By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
I absolutely love sitting down to talk with different service leaders about how they are spearheading innovation and transformation within their companies. Across industries and regions, the evolution from break-fix service to delivering experiences and outcomes holds so much potential and excitement. There’s so much to learn from listening to how various organizations are tackling the complexity that comes with this migration.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Howard Bowland, VP Field Services Australia at Schneider Electric to talk about how he’s led the region on a journey to delivering power-as-a-service. He’s enlisted the help of former Hewlett-Packard Enterprise colleague Scott Weller, who is a partner at Mossrake, to use his region of Schneider Electric as a blueprint for success for the global organization.
Both Howard and Scott have experience at HPE and realize that the IT industry’s progress in outcomes-based service is just as possible in a wide variety of other industries. “Any time you have a long-lived asset that may require specialty skills to maintain, it's a perfect setup for pay-as-you-go pricing,” says Scott. “Then, if you think about a business that thinks of these assets as critical but not core, it's not the business they're in. It's not a core competency. It's very clear that this is a perfect setup for as-a-service models and really a shift to a focus to outcomes.”
When Howard joined Schneider Electric, he recognized the opportunity to introduce his learnings into the organization and transform service. “Coming into this company, a slightly different segment from the IT industry, I was coming from having worked with the IT industry in developing that cloud economics for IT assets and for really operationalizing that in the Asian Pacific theater,” he describes. “As I came into Schneider Electric, there really wasn't anything in place around providing customer greater value over and above the traditional asset-ownership model. It first started with the thought of, "Could we do this? Why couldn't we do this with the kind of assets that the customers are acquiring from Schneider Electric?"
From that initial thought has grown a project under Howard’s leadership, with Scott and Mossrake’s help, that has brought Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure outcomes-based service model to fruition. Coming up this week and next on the Future of Field Service podcast, I do a deep dive with Howard and Scott into the project – from vision to future plans. Be sure to stay tuned for the two-part discussion, but in the meantime, here are five worthwhile aspects of their approach you may be able to learn from.
#1 – Enlist Help
Howard, having worked with Scott at HPE, knew firsthand his expertise in building an outcomes-based model. He decided that if he were to introduce this evolution into Schneider Electric, he would need to enlist help to juggle both the day-to-day work and a major transformation. “Some people might think of consultants as advisors that can write a report, for example, but, really, the Mossrake team and Scott were in the trenches actually developing the offer,” he explains. “What it gave me the opportunity to do was to have confidence that we had done it, that we had people that knew how we could navigate it in a new location, and then to bring my own people on that journey and see and learn from being part of that. What I found was that people wanted to join the team and wanted to be part of it because they saw the excitement through in the innovation, the learning opportunity to do something really quite new. And introducing a new business model into a company of any kind is even more challenging than you think even if you've done it before.”
One of the most common challenges I hear from service leaders working to progress on the outcomes-based service journey is the constraint that comes from essentially working two full-time jobs; one leading the current business, and one building the future business. Brining in outside help may be a great option to temporarily augment your team with folks that have fresh perspective and vetted skillsets. “We came into this opportunity with Howard having all that experience back at HPE, so we knew, certainly lived through, the trenches of trying to introduce a new business model like this into a large, multinational company,” says Scott. “Of course, we started with a look at the market but then quickly turned to an internal view: the culture, the appetite for innovation, the process for innovation, looking at the full value chain from sales channel, delivery operations. We came to the conclusion, that there was a huge opportunity for Schneider Electric. We built a plan, and the plan was really based on the premise of agile development.”
#2 – Take a Pilot Approach
To introduce this type of change at a macro scale in a multi-national corporation seems a bit daunting, right? It certainly would be. Therefore, what Schneider Electric did, was allow Howard, his team, and Mossrake to essentially pilot the transformation within his region with the intent of documenting the journey in detail to serve as a blueprint for expansion to other regions. “This is also the approach we took at HP. We've done it with Howard and Schneider Electric, and we're working on a couple of other clients as well,” says Scott. “I would say the beauty of this is being able to do this in a microcosm, where if it were to fail for some reason, the risk to the company is small. The reputational risk, primarily, but even operationally, even financially, the risk is very small. It lets you learn, because inevitably you're going to learn. No two companies are the same. No two as-a-service offers are going to be the same, so you have to allow for that.”
Using the pilot approach allows you to contain those learnings to a region, so that you can adjust and improve and determine exactly what works before you take the transformation to scale. “Being able to de-risk the journey helps for a lot of companies who first consider stakeholder perception,” explains Scott. “If you think about yourself as a dividends-value company, moving to a model like this may really upset stakeholder perception, so it gives you time to succeed, learn, and really be planful about how you want to pivot the company around something like this in a way that you can talk to your stakeholders about, you can talk to your employees about. It's really, we think, the right approach.”
#3 – Leverage a SWAT Team to Build Acceptance, Foster Skill Building and Minimize Risk
Howard, Scott, and I discuss in detail within the podcast that far and away the most challenging aspect of this journey is around the go-to-market. Because the value proposition of an outcomes-based or as-a-Service model is so fundamentally different, getting this part right is absolutely critical to success. What Schneider Electric did is use a SWAT team approach to protect its customer experience and ensure buy-in was built among internal and external stakeholders.
“There's definitely complexity in migrating the go-to-market model and the sales approach is vastly different,” says Howard. “In the early stages, in fact, you want to keep the uneducated or uninitiated salespeople away from the customer conversation. The SWAT team can come and start profiling the customers before you go meet them with the salespeople, and then act as specialized resources who introduce the conversation,” explains Howard. “From there you can offer sales tools and some training to help the general sales force understand the concept better, helps us profile the customer better, and build the skill to have those conversations. But to work customers through the pipeline, we need to still have a pretty high degree of specialization.”
If you can leverage skilled resources to lead those initial conversations in this SWAT approach, you can more adeptly familiarize your talent with exactly how different of a story the outcomes-based service value proposition is. “The sale cycle is completely different, much longer, typically. They have to be accustomed to doing that. If they're more transactional, it's very difficult for those individuals to transition, and so there's just a lot of work involved in bringing the go to market around,” says Scott. “What I had to do is build a SWAT force, because you couldn't rely on bringing people along fast enough. You had to show and do and bring people along that way, figure out who could come along on the journey to this new kind of go to market. In a way, with Howard, we've done a little bit of that, injecting people who, both from our firm and other folks within the organization, to be that SWAT deployment to go after the early deals and bring the rest of the organization along.”
#4 – Adopt Agile Methodology & Strong Documentation to Refine and Expand
Howard and Scott agreed from the beginning in an agile approach. “The agile method is key. We're making this thing work. The customer sees a good outcome. Inside, we've got people running around on treadmills, but we'll replace that with systems and automation and so on at the right times,” says Howard. “It's just keeping ahead of that curve. That makes it an affordable way to develop it. If we tried to develop all the capability and have it readied and put in place so that we could cut the ribbon it, it would be a much more challenging assignment to get the investment for it.”
As with any transformation, starting with small successes and then building is a consumable, practical approach. The journey to outcomes can be similar. “Agile doesn't mean just winging it. You have to have a sense of where you're trying to get to. You have to have a fundamental vision and a belief, as Howard mentioned, and then that guides you,” says Scott. “Even though, on any given day, you might be working on pricing, or you might be working on a revised channel program, which itself takes several steps to mature through, but you know where you're going. It's just a matter of accepting that you won't have a completely finished product on day one. You've already stated that. You've got a minimum product. That's going to be good enough to have a conversation with the customer about, and even sell to them, in a pilot sense.”
Also key to Schneider Electric’s initiative was impeccable documentation so that this pilot-approach transformation could be followed by any region to come. “I felt that it was important that this be repeatable and we document our journey,” says Howard. “As we went on this journey as well, we, strengthened our existing process documentation for just our regular bricks of service capability. There was a systematic approach to building out the blueprint for how to do this and document that, and that was a key part of what Mossrake brought to us, what our team worked on, and we've created that repository of documentation and learnings and insights, which has been really useful to keep us on track and will be useful as other regions of Schneider replicate what we're doing here.”
The deliverable of this documentation and blueprint was another area of value from brining in expert help. “One of the key deliverables from our work together is this operational blueprint, which covers every aspect of the value chain, and then, on top of that, the operational description for actually how the run what's effectively an engagement with the customer,” explains Scott. “As-a-service ends up looking like a consulting engagement that just doesn't necessarily have an endpoint. All of that is what, in our conversations with other countries and regions within Schneider, that's the foundational element is that operational blueprint.”
#5 – Be Tenacious in Your Pursuit of Potential
Finally, know that the journey will not be smooth sailing. “I have to give a lot of credit to Howard,” says Scott. “It takes a lot of stamina and tenacity to really navigate this into a big company, especially if you're sitting in a region. You're not at worldwide, where a lot of the innovation is expected to come from.”
Howard reflects on his experiences at HPE as motivation for seeing this potential come to life at Schneider Electric. “We’d had this success at HPE, and so I knew it was challenging but I also understood it could be done,” he explains. “I had the advantage of my upstream management being open to discussions and then ultimately finding a global leader that was really passionate about it as well to help the funding. But there's a lot of people between that person and getting it done, and that's where it takes a lot of energy. You have to understand the importance of not taking no as the answer. You've got to find the person that can say yes and get support. We could easily have stopped at various points because it looked like it wasn't going to be possible to do what we wanted to do. That tenacity comes in in making sure you continue to look for the way.”
Click on the link for more information on Schneider Electric’s innovative aaS offer EcoStruxure Outcomes: Secure Power as a Service - www.se.com/au/outcomes