By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
True innovation rarely happens in a bubble. The best ideas are born of creative freedom, collaboration, a fail-forward environment, and by seeking the perspective of others to fuel your inspiration, ideas, and plans. This resource, Future of Field Service, and the community group I run exist largely to serve the purpose of having a place to find peer insights and to glean lightbulb moments from tales of success, failure, and lessons learned.
But perhaps your company’s struggles to transform and innovate service demand more than what you can gain from listening to a podcast or even having a one-on-one chat with a peer. If this is the case, you might want to consider the value of bringing in some fresh perspective. I’ve noticed over the last couple of months more and more examples of how companies looking to advance service offerings are recognizing the need to embrace and leverage outside expertise.
This fresh perspective can take many different forms. In fact, we’ve seen several examples within some of our recent content – partnership with very hands-on consultants, bringing expertise in from another industry, and hiring proven transformative leadership to replicate past successes. Culturally, of course, there can be a tendency to want to own the path or claim the success of transformation. However, the amount of change happening in field service today is immense and letting go of ego to recognize the significant impact some outside expertise or fresh eyes could bring may be the key to your success.
Let’s examine what this can look like in practice based on some examples I’ve taken from recent Future of Field Service interviews:
- Value Proposition & Selling. Last week we published the first half of a two-part podcast with Howard Bowland, VP Field Services Australia at Schneider Electric and Scott Weller, Partner at Mossrake. The two previously worked together at Hewlett-Packard and have teamed up to introduce the as-a-Service model into Schneider Electric. Howard is leading this initiative inside the company, and Mossrake is assisting as a consultant partner. In the podcast, Howard speaks at length about not only seeing the potential for as-a-Service within Schneider and advocating to bring that potential to life, but in the benefit of working alongside a partner who has real-world success in such a transformation. This benefit has been particularly true in the value Mossrake has added in helping to develop the go-to-market with Schneider Electric as well as taking a SWAT-team approach to introducing the value proposition to customers and helping to upskill and train the Schneider sales talent who is accustomed to selling in a completely different manner to often a totally different audience. When you think about how big of a shift advanced and outcomes-based service offerings are when it comes to creating, articulating, and influencing on the value proposition, you can see how leveraging new talent and/or an experienced partner to bring the value proposition to life and bring the teams up to speed could be immensely beneficial.
- So, selling the new value proposition is one thing, but how do you grow awareness of the modern incarnation of your company and feed your funnel? Marketing. We recently had on the podcast Jennifer Deutsch, CMO of Park Place Technologies, who joined the company four years ago from outside the industry. Jennifer has 38 years of marketing experience and has worked for brands such as Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Nestle. The fresh perspective she’s brought into PPT has added a layer of punchiness, simplicity, and draw to the company’s marketing that, in my opinion, is very impactful. For example, the company’s tagline “Uptime All the Time” speaks to what matters most to customers in an attention-grabbing way. As the value of service evolves and expands, marketing is another area that perhaps could benefit from the innovative look of someone with experience outside the organization or even industry.
- Operational Transformation. A little over a year ago, Karl Lowe joined Panasonic Heating and Cooling Solutions Europe as the Head of Panasonic European Service. On the podcast, Karl speaks of his experience over the last 10 years developing service organizations for OEMs. At Panasonic, he’s been tasked with determining how best the company can leverage service as a strategic differentiator. As a historically very product-centric business, the idea of brining in talent that has experience leading service in more service-centric organizations, or better yet, has a track record of helping organizations grow into more service centric businesses, can be a very smart move. The operational change needed in order to transform to advanced or outcomes-based service is no small feat, and someone who has learned some of the hard lessons of the journey firsthand can help navigate the choppy waters in a smoother way. Karl came into Panasonic with a clear mind and quickly got to work on assessing the current state of the operations, defining desired outcomes, and determining the path to success. This sort of objectivity can be hard to attain from those closest to present-day operations, so augmenting your current leadership who are masters of where you’ve been with someone who has experience from where you’d like to be is a good way to strike balance.
- Modernization of IT. Pekka Nurmi, Director of Corporate IT at Cimcorp, was a management consultant before joining Cimcorp around five years ago. Now, he is taking a fresh approach to the company’s IT strategy that focuses more on leading and less on doing. In his podcast interview, Pekka discusses how he feels his consulting background gives him a good appreciation for the business side of things which helps him be a stronger IT leader. He is making some major changes at Cimcorp, focusing on how technology has and continues to rapidly evolve, to help the company keep pace with change and stay ahead of demand. I was struck by Pekka’s fresh take, objective observances, and clear goals and I think IT is another area of immense opportunity for brining in a new perspective.
These are just a couple of recent examples – when you think about how the necessary skillsets are expanding and evolving with the introduction of more advanced services, you can think of many other areas where outside viewpoints, skills, and help could be beneficial. For example, data is another major area of growth and opportunity. Another approach we’ve seen is the introduction of a centralized, functional role to drive the fresh perspective and innovation so that the leadership in place can continue to focus on current business and operations while the functional team works to leverage those leaders as subject matter experts to chart the path and drive the success for the future of the business.
However you look at it, or however you incorporate it, there’s always value in a more diverse set of opinions, in better vetting new ideas, and in incorporating various sets of expertise.