October 30, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

How the New iPhone Could Change Service Delivery

October 30, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

How the New iPhone Could Change Service Delivery


Tom Paquin

I’ll start this by saying I used to work for Apple, both in the retail space as a college student, and then again in business development while I was getting my MBA. Apple has always led the way in delivering exceptional service alongside premium products, from their support offerings, to their subscription services, to the physical structure of their retail stores. Servitization is the DNA of Apple’s 21st-century success (and, sacrilegious as it may seem, this has flourished under Tim Cook while it in many ways floundered under Steve Jobs) and it has set the standard for how to redefine retail for the digital age.

This is something I care about quite a bit, and I write about frequently, but this is not what we’re here to talk about today. Today we want to talk, specifically, about the implications that the new iPhone might have for service firms outside of Apple itself. This years’ iPhone upgrade cycle has introduced a feature that will have compelling repercussions for service, and that’s what we’re here to talk about.

The technology I’m talking about is not 5G, which I’ve already discussed, it’s LiDAR. This technology first appeared earlier this year in Apple’s iPad pro, so its appearance in an iPhone is not particularly surprising. But the increased portability and near-ubiquity of the iPhone means that suddenly this new tool will appear on many more job sites—and embedded in many more mobile service utilities.

So what is LiDAR? LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging, and what it does is shoot little lasers onto surfaces in order to create very detailed 3D renders. This CNET article has a number of very compelling examples of how this works in practice with the iPhone, from 3D modeling to simulating changes to the physical space with remarkable accuracy, to creating digital twins in real-time. LiDAR tech has been a key component in autonomous vehicles, drones, robotics, and wearables for years, but this is one of the first instances that the technology will be easily pocketable.

There are, with LiDAR, a number of interesting and compelling use cases for service. The most obvious is for remote assistance, which currently is enhanced through shared view using the camera itself. Enhanced projection and modeling will aid in accurately defining the space, helping to diagnose issues that may not be easily rendered through an image alone, and provide the ability to for remote technicians to interact with depth for on-screen instructions. This is a great way to minimize truck rolls and costs associated with service delivery while providing excellent outcomes for customers.

While we talk quite a bit about remote assistance, augmented reality can be a powerful tool for self-service as well, and with LiDAR, improved ability to provide overlays for directions would help dramatically improve the quality of step-by-step instructions. Here’s an example of how you could use it in your own life: Imagine you have a flat tire. Car companies are beginning to offer mobile apps for self-repair, so you download your app, point your camera at the car, and are taken through how to safely and properly replace a tire. With today’s technology, you usually line up one of the bumpers, and the overlay begins. But what if it’s dark? Or you have a dent in your bumper, or your kid slapped a bunch of stickers all over your car? LiDAR takes a burgeoning technology and potentially makes it foolproof.

I was recently doing some plumbing projects in my basement and I could easily see the application for tools like these. Take it a step further, and imagine lifting your phone below the floorboards, waving it around, then taking it and pointing it at the floor to see a 3D map of plumbing and electrical laid out above ground. That not only has applications for self-service, but for traditional service, too.

Will LiDAR be the killer app of the iPhone 12 Pro? Probably not for the average person, who will likely care more about the camera system, or possibly (though probably not) Dolby Vision. But in service, there is now a whole new toolset, and a lot of exciting potential. Let’s hope that service providers figure out how to elevate it for their customers.

October 28, 2020 | 20 Mins Read

ANDRITZ Shares Digital Transformation Lessons Learned

October 28, 2020 | 20 Mins Read

ANDRITZ Shares Digital Transformation Lessons Learned


Klaus Glatz, Chief Digital Officer at ANDRITZ, talks with Sarah about customer needs driving digital transformation and service evolution as well as shares his biggest digital transformation lessons learned.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be talking about digital transformation lessons learned. We know that digital transformation journeys can be fraught with complexity, and I think it's incredibly valuable to hear from folks lessons learned when they are willing to share those. So I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today Klaus Glatz, Chief Digital Officer at ANDRITZ. Klaus, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Klaus Glatz: Hello. Nice to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for being here. Before we dig into to ANDRITZ digital transformation journey and some of what you've been leading for the organization. Let's first just share a bit about yourself, your role, what ANDRITZ business does for anyone that might not be familiar and we'll start there.

Klaus Glatz: Yeah, you're welcome. First staring with ANDRITZ. ANDRITZ is a global acting machine and plant engineering company. We deliver big machines and big plants for different businesses. Our biggest area is pulp and paper, where we deliver from unit machine, single machines up to big mills. The second one is hydro. Hydro power plants starting from hydropower plants to small pumps, everything related to water and energy production. The third one is metals where we do metals processing and metals forming. So we're doing big presses for them, mainly for the automotive industry and do all forms of transformation of different steels and metal products. And then we have a fourth one, which is separation, where we do liquid and solid separation. It's large sludge dissolving. So mainly from municipalities. So it's a broad range of separation of different materials.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Klaus Glatz: As you said, my name is Klaus Glatz. I'm chief digital officer at ANDRITZ, being responsible for developing IoT, as well as the whole digitalization activities, which we call here smart services. Where also field service management is part of. We are delivering new services, new products, thinking about different business models, what we can offer to our customers. The ultimate goal for sure is to help our customers to be more efficient, to be more productive, to eliminate downtimes or unplanned downtimes as much as possible. And the field service management for us is a key topic here. We call the field service technicians out in the field, and we need to better optimize what they're doing, how we schedule them, how we can support them with material documentation, and also how we show up the whole reporting part, but also I guess the whole cashflow part. So to say, how long does it take for us to create invoices to send it to our customers because this has an impact on our cash flow.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely.

Klaus Glatz: So I guess a digitalization for us is on one hand internal digitalization. So I guess optimizing processes, delivering also new solutions, in order to help our people to really focus on what they should do and not, I guess, losing time in having bad products or better applications or whatever.

And then the secondhand, I guess we are doing to digitalization for our customers, creating additional revenue, implementing new models, like performance based contracts, revenue sharing models, up to equipment as a service. So we have different ideas here, how we can help our customers to better use our products. But also I guess, at the end of the day, gets to create more revenue in what they're doing.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And so when you and I spoke last, we had a whole conversation around the fact that, evolving customer demands and what your customers are looking to ANDRITZ for is what's driving your digital transformation efforts, whether that's internally to be able to serve them better or externally in new offerings. So, we talked about a few trends that you've noticed recently with how customers are changing in what they want or how they want to work with you. So, I want to talk about a few of those.

Sarah Nicastro: So, the first we talked about is in your industry, you explained to me that historically customers have wanted to maintain a pretty high level of self service and that they are now wanting to relinquish some of that control and move to more of a full service partnership with ANDRITZ so that they can focus on their core competencies. So, tell us a little bit what you've seen in that regard, because I think that that's something that would be a shared observation across a number of different industries.

Klaus Glatz: I think that the whole cooperation relationship is getting more integrated. So I guess it's not just we deliver something, and then I guess we hand it over to the customer, and then tell them have fun, and if you need service, I guess, just call us. Our intention here is to help them to create more output by that using, which is relevant for us, energy, energy consumption, chemicals, all of this stuff. We learn what customers are doing, how they operate our machines and plants. And this is what we use here based on data to help them to optimize how they’re running our equipment; and that's why, I guess it's urgently, or it's really needed, that we work together, we cooperate and help each other.

Klaus Glatz: We help the customers, I guess, to be more efficient, and the customer helps us to better understand our machines and products and further optimize them. So, it's a win-win situation for both. And this is definitely what we're striving for, and I guess the real thing, typically what happens to customers now, industries, if they've unplanned downtimes. So, if a machine is failing, I guess this creates huge losses because each of these machines is needed to produce something. So it's in our interest, but also the interest of the customer, to avoid as much as possible unplanned down times.

Klaus Glatz: And also, I guess from an integration perspective, we see a tendency that we are heading more in other things like paper use or machine as a service, or I guess it is output based on a contract.

Maybe really I guess, make sure that we are responsible here from starting from delivering a machine to the phase where we fade the machine out, and still, I guess we help him with our service beeper, with our predictive maintenance solutions to understand what's going on and to better plan or better forecast what's going to happen.

Klaus Glatz: It's always easier that if we know that a machine needs maintenance or service in two months, then we can properly plan it. I guess if the machine is failing today, it's nearly impossible to help a customer. So it's, bad for both sides, and the wide integration between a customer and the supplier is getting deeper, and is getting more and more intense in business. I think beneficial for both sides because also our interest is to have happy customers. And that's why now like as I said before, we need to avoid unplanned down times as much as possible.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. That makes sense. And so, as a part of this evolution, customers are looking to you now, not just to provide service, but to provide a lot of insights. So, insights on how they can optimize the use of your equipment insights on, common patterns of failure points and how you can, like you said, use predictive analytics to work ahead of those, and as a way to avoid that unplanned downtime. I guess that's the other big trend is you're not just in the product or service business, you're in the insight and information business as well, right?

Klaus Glatz: Yeah, absolutely. Because if you've seen the evolution here, we used to provide our machines and now I guess we are talking a lot about sensors, collecting data, converting data into information, information into knowledge. We are experts in our domain what we're doing. We understand our purposes, but I guess with having this data available, collecting dozens of different sensory information also puts us into a position that we still learn how we can further optimize or improve our machines. If you see as an example, at a big mill today, we have 125,000 possible errors, which you need to understand in order to produce the optimal output. I guess, for people working 30, 35, 40 years in Jacksonville, they understand how to operate such a mill. The issue for the customer is that, because of demographics, the people are somehow retiring your integration services, how to capture the knowledge and how to convert the knowledge into data.

Klaus Glatz: And it's all about data. And because data helps us to understand our internal processes in our mills, hydropower plants, whatever, and help us really to do better decisions. And division here for us for sure is that at some point in time, we go more and more towards autonomy or autonomous solutions, because I guess, if you have seen such a mill operating 365 days, 24 hours, using typically three shifts, I guess it's not fine to work in such environments, and that's why I guess the more we can help our customers to guide the operators, to do autonomous decisions, the better. So, the less people you need in order to operate that.

Klaus Glatz: At the end of the day, it's a very dangerous environment. It's an unhealthy environment, and that's why it's also an interesting possibility for us, but also for the customers that with having digital solutions in place, this would first optimize what they are doing. We would guide them which decision they need to take based on historical data based on algorithm, based on forecasting, to really produce what the customer of our customers wants to have.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I want to just pause for a minute and go back to a point that you made that I think is a really powerful, and I'm kind of paraphrasing what you said a bit, but I think that one of the points you made is made me think about, to be successful as a service provider, historically, you had to be the expert of your industry, right? You had to be the expert of your business and the solutions you're providing. I think, to be successful in today's landscape and going forward, you need to not only be an expert about your business, but you need to be an expert about your customers businesses.

Sarah Nicastro: The more you can learn about the ins and outs of how they operate and what that actually looks like, the more you're able to craft services and solutions that help meet those needs, so it's I guess, more work maybe than it has been in the past, but also a lot more opportunity. Right?

Sarah Nicastro: So, I want to talk about, thus far, how have these trends both in, customer expectations and needs as well as what's possible with the technology that we have today, how have these trends changed ANDRITZ service offerings thus far, and how do you see that evolving in the coming years?

Klaus Glatz: Yeah, technology gives a lot of opportunity with this year, starting from, I said I guess, using modern solutions to better guide and dispatch our field service technicians, giving them with AR virtual reality, mixed reality, the possibility to visualize things, but also getting in contact very easily with real experts. And technology, I guess, offers here a lot of possibilities here still. We also are still in the learning phase. Even though we’ve done already a lot, the integration between customers and companies is getting more intense, which creates some challenges but also it gives a lot of opportunities. And we are really focusing on opportunities here and making sure that also, I guess, seeing how ANDRITZ is developing all the job profiles in place that we didn't have five years ago.

Klaus Glatz: It's everything, data analytics, algorithms. So this is something where we will have an own team now working on that, which hasn't been existing, I guess, five years back. Still, we are a very engineering-intense company. We are field service company. But there are additional competences and skills that will also be needed in the future. We will add a bunch of different other capabilities and jobs or job profiles to complement in what we are doing.

Klaus Glatz: I still think that we are at the beginning, even we are doing a lot, but I guess the knowledge, it gives us so much more possibilities here, which we still in the phase of learning and understanding how we can use them. Specifically, the whole thing and on AI machine learning, anomaly detection, which are key topics also for us to further improve our machines and plants. I guess we just started, and this is what for sure will be further explored how we can use these technologies here in further optimizing in what we are doing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think that mindset of continuous learning is what drives companies to be successful. I think when you start to feel like you have it all figured out, that's when you stop making a lot of progress; because I think when you realize that the capabilities are as significant as they are, then you know, that you can keep evolving and keep changing and expanding what you're doing.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I know that you mentioned within your customer base, with the retirement and turnover of some of the skillsets that have traditionally run these plants, those customers are looking more to ANDRITZ to fill some of those gaps with your expertise. And then ultimately your goal is to provide, an autonomous solution to your customers. So that you've taken the need for those historical skillsets out. Is that I guess an accurate description?

Klaus Glatz: Yeah. I guess it's exactly what's happening. It's not just for us by us because this is, as I said before, this is demographics, and to find real experts in those areas is not easy. You need to educate them. You need to train them. It takes really years and years to be able to run those big mills, because the issue is that you do something now and which has an impact eight hours later.

Klaus Glatz: So it's not that you immediately see, I guess then they decide. It's a time series and if you produce eight hours of the wrong thing you lose a lot of money. So it's a very now intense, intense area. And that's why I guess customers are fully open here, whatever we can provide to help them to better understand what's going on to better assist them and guide them in order to avoid that they're producing eight hours the wrong part. So to say, this is definitely something they're looking for.

Klaus Glatz: Selling those solutions was challenging also because our sales force wasn't used to sell digital solutions or services, but they're more used to that now than three, four years back. I guess it's not easy to sell those solutions because if you used to sell a product, the machine, you can talk intelligently about the mechanics. But to explain now how we're going to use data, algorithm, machine learning, artificial intelligence, to further optimize what you're doing, is not easy. And this is something we also needed to learn, which competencies do we need specifically in sales in order to convince our customers that what we are doing makes sense?

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. That's a very good point, and you had mentioned a few minutes ago, the idea, and this is one of the most exciting topics to me in this space, is looking at how service businesses are evolving and what that means in terms of how current roles are changing, but also the new skill sets that are going to be needed within businesses. I think it's really interesting and really a lot of exciting things will happen over the coming years as we kind of see that play out, and a lot of good opportunity for folks. Obviously the role of the frontline field service worker has changed. To your point, these customers no longer just want them to show up and fix something that's broken. They want them to be a trusted advisor type of relationship. So, what has that been like for the frontline workers of ANDRITZ?

Klaus Glatz: Yeah. It's also for them, selling as the trusted advisors, and still also they need to develop themselves. Because you need your field service technicians, they still need to fix something. They have the tools with them, but a lot has changed. Now they’re using digital tools too, and you need a lot of experience. So if you have a junior elevate the need and send the junior and the senior together to a job site, because the senior was training junior how to do things, what we’ve seen here is with using remote assistance towards augmented reality and electronic documentation, it's not always needed that there's always a junior and a senior going together to the job site.

Klaus Glatz: So, typically we send the junior wearing HoloLens or whatever product. And the senior is sitting in his office at headquarters and still helps him to get his job done. And the cool thing is that the senior could now act as a multiplier because he can now instruct 10, 15, 20 different people and not having the need to travel that much. And this is also something, we have learned, if you're at the job site and need to do things on your own, someone remotely can instruct someone to do things correctly. Now people need to learn how to use these tools, how their role is changing, how they will be the one guiding other people.

Klaus Glatz: There we have seen some changes and our predictive solutions. We also have a performance center where we can see how different machines are performing and target finding the need for suggesting maintenance work and field service activities before something is happening.

Klaus Glatz: This is also a change because typically they were used as firefighters. Emergencies would come popping up and they were flying fully rolled like hell and today it's much more controlled. We understand our machines much better. We see, if the place needs a service in one month and then you can proactively suggest it to the customer. You can dispatch a service technician. It's not the big surprise. The technician doesn't get a call on Saturday or Sunday that you need to get onto the plane and fly to wherever in order to get things fixed. It's much more controlled. It's not saying that now emergencies are gone 100%, not at all, but it's a completely different working environment, which is absolutely beneficial for the people, but also for the customers, because customers also can better plan work which needs to be done here in order to keep this environment up and running.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Okay, so you've talked about a few, but I just want to recap real quick before we run through a few lessons. In terms of ANDRITZ digital transformation efforts thus far, talk to us a little bit about what some of the key pillars of that strategy are. So I know you mentioned FSM. I know you're using IOT and predictive analytics. Talk to us a little bit about what some of those core components are.

Klaus Glatz: Yeah. So say, I guess for the whole field service environment, it's our field service management solution, which we're using globally, or we are in the phase of rolling it out globally. On the IoT side via using videos and standard components and standard products. We are also, once it comes to our IOT offerings, I guess we are not working with one specifically because I guess customers typically have their preferences, which we need to respect so to say.

Klaus Glatz: We're very focused on internal development team where we're developed a lot of things on our own, because what we have learned is that to develop a good algorithm, requires a deep domain expertise in what you're doing. And that's why, I guess we are doing those things

Klaus Glatz: I guess still customers would like to have the solutions on premise, which creates some issues in data exchange. They are heading more and more towards cloud, but there's still a way to go. And we even start to develop our own sensors specifically for our needs together with universities and other companies, for sure. But I guess we also in the position to offer our own sensors. And that's why, I guess it's not that they're using this five building blocks or the five standard products. We do it mainly use-case based on a need pace, because the requirements or the environment in the m is differillent than in a hydropower plant. That's why we also need to use different components and different solutions for that. And we are not set, we do it selectively where we think we could get the most out of it.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So let's talk through a couple of the lessons learned. So the first comment you made is how important it is to think big, but act small. So tell folks what you mean by that.

Klaus Glatz: Yes. That's what I said, I guess, our mission was and still is, I guess we want to develop an autonomous whatever. I guess if it starts from zero, it's very ambitious. In time, all of the things should run autonomous. That's why you need to have a very clear plan, which steps you need today in order to get there. And we also started very small, very easy, took a very simple product and started to understand how we are. We need to develop our competencies and our skills in order to be able to develop those things. For sure. I guess it's important still. Things like you need a budget and you need to have a project sponsor and you need to have someone who has a vision, where I want to develop to, from a product solution perspective.

Klaus Glatz: It's easier from a business model change. It's much, much more complex from things like equipment as a service. It's also different complexity, but we started really with a set. Weak things, easy things and style to get all these models that we're developing together. And those are now today, a very strong development team. We also have distributed development with people in India, with people in Croatia, with people in Australia, with people in Finland. And as I said, you need to really see how to break a big thing into small pieces and then be quick in the delivery. We also now integrate customers in our discussions. So once we are doing a proof of value for something, we typically have already 10, 15 customers willing to test, willing to use it, and we also expand our reach. So say our chain also, including customers, and once we did with a tour cause we have a catalog.

Klaus Glatz: We had 15 customers, which we used in order to cost-check and to challenge things. But we think customer needs is really required or requested by a customer. So I think you need to open up your channels, your partnering, your collaboration, and really understand what are the needs of the customers. What he really needs and for which parts he is willing to pay it, because at the end of the day, our interest is to increase our revenue side. And that's why it's important not to work two years in your protected environment, go out to the customers and learn you’re off. Failing is also okay. This is also what we need to learn and it's think big and start small.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. The next area of importance is understanding how critical clean data is. So tell us what you've learned around the importance of clean data.

Klaus Glatz: This is the absolute key area. If you're working with bad data, you can have the best solution and the most fancy thing in place and it will not work. And also in our case, data intake with the correctness of data is a huge topic. Data is key and of utmost importance. You cannot make good decisions with bad data. And this is something I guess, which is painful and which you need to understand in which creates huge efforts in cleaning data. But you have no other alternative than they just start picking up the data, make sure data is still valid. It's correct, it's updated, because otherwise I guess, you will fail with whatever you are doing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, very good point. And then the third point is that process harmonization is equally important and an area that often gets rushed. So tell us a little bit about process harmonization.

Klaus Glatz: It's also key. I guess if we see that there were elements of topics, process harmonization is also very important, because to support different process variance, different process situations, with one tool always creates a lot of complexity. So, you need to have slim and easy processes in place, and then also it helps when implementing the tool. If you have 15 different deviations with 45 different process variances to support that with one thing, the solution is a mess of complexity. Not working as expected either it's low, or equating the wrong output, or doesn't integrate with anything. So both this harmonization and standardization is also really, really important because otherwise you create too much complexity.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Makes sense. So those are really good points and good food for thought. And I think it's a really interesting journey that you're on. And I look forward to following you along and talking more, as you guys progress toward the world of autonomous solutions. Klaus, any other lessons learned or closing thoughts that you would want to share?

Klaus Glatz: I think that the whole change management aspect is also still a huge topic here, because change always creates some fear, so to say. It's also important that you communicate, you get the people on board, you get a lot of visibility and transparency in what you're doing. This is also what we had to learn that maybe, I guess we missed out on change management at the beginning a little bit too much so to say. So, that's why I guess we also see this is very, very important. Two sided within the company, but also when cooperating with customers.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Klaus Glatz: Customers need to know we don't want to steal your data. We don't want to misuse your data. We just want to learn from experience what we can improve, and this is a joint journey with our customers. And still who is owning which data and who is allowed to access data is still sometimes a topic, but I will say that the whole change management aspect is also something which is key here to be successful. And if you lose some profiles, you win some others, but still it's being transparent, being also accessible for people to explain what you're doing is also key here.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I agree. A hundred percent. We'll Klaus, thank you so much for being here and for sharing your journey and your perspective with us. I really appreciate it and hope you'll come back and join us again some time.

Klaus Glatz: You're welcome. Whenever it's needed.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you. You can find more content by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter at 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, thanks for listening.

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October 26, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Carlsberg’s Recipe for Brewing Service Excellence

October 26, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Carlsberg’s Recipe for Brewing Service Excellence


 By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Carlsberg is one of the world's leading brewery groups with more than 140 brands in its beer portfolio, including the international brands Carlsberg and Tuborg and strong local power brands, such as Ringnes in Norway, Lvivske in Ukraine, Wusu in China as well as craft and specialty brands such as French 1664 Blanc and the Belgium abbey beer Grimbergen.

Carlsberg’s service business provides installation, repair, and maintenance to its customers in the hospitality industry. In its highly competitive industry, Carlsberg is tasked with seeking ways to deliver precise consistency as well as continually finding ways to differentiate itself. To meet these demands, the company is harnessing the power of today’s digital tools in a variety of ways. “We sell both direct to hospitality and indirect to wholesalers,” explains Per Ahlmann Andersen, Global Business Solutions Senior Director at Carlsberg. “In both channels, our ability to maximize equipment uptime and ensure product stays stocked is imperative to our success – and today’s technologies enable us to achieve the greatest results.”

Differentiation in a Highly Competitive Industry

The beer industry is highly competitive, and Carlsberg needs to focus on creating synergies between the commercial relationship and service, maintaining visibility of its breadth of assets and product stock, and reacting quickly – preemptively, even – to any equipment issues. “Our service personnel visit customers three to four times more than sales – they are very much the face of our brand,” says Andersen. “As such, one important area of differentiation is investing in tools to ensure those service technicians have complete knowledge of the commercial agreement and a thorough view of the customer’s equipment.”

In addition to considering the field service impact on the customer’s journey and perception of the Carlsberg brand, maximizing equipment uptime and product availability is critical. “The importance of customer equipment being up and running to serve Carlsberg products cannot be underestimated as a marketing investment,” explains Andersen. Further, greater visibility into customer operations helps Carlsberg to hold customers to campaign compliance.

Carlsberg is in the process of incorporating IoT into its operations to optimize its own performance as well as that of its customers. “We’re using IoT technology to provide us insights on not only consumption and availability, but also the state of our draft equipment to be able to do predictive maintenance to secure no breakdown for our customers and to optimize our service work,” says Claus Hirsbro, Senior Director of Technical Service, Carlsberg DraughtMaster. While this an important step in the company’s digital transformation journey, Carlsberg needed a central FSM (field service management) solution capable of covering all business processes while offering an open and enabled platform to incorporate this IoT data.

The Complexity of an Asset-Centric Operation

Following a thorough vendor evaluation process, Carlsberg selected IFS FSM as a managed cloud service to support its field service operations and repair centers. In its initial phase, Carlsberg is deploying the solution to field and back office staff in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, and Switzerland with plans to expand globally. “Operational efficiency and visibility are crucially important to us as we grow our service business and continue to develop our offerings,” says Andersen. “The IFS platform will manage our service operations and also serve as a central repository for our inventory visibility and IoT data. We can house space and planogram insights, Digital DraughtMaster data, inventory availability and use the IFS platform to view and maintain all of our assets. We are a capital-intensive business with costly equipment in the field – having a single view of our assets, whether fielded at customer sites or located in our repair shops and warehouses, is hugely beneficial.”

The IFS FSM system will house all of Carlsberg’s IoT data and can use that data to automatically create a ticket and dispatch a technician when service is required. The tool also helps Carlsberg to better model across its services, from installation and refurbishment to predictive maintenance, break/fix and cleaning, to realize the cost elements and invoice centrally and correctly.  “With our initial deployment of IFS FSM, we expect an efficiency gain of between 10-15 percent,” says Hirsbro.

A View of the Future

Andersen feels that Carlsberg’s ability to digitize operations and master technology such as FSM and IoT will set the stage for Carlsberg’s service of the future as the Servitized world unfolds. “We are seeing the growth of hospitality chains, which compete based on cost,” explains Andersen. “As this increases, Carlsberg will need to incorporate more and more services into our offering to differentiate beyond beer. For instance, perhaps we’ll offer services related to the till, to location security, and so on. The futuristic view is delivering ‘beer in a box,’ if you will.”

“Another essential criteria for our foundational technology is the platform’s ability to allow us to scale and flex as our requirements evolve, whether that’s new geographies, new services, or incorporating additional technologies,” says Andersen. “IFS proved itself as a reliable technology partner for our current operations and for wherever our journey takes us from here.”

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October 23, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Redefining High Tech Manufacturing for a Servitized World

October 23, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Redefining High Tech Manufacturing for a Servitized World


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Manufacturers of technical and office equipment have, just like manufacturers from other disciplines, embraced the importance of making service a component of their solutions. Offering service alongside traditional business practices makes a lot of sense for these companies—the overhead is low, the opportunity for subscription-based selling naturally increases, and there is implicit value in taking customer relationships beyond the transactional.

High tech manufacturers and sellers of both business and consumer products have embraced this approach, but with a massive diversity of devices and an uncertain geography to manage service appointments within, many manufacturers don’t know where to begin bringing service under one roof.

High tech service is by no means a new concept, as much service happens in an inter-office level, or by independent labor. Many businesses, hoping to own more of their customers’ perceptions of their products, are looking at ways to own more of that service directly, and deliver it as upsells and new products.

For manufacturers looking to extend their brand loyalty and product portfolio, delivering more service under a centralized banner is a great way to do so. On the consumer side, Apple has long been the gold standard of this, and while most high tech manufacturers don’t have a trillion dollars in the bank to build an international service infrastructure, there are many little things that businesses can do to servitize themselves. Here are three major considerations.

Exploit the lowered barriers for connected service
High tech manufacturing provides a much shorter bridge to asset connectivity than, say, industrial equipment manufacturing. This means that for businesses looking to increase internal service scrutiny, the ability to get an internal view on output and performance of their assets is often baked in. It’s possible that your business decides to leave it there—You have visibility into performance and service of connected assets, while others service products. Or—you can use that as a launchpad towards tools like remote assistance, which would allow a business to scale up service without hiring and training a global workforce of technicians.

Take advantage of your infrastructure
As stated previously, most high tech equipment has an embedded service team through office-led IT departments, ITSM organizations, and other third party servicers. While it’s certainly a viable option to allow these organizations to function independently, many manufacturers are seeing the value of taking this brain-trust and directly sanctioning it. This ends up being a win-win—it offers manufacturers a degree of quality control over the servicers of their products, and takes some of the onus of certification and business development off of the small business. Moreover, it allows manufacturers to offer subscriptions while deploying technicians of their choice on their terms. Many firms hybridize these workers alongside home-grown servicers. To do this effectively, it’s important to consolidate service appointments, and planning and scheduling into a unified system. This helps organizations learn from service interactions, and keeps all customer touchpoints under a singular brand banner, and the data of those appointments managed in an internal system.

Bring it under one roof
We’ve talked about the embedded asset monitoring tools within manufacturing devices, and we’ve talked about the embedded knowledge among third-party labor and in-house servicers. As alluded to previously, for businesses to get the full value of servitization, these systems need to be interconnected. As I say all the time, your field service management needs to be the grand central station that these external elements all pass through. This allows for the management of labor, parts, assets, work, and customers under a single banner. Doing so minimizes operating costs, arms employees with the right tools to sell and manage assets, and brings all operations back to the core of delivering for your customers.

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October 21, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Adapting to New Customer Demands

October 21, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Adapting to New Customer Demands


Reeve Bunn, President, DSL; Mark Rentschler, Director of Customer Support, Makino; and Rudy Goedhart, Sr. Director of Business Intelligence, Spencer Technologies talk with Sarah about how COVID-19 has changed their customers’ needs and expectations and in what ways their businesses have adapted.

Most Recent

October 19, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Why Knowledge Management Demands Prioritization in Your Digital Transformation Journey

October 19, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Why Knowledge Management Demands Prioritization in Your Digital Transformation Journey


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I’ve taken note of a recurring theme in many of my conversations with service leaders in recent months: the prioritization of knowledge management within their digital transformation roadmaps. While knowledge management has long been considered “important” to some degree, this increased focused makes sense when you pause to consider a variety of factors at play within service that are shining a light on the need for a strong knowledge management program.

First, you have what is often referred to as the talent gap – experienced workers retiring at a far faster pace than companies can bring newer talent on. When these experienced workers leave the workforce with much of the knowledge they’ve gleaned over a lifetime’s career only in their heads, it presents a real problem. The ability for companies to capture this knowledge in a way that allows them to retain it once these employees have departed and make it consumable for others within the organization is becoming increasingly critical. Furthermore, access to knowledge has been linked with employee satisfaction – technicians are happier doing their jobs when they know they have the information they need to do them well the first time.

Second, there is the trend of the use of third-party field service workers. The need here isn’t all too different from the first – when you’re relying on resources to execute your work that don’t (yet) know your businesses, the need for an effective way to provide them with the knowledge they need to get the job done is very important. With a strong knowledge management system in place, the process of getting third-party resources up to speed, and your comfort level that they will be able to conduct the work with all necessary insights at their fingertips, is vastly improved.

Finally, knowledge management has a significant impact on productivity. In fact, in a recent TSIA report, it was found that knowledge management had a huge impact on performance, with a 50% reduction in mean time to repair. Access to knowledge improves MTTR and first-time fix, which has a positive impact on the customer experience (as well as the employee experience, as stated above).

For these and many other reasons, there has been more buzz this year about knowledge management as a key focus area for digital transformation efforts. I think service leaders have come to recognize the wealth of knowledge their employees hold and the importance of capturing it, as well as the benefits they stand to gain in making knowledge readily and easily available to their workers. As you evaluate your knowledge management initiatives, keep these three focus areas in mind:

  • Knowledge capture. Companies are usually focused on two areas: the process of digitizing and expanding access to company information (manuals, product information, company history, etc. – any company-held information or resources for technicians to use on the job) as well as the ability to capture the insights of the workforce in a way that makes them accessible to others. I would say that, overall, companies have made more progress in the first category than the latter – despite the latter being arguably more critical. Employee knowledge can be captured through technologies they use – service management solutions, AR, communication platforms, etc. as well as through more hands-on methods. You want to consider what areas of knowledge are most important to the business, examine what you’re most lacking, and look at how you can work to capture that knowledge to incorporate it into a knowledge management platform.
  • With a knowledge library built, you next need to think about accessibility and consumability. When you set a new employee up with access to the knowledge management system, how easy is it for them to find what they’re looking for? AI has some really great potential here in matching content, and even suggesting content, to different scenarios. The point around consumability is that the act of capturing knowledge doesn’t do you much good if that knowledge is not easily consumed by someone at the point at which it is needed. You want to think about how content will be accessed by mobile devices, how easily searchable it is, how the tool uses AI/ML, and so on.
  • To get the most out of knowledge management, you need to think about all the ways the information and insights captured will need to be used and ensure the knowledge can be transferred appropriately. For example, besides the consumability of content on the job, can it be used for training new employees? Is the content available in multi-format options, for those that learn differently? Does the system provide analytics on what is being accessed and when that you can use to determine what further training and insights may be beneficial to your employees?

This is an area that is exciting because it provides a wealth of opportunity, particularly as companies evolve their service offerings and expand what the role of the field technician entails. If you’ve made some strides with your knowledge management efforts, I’d love to talk about it!

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October 16, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Industrial Manufacturers have Embraced Service. What Comes Next?

October 16, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Industrial Manufacturers have Embraced Service. What Comes Next?


By Tom Paquin

Manufacturing firms across a variety of disciplines have been looking for ways to implement more service-oriented solutions into traditional manufacturing processes. This true for organizations that work with capital and industrial equipment as much as it is for any other manufacturer, but for industrial manufacturers, there are a variety of unique challenges that must be considered.

Industrial assets—especially those that will become part of a broader manufacturing workflow—exist in a more mature service market than some of their manufacturing peers. As tools that are largely leveraged in business environments, the need to provide thorough service is much more than a courtesy. Broken assets means money out of the pockets of your customers, so offering detailed service plans, especially if you can guarantee outcomes around things like uptime and output, are the path forward. These new outcomes-based business models will ultimately define the future of field service for industrial manufacturers, and many businesses are already embracing outcomes today.

The actual requirements and technical specifications necessary to embrace outcomes-based service will invariably differ from use case to use case, but the bottom line is that to offer contracts around guaranteed performance, manufacturers need to have the internal capabilities to measure and validate performance among often complex systems. Bridging that gap requires some mechanical and operational forethought, as well as a robust and full-featured service management utility that is capable of managing extensive and complex assets, processes, and workflows. Here are some considerations for how to do this correctly:

Consider Your Framework for Connected Assets
Thinking specifically about the assets that you manufacture, what are the current internet-enabled capabilities built into these systems? Saying that you should consider incorporating connected sensors in your products is easy for me to say from behind my computer. It requires a lot of pre-planning and forethought, and requires the synergy between product, planning, procurement, and numerous other fields. There are, however, plenty of sue cases to pull from to better prepare yourself. Making smart moved with respect to IoT, whether it’s before or after you deploy best-in-class service software, will pay dividends in the long run.

Predictive Maintenance is King
An obvious corollary to connected assets is the potential of predictive maintenance in service processes. This requires that your connected assets be compatible with your service software, and that your service software have the implicit power under the hood to deliver predictive insights. How does your asset management system connect to your service management system? Is there a seamless handoff so that appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled? Predictive is a naturally complex process, and getting it right requires the answer to these and many other questions.

Clean up Your Data
We see a surprising number of businesses who discover that they’ve built biases into their data collection. Whether it helps them make it seem like uptime is higher than it is, or that they’ve hit a higher SLA rate than they actually have, sliding scales eventually break. When they do, your customer will wonder why it appears as though you’re hitting their outcomes while their own performance lags behind. Resolving this requires a combination of deep data auditing, from outside practitioners if applicable, and the implementation of smart data inputs to begin with. It could be what keeps customers invested in their outcomes contracts.

Get a Holistic View
I’m quick to point out the importance of tying internal systems together, and we’ve talked a bit already about how service needs to touch asset monitoring for businesses to be able to properly gauge the outcomes that can be offered to customers. For all of this to work properly, your service management software needs to be the grand central station through which everything passes through: You asset information, your parts data, your service-level agreement criteria, and so on. This is the lynchpin to successfully embracing outcomes-based service.

While outcomes-based service is a fantastic benchmark, if you haven’t started on your servitization journey, it will certainly inform it. The good news is that the power that best-in-class service software offers for outcomes-based service is just as applicable to the beginning of your service journey, and if you start out with an outcomes-based mindset, you’ll be ahead of the pack right out of the gate.

Most Recent

October 14, 2020 | 22 Mins Read

The “Secret Sauce” of Southwest Airlines

October 14, 2020 | 22 Mins Read

The “Secret Sauce” of Southwest Airlines


Sonya Lacore, Vice President of Inflight Operations at Southwest Airlines, talks with Sarah about the “secret sauce” of Southwest providing the customer experience it is known for as well as the “secret sauce” of her leadership style.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. You might recognize today's guest from the industry or from a recent podcast that we published, that was a replay of a panel discussion I moderated for the Service Council's Virtual Symposium. Our guest today is Sonya Lacore, Vice President of Inflight Operations at Southwest Airlines. Sonya, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast!

Sonya Lacore: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: I loved the panel discussion we did so much, and I am so excited to have you here today and to share some more of your insights with our audience. We are going to talk through a lot of different things today, including how Sonya and others at Southwest have come up with their secret sauce. So we're going to talk a bit about that. But before we do, I want to spend some time, Sonya, talking about you and your journey. Before we dig into the secret sauce part of today's conversation, can you tell our listeners, first, about your role at Southwest?

Sonya Lacore: You bet. I am, as you mentioned, VP of Inflight Operations at Southwest. That really means I have oversight and support, and just there to help, and encourage, and support our 17,000 flight attendants. As you might imagine, that is a busy role but certainly one that I love, because they make it easy.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. That's a lot of folks to be responsible for. No pressure, I'm sure.

Sonya Lacore: No, never.

Sarah Nicastro: So that's the current task. But you've had quite a journey in getting where you are, and even within your journey at Southwest and before that. Whatever you're willing to share, tell our listeners a bit about Sonya's history and the progression through and to where you are with Southwest today.

Sonya Lacore: I love that you asked me that Sarah, because it is an interesting story to me, for sure. I hope others can benefit from it. I started with Southwest almost 19 years ago. I found myself, after being in business with my former husband in the construction industry, of all things... We ended up parting ways, and that business ended. I needed to find something else. And because I had poured everything into that, I honestly didn't know where to turn.

Sonya Lacore: So, I found Southwest. The entry level position for me at the time was a flight attendant position. I was so excited that they were hiring. I loved, loved their values and their core tenants of the company. One of the things that I noticed right away is that their customer is secondary to their employee. The employee is the number one customer. They believe that if the flight attendants or the ground ops or whoever is well taken care of, they'll take care of the customer. I support that 100%, and I loved that.

Sonya Lacore: So I stayed in that role for, gosh, a little over three and a half years. I found myself really craving leadership. I knew I had leadership ability and I wanted to move into a different role. I have served in a variety of six or seven roles along the way to where I am today, and I love that Southwest supports that from the ground up. If you had told me I would be in this role today, I would never have believed it, but I'm certainly thankful for it.

Sarah Nicastro: When you just said, "If you had told me, I would be in this role. That I would be a vice president at Southwest, that I would be leading an operations of 17,000 folks." You had shared with me, that part of the reason you wouldn't believe that is because you were lacking in self-confidence when you started.

Sonya Lacore: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah Nicastro: Talk as much as you're willing, as you want, about why was that? And how did some of those early experiences at Southwest, and even before Southwest, start to kind of fuel that fire in you of becoming more confident and growing that desire for leadership?

Sonya Lacore: Sure. I was just a very, very shy child. So start with that. I grew up in a very small town in Louisiana. As much as I love where I came from, college was not really pushed. It was get married, have children, and so that's the path that I took. So, because I didn't have a college degree, I felt like something was lacking in me. I never just got the chance to accomplish that. As a result, I began to look at everybody else like they were more competent, especially if they had a degree. And if they were in other roles, I would think, "Wow." I always wanted more, and I'd look at them and wish that I could be that.

Sonya Lacore: Then one day, I just realized, "Okay. I've got some strengths. I've got strengths as it relates to talking with and encouraging others, and just people strengths." And I thought, "Okay. It's time for me to turn my cup upside down, pour out all of the things that I don't believe about myself. Fill it back up with things that I do believe I can accomplish." And I slowly started on that path.

Sonya Lacore: I think that Southwest does such a great job of developing leaders, and the path is there for any employee, if they want it. I took advantage of those variety of classes and some of them were hard. Some of them are, how do you stand before a big group and speak? And they critique you and tell you things you shouldn't say and do. It's not an enjoyable process. But once I got through it, I think I really learned a lot about myself and leveraging my strengths.

Sarah Nicastro: That's really cool. It's interesting. The title of this podcast is, The Secret Sauce of Southwest. Right? One of the things that I think makes you so passionate about the secret sauce of Southwest is how Southwest helped you find your own secret sauce. Do you know what I mean? I came from a small town and a very humble background. I have struggled with some of the same things, the imposter syndrome. It takes some time, I think, to really find your footing and to start to realize that it's not about being more or less valuable, or talented, or skilled than anyone else. It's just about owning what you bring to the table-

Sonya Lacore: Yes. That is so true. And being okay with that. Recognizing that what you have is a gift and you can use that to help others in some way. That is what I have tried to do.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. We talked a little bit on our panel, with the other women, that everyone doesn't need to be good at the same things. In fact, that would be a big problem. Right? So I think it just takes some time to shift your focus from what your weaknesses are, to what your strengths are, and really embrace that. So that's really cool.

Sarah Nicastro:

I'm curious to ask, Sonya... So in your early days at Southwest as a flight attendant, what were some of the ways you saw this employee focus in practice? How did you recognize firsthand, that at Southwest, the employee is the number one customer?

Sonya Lacore: Well, I think they really demonstrate their investment in you as soon as you walk into the training. The culture there really is real. It's not a word. It is really real. They grieve with you. They rejoice with you. They celebrate with you. They bring the employee along every step of the journey. When they say they care about you, I believed it from the beginning, because they demonstrated that. Then now, as you become a leader, it is up to you, and it's your obligation to show that to others.

Sonya Lacore: And I guess, said differently, they take the approach, and I 100% support this. It is really hard to give of yourself, if someone is not giving to you. So said differently, you got to fill up the employee, so they can fill up the customer. Kind of, as we would say in the flight attendant world, put your oxygen mask on first, so you can help others. It's kind of, we put the oxygen mask on our people, so that they can be healthy, and whole, and well to serve the public. I believed it, and I see it every day today.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. This is a topic that we've discussed a few times. This idea of companies are very rightly, heavily focused on the customer experience, as well they should be. But sometimes that focus is at the detriment of focusing on the employee experience and not really focusing enough on that correlation of how you treat your employees and what that means in terms of their willingness, and ability, and inclination to deliver that customer experience. Right?

Sarah Nicastro: It makes a lot of sense to me, this focus. That the secret sauce is really prioritizing the employees, so that they aren't checking a box of, "Here's the customer experience I'm supposed to deliver." But rather, they're genuinely happy and satisfied, and therefore, naturally provide that. Right? On the Southwest flights that I've been on, and I can't wait to be on another one, you have that feeling that they actually want to be there.

Sarah Nicastro: They're not showing up to get their shift over with, and they're not annoyed with everyone that walks into the airplane. They're personable. They're smiling. They're making jokes, and it is a different experience. I think that that is a really important lesson for folks to think about. Yes. How you treat your customers is critical, but how are you treating the employees that you want to deliver that experience? So tell me a bit about the Southwest culture and some of the things that you think are critical in creating that secret sauce.

Sonya Lacore: First of all, I think it does begin with... We call our employees our number one customer. We have two terms, the internal customer, and the external customer. And so meeting their needs wherever they are. Everybody's so different. I think the other piece of that secret sauce is we let our people be genuinely authentic. When you mentioned being on one of our flights. You may have a flight attendant that is a really good vocalist and they can sing, or you may have someone who, their secret sauce is leaning into the customer and getting with a small child, getting on their knees in the aisle to talk to them, instead of standing above them.

Sonya Lacore: It doesn't matter what your special gift is. We ask our employees to bring that with them, and then we celebrate that with them. Just little things. Like if a customer videotapes something wonderful and they send it in, we broadcast that. And then before you know it, we're on national television with it. And when our employees see that, we celebrate that, then they want to do more of that. It's truly an investment in who they are.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I want to take a minute here to draw a couple of parallels for our audience. Right? So if you think about the audience of this podcast, there are brands like Southwest. And we recently interviewed Peloton, which is another more consumer-facing brand. Right? Kind of a different world of experience and customer demands, if you will. And actually had a pretty similar conversation with the gentleman from Peloton, talking about they have invested in field operations as a competitive differentiator.

Sarah Nicastro: So they've realized that rather than partnering with a third party to go in and deliver and set up their bikes, they could provide a more unique and white glove experience by having those people be a part of their business, and to do that with internal team members. But as they're hiring these folks, they're prioritizing their ability to be creative and authentic, just like you said. I think that's a really important point.

Sarah Nicastro: It's hard for folks to feel satisfied, if they feel that they are forced to be something they're not or forced to act in a certain way that isn't natural to them. Thinking about the modern field service experience, if you will, there is more of a need to think about how to be creative and how to make room for authenticity and things like that. Just more personality, giving people that opportunity to be themselves.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that a lot of our audience is more mechanical in nature. If you think about HVAC, or you think about a medical device, or you think about construction, or different manufacturing industries. It is a different type of feel. But a lot of the evolution that's happening in those different spaces is around customers wanting more of an experience. Right? And so I think there's a lot for those folks to learn from someone like you, and in a company like Southwest, about how to deliver a more personable, authentic, creative experience to the customer.

Sarah Nicastro: I was hoping you could talk a little bit about, what are some of the ways that you encourage your team members to kind of give that extra, and make it an experience, and what can that look like?

Sonya Lacore: First of all, I think we hire well. I'll just say that. When we onboard them, we have a true onboarding process. When they come onboard, they know, without a doubt, that hospitality is a non-negotiable. We tell them upfront, we deliver a service that customers are expecting. And our service is to get them from point A to B safely, on time, as best we can with on-time performance. But in between that is that little something extra, or we like to call it the essence. You've got the service that you deliver, and then there's the essence in how you deliver it.

Sonya Lacore: So I'll give you an example. I'll use the flight attendants, since I lead that group. You may have a mother that comes to the back of the aircraft and say, "Hey, do you have a microwave onboard? I need to warm up a water bottle for my baby." We don't have a microwave. It would be very easy for the flight attendants to say, "Sorry. We don't have one." But they've been taught to say, yes and/or no, "but here's what we can help you with." And so the, "No. We don't have a microwave, but what we do have is"... "I have hot water. So I can put it in a cup for you, and you can put your baby's bottle in there and warm it up." So they just are encouraged to always look for those extra things that they can do.

Sonya Lacore: Because our motto, too, is we want every customer that steps onboard to feel welcomed, cared for, and appreciated, like they are a guest in our home. So you take that same scenario, and it was a guest in your home, you're not going to say, "Nope, can't do that for you." You're going to try to find a way. That resonates with our employees. They also know at the end of the day, the customer is ultimately the one that signs their paycheck. So all of it comes together.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. I think that's a really good example. I want to talk a little bit about... From a company perspective or a leadership perspective, before we talk about you individually as a leader. If you just look at Southwest as a whole, what are any of the best practices or processes that are in place to kind of facilitate this type of employee focus, and to really stay engaged with employees, and to make sure that they are happy and engaged and therefore delivering that customer experience?

Sonya Lacore: Well, it is taught to us early on, that the voice of the customer is our internal customer, and so their voice matters. You have to be willing to give avenues for that and listen to them, so that you can make improvements along the way. So we found a variety of ways to do that. I'll just use myself as an example. When I was a brand new leader, my leader came to me and said, "Let me be clear. You will never be in trouble for going out and traveling and talking too much to the front line." I took that as a, "Wow, that is a real green light."

Sonya Lacore: What a beautiful way to spend your career, just going out and talking to your people all the time. It energizes you. Just as in any company, there are hard things that you have to get over. I'll use this environment we're in right now. When I can get out and talk to the frontline, that is my most motivated moment. That energizes me unlike anything else. I think we promote that from the very beginning and the feedback that we get.

Sonya Lacore: And we also do an employee survey. So you want to hear what they're having to say through the survey? And if the survey says, "Hey, we haven't seen or heard from our leaders enough," then you can just bet we're going to get out there and do more of it, because that's what the business is about. You know, Colleen Barrett, one of our beloved founders, said, "We're in the customer service industry. We just happen to fly airplanes." Well, we're in the internal customer service industry for our people.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I know you had said to me, in a previous conversation, that Southwest really fosters this feeling of family. So closer than just coworkers or colleagues, but that it's really a Southwest family. Some of the advice for what that takes can be really hard to articulate, because it is about the culture, and it is about those interactions and it is just about how you treat people and how you listen. I always find it interesting, whether it's when I'm traveling and I meet with different people in my travels, or whether it's having a service experience here at home or something.

Sarah Nicastro: Obviously, with what I do, I'm always interested. But I'll ask like, "So how do you like your job?" And you can always tell by the way someone responds, how they're treated. I have had people that are like, "I love it." You know, "I love it. This company is great." Or, "I love what I do." You also have people that will just rant or... You know? It is so important. I think it's just something that can't be overemphasized.

Sarah Nicastro: So let's talk about you, as a leader, for a few moments. I know that you said you believe strongly in leading from the heart. Tell our listeners what that means, and how it fits in with your career at Southwest.

Sonya Lacore: Every company has... Certainly, you have policies. And in an airline industry, you're highly regulated. So knowing that there's always an opportunity to meet someone where they are in their moment in life. I've often said, if I had one super power, it would be to be able to know the backstory of each individual I talk to and meet with, before I even see them. Because when you know what their path has been, whether it's been wonderful or hurtful. If you know that, then you know what they need in that moment.

Sonya Lacore: And so I really believe leading from the heart means putting yourself in that person's shoes, listening, and really hearing what they're trying to tell you. I think, too, that takes a lot of humility for you to just stop and listen and take other people's thoughts into account. For me, it just means believing in people and helping lift them up. I don't know. I think before they can start their day, if you can do any little thing from the heart and color outside the box a little bit, and extenuate circumstances individually, on an individual basis, and not treat everybody like they're a number, but they really are a person. I think that, that's leading from the heart.

Sonya Lacore: If you can even call their family member by name or, "Hey, how's your dog? The last time I talked to you"... Then people know you care about them. So that when you do really need to have a challenging conversation with them, they know you care and that you're not just following a policy. I just can't say enough about the heart will lead you to do the right thing. The [inaudible 00:25:16] will lead you to the right policy, but the heart will lead you to do the right thing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And with 17,000 people, that's... It's not like a team of five. Right? I mean, a team of five, it would be really easy to remember everyone's family names and who has what pets. It is a really good point that in some ways, the bigger the team, the more important it is to look for those opportunities to let folks know that you are invested in them personally, and not just as 1 of 17,000. Right?

Sonya Lacore: Yeah. We have a process. With over 60,000 employees, we have something called our Internal Customer Care Team. And when anyone has any life event, they know that they should and could report that to their leader, or they can submit a form themself. But it might be that they had a baby. It might be that they had a wedding. It might be that they graduated with their Master's. Unfortunately, it might be a death. Whatever it may be, our leaders get to see that information about that person. That gives us a chance to celebrate, or grieve with them. I think that [inaudible 00:26:30] important moments that matter. But we can't know about it unless they tell us, and we do have a process that I love.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's really nice because it's hard in a big, big company. You're going to have your certain folks you interact with on a daily basis, that you get really close with. But you don't want to be disconnected from the "bigger" family. Right? I'm curious. If you don't mind me asking, Sonya, what has changed, or how does leading from the heart look different in a year like this year?

Sonya Lacore: Well, that's a great question. I think you really have to have some empathy and understand that everybody responds to this differently. We have people who are not afraid, and then we have people who generally are. We have people who have health conditions. And so just really, really understanding those differences and giving options without punitive action. Because we're an airline and we have to keep going. There are some people who say, "I can't do it." "Well, then let's discuss what that looks like for you, and what your options are." I think that's what we've done and it seems to have worked well for us.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. One of the things you said earlier, too, is the different methods that you have in place. So the customer care, but also as a leadership team, and just as a company to listen. When it comes to employee engagement and employee satisfaction, I think sometimes just listening is overlooked for how really big it is. You know? I think people appreciate the fact to weigh in and to feel heard, even if it doesn't always impact the outcome. Do you know what I mean?

Sarah Nicastro: That's just part of making them feel valued and important, rather than, just like you said, a number, or that their opinions don't matter as much as others. So, I like that. I like that idea of giving folks an opportunity to voice concerns and being empathetic and understanding while you're working through those challenges.

Sarah Nicastro: You had shared with me, Sonya, that one of the things you've loved about leading, and particularly leading other women, is paying it forward, in terms of helping women build some of the confidence that early on in your career, you were lacking in yourself. What has that looked like for you? And tell us about that being a passion of yours.

Sonya Lacore: Oh, my gosh. It's a passion, because I never want anyone to feel some of the way that I felt. I know that it can be avoided with some mentoring, and some coaching, and some encouragement. It really is a passion for me. My assistant, Devin, will tell you often, "You cannot mentor someone else. You don't have time on your calendar." But I want to, because I love it so much. I believe that it's just really important to see the strength in someone and pull that out and give them an opportunity and tell them. I really do believe in positive reinforcement, much more than I do critiquing. Someone did that for me.

Sonya Lacore: But the other thing, Sarah, that I can't emphasize enough is in today's society, there are a few types of approaches that you can take. You can say, "Hey, I'm great at this. Look at me, I'm going to stand up. I'm going to go for that job." I was not that person. I think when you have a low self-esteem, you're not going to be that person. So to have someone else tap you on the shoulder, and say, "Hey, I see something in you. Let's develop that. Let's really fine-tune that." And then, "I think this would be a great position for you."

Sonya Lacore: If someone had not done that for me, I would not be sitting here talking to you today. And so while many subscribe to, and I don't judge that and I don't disagree. Everybody's different, many subscribed to, "I got this, I'm going for it." You know, blows right through it and they get it, and that's great. But everyone doesn't work that way. And I think it’s important to point out that difference.

Sonya Lacore: So, yeah. So that's what I try to do. I almost try to find women that I can see a little bit of my younger self in, and I'm going to focus some energy on that. That's my way of giving back. That's my way of being energized, to be honest. And that keeps you really, really humble because there's so much of that out there.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I love that. And I think the point you made about positive reinforcement kind of ties nicely back to the secret sauce of Southwest. In the sense of it's another really quite simple thing that leaders can do to make people feel so much more appreciated, and seen, and acknowledged. I think that oftentimes in business, with the pace you're moving, or with the challenges you're facing, it's easy to miss those opportunities.

Sarah Nicastro: It's easy to just forget to take two minutes to type a message after you talk with someone, or to not point out something. Unfortunately, especially for folks that maybe lack a little bit of confidence. Like I know for myself, I'm very hard on myself. So I can get paid 20 compliments, but the one critique will outweigh those for me. Do you know what I mean?

Sonya Lacore: Oh, yes.

Sarah Nicastro: So they're important, because if I only get the critique, I start to get really down on myself. You even sent me a note after the panel, and said, "I really enjoyed that. You did a great job." That means a lot to me. Just to have someone take a moment to acknowledge something like that. And so I can see how those types of interactions with your team... That stuff makes a huge difference in making people feel valued and feel important for who they are and what they do. You know?

Sarah Nicastro: That's why I say this topic's hard. You're not going to come in with a blueprint of, "Here's things you've never considered for how to make your employees engaged and happy." But the problem is people don't do the things that are simple, but not simple. Right? And so it's just another thing I think to point out. Of those moments of that positive reinforcement and building people up are so, so important. So.

Sonya Lacore: You hit on the key word. I think is feeling valued. Because it takes someone like myself with low self-esteem. Once I found what my strengths were and I really accepted those, then I began to use them, and then I could see the value. And then if someone does reinforce that for you, it makes you want to do it again, and do it again. Then your self-esteem starts to rebuild and you say, "Wow, I really do kind of have a calling," or whatever it may be. So it's like that hamster wheel. I love it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. And then you can put your energy into full steam ahead on that, instead of energy on all the things you're not good at. Right?

Sonya Lacore: Right. Right.

Sarah Nicastro: It gives you that motivation of, "Oh, my gosh. Someone values this, so I'm going to work harder. I'm going to do more of this. I'm going to be confident in who I am," and all of that. So I love it. Sonya, any, I guess, closing thoughts or final words of wisdom for our listeners?

Sonya Lacore: I think we've covered it really well. I would just say, know what your strengths are, identify those, be really comfortable with them. And then when you continue to use them, you'll be able to say," You know what? That stuff I'm not good at, I'll still work on it. But it doesn't matter so much, because I've got this whole little arsenal of tools over here I'll use, and these are working just fine."

Sonya Lacore: So I don't mean to imply you don't ever need to develop, continue developing. But I would say never beat yourself up over the things you can't do, and focus on the things you can.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Well, Sonya, thank you so much for being here and for sharing some of your personal journey with us, as well as some of what Southwest is up to. I appreciate it, and it's been a pleasure.

Sonya Lacore: It's been a joy with you, too. So nice. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you. You can find more content by visiting@futureof fieldservice.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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October 12, 2020 | 9 Mins Read

APi Group Shares 7 Best Practices for Field Service Software Success

October 12, 2020 | 9 Mins Read

APi Group Shares 7 Best Practices for Field Service Software Success


By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

We know that the advancements in capabilities, sophistication, and usability of today’s field service software solutions are impressive. But we also know that, regardless of the strength of software selected, there are many opportunities for projects to go awry during implementation that have little to do with the software itself. Despite the best of intentions, companies can find themselves in a quandary during deployment.

Recently Katie Hunt, Service Operations Leader at APi Group, joined us on the Future of Field Service podcast for a discussion fresh off of the company’s software upgrade. If you’re not familiar, APi Group is a business services provider of safety, specialty, and industrial services in over 200 locations with more than 15,000 employees worldwide. Katie led the team on the software upgrade and, having just wrapped, had some really insightful best practices and lessons learned to share.

Best Practice #1: Know Your Why

Katie’s first piece of advice is to have a clear vision for the project. “Identifying your why is so important because it not only lets stakeholders know why we're doing this project, but then it also serves as a benchmark for project efforts. So, you can avoid that scope creep, and you can make sure you're staying on task,” she says.

APi Group’s most recent software deployment was an upgrade of its Alliance solution for which the company’s initiatives were to standardize processes, move to a hosted environment, and to set the groundwork for scaling the business. “Being clear on your goals allows you to then communicate effectively throughout the organization and really just maintain that focus and discipline and ultimately compare all of those decisions back to that strategic vision and keep the project on track,” says Katie. “It is so important to know that the whys might be different for different cohort groups. We have a very large organization, and when I'm communicating, and my team’s communicating to executives, it's a different message sometimes than the end user or the branch level professionals, which is fine. But ultimately, they all need to tie back to that strategic vision, so that they're all in alignment.”

Best Practice #2: Define Your Project Team

During your project, it’s critical to obtain input and feedback – but it’s also critical to ensure that the responsibility of driving the project forward is clearly defined. “This project was unique, in that we really relied on the operating companies to provide insight and guidance and decision making across the board. We had a unique structure with a service steering committee, where we had one representative from each company,” explains Katie. “They came together, and they really made the agreement upfront that this would be the decision-making body. Even if everybody didn't agree, we would move forward with the decision of that committee, so that we could standardize processes. And, so, although we had great discussions and sometimes people didn't agree, we were able to make those decisions and move forward. It really took the ownership off of APi Group and put that on the companies to drive this change forward, which big success overall.”

On the other hand, APi Group learned it could have benefitted from a dedicated project manager and some additional resources. “We had the core team, which was very lean, including myself and about four other key team members,” says Katie. “We did learn that we could have used a couple more people, not only a dedicated project manager to delineate the project management from business decisions, but also just having an extra set of eyes for different perspective. So that was a lesson learned.”

Best Practice #3: Develop Guiding Principles

As your project hits the inevitable ebbs and flows, and rest assured it will, you need to know exactly what to stay focused on. To this end, Katie suggests developing guiding principles. “We defined four guiding principles. The first one was maintaining focus on end user needs. We didn't want to have a holistic technology solution that didn't meet what the end user needs from the field professionals to those office leaders that are really the ones executing the work,” says Katie. “Our second one was being open to changing processes. Change is hard, but we know that we all agreed, hey, we might have to change our processes. We're doing this for the betterment of the group. And that was just an agreement up front. The third one was leveraging the ideas and suggestions of the service steering committee, which we've already discussed, which worked very well. And then the last one was valuing time over process changes. What we were saying with this is, our go live date needs to be met, despite all the process changes being fully complete.”

Having these guiding principles in place at the start is important to keep clear on what you’ve defined as most important, because competing priorities are sure to arise. Your defining principles don’t negate additional priorities or opportunities from being incorporated but ensure that you stay focused first on achieving the principles you’d set. “As we grew closer to go live, we had a list of items that had not yet been implemented. And we prioritized, made sure we hit those really key items, brought them forward before go live,” explains Katie. “And we're still working in sprints after go live, to continue to refine the system. So, we wanted to view go live not as a stopping point, but really as something we could continue and use as a springboard to keep developing our processes, systems, et cetera.”

Best Practice #4: Testing, Testing, Testing

Katie explains that there’s truly never enough time to test enough and success is a balance of ensuring you’ve done enough, in a variety of manners, to feel confident without holding up forward progress. “Testing: we love it and we hate it because there's never enough time for testing and there's so many different methods of testing. And it's just so crucial,” says Katie. “I would say one thing I learned that I did not know going into this project was how many different methods and different types of testing you could do, from the load testing to the off-road testing, to the scripted testing, to automated, there's just a whole gamut of how you can test the system. It’s important to have a really, really solid plan for testing. Before I came on board, the team already had an excellent script of testing items and what we needed to do. So, we had a really good baseline that we could springboard off of and then we just wanted to make sure that we put the system through the paces and tested as if we were conducting real-world operations.”

Katie notes the importance of not just testing but rehearsing. “Rehearse like you want to actually execute. It's like a military thing. I would say that's one thing that we did well, especially with rehearsing the actual cut-over, but also with testing,” she explains. “One thing that I would suggest that had been used at APi Group before I was on board was the testing matrix and really holding the companies accountable for not only who has tested, but when and what. Because if you have a whole group that focuses just on one end of the testing and you miss the portion where you need to invoice the work order, rather than just create it, you have a gap in the testing. So, by spreading it out and having the end users do the testing and staggering it correctly, I think it's very, very beneficial.”

Best Practice #5: Provide Ample and Effective Training

When Katie and I outlined our podcast discussion, I was quick to group training in with change management – and Katie was sure to point out that it is absolutely important to stand on its own. “I’m very proud of how our team handled training. We created videos within our LMS system with APi Group. We kept them short, no more than five minutes, because the attention span of most people is not more than that when watching the training videos. And then we also made cheat sheets. We made quick reference guides that folks can print off on a one pager for key topics, put it in a little folder, or guys can throw it in their trucks, as they're out on site, and just references as needed. And then lastly, we did make those user manuals that are very in depth. They have screenshots, they answer those tough questions, deep dive, and really, people can search them and use the PDF and that kind of thing if needed,” describes Katie.

So APi ensured there were a variety of formats of tangible resources, but also prioritized live trainings and encouraged interaction. “We had weekly live stream trainings. This was a suggestion by one of our steering committee members, and we essentially dedicated a topic each week, and we opened it up on Teams where people could just ask questions through chat,” explains Katie. “We had really good participation! I think week after week, about 150 people would log in, ask questions, and share ideas. And I think having that service community through our team's page has just been a really good benefit, but we are going to continue to take those trainings and use them for onboarding new users and then refine them, probably quarterly as we move forward, just as a continued resource.”

Best Practice #6: Don’t Skimp on Change Management

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of covering this space, it is that software projects often fail due to the tendency to de-prioritize or under focus on the criticality of change management. “Change is never easy. And I really think, even though this is a very intangible part of the project, it's one of the most important, just because it often gets pushed to the side when the budget gets tight, or you're short on time,” agrees Katie. “This is definitely something we did not want to lose focus on. And we did have times where we slipped; everyone does.”

One critical aspect is ensuring that your stakeholders feel invested and take ownership, and this is accomplished through early and often communication, explaining the “why” and how the change will benefit them, and allowing time and opportunity for feedback. “Our strategy overall was not to push this on the companies, but to have the companies take ownership. We are 100% there to support, assist developing these training tools, develop the testing, outline the plan. But for a three-person, four-person team, it's not feasible to train and really manage that change for 20 companies, 3000 users,” says Katie. “We did everything in our power to explain the why behind these changes. And if they had pushback, if they had feedback, we would listen. And there were times where we didn't make a change, or we've switched the processes, but we did that in a standardized manner to make sure that everyone was in alignment. We constantly tried to solicit feedback, really tried to over-communicate whenever possible, and focus on what I think is the most important resource of the project; the people. No matter the technology, no matter the system, if the people don't support it, and the people don't understand why, and they aren't getting what they need to conduct their work and be successful, the project's ultimately going to fail. We wanted to maintain communication and really just make sure that people understood the why of the changes and how it helped them personally, not just the company overall.”

Best Practice #7: Set KPIs to Measure Progress and Success

You won’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started. “This is one thing we definitely could have done better, and I think it circles back to our team structure with individuals filling multiple roles. We had one individual that was the project manager, as well as the business process lead. So they're not only managing logistics, resourcing, budget, but they're also doing the process analysis, business decisions, and architecture. And having that, something's going to slip through the cracks,” explains Katie. “The downstream effect of that was that we did not really have project KPIs. Our BI and metrics team has done a phenomenal job of creating operational performance metrics. But in terms of the actual project itself and key milestones, I think we could have done a better job measuring those milestones and KPIs and actually having other KPIs rather than just on-time and o- budget, which is what most people focus on. We could have been more granular and had more holistic KPIs and to do that I think it is important to make sure that you have somebody dedicated to that aspect of the project.”

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October 9, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Key Service Considerations for Medical Equipment Manufacturers

October 9, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Key Service Considerations for Medical Equipment Manufacturers


By Tom Paquin
Manufacturers across the board are waking up to the potential of servitizing previously product-oriented businesses, building out their book of business with service and outcomes-based solutions. For manufacturers who build and sell medical devices, the opportunity is certainly just as apparent. While some customers expect systems and assets to work as expected, medical workers often require uninterrupted utilization in order to keep their patients safe and meet the unique day-to-day challenges that they face. Issues need to be resolved quickly, and service technicians need to work around the diverse, and often inconsistent needs of the business. Getting this right is a daunting task, but one that certainly pays dividends. It starts with a smart approach to technology, and a solution-oriented mindset.

For many medical device companies considering how service technology fits into their business, they naturally assume that custom implementations will ultimately be required in order to meet the demands of a complex and bespoke type of manufacturer. The truth is, though, that smart service management software is designed to be configured to the contours of your business, rather than requiring the time and complexities that come along with customization.

To get this right, it’s important to focus on the right set of capabilities for your business. There are invariably a huge variety that are worth considering, but based on what we’ve seen, there are some common challenges that can be remedied with powerful solutions. I like to pick elements from each stage of the service lifecycle to frame some key capabilities around. To do so, let’s look at these four:

Connected Assets: IoT-enabled capabilities have come a long way from emerging technology, especially in med devices, and the ability to proactively resolve issues before they arise is paramount to the successful operation of many businesses. For example, when it comes to centrifuges for clinical labwork, connectivity to internal systems is the difference between samples aging on a shelf or being actioned effectively. Knowing the status of systems proactively can make sure that organizations are always working at full capacity.

Service-Level Agreement Compliance: Making sure that you’re meeting SLA expectations for medical device manufacturers can be a life-or-death situation in many cases. For that reason, it’s imperative that when service arises, that any SLA requirements are immediately triggered in order to ensure that you’re meeting any contractual outcomes, resolution targets, and privacy requirements through scheduling, delivery, reverse logistics, and invoicing. Getting this right means building your systems around service—not bolting service on to an abstract set of applications. SLA compliance can be tricky when integrating customers into a new service system, but getting it right at the beginning, and building in triggers that inform and enhance all of your service systems, can make a huge difference in the quality of your service interactions.

Optimized Appointments and Planning: In light of the fact that you’ll need to manage and mitigate service issues as quickly and effectively as possible, getting service optimization right is the first and most important step. A good optimization engine combines scheduling capabilities with parts management and technician management to ensure that all elements are working in tandem. Best-in-class optimization goes way beyond one-day scheduling, too, building in the capabilities for simulations, as well as the ability to build multi-time horizon planning to manage demand, headcount, scheduling, and parts allocation by day, week, month, and beyond.

Consumable Management: Medical device manufacturers have a unique relationship with consumable management, and doing it right requires that many of the previously-cited capabilities be in sync with expectations of the business. Especially when dealing with hazardous materials, managing removal and disposal is, for many organizations, a need-to-have. To do this correctly, comprehensive reverse logistics can be the silver bullet. Best-in-class systems help you mange not just routing and depot repairs, but sunsetting of all materials that your service workers come into contact with.

There are obviously a wide arrange of additional considerations for medical device manufacturers to keep in mind when mapping out their service plans, but these are some of the issues that we see come up repeatedly. Getting service right for medical device manufacturers often requires more careful planning, but when it’s in place, it can make a huge difference.

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