledge is we are going to make mistakes and that's okay. And we're all so scared.

Mita Mallick: I think one of the first things after the whole stop being colorblind I would say is that oftentimes I think the job of an ally is to educate yourself and not to put the burden on black and brown people. In this case, let's say the black community because I come into this conversation as an inclusion leader, as a brown woman. I identify with the black community. I don't identify as black. So I am also entering this conversation as an ally for the black community. My job is to educate myself and if you can find the best banana bread recipe on Google and post it on Instagram after you bake it, you can Google these topics on how to be anti-racist. You don't need a primary source to tell you what it's like to be black in America. And I think as I go back to my roots as marketing and storytelling, storytelling is one of the oldest forms of human tradition. People want stories to relate to, but you have to ask yourself at what cost do you want to continuously ask your block colleague, your black friend, the people that you know in the black community to tell a story that consistently traumatizes them?

Mita Mallick: And this is intergenerational trauma. So I know the instinct is let me go ask my black friend or my black colleague about blackout Tuesday, about Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter. You don't understand as an ally potentially the trauma that's being faced on them because you're not the only person asking them. And at the same time, I would say, when it comes to listening and learning, if I choose, if a friend chooses to share a racist encounter they have had with me, it's a psychologically safe space, they have called me and they want to share this. My job is not to be an investigative journalist and to ask lots of questions. My job is to not minimize and say, "I know Mita. I don't think that's what she meant." And my job is not to problem solve. And so that is what I think is at the heart of everything is that we are being raised in a world that doesn't shut up and we are told to speak and speak and speak and talk and talk and talk and the job of an ally sometimes is unlearning all that to allow for psychologically safe space for me to share my truth or my friend to share my truth and to honor that truth. And to know that you will leave the conversation without any resolution.

Mita Mallick: And when my friends comes and tells me about a racist experience she's had at the store shopping, she's not looking for me to fix the store policy or brainstorm or problem solve, which as leaders is what we want to do, which makes all of this so uncomfortable. So I would also say don't go to every person of color in your life and ask them to educate you as a white ally, but I would also say if they do, honor it and just listen and say thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely. And I think if you're just willing to look there is so much content to consume. Really, really good content to consume and learn from. Everything from books to audiobooks to podcasts to TED talks. There is so much out there to listen and learn from without having to put the onus on someone who hasn't already shared. A lot of people have shared experiences that you can get a really good new perspective from. A couple other things that I picked up from some of your writings around this topic that I think are just important to mention is diversifying your circle. So I was-

Mita Mallick: Let's talk about that. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I was listening to a podcast on this and I was thinking about, I'm not going to be able to get it right, it was a Renee Brown guest, but you can't do this as a token. It can't be that inauthentic of just "Oh my gosh, all my friends are white. I should try and find a black or brown friend so I can check a box that I'm doing this thing right." That is not what you mean by diversifying your circle, but by really looking at the people you engage with on a day-to-day basis and thinking about is this representative of who I want to be and do I have relationships beyond my own comfort zone? So in real life, I do, but one of the things that I've been working on is my diversifying my social media followings so that I can be more intentional about the content that I'm consuming and I can incorporate black authors and I found a really good Instagram account the other day because I'm a big mental health advocate and I think it's a black female therapist or something along those lines, but it's a great account. Information for anyone. So how else can we work on diversifying our circle?

Mita Mallick: Start by acknowledging that your circle's not diverse. Start by thinking about who is in your trusted circle? Who are the five people you call when you have great news to share or you're going through a life crisis, you need a shoulder to cry on and just think about that. And if they look like you and they act like you, you need to start building meaningful cross cultural relationships. And what I would say in this work, we do a lot of great work at Unilever and as many as organizations are doing, but if you are wanting to be a white ally and you show up at work and you want me to talk to you about Black Lives Matter and how you can be an ally but you don't know a single black person in your life, in your community, I don't know how to help you. Because so much of this work and the stereotypes and the things that we pull in our heads and unconscious bias from one encounter, one conversation, one article, one TV show we saw, all of that needs to be undone. And that's where the hard work starts.

Mita Mallick: So unconscious bias training is actually critical, and it can be very effective if you start to think about your own biases and working them through. But then if you go home and your community is everyone who looks like you and thinks like you and acts like you, how can you undo any of that? Where's the practice? So what I would say is think about all the different moments in your life and I know this is tough because we're talking about in a pandemic, but where do you go grocery shopping? Have you thought about shopping more local? Do you support black and brown owned businesses and is that something that you can make part of your routine? If you are thinking of volunteering at your local church or temple, why don't you think about going and volunteering somewhere else? So really just challenging all of those moments of things that you want to do. What do you do on a Saturday? What about going to a cultural event and looking up what's happening in your local paper rather than doing what you normally do?

Mita Mallick: And a lot of those things are uncomfortable and scary, but I think you have to put yourself in environments that are different than what you normally operate in to start meeting people to build those meaningful relationships. If you're a parent like we are, if you think about interestingly as my children are growing up the relationships they're making with friends, that's an opportunity. As your children make cross cultural relationships that are meaningful that you can actually build those relationships with their families. And so I just think that there's so many opportunities, we just have to be more intentional about how we liberalize day-to-day and where we can interrupt.

Sarah Nicastro: I have a really recent example of, I guess this crosses race and gender, but my older son just turned five in June and he wanted a superhero party. Well, of course, we didn't really have a party because COVID, but we still had a birthday week. I probably, honestly, went above and beyond because I was trying to still make it special for him and-

Mita Mallick: This is the opposite of my daughter turning five. We went the other way during COVID.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah? You went low key?

Mita Mallick: Well, I had her birthday, a store bought cake and that was it. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So we did a superhero thing, but I started as I'm reading some of the stuff and trying to be more intentional, I stopped and thought of all the superheroes we bought him, they'll all male and they're all white. So I just got on Amazon and looked up female superhero, black superhero and bought whatever came up first because it was just a moment for me to think intentionally about what am I exposing him to and what dialogue or unconscious experiences or biases am I planting for him? And is that how I want him to grow up? And so I just I'm glad I caught it because it was just something that came to me before he got his gifts and just last night he was like, "Mommy, I want to be Wonder Woman. Can you get me a Wonder Woman costume?" And I was like, "Yes!"

Mita Mallick: That's great!

Sarah Nicastro: It just made me so happy.

Mita Mallick: It's so important thinking about what they watch, what they play with, where are their role models coming from? It's critical.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, so I think when we talk about being a good ally I think one of the most challenging parts, and I just shared a story with you before we started of me doing this very recently with a family member, is having the hard and courageous conversations. So when you see someone saying or doing something that you know is wrong, avoiding the path of least resistance and facing it head on. So let's talk about this from two perspectives, so you wrote an article recently for Create Cultivate on having courageous conversation and this is an article that was written around how to be an ally to and for people of color in your life. So I think we've covered this a bit, you brought up some really important points which are don't put the onus on them to educate you, work on educating yourself and if they come to you with a story, don't try and fix it just listen and let them share openly. Is there anything you would add to that in terms of being courageous in how you engage with your friends of color and people of color in your life to be a good ally to them?

Mita Mallick: I'll give you two responses. I think one is in those moments that matter, intervene. And I think that means not just at work, in our school yards, in our public spaces, places like the public library, the grocery store. You see something, say something. That's where it matters and starts to look at what's happening in our communities and so don't be a silent bystander when these things happen. That's what I thinks so important. I think going back to the conversation on having courageous conversations with family members that can be so tough and difficult. I was just having a conversation earlier with someone about this before we go together today is that you have to have patience and understanding in the relationship with the family member. I actually think sometimes these conversations are easier to have at work, and hear me out, because there's a level of professionalism. There's a level of professionalism, we all conduct ourselves at work. And suddenly on a virtual happy hour or dinner with a family member and someone says something and you just flip out.

Mita Mallick: And I think to myself if anyone I can move in the family, it's me who's going to do it. But there has to be a moment of creating a psychologically safe space where they can share what they're feeling and for me to educate them. And not to shut the conversation down by saying you're a racist, you're a sexist, you're a homophobe. No one wants to be called that and then suddenly it's all dissolved and you won't be able to move them. And I'm not saying that's going to work for everybody because some people have their beliefs and they believe what they believe and it's not going to be a healthy situation to continue and it's not going to be that you're going to be able to move them, but a lot of times it's people said something or did something and you're like, "Did you realize what that means?" And the person says, "Well, no. I actually didn't." Do you know where that word comes from? The roots of it? Do you understand why that's derogatory?

Mita Mallick: I'm not going to say that's always the case, that's not. But I like to live my life and I have to do this glass half full. This is why I do this work is that 99% of people live their life with good intentions and they don't realize their impact. There is 1% of people who don't, of course. But I just think thinking about how you can take a deep breath, be patient, and think about how you can have this conversation with the family member and not be triggered by some of the things they're saying, especially if it's a white ally trying to talk to another family member who's also white who you want to become an ally and do these things with you. That would be my advice.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Mita Mallick: Not easy, not easy.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Mita Mallick: I know you know.

Sarah Nicastro: So I get that you're saying it's a bit easier in a work situation because there is a level of professionalism and people are just going to carry themselves and handle themselves differently, but I do want to ask with your role at Unilever and in your experience with this, if someone sees or hears something in the workplace that they know is wrong what is the best way for them to address that? How do you do that without being scared that you're maybe overstepping or maybe that gets into the company making people feel empowered to speak up in those situations, but what is the dynamic on how you suggest handling that stuff in the workplace?

Mita Mallick: Yeah. And listen, courageous conversations are not easy at all, whether it's professional or family. I just think sometimes because we're so close to our family emotions tend to rise a lot faster than they would at work.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Mita Mallick: Because we know people and we're so familiar with them it's like going to extreme emotions and when we're at work it might be a bit different. Not in the way in which we might approach a conversation. It's really about empowering the bystander and I would say we all work so hard to create these amazing cultures, we all contribute to them, and we want to be agents of change to help protect them. And so if you see something, say something. And I would say often in my career, and this happens, maybe I will have seen something and I will rewind it in my head and I never said anything in the moment. It's not too late to go back and approach that person. And I think it depends on the situation and the level of comfortability. If it's a large meeting in which some things have been witnessed, you might not feel comfortable saying in that moment, you might need a few days to think about it and go back and approach the individual and something that you observed. You might pull someone aside privately so many times often in my career is mispronounced and I would say if somebody is constantly mispronouncing it, the same person over and over again, huh? What is it there's so difficult to learn about my name?

Mita Mallick: So, Sarah, in that case, might pull that person aside and say "Listen, I need you know..." And that's allyship and that's allies moving to being advocates because you're actually advocating like "You don't pronounce it my-ta, you pronounce it me-ta. And I just want to bring that up because I noticed in the last few meetings that you've mispronounced it and maybe no one has ever told you how to pronounce it, but this is the impact it's having on her. And so I think it's about you have to be comfortable depending on the setting and I also think it's never too late. And you can always go to someone else to talk about it and try to strategize on how you can go and approach somebody. I think there's so many ways to do it. There's not one way.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Mita Mallick: Not one way.

Sarah Nicastro: That's a good point. That's a good point and to one of the points you made earlier, you're bound to screw it up. It's an area where this is all really heavy, complicated, sticky stuff and so if we want to do better and we want to be catalysts of change and forward motion it's not going to be a smooth trajectory. We're going to screw up as people and we have to not let that fear prevent us from doing our best. So what practices can businesses put into place to foster more diversity, inclusion, and equity in terms of real action? So I think any business would say that this is important to them, but if you had to give a few tips on real, tangible action to take to make progress on this within their businesses, what would you suggest?

Mita Mallick: Lots of tips and advice. I will try to keep it brief. I would say that hire a head of diversity, equity, and inclusion, a chief diversity officer. You need somebody to do this work and lead and strategize and that person needs to report into the CEO and not four levels down or five levels down because that's not where the work gets done. You need to think about best practices like starting a diversity and inclusion board. Diversity Best Practices is an amazing organization, they're a diversity think tank and so much of what I've learned is from them, but there's so much out there in terms of best practices on having an inclusion board, setting targets, you know what gets measure gets done, thinking about the recruiting pipeline and where you're getting candidates from, thinking also about... I often get called by smaller companies for advice and that's a critical moment when you're a smaller startup and you start to think, "Well, do we all look like and act like each other?" And "What happens when we start to refer our friends to come work here?" You just sort of perpetuate the issue of not being diverse because you are doing something very well intentioned and tapping into your own networks.

Mita Mallick: But your own networks might actually look like you and act like you so there's so many things that you can be doing to really think about that and I think it really starts from the top, in your leadership and what's their commitment to this? To having someone run it, to having a team, to having funding. This work certainly isn't free, it's not for the faint hearted, and it's a lot of work. And so you have to invest to show results in return. Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think it goes back to one of the things we talked about, which is it needs to be an authentic desire to have a culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity and not just, again, be trying to take measures to make sure you're covering basis or checking a box because part of this is following best practices and creating metrics that will help you achieve the goals that you've set and things like that. But I think you can achieve diversity and not derive the full value from that diversity if you don't actually realize the benefit of having it. And that goes back to if you have a diverse set of people in your workforce that are working on finding and using their own voices but you fail to listen, then having that diversity is not helping you all that much to begin with. And that was something that I thought of when we were talking about this earlier. In my former role with my former employer, it was the company is almost all men and there was a number of times that I was shut down as a woman speaking up because they just did not want to hear what I had to say and they made that known.

Sarah Nicastro: And it was a frustrating situation and ultimately, it wasn't a good fit for me, but it's just there's so much value in diverse thinking and diverse experiences and diverse opinions that I just wanted to bring up the point that it isn't just about being able to say, "Yes, we have diversity within our workforce." But it's harnessing the power of that diversity to make your business stronger. And I think that's an important part as well.

Mita Mallick: No, absolutely. You will be at a disadvantage from a business perspective if you don't have diversity representation because it goes back to what we were talking about. How do your products and services show up in the marketplace? On are you capitalizing on the changing demographics of this country to serve those populations, all populations? And so that's why to your point, Sarah, why it's so critically important.

Sarah Nicastro: So I was really curious to ask this question. I know that you're very passionate about the work you do and it's so super important, but as someone that is heading up cross cultural marketing I wanted to ask what brands do you see that you think are really doing this work well? And why? So that our listeners can kind of learn a bit from those examples.

Mita Mallick: Well, I would be remiss not to talk about Ben & Jerry's, Dove, Dove Men+ Care. I won't make this a commercial for Unilever because there's a lot of great products. We have beauty, personal care, home care and food and refreshments, so hopefully a product that you own and use in your household. Thinking about non-Unilever brands, I would say Instagram, as we talked about, Sarah. There's so many brands on Instagram. It's just phenomenal to follow. One of the brands that I've been following for a few years is Billy's Footwear. This gentleman was a frontline emergency worker, I believe he was a fireman, Billy. He fell 15 flights and became paralyzed from the waist down and he realized that he didn't have a shoe that he could put on himself and he started Billy's Footwear. Universal design with a zipper. It's also very easy for children to put on.

Mita Mallick: So you think about what an amazing idea and thought from a tragedy and this is products that are being sold around the country, his footwear. But there are so many examples of inclusive brands. Another one is called Nunude. N-U-N-U-D-E. And they are about, they actually petitioned the Oxford Dictionary to change the definition of nude from lightest pink beige to all skin tones because they sell products that are apparel that matches your skin tone.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome.

Mita Mallick: So lounging, underwear, garments, etc. But there's just so much out there I think. You look at what Rihanna did with Fenty a few years, it's a few years old now, but the amount of shades of foundation that is just groundbreaking and even that idea that makeup for all and really for all skin tones. And so I think there's just so much out there. To your point, if you really want to look at fine inclusive brands, fine brands that are living their purpose, there's just so many on Instagram.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Mita Mallick: Pretty amazing.

Sarah Nicastro: Another one that I have liked for quite a few years is Aerie.

Mita Mallick: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Because I think they do a good job of, especially as women, just representing a broad spectrum of across the board. And I think I wanted to ask who you thinks doing well because I think it's good to take a look at what are those companies doing and how could that potentially apply to some of our listeners? And it's not too hard to find the ones that aren't doing a good job either.

Mita Mallick: Yeah. I would add to the list Tommy Hilfiger. There adaptive clothing line, again, thinking about the experience. Similar to Billy's Footwear, but if you have a prosthetic leg, if you only have use of one arm, single use zippers, magnetic buttons. Just they have done, I think, a really phenomenal job if you follow Tommy Hilfiger adaptive clothing on Instagram as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Cool. Good. Okay, so we're pretty much out of time, which is so sad and I knew this would be a longer podcast because we had a lot to talk about.

Mita Mallick: I feel like we could talk for hours.

Sarah Nicastro: We could, we could. And I would love to have you back-

Mita Mallick: Oh, thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: At some point. I think we could do probably a podcast on its own just in terms of best practices around diversity and inclusion. So perhaps we can do that at some point in the future, but, Mita, I really appreciate you being here. I've thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and really grateful for your insights.

Mita Mallick: Thank you so much, Sarah, for having me. Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can find more content by visiting us at www.futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter, @thefutureofFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS Service Management by visiting www.ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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July 20, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Panasonic Sharpens Its Service Strategy

July 20, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Panasonic Sharpens Its Service Strategy


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I think it’s safe to say manufacturers have recognized the need to embrace Servitization, but the race is on to see which companies can successfully transition their operations from product-focused to service-focused. Panasonic Appliances Air-Conditioning Europe is ready to lead the charge and has a strategy in place to do so. Karl Lowe, Head of European Service at Panasonic Appliances Air-Conditioning Europe, recently joined the company with the remit of leading the organization on its journey to Servitization.

“There’s been a recognition within Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions that we need to adopt more of a service mindset,” explains Karl. “The remit I’ve been given is to develop the maturity of our service organization.” Karl explains that, like many product manufacturers, historically service has been viewed within the organization in more of the technical sense. His goal is to broaden that thinking and begin work on getting the company’s service to be perceived as world-class in the way that its diverse portfolio of commercial and residential HVAC products are.

Karl explains that the process is complex because Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions operates in so many countries and regions and those operations have been conducted very independently until now. “We have this kind of silo mentality because each country works independently,” he notes. “But what we're trying to do with service is offer top-down governance in the way that we work operationally, how we work from a service sales point of view and how we work technologically. We don't want to take away the independence or the free thinking of our National Sales Companies (NSCs), but we do want to move away from each country doing it in their own way. We believe that offering common approaches and processes will really help our organization.”

Panasonic’s 3 Step Service Transformation

Karl’s first objective was to get a wholistic view of the status of service operations across the organization. He conducted a business maturity assessment to gain a greater understanding of the service business starting point within Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions.

With the baseline understood and set, Karl developed a three-step strategy to help Panasonic progress through the maturity model. “The first part of that plan is the operational side of our business,” says Karl. “This means using common tools, using similar processes and similar reporting so that we can start to work in a similar kind of way. And it's a little bit like if you were to drive your car into a showroom, if you go into Germany, if you go into the U.K., if you go into France, it's a similar feel, it's a similar approach. You should probably expect a similar kind of service. And that's really what we're trying to achieve within Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions, so that the customer that's in need of our assistance, whether they're in Italy, whether they're in the Czech Republic, whether they're in Spain or in Norway, it really doesn't matter – they should receive consistency.”

As a part of its operational transformation to mature service, Panasonic enlisted the support of IFS Remote Assistance, a collaborative merged reality software that blends two real-time video streams into an interactive environment. “IFS is important in this first phase of our strategy because it, for the first time, offers us a unification of the same way of working,” Karl notes. “We all have to use IFS. So, we will have to work in the same way in the way that we give the customer support, which is obviously to a high standard, and that is our goal.”

Remote Assistance Sets the Stage for Service Success

Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions has been piloting IFS Remote Assistance in its U.K. and Germany NSCs. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” describes Karl. “So much so that interest in the technology has spread throughout Panasonic.” During the pilot, Panasonic has found that in addition to driving service consistency, there are several other benefits the company will gain from IFS Remote Assistance.

“Another valuable aspect of using IFS Remote Assistance is how it enables us to capture and transfer knowledge to protect ourselves from losing technical insights and to educate and upskill across our workforce,” Karl explains. The solution allows Panasonic to record each session and if the company notices similarities occurring, it can initiate training to alleviate common issues. Remote Assistance can also be used for collaboration among workers – the visual aspect of the technology and being able to see what the other person sees means that resolution is far greater than support via a phone call.

Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions expects that by standardizing its service operations on IFS Remote Assistance the company will improve response times, increase remote diagnostics and resolution, reduce on-site visits and save costs, improve speed of repair, and achieve higher customer satisfaction by reducing customer friction.

An example is how IFS Remote Assistance will replace a third-party triage service previously used in the U.K. So, customers would call, be connected to third-party triage who then would relay the information to Panasonic, and they’d await a reply. Now, service sessions can be initiated immediately with IFS Remote Assistance to determine what the issue is and whether it requires a physical site intervention by one of our service engineers. “We need to speed our repairs, and with IFS deployed we expect to accomplish that goal,” notes Karl.

Once deployment of IFS Remote Assistance is complete and operational processes have been polished, Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions will move on to phases two and three of its strategy. Phase two is to examine the company’s service sales structure. “This is where we’ll look at how we sell service,” Karl explains. “And this is probably the most challenging part. We want customers to see us as a solution to their problems rather than a company they buy products from. We need to examine what offerings are appealing to our customer base and how we can develop those into subscription-based contracts.  We want to deliver outcomes – for them to trust us to look after their products and make sure they are always operating optimally. It's always running. It's always being monitored. If there's a problem, we turn up, we fix it. We go away, peace of mind solutions in that way. And I think that's very much the way the industry is going. If you look at hotels, hospitals, retail, restaurants, warehouses, industries, offices, and many other applications they want to get on with doing what they do best – they don't want to worry about HVAC equipment. That's our job and we need to determine how to best meet that need.”

The third and final phase is to examine the service engineering side of things. “Lastly, we’ll look at optimizing how we work in the field from an engineering standpoint and determine how can we provide feedback from the field and from our customers back to R&D to aid in the development of new products and solutions.”

Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions has the recipe for Servitization success: the vision, the strategy, and solid foundational technology to build upon. “The expectation if you’re buying a premium product is that you get premium service,” says Karl. “Our ultimate goal is to maximize customer retention, and to do that we need to mature and innovate in how we provide service to our customers. This is a new approach, a new beginning for Panasonic and I’m excited for the journey.”

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July 17, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

What Can Netflix Teach Service Managers About Contextualizing Data?

July 17, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

What Can Netflix Teach Service Managers About Contextualizing Data?


By Tom Paquin

Given the avalanche of video streaming platforms that we’ve been pelted with over the last few years, you’d be forgiven if you missed the fact that NBCUniversal just launched their own: Peacock. This is in no way particularly remarkable, interesting, or, I’d argue, good, but there’s a somewhat interesting component here, and that’s what will happen to The Office next year.

I should note here for our international readers I am talking about the Greg Daniels-helmed Office, which of course is an Americanized version of the (moderately superior) Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant-helmed UK Office, which was adapted and exported to a variety of different countries, including the US.

So why am I talking about The Office on this Field Service site? Because of Netflix. It’s widely known that The Office is the most-streamed series on the video platform, so when NBC made it clear that they planned to terminate their contract with Netflix and bring The Office to their own streaming platform, it created a pretty big stir.

The logic was, naturally, because The Office was the top streaming program on Netflix, that NBCUniversal could carry a percentage of Netflix viewers to their platform by moving the show there. The audience would follow the show. They were so certain of this that they bet $100 million a year in lost revenue on it. Netflix clearly bought this as well, and persevered to create a homegrown Office by dumping a massive sum of money at the feet of Greg Daniels and Office Star Steve Carell to create whatever show they wanted for the streaming giant. The result of that massive investment was a show called Space Force, and it’s fine.

Here’s the thing: It’s very likely that both Netflix and NBC have both made very foolish mistakes.

As someone who has a lovely spouse who turns on The Office while she is staring at her phone or answering work emails, I would postulate that The Office is the most-streamed show on Netflix for the following reasons:

  • There are a lot of episodes.
  • You can pay very passive attention to it and still enjoy it.
  • It’s there.

Sure, The Office is enjoyable, but were it not on Netflix, we would find something else that met those three criteria rather than leapfrog to yet another streaming app. Sorry NBC, I don’t care that you’re free, there’s a Netflix button right on my remote and I can re-watch the Great British Bake-off every day for the rest of my life. And if that were to be removed, we’d find something else.

So here we are, 400 words into this article, and what does this have to do with Field Service? Well, I think the gross miscalculation that both Netflix and NBC have made is just as likely to happen with service data, and it might be happening to you, right now.

Here’s an example: You see uncommonly frequent stock-outs on a specific service part in your warehouse. Binary thinking would imply that the part is used with some frequency, which would mean that either assets that use that part are more faulty than others, or the part itself is poorly engineered. So you spend time and money redesigning the asset and the part only to discover that because the parts are extremely small that technicians have an unnecessarily high volume of them on their truck.

This is a single example but it speaks to a broader challenge with a fairly anodyne solution. I’d say that there are three things that businesses can do to better contextualize their data:

Data Analysts Need to Understand Service
This is going to seem profoundly stupid but if you’re reviewing data about service, you need to actually understand every aspect of the service delivery lifecycle. For enterprise-sized businesses with data analysts, many of whom are fresh out of college, dipping their toes into the data lake will provide them a wealth of information to misinterpret.

There’s no silver bullet here. At large companies and especially at diversified companies making sure your CTO “gets” service is not always going to be in the top two thousand priorities. For that reason, it’s important to diversify the audience for your data. By putting raw data with some small context in front of, say, your operations lead, or even a front-line worker, you can have a much more informed interpretation.

Diversify your Data Sources
This is not new territory for us, but the more data sources available to you, the more accurate a picture you’ll have of your business. Combine parts information with broader logistics trends with actual service data, sprinkle on some asset management, and perhaps a few ERP functions, and you have a much better picture of your business than if you were simply looking at a single axis. This feeds into the previous point, obviously—get the right people to connect the data dots to build the picture for your business.

Audit, Audit, Audit
I realize that this is hard, especially as we wade in the uncertain waters of COIVD-19. Do we ever really have time to stop and evaluate the legitimacy of our data? I would argue that it is imperative, and it’s a key way to evaluate and contextualize your data in a meaningful way. Again, no silver bullet, but a good place to start is anecdotal evidence, which can provide much-needed shading to not just the binary cause and effect that you see in the data, but all those squishy grey areas that make up the connecting tissue between numbers on a page.

Obviously there’s no way to be sure that you’re getting data right, and as we’ve seen endlessly, the human condition does not always align with data collection conventions, but these tips will help you begin to contextualize your data. If all else fails, you can always give Steve Carell a call.

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July 15, 2020 | 16 Mins Read

Ricoh’s Centralized Services Strategy

July 15, 2020 | 16 Mins Read

Ricoh’s Centralized Services Strategy


Sarah talks with Dr. Marlene Kolodziej, Vice President of Centralized Services at RICOH USA, Inc. about the company’s creation of a centralized services division, the journey from product to services provider, and her experiences leading virtually.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, I'm excited to welcome back to the Future of Field Service podcast, Dr. Marlene Kolodziej, who is now Vice President for Centralized Services at Ricoh USA. Marlene, welcome back to the podcast.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you, Sarah. It's a pleasure to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Marlene and I were just chatting, we had the good fortune to do our very first podcast together, live at Field Service Amelia Island last year, which I don't know about you Marlene, but in this crazy time of no travel, I look back on very fondly, and certainly look forward to the next time we can be in person at an industry event.

Sarah Nicastro: So at that point, Marlene was in a different role and we had a podcast panel at that event that was on Women in Field Service. But today we're talking about a different topic, which is how the organization that Marlene is with now, Ricoh, has developed a Centralized Services strategy. So Marlene, again, welcome back. And let's talk a bit about this big change for you. So the Centralized Services Division that you're heading up now at Ricoh is newly created. So to start, tell our listeners a bit about why the Division was created and what your charge is.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you for the opportunity, Sarah. I really appreciate it. The organization Centralized Services was created to bring together all of the customer facing service and support teams, including Ricoh hardware and software, product support, production and office print, as well as application support and our IT support centers, and as well as our Ricoh Customer Branded Support Center. So we have a few initiatives for Centralized Services organizations, but its essence is to deliver the customer joy. And I know that sounds a little bit hokey and we hear everybody wants to bring joy to the customer or have the customer have a joyful experience. But when a customer has a great relationship with a company or a person or a product, we know that, that in turn deepens that relationship between the customer and the company, and it increases for us the value of our Ricoh brand and enables us to continue offering Ricoh products and services that meet or exceed the customer's expectations.

Sarah Nicastro: Wonderful. So it makes sense to me, I mean, it's really difficult to, when you talk about creating a positive customer experience, one of the hardest factors to that I think is seamlessness, and having that experience be not something that's disjointed or if you have each division of the company focusing on customer satisfaction or success in their own ways and nothing tying it all together, you have an opportunity to miss the mark. So that focus and centralized approach make sense to me. It is a big change for you. So I know you told me it's your first non-IT role in more than 30 years. So what made you interested in making such a big change and how are you liking the non-IT aspect so far?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: I'm sure, as you say, thank you for that question, as you say, that it's my first non-IT role in 30 years and I have to laugh, because now everybody knows I started in IT when I was two.

Sarah Nicastro: Exactly.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: But I wouldn't necessarily say it's a planned change and I've asked you if you'd believe me if I pose that question to you, I mean, I thought that my next step in my career would be a CTO or CIO position. I mean, I finished my doctorate just over a year ago and my research was partially based in the technology space, in particular in the cloud space. And it didn't occur to me that I wouldn't continue in IT, but at the time I did take a step back and I really thought about what I was looking for.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: And I realized that there are three key areas that needed to be satisfied. And the first was able to use the knowledge from my research and apply it to my next role. I mean, that's obvious, you spend years creating work and then you don't want to abandon that. You want to continue with that knowledge and deepen that and broaden it. And then the second was to be part of a company that was not risk averse and embrace change and new ideas. And I'm not saying a company that's going crazy in the risk space, but something that was open to a bit of exploration and a bit of challenging, especially around new ideas. And then the third was a good cultural fit and style that provided me with an opportunity to continue growing organizations, as well as ensure the growth and success of people.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: And for me, selfishly, I want to learn and I want to grow as well. And I've always been about helping people be successful. And the job I do just happens to be a conduit to enable me to get people to help them to grow, and I explored opportunities with those goals in mind and I realized they needed to be open to consider roles outside of IT. And this position at Ricoh checked all those boxes. And I also had to consider changing where I thought I'd be next. And to say I've made the right decision by coming here would be an understatement, but it really was one of those times where I just didn't expect to not continue with my career that I'd been building for 30 years to get to that CTO or CIO position. So it was a big change.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, but I mean, if you are interested, and it sounds like you are, in that continual growth and just your own journey of evolution, sometimes doing something different is the best way to grow and expand. So that's awesome. So when we talked last, we talked about, like many product manufacturers, Ricoh is in the midst of a fundamental evolution away from being just a product provider to being more of a services provider. So tell us what you envision related to that, and where you feel the company is at currently on that journey.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: When we think about where the traditional office space has evolved and how much more mobile our workforce has become, and I'm talking pre-COVID here, individuals expect a more unique experience that's related to how they work and not necessarily to how everybody else or how the masses work. I mean, if we put our mobile devices side-by-side, the devices themselves will probably be different and how they're configured and what apps we're using. They're not going to be the same necessarily, and our overall experience with those devices are unique to each of us. And we think about how people use our products and services at Ricoh, and there's a uniqueness to that experience as well, which really drives us to provide a service that's special to the individual and not necessarily tethered to a specific product, but more about how that product is used by that person.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, with the introduction of the Centralized Services Division, how do you see Centralized Services playing a role in that journey to the company becoming more of a services and solution company versus a product company?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: That's a great question. And when you think about transformation, it's a challenge for any one of us never mind an organization. And that being said, many successful companies are continuously transforming and Ricoh is no different. And for Centralized Services, we've created a multi-year roadmap that first takes our unique service offerings and blend them together to create a more holistic view of the customer and the customer experience. And I think you touched on that earlier as we started the conversation around all these disparate type of pieces and trying to bring them together and harmonize them to create that joyful customer experience as they work with us as a company. But as part of that journey, we're also implementing new tools and technology to drive that more joyful experience. We have a new integrated voice response to drive dispatch avoidance and allowing us to resolve more issues at first call, to rolling out new quality management initiatives, automating customer sentiment information real time, leading again to that more joyful experience in real time, as our customers are working with us.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. So Ricoh has made quite a bit of progress in terms of, I guess, recognizing the potential of service and more strategic service. What do you think are some of the things that will need to happen next for Ricoh to continue to realize the potential of that vision?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Well, I think we need to be a services organization. It's not necessarily about products and services. I think it's, not to pull the COVID card and the impact of COVID to all of us, but I think as people are changing the way they work, they're changing the way they learn, they're changing the way they do business. I think that they're untethering themselves from offices, they're untethering themselves from physical spaces. And we have to just be much more flexible to helping people be successful in whatever they're trying to accomplish. It's understanding their goals and objectives and being that services oriented company that says, "Oh, I understand you're not just about printing you're about X or Y or Z", and helping you get to that place and being that service provider of choice.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So you mentioned COVID, so here you are, you make this huge career change and you just get situated and then all hell breaks loose. How has your department, the Centralized Services Department been affected by COVID and what are some of the ways that you're working to adapt?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: That's a great question, Sarah, and I appreciate that. And I say that I'm really reluctant to use the word pandemic and silver lining in the same sentence, but it's really created a cultural shift for our organization. And I'm proud to say our teams were actively practicing our business continuity plans early this year in preparation for this event, especially hearing the early reports, and coming from an IT background, disaster recovery and business continuity planning are second nature. So it was natural for me to ask the teams to practice and improve our plans prior to us needing to use it. And of course, like everyone else, we never expected to have to enact those plans. We've moved almost our entire customer facing support centers remote, and we created new on and off boarding, consolidated and improved training and are now clearly focused on helping our agents deliver the best service possible.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: We've also estimated how much we've reduced our carbon footprint, for example. One small piece of my organization is estimate to save almost 900,000 miles of driving a year and reduce carbon emissions by almost 330 metric tons. So I think it's really important that we recognize it's not just about shifting people. I mean, when we enacted our business continuity plan, we've literally made that happen within two hours. And it was during, it was 10 o'clock at night, we pulled the trigger and we had people working remote within two hours by midnight. And that was mid-March, and we continued ever since. So the team, kudos to the team, I have great leadership and great team members and they were ready to do this. And I think for us, it was a shift to working remote. Not that, that doesn't come with its own challenges and its own changes from our cultural perspective, but we've been working remote and providing services ever since.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And augmented reality has played a role in how you've been able to... I know you said that was a technology that you had been utilizing, but you've seen a really significant spike in the use of that tool specifically to help you adapt and be able to continue providing service. So I'm just wondering if you can speak a little bit to that and talk about how you see the role of that technology evolving as recovery ramps up.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you for that. I think that was one of our challenges. When we talk about cultural challenges, we were encouraging our folks to use augmented reality and not travel as much. Our top guns to not have to go to customers and help fix issues when we had field services and other folks on the ground that could potentially help through the use of augmented reality, when we could have a, what we call a top gun and someone on the field side and working together, but it was just a struggle. And so that was a big cultural shift. COVID literally forced us to use that tool to be able to provide services and support to our customers. And we struggled to get traction in this area and the teams have really since embraced the technology. While some States have returned to work, we still continue to use augmented reality to resolve those calls instead of dispatching our resources.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: And we think we'll find a happy medium in the future as folks return to work, that we'll have a much higher use of augmented reality. But we won't eliminate travel as we move forward, but the technology is valuable and here to stay. And as a matter of fact, we had in February I think only 126 augmented reality calls, but in April we had over 5,000. So we really embrace the use, but I think for us, we're going to arrive at more of a happy medium as we see more of a return to work.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that make sense. It's really interesting to see how this situation has really created more open-mindedness to change. I mean, people, like you said, have been forced to adapt. So the folks that, before you're saying, "Hey, could you try this tool out? I think it will really help you." And it's easier to, "I want to keep doing my thing", or what have you, but that's another, I guess, lasting change that I think will take place, is just people being a little bit more open to different ways of operating. So as COVID recovery ramps, hopefully, and we find the next normal, what initiatives are on the horizon for the Centralized Services Division?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: I think for us, it's an opportunity to remain untethered from a physical location. I mean, we want to continue to develop and grow our resources to bring the customer that joy that we talked about, but we also want to explore bringing on employees independent of location with the ability to provide the best service possible. And this includes the development of new services for our customers. And the vision is only possible through the implementation of new solutions and technology aiding the growth of our diverse workforce while keeping us all connected. So I still get to wear my IT hat from time to time.

Sarah Nicastro: That's good. Yeah, it's a nice combination of different roles. And I think that's another interesting discussion is, to what degree will we return to a physical world of work, versus the remote circumstances that we're in being a bit more permanent. And I think that, from the conversations I'm having with folks, there's like you said, related to augmented reality, there's going to be some sort of a hybrid approach. But I think it's certainly something that the people are exploring in terms of the significant benefits of having some of the team be remote permanently. How about, with this being a really big change for you and just in terms of a change in career, and then putting the COVID situation on top of that, what would you say is the biggest lesson or insight you've learned as a leader over the last couple of months?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Well, that is a good question. I mean, I initially thought that it was more about sort of reinforcing what we already know. Things like, we'll need to make decisions in a fluid situation without all the information, and that your people are talented and to continue trust that they will make the right decisions and so on. We all know those things to be true. But I think the one thing I can say is, I learned how much people really do need to hear things will be okay, and that we've got this and that we're all in this together.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: And this new way of work, wherever we land will require us to rethink how we stay connected and how working together is really a personal endeavor, and one that we should treat with respect and dare I say, love. It's okay to be human more than we think we need to, it's probably the biggest thing that I learned, that is not, it is about getting the job done. And you hear me use words in this whole conversation, like joy and love and Sarah, you know me, I'm not the huggy, touchy, feely, it's let's get things done, let's do what we need to do, let's buckle it up. But this has also been a humbling experience, and it's really provided me as a leader with the wherewithal in a sense to step back and say, it is sometimes about the intangible and the feelings and being more human than we think we need to.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's a good point. Marlene and I were talking one evening last week, and the way I put it is, it's the weight of this all is very heavy. And that, in a lot of different ways, I mean, depending on what your situation is. There's really hard business decisions happening. There's people out of jobs, there's people that have family members or they themselves are battling illness. There's parents who are desperately trying to sort out how to continue working and take care of their children. You know what I mean? There's, there's a really big weight to all of this. And I think that to your point, being conscious of that and remembering how much authentic human connection helps us all feel like we can face that, is really important.

Sarah Nicastro: I know the other thing you brought up last week is to remember it's not permanent. So it's hard when you're in it and we're all in it. I mean, we're in the thick of it. I think, I know at least for myself, mid-March, I mean, it was, "Hey, we're going to lock down for a couple of weeks and then everything will kind of sort itself out." And here we are, and it's starting to feel like it'll never end, but it will. And the best way to get through it is to band together. And you're right, I mean, especially in a virtual world, we all have to stay in touch with one another and stay connected and help each other out. So it's a good point. And I think it's one that's been shared by quite a few leaders, is that the business aspect of everything is almost coming secondary to the need to think about the human side and put people first. So I think it's a really good lesson. So, good. Any other thoughts or comments you want to share before we close for today?

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: You know, I think just one thing, and it kind of gets back to the beginning of the conversation a little bit to wrap this up that part of being human is, is also to think about yourself and take a step back and really understand your own needs. You had asked me about certainly my next step in my career, and I shared a little bit about where I thought I'd be and where I'd end up, but it took some self-reflection as well.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: So I think just remembering to be more human during this event, but also be more human and kind to yourself and to take the time and to take a step back and realize that it's okay to get in touch with your needs as well, and not to try and be everything to everyone during something so dramatic as what we're going through today. It's unprecedented. And I think that we all need to take care of ourselves and our needs, whether it be a career or family or time or whatever that is. Even from a health perspective that I think folks need to really take a step back and take that personal inventory and make sure they're doing well for themselves, as well as others in their life and in their work.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I'm very guilty of that. My strategy is move a million miles an hour and don't take any time to reconcile the reality of what's actually happening, which is-

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Yeah. I think that's the human condition.

Sarah Nicastro: ... not healthy, yeah. But very good point. And Marlene, thank you so much for joining again today. I'm excited to see where this new path at Ricoh will take you and I'm sure we will welcome you back at some point in the future to see what's going on. So thanks [crosstalk 00:00:22:47].

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej: Thank you for having me, it was such a pleasure.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can check out more of our content by visiting us at www.futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter at The Future of FS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS Service Management by visiting www.ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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July 13, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

The 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management Paints a Picture of Progress

July 13, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

The 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management Paints a Picture of Progress


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

The Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management is a highly-anticipated piece of research each year, both for the vendors hoping they’ve achieved a prominent placement and for those in the industry who rely on the Magic Quadrant to help steer their technology investments for the upcoming year(s). As I read through the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, I was impressed by the progress the report illustrated. Not only as it relates to the technology provided by the vendors evaluated, although that progress is interesting too, but by the statistics that painted a picture of significant progress by service organizations.

I’ve been interviewing service leaders from brand-name businesses across a wide variety of industries for more than a dozen years – sometimes it feels like those years have flown by and other times it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime. But what has been clear to me over the past three or so years is the seismic shift taking place as service becomes a strategic differentiator for businesses in almost every industry. This progress has revealed itself to me one conversation at a time, but when you pause to look at it collectively you can see the hard work these leaders are putting in to really innovate their businesses, embrace digital transformation, and meet customer needs in new and exciting ways. My personal collection of conversation after conversation that reveals immense progress is reflected in some of the research shared in the 2020 Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management.

Outcomes-Based Service Takes Hold

In Gartner’s strategic planning assumptions, shared at the beginning of the report, Gartner states that, “By 2025, over 50% of equipment manufacturers will offer outcomes-based service contracts that rely on access to digital twin data, up from less than 20% in 2019.” In a later section of the report that shares survey results from 84 customers of 14 vendors evaluated, Gartner reveals that, “One third of respondents are already using this model, up from 19%, and 34% intend to offer this model within the next 12 to 24 months.”

As we’ve discussed, Servitization and outcomes-based service are the future – but we know they are not easy evolutions and take time. Gartner’s research illustrates not only the recognition of the importance of offering outcomes-based service, but also the progress the industry has made – and has plans to make – in doing so. This corroborates what we’ve seen in covering how companies like Cubic Transportation, Tetra Pak, Munters and Alfa Laval are embracing this journey.

Software Use Advances to Meet Service Needs

As service organizations continue to proceed down the path to outcomes-based service, they need more advanced technologies to enable the delivery of those outcomes. The software vendors featured on the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management have evolved quite a bit over the last couple of years themselves, and we see some of the solutions offered becoming simultaneously more sophisticated and simpler to use.

Gartner shares two other strategic planning assumptions that reflect more advanced technology demands. First, “By 2025, 50% of field service management deployments will include mobile augmented reality collaboration and knowledge sharing tools – up from less than 10% in 2019.” We’ve seen even more enthusiastic adoption of AR since COVID-19 struck and, personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number in 2025 is even higher than 50%. In the survey of 84 customers from the 14 vendors, 64% of respondents are using or plan to use knowledge management within 12 months. Both AR and knowledge management hold great potential in a number of critical areas for field service organizations: improving customer experience, increasing productivity, more efficient training, and the prevention of loss of uncaptured knowledge as older workers retire.

Gartner also shared in their strategic planning assumptions that “algorithms and bots will schedule over two-thirds of field service work for field service providers dependent on automated schedule optimization, up from less than 25% in 2019.” In the survey results, Gartner revealed that “Sixty-three percent of the respondents (up from 39%) indicated that they were already offering their customers a means to self-serve.” Moreover, the report states that “In 2017, Gartner predicted that, by 2020, 10% of emergency field service work would be both triaged and scheduled by AI, up from less than 1% in 2017. Of the surveyed reference customers this year, 23% indicated that they already schedule some work automatically.” Respondents also stated that “the overall average number of technicians handled by each dispatcher was 47, compared with the 21 reported by respondents to the survey conducted for the 2019 Magic Quadrant.” We see here an interest and readiness from field service organizations to leverage more advanced tools, which I believe stems from a recognition doing so is essential in being able to evolve the ways they need to in order to remain competitive and successful.

I think it’s also interesting and important to keep in mind that much of the work for this report was completed prior to the real impact of COVID-19. While the challenges of the pandemic are vast, I do also believe that once we’ve recovered, we will see an acceleration of innovation among field service organizations because navigating the challenges has resulted in more openness to change, increased agility, and greater recognition of the importance of technology.

If you haven’t yet read the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, you can download a copy here.

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July 10, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

What Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant Says about the State of Service

July 10, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

What Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant Says about the State of Service


By Tom Paquin

This week, Gartner once again released its Magic Quadrant, evaluating Field Service Management software vendors on their ability to effectively provide solutions to their customers.

The report is, as always, not just an assessment of the various vendors in the service industry, but also an overview of the state of the service market today, and what’s clear to me through Gartner’s market assessment is that service is becoming even more vital than it has been to the success, continuity, and growth of businesses in all sorts of different industries.

So knowing all this, and preparing for the future, what has Gartner identified as major market trends, and how can you prepare your business? Here are three areas noted in the report that you should be considering for your business today.

Outcomes-based Service
As Gartner writes, “Of 54 respondents, one-third were already offering this model, up from 19%, and 34% indicated that they intend to offer this model within the next 12 to 24 months.” This means that more than half of organizations will be moving towards an outcomes-based service model. This is an obvious move for forward-thinking organizations. By building their business plans around outcomes, rather than selling warranties, you build long-term contracts that extend beyond the lifespan of a given product, and you offer your customers something more valuable than the promise to resolve issues. It's something we're eager to discuss here, and do some with some frequency.

Of course, in order to do outcomes-based service right, you need to actually be measuring and managing internal systems, whether it be asset-centric, or in terms of the speed and effectiveness of service delivery. For example, if you promise a 4-hour time from ticket to resolution, you’d better not only know you can do that, but also make sure that doing so is actually profitable. Getting that right naturally benefits from smart optimization.

Knowledge Management
As Gartner notes, “Although virtually nonexistent for technicians only a short time ago, about two-thirds (64%) of 63 responding reference customers to our latest survey said that they are using or plan to use knowledge management for field service within the next 12 months.” Knowledge management is no joke, and with an influx of new, inexperienced technicians replacing an aging workforce (my last study had technician turnover hovering around 50% annually) getting it right is the key to successfully managing your business.

What tools you use will depend on your business, but manuals on mobile devices might not be enough. Many organizations are finding great success with augmented reality and remote assistance as a means to quickly upskill technicians by offering them a virtual mentor watching them over their shoulder.

Zero-touch Service
While within the context of our current challenges with COVID, this has taken on a slightly different meaning (and has been mitigated by tools like the AI ones discussed previously), in this instance, we’re discussing the ways in which businesses schedule and manage service visits. Gartner writes, “In 2017, Gartner predicted that, by 2020, 10% of emergency field service work would be both triaged and scheduled by AI, up from less than 1% in 2017. Of the surveyed reference customers this year, which represent a small but often leading portion of the overall market, 23% indicated that they already schedule some work automatically.”

Getting this right starts with a robust customer experience tool, and emanates from asset management as well. Solid IoT systems can dispatch technicians before customers even realize there’s a problem, and chatbots can be calibrated to respond accurately to challenges and recommend the right solutions. There are a great deal of tools that support zero-touch, and it behooves the service professional to choose tools that take the fullest advantage of inputs available today, as well as the openness to handle potential new technologies as they come online.

With these broad-reaching changes impacting the industry, it’s important to build a plan with proven partners that understand your business, and have tools that cater to the way you do service, not force you to cater to them. For more trends impacting the industry, and the full vendor guide, click here to access the report.

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