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July 30, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Build Service Processes that Work by Studying Customer Behavior, Not Customer Wants

July 30, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Build Service Processes that Work by Studying Customer Behavior, Not Customer Wants

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By Tom Paquin

Is the customer always right? Obviously not. If a customer comes into a store and says that they are deserving of a 60% discount on their order because they had a hard time finding a parking spot, it’s okay to say ‘no’ to them.

I’d argue that any utterance, complaint, or assertion of any kind from a customer be met with a proportional amount of scrutiny. Because people don’t necessarily know what they want. Sometimes you need to show them what they want.

I will use a video game example, so skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want to reach about Nintendo. Every few years, wide-eyed analysts and fans make broad assertions that Nintendo is about to release some sort of “dream” console, or game collection, or localization of a beloved Japanese game. These things never happen, and instead Nintendo releases modest hardware upgrades or $60 re-releases of mediocre games.

Nintendo does this rather than capitulate to fan demands because it is cheaper, it specifically targets the young demographic that Nintendo has always targeted, and because it has proven to be incredibly successful. Podcaster and journalist Justin McElroy frequently says, of Nintendo, “They won’t sell what you want them to, but you’ll want what they sell you.”

This is a similar strategy to the one employed by Apple, who, rather than acquiesce to the demand that they build a $500 “Netbook” (remember netbooks?) in the late aughts, built the exact opposite—a nearly $2,000 computer called the MacBook Air, that had something called a “Solid State Hard Drive”. And what type of computer has endured for over a decade?

Doing that requires you to understand your customers better than they do, and to study your customers in a non-binary fashion. The Simpsons has shown what happens when you just ask people what they want:

There is no value in getting a list of customer wants, you need to understand their behavior. In service, there are a variety of ways that you can do this.

One key consideration is to consider not just asset and employee output when measuring service processes, but also customer output. If assets are IoT-enabled, what is the length of time between exception and customer contact? When given an array of service times, how far into the future does the customer, on average, book an appointment for a specific need?

Then, of course, you can begin to benchmark elements against one another. What is the correlation between NPS and time from ticket to invoice? What length of product ownership yields the most repairs, errors, and scraps?

Finally, you can begin to involve customers directly in the service process, and see what attrition rates are with utilities like appointment assistance, “where’s my tech”, and other such tools. Doing so allows you to see what customers really value, anticipate their needs, and build service solutions that meet the contour of your business without needlessly cutting into your bottom-line. Because you know your business best, and your customers should want what you are serving them.

July 28, 2021 | 33 Mins Read

Tactics for Closing the Talent Gap

July 28, 2021 | 33 Mins Read

Tactics for Closing the Talent Gap

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Co-authors of the book Game Changer: How to Be 10x in the Talent Economy, Michael Solomon and Rishon Blumberg, share with Sarah and listeners insights on how to navigate working remote, the demand for innovative and fast responses to customer needs, virtual-only experiences, and high unemployment rates.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today I have two guests with me to talk about some of the ways that we can tackle the talent gap. We all know that this is a problem in all of the industries that we cover here at Future of Field Service. This challenge is only going to increase in the coming years. And so we are committed to bringing you as much content as we can to discuss some of the ways that you can prepare and take control of the situation. So today I have with me the authors of a book, one of which is Michael Solomon, Michael Solomon, hi, Michael is an established entrepreneur and the founder of 10x Management, 10x Ascend, Brick Wall Management, Musicians On Call, Kristen Ann Carr Fund, and The We Are All Music Foundation.

Sarah Nicastro: So clearly Michael, you don't stay very busy. He is also co-author of the book Game Changer, which is a lot of what we're going to be talking through today. Another author of the book is Rishon Blumberg who graduated from The Wharton School with a degree in entrepreneurial management. He co-founded Brick Wall Management along with Michael, as well as 10x Management and 10x Ascend. And also coauthored the book Game Changer. So we are going to be picking the brains of these two gentlemen today about some of the tactics that companies should be considering and deploying to tackle the growing talent gap. So before we dig in, gentlemen, do you mind just telling everyone a bit about yourselves, Rishon, I'm going to start with you.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. First of all, we've known each other since third grade. So what I'm going to say to you covers a lot of Michael, so I'm sure he'll chime in with his own personal take on certain things, but basically we've done it all together. We grew up in born and raised in New York city. I'll take you back to the '70s and '80s, which was really a very interesting time in New York. It was incredibly entrepreneurial in a wide variety of ways. We happen to be exposed very early on to people whose parents were in the music industry. And so for us, it was our first entree into a career path, which at the time we didn't know, we just knew, oh, someone so's dad is a huge music entertainment lawyer and someone so's mother co-managers and artist and someone so's father is a concert promoter.

Rishon Blumberg: And then we both fell into the entertainment industry and started to management company in 1995, Brick Wall Management. And then that led naturally over the course of about 15 years to the creation of 10x Management. When we saw that there were different types of people that were being considered talent. I think that one of the things that we'll talk about today is the fact that we believe all companies need to consider their employees as talent. They're so valuable to everything that a company does, that they have to be treated that way. They have to be thought of that way. Once you start thinking about people that way you really start to treat and value them in a different manner. So we started to think about different types of talent. We saw that chefs were having managers and agents, their celebrity chefs, all of a sudden that need representation.

Rishon Blumberg: And so we felt the tech talent where there was a huge supply and demand gap would be an interesting place to test out the ideas that we had been running in entertainment for a long time. So we started 10x Management, technically in 2012, but we really started the company in 2011. We launched the company, soft launched the company in 2011. And the book is really a culmination of the lessons that we've learned working with all this different type of talent over the course of the last 26, some odd years. So that's a little bit of background, Michael, I'm sure you can color in.

Michael Solomon: I just need to acknowledge that he glossed over some of our earlier entrepreneurial endeavors, not all of which were legal. So we had a great fake ID business and we did keg parties in high school. And the only reason I bring that up is I think it just speaks to, I don't know that entrepreneurs are born versus made, but we definitely had the entrepreneurial bug from the beginning. And I think that's a through line that we see. And then the other through line being the talent and distilling the lessons that we've learned for managing what now includes musical talents, music producers and writers some directors and filmmakers, and then over to tech talent and entrepreneurial talent and getting to see other than maybe people in a major talent agency who work with writers and athletes and actors and directors.

Michael Solomon: We got to see such a broad base of talent and see what they had in common and to distill that into this book and really, why does that matter to companies now and why to companies need to think about this differently. And even as we, we'll get further into this, but even as Rishon was using the word talent, I'm thinking about the difference between the term human resources department and talent. It sounds important, which sounds valuable to the company. And I just think that we need a really big paradigm shift about how companies think about the people that make their workforce happen.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That makes total sense. So first of all, kudos to you guys for staying friends through all of this and-

Michael Solomon: We're not friends.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Can't stand each other. And I think it's a spirit, honestly. But I also think it's interesting that you bring that up. What led you to create the fake ID business back in high school, which transition to another company into another company into another company. There is, I think an element to the conversation we're about to have of not only looking for the checklist skills, but learning how you can qualify or identify some of those less tangible spirit type, so if it's spirit or initiative tenacity, some of those things that you might find in a candidate that doesn't have all of the checkbox skills, but has the thing. That would make them ultra-successful, despite that.

Sarah Nicastro: So all right. We'll get into all of that. Now, Michael and Rishon, and I spent a few minutes chatting before we started recording this podcast and I found out some of you listeners know that I'm in Erie, Pennsylvania. There is a band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that my husband loves called the Clarks. And these gentlemen actually have managed the Clarks for, I think you said 26 years or something like that?

Michael Solomon: Very close to that. I think it's 25.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. It's about 25 years.

Sarah Nicastro: So small world, and that is very cool. But while we chatted, I also got them up to speed on some of the challenges that our listeners face in terms of the changes in business strategy, the changes in leveraging service as more of a strategic opportunity and what that means in terms of how the skills and personality traits and leadership traits that companies are looking for within their talent have changed and are changing. So before we get into some of the nitty gritty, I guess, you mentioned this Rishon at a high level, you took some of your experiences over all of these years with all of the different types of talent you've worked with and put it into the book. What do you think it is in terms of the changes in business landscape that make a book like this so necessary and relevant right now? So Rishon, do you want to take that?

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. I mean, I think that the purpose of your podcast and what you focus on is exactly the reason why we felt that this book was super necessary. So we had been working for about 10 years in helping to place exceptional 10x, excuse me, 10x level freelance tech talent with companies. And we kept finding all of these procurement issues. Either companies weren't set up properly to really work with this kind of talent or understand why they needed to work with this kind of talent. And then some companies were set up exceptionally well. So we saw that there was a divide in perhaps understanding and information around what was necessary in the marketplace. And I think what people that are watching this podcast are seeing is there's a difference between the things that you need today from your talent versus what you needed 15, 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Rishon Blumberg: And that talent gap creates this supply and demand imbalance. They have a demand for these people, they need these people, but there isn't a great supply. And when you have that situation, you have to really change the way that you do business. So this book is really the first half of the book is all about what companies should be doing. And part of that is a cultural shift from the top down ways in which we believe 10x level talent needs to be worked with. And 10x level is really that is this concept of somebody who's a very high performer, high achiever. The second half of the book is about what people can do to push themselves down that 10x spectrum. But it all relates to what you're talking about, which is what can companies do? What do companies need to do to find the types of resources that are crucial to the success iteration and growth of their business? So that was really the impetus behind writing the book.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think a couple of the points you made about just calling it talent instead of workforce, or instead of a resource. There's a lot of disruption in the industries that would be listening to this podcast right now. There's a lot of big, big change in customer expectation and customer demand. And I think there's a number of areas that we discuss quite regularly within our content where, you see organizations that are reacting quite adeptly to that disruption in multiple ways. And they're redefining their business models. They're redefining what their service offerings are. They're snatching up this 10x talent and recognizing the need to bring in a fresh perspective or to introduce a new area of the business, et cetera.

Sarah Nicastro: And then there's people that are quite stuck in legacy thinking, culture, technology and it's really holding them back from evolving at the pace that they need to. And so I think discussing those things as it relates to like you said in your book, how do you get ahead of this and how do you capture some of the talent that is in such high demand is really important topic. So, yeah. Michael, go ahead.

Michael Solomon: I was just going to jump in there and talk about one of the things that when we wrote the book, which was before the pandemic, we were writing and talking about the need to allow certain people to work remotely because they're going to give you better results that way. And you can get access to people you'd never otherwise get access to. And I don't want to say that was a radical idea because this had already begun, but we were really trying to help companies understand the value and the need for that. Move fast forward over the last 16, 18 months. And not only do people want that, you now are seeing this huge wave of people who will not go back to the office, they're quitting their jobs when they're being told to come back to the office, which was far bigger illustration of our point than we ever could have possibly conceived of.

Michael Solomon: And that's one attribute. So when you start to think about your people as talent, and you think about what does talent mean, and how does talent get treated in the world? It's really about understanding who they are and what they need and what they want. And that doesn't mean that you have to be everybody, when we talk about this, they think, "Oh, we're just going to give them everything they want." That's not where we're coming from. This is about being human first and understanding that people have lives and nobody was born on this planet to work. That's not what we're here for. I don't know what we are here for, but I know that is not the purpose of being a human being.

Michael Solomon: And we may derive pleasure and purpose out of working, but that's not the only thing. And as soon as you start to understand and look at what somebody is driven by, you now can appeal in trying to hire or retain or manage them to them. And that's the paradigm shift is it's no longer about what can you do for the company, but it's a little bit about how does the company fit into your plans?

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Okay. I have a few thoughts, but I want to take it in order. Okay. I mentioned this to you a bit before we started recording, but let me recap. I hate when I have to generalize our whole audience, because it is a variety of different industries, different size organizations, different regions, it's a global audience, et cetera. But for the sake of the conversation, I'm just going to generalize a couple of things in terms of the challenges that are common here in recruiting this next generation of talent. So I mentioned the fact that one challenge is the role itself is evolving. And so while companies are trying to seek talent, they're also redefining it which can be complex.

Sarah Nicastro: But beyond that, we're talking about industries, manufacturing, HPAC, telecommunications. Some things where these aren't necessarily the sexiest jobs. When you ask the six year old, what do you want to be when you grow up? My son will say a firefighter or a doctor or a teacher, there's some common things that people visualize and you don't really hear field technician most often. I mean, I, myself, when I entered this space 13, 14 years ago, didn't even know what field service was. So that's a challenge. So the unsexiness or even just the lack of awareness that these job opportunities exist, combined with some of the verticals within the industries we reach are maybe not as glamorous as some candidates might seek.

Sarah Nicastro: And then you do have issues with flexibility that maybe aren't as big of a consideration in tech for instance. So travel requirements, set schedules, service level agreements, et cetera. So those are some of the challenges that being said, these folks are all faced with the need to manage the incumbent talent that they have, while hiring a whole new generation of workforce to carry the torch and carry the torch in an evolved and improved way. So based on some of the things that you cover in Game Changer, even if it needs some modification for our audience, what are some of the elements that these organizations need to be considering in terms of what today's talent is seeking? So, Michael, do you want to take that one?

Michael Solomon: Sure. I think the starting point is asking the talent, what are they seeking? I mean, as you talked about incumbent talent, you have to survey that group of people to understand what they like and don't like about their jobs. And that's not something that I think many of these companies were giving a lot of thought to, but that may be part of what informs how you put out offerings to bring in the new talent or to train new people. Because this is, I don't know enough about this specific field, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a requirement of the companies to build the runway to the talent of the future, to train them, to teach them, to create mentorship opportunities. And if you don't start out by understanding what is the talent want, what do they like? What do they hate?

Michael Solomon: You're shooting in the dark. And when a big part of what we've learned over our entrepreneurial journey is you have to start with a little bit of data. You can start with a hunch. I mean, our entrepreneurial background is, hmm, that sounds like a good idea. Let's do it. And it's only over the last 15 years that we've thought, hmm, that seems like a good idea. Let's see if it actually is. And then if it is, we can do it and if it's not, we can iterate. So I think that the starting point is looking for what people want. And then also as you're actually hiring individuals, understanding what is their why? What do they care about in life?

Michael Solomon: We have somebody on our team where it's become very clear that they are very happy, they like us. They like working with us, but they're there for the money. The money is there, they're going to stay. And we have other people for whom the money is not the driver at all. It's the nurturing environment and the opportunity to grow and learn new things and constantly be challenged. And until... On the macro level, you want to get data about the group, but on the hiring level, you want to understand about the individual, not because you're going to tailor everything around them. You're not going to create a new job for them or a new job title or a new job description for them, but you might sell them on different parts of your company once you know a little bit more about them. And you might even change your offer based on their needs.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. I think one of the thing, as you were answering, I was thinking as challenging for just some of the folks that I've talked to about this and in our space. When you talk about surveying the incumbents, that gets tricky in the sense of, in a lot of cases, there's some real generational differences. And so what the incumbents like about the job, or don't like about the job or what drives them or et cetera, could be glaringly different than the people that these organizations are looking to hire. That being said, that's not universally true and it's certainly still a good advice.

Sarah Nicastro: But I think, there's a situation here where a lot of these folks are trying to better understand how these roles fit with a younger generation and how to within what's possible and reasonable to still deliver the outcome, to evolve the working environment, a company culture, et cetera, in a way that will be appealing. So I'm just wondering if you guys could maybe share just based on your insights, with the next generation of talent, the younger workforce, what are some of the things that are most important at that macro level?

Rishon Blumberg: Well, their purpose. I think that that's something that I don't think we can gloss over that. It's also something that I think high achievers are in general. So I think there's something in common with being a very high achiever and Millennial and Gen Zs, which is that they're purpose driven. They want to know what kind of difference they're making. And that's why we emphasize heavily how important culture is in a company and how important from the top down the messaging needs to be, because that is part of the allure. Culture can be really sexy even at an HVAC company. If you treat people well, if you put forth very clearly what your purpose is, we're here to help ensure that people don't burn up, like in Portland at 113 degree temperatures, we want to have, we want to make sure that the HVAC in people's homes are always working, that the downtime is limited because people suffer from that.

Rishon Blumberg: When you start connecting, as Michael mentioned earlier, the why of what the company does. I think you can really attract a different type of employee. I mean, in reality, I think what you're talking about in the field service businesses is very much like a concierge business where something goes wrong and the person that it goes wrong for, wants somebody to come there and solve their problem with a smile and make them feel better. They want to be made whole and that requires obviously a lot of technical skill, but it requires a lot of EQ. It requires the emotional capacity, the empathy to understand the pain that they're going through. I had a great experience recently with my cable provider. And I've been with the same cable provider for probably 15 years.

Rishon Blumberg: I've seen a conscious effort and differentiation to make the quality of service better, to make it feel like they actually care that I'm having an issue. And that's got to be from the top down. That is a cultural shift at that company. And that is a huge differentiator. So that's what I would say is the number one takeaway.

Michael Solomon: I think to the point you're making, and this is going back to what we were saying earlier, is if you're interviewing somebody and you now know that they're mission driven, they care about the what and the why, if you're an HR person, and you're still sitting there telling them about the benefits and the money is this, and you get two weeks and you're not talking about, "We save lives. We want to make sure people don't die in heat waves and cold snaps. And this is essential work, and we're not often thought about that way." And you can connect that to that person and make them feel like, "Oh my God, I'm going to be a frontline person. I'm going to be saving lives." I'm being a little bit hyperbolic with all of this, but there's actually truth to it. I mean, I happened to-

Rishon Blumberg: When you express those things properly and by properly, I mean, you actually walk the walk and talk the talk, and you live that day in and day out the company you create many evangelists for your company. And that's really what great companies do and why people want to work at those companies because other people talk so positively about it, both on social media. Obviously we live in a world where reviews are instant anonymous and frequent.

Rishon Blumberg: And one bad review can change the trajectory of a company. So you have to constantly be working to reinforce the culture that you have to create these evangelists who can really go out and talk about how wonderful it is to work with this organization. That, yeah, okay, we're an HVAC company, but what we really are is this, we help ensure that people stay warm when it's cold and cool. When it's boiling hot, et cetera, et cetera really changed the narrative of what you're doing. And you can attract a different type of person.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's a really good point. And that idea of purpose has come up a lot in our conversations. The other one that comes up quite frequently, that I'm just interested to get your opinions on is the idea of, again, making some big generalizations. But the idea that while a certain generation of field technician may have been happy to do the same job day after day, year after year for 25 years. A lot of younger workers really want a progression path. And so this concept for organizations to do a better job of obviating that ahead of time for candidates and clarifying what some of the growth opportunities are. So that not only do they know from the beginning they exist, but the stage is set for what that looks like and how they would get there in terms of both, I guess, initial appeal and retention I don't know what your thoughts are on that.

Rishon Blumberg: We have very, very clear thoughts on that. At 10x Ascend, what we do is we help people negotiate their compensation packages, their new compensation packages. And we have something, a tool called lifestyle calculator that has 24 different attributes of a compensation package that they have to weight against each other. So you have a total of 100 points and you have to weigh these different things against each other. So you can see really, you can challenge yourself "What's important to me?" And you can see graphically where those things rank. And one of the things that I think that does both for the individual and for the company is it helps them understand what's important to that person. One of those things is career progression. So want any time that that ranks in somebody's lifestyle calculator, we want to make sure that that question is asked very clearly of a company so that they know going in.

Rishon Blumberg: And so I agree with you. I think that it's super important for companies to assess the importance of that for the candidate, but also to be out front and explain what that progression really looks like, what their expectations can be, what the timelines can be, what success metrics look like, what does success mean for that company? So we're all about that. And we think that it is super important, especially at the outset. The hiring process is the place where you set the stage for what you know about this person and that process helps them to be onboarded much more effectively. So I agree with you 1,000% you've got to make those things clear. You have to understand as an organization, what that is too, right? You have to be very intentional about this process. It's not something you can wing. You have to know what the culture is. You have to know what your values are, and you have to know what your offerings are and what success looks like at the various offering levels.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense.

Michael Solomon: I would just add to that, that I think that many of these service roles, there's not a natural progression for a whole cohort of people to move up the corporate ladder. I don't think that works when you need that many service people. And part of what I think companies are going to need to do is recognize that some people will be able to move up and others will not going to be able to advance them. Either we're going to be able to retain them by creating very specific retention bonuses that are, if you're here at the end of your third year, you get this. And if you're near your fifth year, you get that or understand that there's going to be a degree of turnover, because that's the nature of where things are right now. And we're going to plan and constantly be looking and planning.

Michael Solomon: I mean, we started talking about what we're seeing happening right now, about three months ago. And it's very clear to see these trends and that's on a macro industry scale when you're dealing with the service industry and certain kinds of workers. You need to be reading the tea leaves and surveys are one way there's other data that's always being generated by industry leaders that's really important. And just going back to the survey for a second, the survey should be done in a way, if it's done well, well, you can tell that young people have different needs than people have been from a different generation. And what those are and how those and people who live in suburbs have different needs than being, that's part of a well-orchestrated survey so that what you get in terms of data really informs your next moves.

Sarah Nicastro: Makes sense. Okay. So Rishon, in the book you guys talk a lot about importance of trust. While that might seem like an obvious thing, I'm sure you wouldn't bring it up if it didn't get overlooked or under prioritized quite often. So talk to us a little bit about trust and why it's so important and maybe some of the reasons that it gets under prioritized or lost in the employee, employer relationship.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. I mean, we come at trust from the angle of what managers need to do in order to effectively manage people. And that's where that bond of trust comes into play specifically in the book. And what's so crucial about that is if you are a manager who instills that kind of trust and faith from your team, the type of management you can do is very, very different. If they don't trust you and you don't trust them, it's a whole different ball game from a management standpoint. So what we really talk about is ways that managers can develop trust and also what team members can do to bring that, to earn that trust. But one of the things obviously, and this is a natural thing, is to really stand up and fight for the people on your team and ensure that they get the things that they need when they need them.

Rishon Blumberg: We believe a manager's job is to provide an environment for the team to succeed, not necessarily to become an impediment themselves. We use the example. I can't actually remember if we use this specifically in the book, but I certainly talk about this frequently. If you remember the movie Office Space where you've got management floating around talking about TPS reports, and did you get the memo about the TPS reports? And you've got to come in over the weekend and they don't really care at all about who these people are. They're just cogs in the machine. And that's the old way of work. That doesn't work anymore. The people that are in your employee now are too important. Technology allows you to do more with less. So the people that you're working with, you have to value more highly because there aren't as many of you can't throw numbers at the problem.

Rishon Blumberg: So managers have to know who these people are and when you get to know somebody, you develop trust, when you're there for them day in and day out when you stand up for them, when you defend them, when you create an environment for them to succeed and do the best work that they can do, that builds trust and trust is a very, I think, underrated tool in business. There's a lot of backstabbing, there's a lot of political infighting and office politics, and that really undermines trust. Trust is about you showing up for somebody day in and day out. And when you don't, that trust bond is broken like this, and it's really hard to repair. So you can't really undervalue what trust means in the hierarchy of management and employment.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's a good-

Michael Solomon: You build trust one drop at a time into the bucket and you lose it all when the bucket falls over, because you breached the trust, it's all gone and you're starting usually from even worse than from when you started.

Sarah Nicastro: I think it's really interesting because I think trusts to me really comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated. And so I do think that the pandemic gave us an element of greater humanity. And maybe an opportunity here to prioritize that a bit more going forward. And maybe that's just wishful thinking, but the other thing I wanted to point out Rishon based on that response is a PSA for people listening, which is don't focus so much on the recruitment of your frontline workers that you don't put equal, if not more focus on management, because you won't keep good hires if you don't have good managers.

Sarah Nicastro: And so, that's just something that can't be overemphasized, you're absolutely right. That's what makes or breaks all of this. Like you said, Michael, the culture has to be top down, but if your managers aren't carrying that out for you, then anything you can do to get good talent in the door is going to be-

Rishon Blumberg: You're going to lose them.

Sarah Nicastro: right.

Michael Solomon: Can I make one little subtle comment on treating people the way that you want to be treated? I think that's where we are coming from. And now we need to shift to treating people the way they want to be treated. That's the big difference, a golden rule versus the platinum rule, if you will.

Rishon Blumberg: And the key you to that not to jump in here is if you don't understand who these people are, if you don't have a sense of what is important to them, you can't do that. Yes, you may treat them the way you want to be treated, but they may not share the same values that you share. And they may be different things. You would treat somebody who's 27 that doesn't have kids differently than you would teach somebody who's 36, that has two kids. What they need is going to be different from what the other person needs. And so you have to try and meet them where they are not force them to come to meet you where you are.

Michael Solomon: And I just want to add the technology is also creating so much opportunity if people are willing to think outside of the box. So what we're talking about is customizing things to make it more flexible for the employees. So they can live the best life that they want to live, however they want to live. So if I were managing a big team and this is much easier, said than done, I'd look at Uber and say, "Wait a minute. All I hear from my team is that they want flexibility. So what if I make it that all of our employees use an app like Uber and set up their schedules."

Michael Solomon: And all of a sudden, we going to have surge pricing because no one wants to work this Saturday and overnight shifts. So we're going to pay a little bit more. And then all of a sudden people want that. And the whole idea that you could create within your infrastructure and get out of the well, I need you to be working 40 hours a week and I needed to like yeah. Make it so that it could be really flexible and it works. And it's not at the detriment of the company. There's ways to do things that are so different than whatever what came before them.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think that's a good point. I mean, creativity is a really important aspect of tackling this problem, not only in evolving the job descriptions and the way that you present them to people, but to your point, the job itself. Like, are there legacy criteria that just aren't super relevant anymore? Is there things that are holding people back from taking these positions that maybe you need to find a resolution to? I mean, there's yeah. Thinking outside of the box is an important,

Michael Solomon: Yeah. The working in the office thing is that is the thing that just completely changed because of an outside input, but there was no reason that it needed a pandemic to cause that change, innovative companies were already doing that. And when you think about all of the areas that change can happen, we've barely started scratching the surface and you just opt to not allow, well, that's not how we've done it, or that's not how it's done where that's not, that should never be the reason for anything that can be for a reason for why did we do it that way? But that's it.

Sarah Nicastro: I think too, it just made me think, Michael, that you need to look not only at your competitive set, but far outside of it for inspiration on how to be creative. Like you said, the innovative company is already doing it. Well, if you're someone listening to this podcast, that's really struggling with hiring, now, again, I'm not trying to minimize that this is a real proven challenge. Like we're not talking about, you're not trying hard enough. That's why you're not finding them. There is a gap, but you still have to do whatever you can do to do your part to close it. Don't just look at what's the other biggest HPAC company doing to get talent? But look at Amazon and look at some of the companies that are having success and that doesn't mean everything they do, you can do, but that's part of the creative process of getting some inspiration and understanding better what's important to those candidates.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I want to talk about the criticality of setting clear expectations. I think for our audience, this is particularly important because those expectations are evolving in many instances. And so even for the existing talent, there's a shift in what that role can look like and what is desired. But let's talk a little bit about why and how expectation management is so important. So Rishon, do you want to take that one?

Rishon Blumberg: Sure. You can't really succeed at something if you don't know what the expectations are. So until a company can clearly explain to somebody what the expectations are that person can't really meet or exceed those expectations. And we look at expectations setting and delivering on expectations as a form of trust building. This is all part of building that trust in the person either that you're managing or the person you're delivering something to. And so if it's not super clear what those expectations are and what success looks like, then you're going to see failure more often than not. Because again, you're not meeting them where they are and you're not treating them with the golden rule or the platinum rule. So that to us is an element of building trust is understanding what the expectations are clearly explaining them. Also trying to elicit from the person that you're managing or the person that is your manager what it means to be successful in a given role.

Rishon Blumberg: Even before you start setting expectations of specific project-based needs, what does success look like? Manager, what will it look like for me to be successful in your eyes? And also getting a lot of feedback when expectations aren't met, it's very easy for people to make excuses or sweep things under the rug, or maybe play the blame game. 10x-ers people who are high achievers, don't do that. What they do is they get feedback, they try to solicit from people, either what went right or what went wrong, because you want to learn from those things. So the next time the expectation is set. You have a better sense of what success looks like.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think from an employer perspective, there's nothing more frustrating than ambiguity and not knowing what it is you're working towards. So not only failure or even if not failure, that frustration that you're causing is a problem.

Rishon Blumberg: People want to succeed. So if you can't explain to them what success looks like, they're not going to be happy.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Michael Solomon: And it has to be measurable. It's got to be something that you can measure.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely. And I think hand in hand with expectation management is another theme you guys talk a lot about in your content, which is empowerment. And I would say in many instances in our industries, empowerment is something that has been lacking particularly in some of the frontline roles. Again, it's more of you're an employee. You clock in and do this job. You go home, et cetera, using service strategically changes that whole relationship with that talent has to change because it's no longer that type of vibe. It's more, hey, we're relying on you to build the customer relationships. You need to be a trusted advisor, et cetera.

Rishon Blumberg: You're an ambassador in the field.

Sarah Nicastro: Exactly. And so if these companies want to have talent that will take that on, there has to be an element of hiring good people in setting clear expectations, but then giving them the latitude to do it in a way that is authentic to them. So Michael, do you want to talk a little bit about empowerment?

Michael Solomon: Yeah. I was actually going to use an example that I think I read about, and we knew somebody who was involved, but in near New York City Parks Department, at some point in '2000s went from whatever system they were to saying, "You employ on this part of the park and you own this part of the park and you own this part of the park, it's your responsibility." And this is whatever the specifics were. And the parks turned around because people were taking pride in "This is mine." And they were looking at somebody else's and it was so empowering to those employees who before were just like, "You mow the lawn over there, you mow the lawn over there," it allowed for a complete transformation.

Michael Solomon: And it also allowed not only did it empower them to do the job and see the result, but I think it gave them a sense of ownership in a way that never would have happened with the prior model. And that's not necessarily perfectly applicable to field service teams. But I think the idea that you get out of that is really important. And again, technology, I don't want to keep coming back to this, but we happen to represent technology. Technology is making it so much easier to do these things well, so this is creepy, so it's not the right example, but when the person showed up at Rishon's house to fix the cable or do whatever they were doing, there is no reason that that database couldn't have said, "Wife, Isabel," that's risky to say, how's your wife because maybe you got divorced, but the whole idea that you could create a system that allows for a little bit, the last person was here on this date, and this is what they did.

Michael Solomon: And is that holding up well? And all of these things that are just so easy, if you make them, if you build them into your systems to make things seem so much more personalized and also if you're the person who's delivering that information, you get to have a different level of engagement with your customer.

Sarah Nicastro: Mh-mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. I think the parks example is a good one. And I think that while that might not be completely transferable to the examples we're talking about the very first podcast we recorded was with Otis Elevator and it was 120 ish episodes ago. But what stands out in my mind from that is the gentleman I was interviewing said that they look at their frontline field technicians as the company's most treasured resource. And I thought that was really smart because they recognize that in an organization that's trying to use service strategically that is often the face of your brand. And there's a lot of power in that experience. There's also a lot of insight that those employees gain from those experiences that can be very valuable in setting strategy or deploying technology.

Sarah Nicastro: And so, this idea of not just giving them a sense of ownership because you think it might be important to them, or it might help them work harder, but really valuing that relationship and that input I think is a really good point. Okay. I have already gone over time and talk long enough, but to close let me ask you guys each one more question. Rishon, anything that we haven't talked about today, or to summarize a most important point, what would you give as a last key piece of advice when it comes to finding, hiring and retaining top talent?

Rishon Blumberg: This is something we have talked about, but I want to underscore it again. And it's the idea of the top-down mentality that you can have managers that are great, but if it doesn't come from the top down, it is not something that is going to be practice company-wide and it's not going to be practiced day in and day out. And culture being so important today, you're going to lose employees if you don't live the culture at every level. So to me, that's the biggest takeaway. I think of all companies at this stage of the game is you really have to lead from the top down. People need to see the head of the company, the C-suite, really living by the same ethics and values that they expect the lower level, subordinates and or other team members and talent at the organization to live by.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, good. Michael, what would you say is the biggest trend in the next, we'll say one, three, five years, whatever you think that people need to be preparing for related to how we work and that will impact hiring?

Michael Solomon: I'm sorry to say that I think the biggest trend is the jobs are going to continue to evaporate at record numbers and an accelerating pace.

Rishon Blumberg: You mean automation? Due to automation?

Michael Solomon: ... of automation and AI. And we're having a moment right now where people are being very selective about jobs because they can be, and I suspect this is one of the last moments that that's going to happen. And as a society, and I'm going very deep with this, we actually really need to think about how are we going to, two problems are going to keep people out of poverty and what are people going to do with their time, talent and energy when there's no longer a full-time job that's available for everybody? And those are fairly existential questions that are not super helpful to a manager. But I think those are very big trends. And I certainly think mission-driven work is becoming more and more and more relevant and important. And the more you can figure out how your company connects to people's missions, the better you're going to do in hiring and retaining and managing.

Sarah Nicastro: Mh-mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. All right. Well thank you both very much, Rishon, can you tell our listeners where they could find more about 10x and Game Changer the book?

Rishon Blumberg: I can do that, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you.

Rishon Blumberg: Gamechangerthebook.com is a website that we have that has a lot of information on the book. It has a bunch of content there. It also has a fun quiz that you can take to see where you fall on the 10x spectrum. How 10x you are as an individual. And you can also take it on behalf of your company to see how 10x they are. And all of our contact information is there as well, LinkedIn, Medium, et cetera. Gamechangerthebook.com.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Well, thank you both very much. I enjoyed the conversation. I'll probably have to have you back at some point if you're willing, because I have a whole list of follow-up questions already, so.

Rishon Blumberg: Love it.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for being there.

Michael Solomon: Thanks Sarah.

Rishon Blumberg: Thanks so much.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. Thank you. You can check out more of our content on futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS Technology at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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July 26, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

3 Barriers Preventing VoC From Driving Fruitful Innovation Within Service Businesses

July 26, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

3 Barriers Preventing VoC From Driving Fruitful Innovation Within Service Businesses

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

While there are a few companies still struggling to grasp the concept that Voice of the Customer is the key driver of service innovation, evolution, and growth; the vast majority have accepted there’s no other path to success. This is important because it’s absolutely clear to everyone paying attention that gone are the days of “build it and they will come” or any reasonable chance of success in creating solutions or making technology investments based on hunches or good intentions.

Today, customer is king – period. In all industries, in all geographies, we are simply living in a time where differentiation and revenue growth depend on being able to deliver experiences and outcomes that your customers need, value, and desire. Attempting to do this without putting their direct input front and center of your strategy is foolish, and most companies I talk with recognize this truth. However, in many cases, that recognition has not yet been matched by an effective means for obtaining and reacting to the customer voice. This must quickly be addressed – the recognition of the criticality of VoC must be married to the proper measures for collecting, channeling, and closing the loop on customer insights. Based on the conversations I’ve had, there are three primary barriers that are preventing companies from making proper use of VoC.

#1: Customers Won’t Engage

“We’ve tried collecting input from our customers, but they don’t respond to our efforts.”

This is the most challenging of the three barriers, because it is most likely representative of a more systemic issue (or issues). If your customers aren’t interested in providing you with feedback or discussing with you their needs and challenges, you first need to examine the customer-centricity of your approach and where you may be falling short in building close customer relationships.

If you feel you have good customer relationships but aren’t having success with them engaging in VoC efforts, I would then move on to review both your method of collecting insights and your follow through on feedback. If your method of outreach is poorly timed, cumbersome to use, or entirely impersonal, it may be that they simply aren’t willing to participate due to those factors. Looking into the most effective forms of customer outreach is worthwhile, and keep in mind that you need to balance quantitative measures of collecting feedback with more in-depth, qualitative engagement particularly when you’re looking to better understand challenges and needs. Along these lines, make sure you think through the matching of input sought versus contact asked. So, for instance, feedback on current operations should clearly be sought from those experiencing your company’s services, whereas input on innovation or next-generation offerings may require someone other than your current day-to-day contact.

Then you move on to considering whether or not you are following through. If you are asking for customer input, quantitatively or qualitatively, and not providing a feedback loop for them to hear or see how their time and effort to engage had an impact, they won’t continue to provide that input. Why would they? A feedback loop is imperative for nurturing ongoing VoC efforts. This is a step many miss because it takes time and effort, but no customer will continue to weigh in – particularly on anything other than a negative experience – if they don’t see the impact their voice is having.

#2: VoC Data is Siloed

“We gather the data through a survey tool, but then it just sits in that tool and isn’t really digested in a timely or effective manner.”

VoC data collected or insight from customer conversations doesn’t do your company any good if it just sits somewhere, unused. But this happens, because oftentimes the measure used to gather the input is lacking in any sort of analytics functionality as well as siloed from the systems used for decision making or customer engagement. The siloed data is often compounded by a lack of clarity on who within the organizations owns VoC and is responsible for ensuring the insights are put to good use.

This type of scenario is particularly unfortunate because you have customers who are willing to engage and are actively doing so, only for their input to be wasted. This leads to the issue of no feedback loop, which means it is only a matter of time before those customers you have weighing in decide it isn’t worth their effort to do so. VoC insights need to be incorporated into your company-wide systems and decision-making processes so that you can ensure the invaluable perspective of those already investing in your company’s success are used to drive it forward.

#3: Action on VoC Input is Unclear

“We gather VoC data, but honestly struggle with knowing what to do with the input.”

I’ve had people tell me that they used to collect VoC input and simply stopped because the data wasn’t being used. This makes me break out in hives! The first step of taking action on VoC data is to choose a tool that helps you to avoid analysis paralysis – one that has functionality built in to help surface trends, decipher patterns, and sift through important points.

The other important aspect of taking proper action, however, is ensuring someone is accountable for making proper use of VoC. With the importance of the role it plays in innovation and company growth potential, this may very well be a specific resource dedicated to a formal VoC program and held accountable for ensuring the input doesn’t sit unused, the proper actions are taken, and a customer feedback loop put in place. Ultimately, VoC should be everyone’s responsibility in some form – whether in collecting it, evangelizing it, creating based on it, or being accountable to it – but without proper ownership, a lack of action is likely. If you aren’t at a point where you have dedicated VoC resources, you need to ensure duties of action are assigned and metrics put in place to measure how VoC is being used. It’s far too precious a resource to waste.

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July 23, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Your Last Service Appointment

July 23, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Your Last Service Appointment

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By Tom Paquin

Last week, I wrote about service appointments from the cradle, and what we can learn from them. Life being a series of contrasts, I figured I might as well take that full circle and talk about what goes into the last service appointment you’ll ever have: your funeral.

Because we have the luxury of living in a society that doesn’t have to think about death constantly (something that’s only been true for about 100 years) it’s easy for us to mentally and logistically avoid the topic. But as a wise man once told me, human beings are guaranteed to always need to do three things: eat, go to the bathroom (he used a slightly different phrase), and die. And it’s important that we’re candid about all three. So let’s think about funeral services, and what we can learn about them, through a service lens.

Planning Ahead

My paternal grandparents, may they rest in peace, each began paying into a “funeral account” in their mid-fifties. This is not the same thing as life insurance: They paid ten dollars a month each over the course of a decade, at which point their accounts were fully financed, meaning that the funeral, coffin, and grave plot were all paid for. With this, they were furthermore able to choose their coffin, the readings at their funeral, the flowers, and the cards handed out to friends and family. We would never in a million years have put my grandmother in a baby blue coffin, but that’s what she wanted, and that’s what I carried on the day we buried her.

Offering services like this is good business, but much more than that, it takes the onus off of the customer. Sure—funerals are not exactly brimming with repeat customers, but service appointments are, and, as much as we don’t want to admit it, having an end-of-life plan for customer assets is as useful as having an end-of-life plan for our corporeal bodies. This, in some truly bizarre way, is a backdoor into servitization, as, perhaps with a monthly fee, customers are able to a pay for service and can build up collateral to a replacement when their current asset reaches end-of-life. This obviously wouldn’t work for every industry, but for a set as diverse as cars to industrial machinery, there’s certainly application.

Customer Experience

Listen, losing someone is not fun. They’re gone, which can be a huge bummer, and on top of that, you have the grapple with a rolodex of existential questions that otherwise just wake you up in an abrupt panic at 3AM. It’s for that reason that it’s imperative to have a good bedside manner, easy and responsive booking, and a clear, well-communicated plan of follow-up actions.

This is no different that service, where broken assets can mean money right out the door. That’s why a cogent, logical, and well-articulated customer experience plan is key. From chatbots, to remote assistance, to an uber-like view and communication network for technicians, there’s a lot that customers expect to get right when they need support.

Logistics Management

Funeral homes have to manage an overwhelming network of connections—from churches, to graveyards, they need to be well-connected to the surrounding areas and have embedded relationships with the appropriate people to make the process of burying a loved one as seamless as possible.

This is no different than managing a network of depots, warehouses, and dispatched for service reps. As we always, always, always say, these disparate functions have to be housed under a single view to be effective. This is how you manage seamless handoffs between dispatch, service, and repair—the hallmark of an effectively-run service business.

Obviously, the objectives of a funeral home and that of a service business differ slightly—You can’t repair uncle Morty, I’m sorry to say. But the fundamentals—delivering seamless, well-run service is the same. And when it’s your loved one’s memory we’re talking about, there’s no second chances. A philosophy that the best service companies also take to heart.

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July 21, 2021 | 38 Mins Read

Removing Barriers to Digital Transformation ROI

July 21, 2021 | 38 Mins Read

Removing Barriers to Digital Transformation ROI

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Join Sarah as she talks with Philip Carter of IDC, Fredrik Tukk of Maersk Drilling, and Marne Martin of IFS about why research shows that only 25% of companies achieve ROI from digital transformation and what can be done to increase likelihood of measurable success.

Sarah Nicastro: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's event. We are here today to talk about digital transformation and what it takes to achieve ROI on your digital transformation initiatives in today's landscape. We know that digital transformation is a key enabler of creating better customer experiences and moving toward delivering outcomes. But a lot of companies fall prey to some traditional practices and behaviors that can inhibit the level of success that most folks are looking for. So we're going to dive in today to some of the things that you might want to work on doing, to achieve the ultimate success, and maybe some of the things you want to avoid doing to achieve the ultimate success. My name is Sarah Nicastro. I run industry versus resource future of Field Service, and I will be your moderator for today's event. I am joined today by a wonderful panel, and I'm going to ask them now to briefly introduce themselves. Fredrik, I'm going to start with you.

Fredrik Tukk: Thanks Sarah, for the introduction. My name is Fredrik Tukk, I'm head of Innovation Scouting for, Maersk Drilling, which is a Danish headquartered, offshore drilling operator. And my role is I'm building the ecosystem with the outer world, focusing mostly on startups to bring in, to help us solve the products we are running.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Well thank you for being here, Fredrik. Phil, would you mind introducing yourself?

Phillip Carter: Sure. Thanks Sarah. And thanks a lot for having me. Hi everyone, my name is Phillip Carter. I'm the Chief Analyst for IDC in Europe, and I also run our global C-suite tech agenda program, quite a long title that apologies, based in Munich and, yeah, looking forward to another learning adventure with this group on digital transformation and action.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Thank you, Phil and Marne.

Marne Martin: So, I'm Marne Martin, the President of the Service Management, Global Business Unit, and it really is a pleasure to be with a great IFS customer, as well as IDC who we work with on how we continue to achieve the digital outcomes that are so in demand today. It's really a pleasure to be part of this panel, Sarah, and thanks for hosting.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks Marne. Okay. So we have, three different perspectives on a very important topic, which is going to make for a very fruitful conversation. So Phil, to start us off, I'm hoping you can share a little bit of context from the research that shows, how the pandemic has impacted digital transformation efforts and, and what you're sort of seeing right now in this space.

Phillip Carter: Sure. Yeah. So I think what happened in 2020 was an inflection point for IT spend and digital transformation efforts more specifically because it was the first time ever we saw a lack of correlation between GDP trends and IT spend. Normally, so if you go back to the financial crisis, significant drop in GDP, IT spend follow that very closely. Look at 2020, the biggest drop in GDP since World War II, and IT spend held up remarkably well, and that was driven primarily by investments in digital transformation. So we expect that to continue into 2021. Actually our research shows that we will hit $1.5 trillion investments in digital transformation globally, growing at about 15%. So we are literally hurtling towards our digital destiny.

Phillip Carter: We're moving towards a digital first mindset, not just at a business level, but also at a personal level, societal level. I think we can feel that we can see that. But the problem is that our pre pandemic research showcases that only 26% of organizations are really delivering an ROI from all of those investments. So that's the digital ROI gap as we call it. And we need to close that, in order to drive the next phase as we move to reignite business, across the board.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That makes sense. I know that as I conducted interviews with business leaders throughout last year, there were kind of two ends of the spectrum. There were folks that had already invested heavily in digital transformation and we're feeling very thankful that they had done so. And then there were folks that realized how much they were lagging behind and how critical it was that they get up to speed. So the efforts have increased, but we have that 25%, ROI metrics. So why is that gap so big?

Phillip Carter: Yeah. So, that's a good question. And I think what you described there in terms of that K shape, we call it the K shape recovery in a sense at an organizational level, because there are some organizations on the up slope of the K, that are leveraging the investments in digital technologies to drive competitive advantage into the market. And then the ones who are fighting for survival based on the fact that they were slow to adopt some of these key technologies. And so the reason for this major digital ROI gap, we also asked, we've kind of went into the research on this and ask the follow on questions. Like what's the problem here? And the primary reason is the inability to scale due to organizational silos. So that's the key thing, the key piece of feedback, these barriers across traditional organizational structures which are linked to the legacy technology architectures of the past.

Phillip Carter: But second on the list, which is also interesting, and I know Fredrik, can talk to this, is that the feedback is that IT and security leaders slow us down, so that there is a sense that business and IT need to come together in a more cohesive fashion in order to drive that scale, we call it the digital dream team. So moving from the C-suite to the future, which is the digital dream team where every business function becomes a technology function. But, they need to raise the tech IQ across all of those business functions, but IT needs to be at the table as well. Technology needs to be part of that discussion and helping to drive the outcomes that are required to pose that ROI gap.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So Fredrik, can you tell us a little bit your perspective on how, what Phil's describing aligns with what you've experienced?

Fredrik Tukk: Yeah. Thanks Sarah. And thanks Phil, for the analysis for sharing that, that's really interesting stuff. Yeah. And as Phil also alluded to, things are happening much faster these days, and technology is taking more and more a central role in many ways, but what you used to have is that IT department was building the foundation for the company and say, you can execute then you can get the data from us. But these days, many times you find new technologies or new vendors that comes to you with a different technology perspective where you can execute. And the lifetime also own this, and especially around the COVID times, it hasn't been focused on the ROI. It's been focused on actually delivering a value to the customer that might not be measurable. One example I have from our industry, when you couldn't travel now.

Fredrik Tukk: So not as you used to in the, during COVID, when we need to have a technician or a maintenance person out to the rig, you fly them out by the helicopter and do the maintenance. But now in COVID, it wasn't so easy. So you have to find a way of actually utilizing new technology and actually do remote maintenance, for instance, where you utilize the people on board, but you have the experts on shore. And that's something that has been more focused on, you don't have a direct ROI on that. That's not a business decision, it's a necessity to keep the rig going. So you need to find the solution, where then technology played a major part that, that solution wouldn't come from IT, in the first instance, you need to find someone who can deliver that to you today, and just make sure that it works because you have a maintenance problem or a challenge on the rig.

Fredrik Tukk: And that's why you need to find other ways of working with these solutions than the traditional way, as Phil alludes to. And also then the first and foremost, it's not your ROI, because that's more a strategic business decision. I'm saying, "We do this so we can have an ROI on it that we see that this is good for the future of the transformation of the business, but here is more specifically focused on solving an issue here now that you might only have for six months or 12 months, but you need to solve it."

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. That makes sense. So, Marne Fredrik is speaking to sort of the internal look at what this means and what's needed in terms of evolving to look at things a bit differently, but I'm wondering if you can speak to, how a technology provider like IFS, what is the responsibility there, or what is the assistance that IFS can provide in helping close this ROI gap?

Marne Martin: So let me talk to pick up a couple of things from Phil and Fredrik, and then answer your question as part of that. So first I would say that Fredrik raises a critical point that often is not communicated or well understood, what technology investments support, the continued evolution of the business, i.e., the growth of a healthy business profitability, et cetera. The strategy that they might already be executing on, but they do need additional technology to continue supporting that growth. So effectively the ROI is already in a way buried into that growth strategy of a business. And then you also will have what I call inflection point investments, that will genuinely give ROI on their own. And often those either enable an increase in revenue or greater profitability, or something like that that has a very tangible ROI.

Marne Martin: So I do want to layer in that clarification, because we often find gaps that we can help bridge as a vendor, looking at say, upside cases, what are continued execution of strategy cases, and then what are really say a ROI cases. And we do that through business value engineering, and then how we plot the project and the outcomes that maps to kind of which of those buckets is primary in a business. Ultimately we want all of our customers here at IFS to grow and grow faster ideally than their peers. When you think about the digital dream team, one I love that concept. And I like to talk a lot about sport analogies. And since two thirds of the panel is in Europe, I'll give an example about Premier League. So often the business feels they are the offense, and we need them to be the offense, but there's either a perception. And sometimes the reality that IT is playing defense and slows down the offense.

Marne Martin: So we need to be thinking about how we get a full team to be working together. And you have the coach for the leader that will really bring them into the Premier League. And that's where I think often when we're looking to scoping out and moving also from the handover of the signaling to the implementation, to the longer customer success phase, we often don't have that coach or a leader that can bring, say the offensive and the defensive elements together to work as a team and specifically a Premier League team. So that's where we have activities and actions that we can continue to drive and be better at, as part of IFS as a vendor. But we're also looking to how we can enable the leaders and the coaches in an organization like Fredrik is in his organization to be more effective. And to the extent that there isn't that type of leader in the digital dream team, that we call that out and work with our customers to address that.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. That makes sense. Fredrik, can you talk a little bit about, from your perspective, how would you articulate what it is about a traditional or legacy IT mindset that just does not work for today's digital transformation efforts?

Fredrik Tukk: Sure. Yeah. And really good points by Marne there. I fully agree with your analysis there, it's really interesting. The things we see, I see happening both here and in other companies, when it comes to this digital transformation is that there is for some natural reasons as well, lack of flexibility and adaptability to take on new technologies and test them out on the side more or less to the legacy system. And I have examples where we have come up with startups we're working with, that comes with a technology that might be set in a different cloud setting, for instance, a different cloud solution. And then we say, "We need to have that." They say, "They need to be hosted in whatever AWS or whatever."

Fredrik Tukk: And then if I come to my IT department, they say, "No, we are Microsoft, no discussion." And that just shows the flexibility, because if you could do that to be more flexible, and I understand why they also can't just say yes to everything, because it's a gigantic task of evaluating this and from a risk perspective, and everything else, since you need to have some structure as well, but with increased speed in change, in digital and the need for being out in the market, go to market needs to be fast. They need to be able to be flexible in that sense. We have an example where we now developed a solution with an external startup, where our, IT department's struggling for years to find a solution for building a performance driven tool. And the startup comes in and do it in two months, when we eventually get to go ahead for it.

Fredrik Tukk: It doesn't say that the old is the best solution, but it does say one example being, where you need to be taken into that flexibility and see who else can actually come in and do it in a non-traditional way. And by that solving your problem and go to market much faster.

Marne Martin: Sorry to jump in Sarah, but I think as we, it's like the emerging technology often the digital dream team, or a lot of these companies don't have say incubation or early adopter phase programs, or if they do, they get stuck in POC. So, how are they able to embrace new technology, whether it's from an existing vendor or a startup, and then really commercialize that, understanding the different phases of technology maturation, adoption, et cetera, is it always as crystallized and taking that sort of approach in companies? And I think that's what handicaps them to a different degree that they're not thinking about say technology, say development, almost like how you develop talent, that you're putting it to work, you're continuing to test it. You're continuing to evolve and challenge it. And eventually going back to my Premier League example, you have your Premier League star.

Phillip Carter: And I think also just building on that. I talk quite a lot about this notion of four wheel drive innovation, which is taking the speed and mindset from the digital innovation initiatives around the edge, into the core as well. And that's basically saying, "Okay, we need to evolve quickly so that there can't be two speeds of technology investment or technology adoption, or business direction." It needs to be one speed. And that speed is a lot faster than it currently is. but that involves people like Fredrik who sits, digital innovation initiatives, pushing those, the agenda on the frontiers to come also to bring that mindset into the core, well across all of the different business units. And that's part of the digital dream team stepping up to this new level around digital investments and outcomes associated with that.

Sarah Nicastro: That's a good point. So I think I have a related question Fredrik, to follow-up on the point you made. Okay? So bear with me. So Marne gave the analogy of offense and defense, right? And so my question when you talk about, having that startup come in and put this solution in place in two months, that you had been struggling to do internally, how do you do that in a way that doesn't further that offense defense divide, right? And kind of exacerbate the problem of that divisiveness within the organization?

Fredrik Tukk: Yeah. That's a really good question. The way we have done it is that you need to, you need to work together, you need to make sure that both parties move, because there's no like one answer is the right one. It's not that you only do startups, so you only do core, but you have to cooperate, both need to move away from where they are. So in the beginning where we actually took in the startup to improve the existing solution that the internal team had built, to emphasize that, but in that process, they also came to realize that actually the startup had a better solution that we then went with. So that that's one way of doing it, to work together. And the other thing that is, building on Phil's point here is that, it's also things that companies like us or any old company with a legacy, not only in IT, but the legacy in general and during the digital transformation, is we don't use to that.

Fredrik Tukk: Now we're starting to build software, basically in our company, we're launching or building that. And we don't have a tradition, IT doesn't have a traditional company. We need to find new ways of how do you do that? What's the competencies we need? Do we want to build them? And the classical discussion we can have that as a separate discussion. You want to build them in house then, or do we want to buy them? And all these discussions, that's something which all companies I think are struggling with in order to see, how do we want to do this? And that's, of course, again, something you need to do together in cooperation, we need to bring in the startups to challenge the existing IT, to some extent, and they need to come back to us and challenge us and say, you can't do that because it's a lot of other legacy systems and we need to have a control, and it's also risked with security and everything else.

Fredrik Tukk: But I think it's also a sort of a middle ground. And it's a transition period as well, where you go from being, saying that IT used to service the traditional business, while now we are getting into more, having a software side to it, at least, where we develop software and that's requires new skills.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So there's an issue of pace. I'm sorry, Phil. I didn't mean to cut you off.

Phillip Carter: I would add to that, because I think it's a great point that, Fredrik made, but I will also say that what we see here as a way of driving that alignment across the teams is a focus on metrics that everyone signs up to. So if you're coming back to that remote maintenance example, that use case that Fredrik highlighted at the beginning, if you've got a metric around meantime to resolution for that use case, and IT, and the business, and digital or oh, working towards that, suddenly there's a different level of alignment. And you bring that speed from the innovation areas, into the core, as part of the fact that you guys are all going to be measured on that outcome. And therefore the behavior is in line with what is expected at the end of the day.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So, we are talking about fostering more collaboration. Okay? We're talking about, Marne the point you made about, you need a strong cultural leader, i.e., coach, right? That's going to help the team see that we're not offense and defense we're one team, right? And then, Phil, to your point, if you can align around metrics or measurements that everyone agrees upon that are driving toward a consistent goal, those are all things that can help alleviate the issue of these silos, which is, as you said, Phil, one of the biggest contributors to the ROI gap, open to the floor, so any of you can jump in. What else? So what else are the important considerations or pieces of advice for folks listening, in terms of breaking down these silos, creating this collaborative culture and aligning more toward a common objective?

Marne Martin: I'll jump in with incentives and compensation, and then I'd love to hear Fredrik's thoughts from being in a company and obviously, Phil's from the research. So often we see and this ties into, I'd say, bridging the divide between speed and outcomes is that, we need the key businesses focused on the outcomes that matter most in their transformation projects to make sure that they deliver against them, that you don't have scope creep or other opinions that take you away from why you did the project in the first place. But we also find that sometimes with business and IT incentives, how they're compensated and what project success means to them isn't aligned. For example, if IT is compensated on speed of implementation, they might say, "Hey, let's just copy what we have. That's what we know best. And therefore we can be the fastest at that."

Marne Martin: When really the business won't get what they wanted out of the technology investment to meet their goals without taking that into account, the change management and additional training, et cetera. So I'd be really curious to hear more. And in general I see this across every single customer we support, in these initiatives I'd be really curious to hear, Fredrik's view on how best that can be tackled pragmatically, and then also Phil's related to the research and his recommendations.

Fredrik Tukk: That's a very, very interesting point, Marne. Again, so, yeah, my first take on your question, Sarah is also, I think that most of the products we have now that are, you could call this digitalization projects. They are actually initiated by us in innovation, not by IT. And the reason is also, I think because of the culture we've fostered and built up in innovation where it's a dare to try, it's fine to fail, you can fail. But if you do fast, instead of doing this, I don't say that everybody does waterfall, but it's like bigger products most of the time. I mean, and the face implementation is a big product and our thing.

Fredrik Tukk: And of course, that's one thing. But on the other end, these digital products we run we need to try out faster and dare to try, and they can fail, and that's fine. But also, like you say, Marne the whole incentivizing of how you run these projects and why you should do it and everything is super interesting. And, I guess, Phil, have some good comments on this research from other companies as well.

Phillip Carter: Yeah. I mean, it's top of mind, around kind of time to value. So that's the balance between speed and outcome, just thinking about the time to value story. And I think there are a few things that we see changing. Number one, regardless of the technology project, they are getting shorter. So even if you think about a large scale ERP project of the past, that took five years, that's no longer acceptable. It has to be months, weeks, at least in terms of some level of time to value from the project. Secondly, the idea that a business case is created once and then thrown out the window once the project starts is also not acceptable. So you have to have a dynamic business value realization approach for the week long or two weeks, or three week, the sprints that are put in place in that much more agile fashion of rolling out a project, regardless if it's going to take a year or two to finally end, but you have the checkpoints every week or month to say, "Okay, how are we relating to the metrics coming back to this, or metrics and the incentives and behavior?"

Phillip Carter: So I said with that, to, Marne's point, on an ongoing basis. So it becomes a much more dynamic. It becomes, an element that the elements of that dream team are engaged with and are measured on, and therefore are, they're bought in upfront and then they actually contribute to making a success. The last thing I would say is that, you look at the software vendor relationship with buyers overtime. And historically, there has been a mismatch in terms of expectations. And now we see that there's a big change in, Fredrik's point around, the rethink around bill by partner, acquire, that's happening, it's really happening.

Phillip Carter: And if a software provider isn't able to deliver that time to value in the shorter timeframe that I described, the buyers of technology will find a different way to do it and to deliver it, to, Fredrik's point earlier two months to deliver that time to value, because the business has to get that outcome in a much shorter timeframe. So those would be the three things that I would highlight associated with that story around value realization.

Marne Martin: That's actually a great, those are great points. And it made me think of something else. So, I talked about, sometimes we don't have coaches or leaders to the degree needed to really drive a transformation, but I'll also say that sometimes projects aren't a bit scope for what they are. Some companies really are going through a learning journey, even though they're contracting for something, they don't know, say what value or what actually they want delivered yet. Okay? Other companies have really well understood their innovation plans, their business models, where they want to go, et cetera. And then we're really, that brings almost like a template if you will, for execution. And then it really is about optimizing time to value. So I think it is super important.

Marne Martin: And we're trying to do a better job working with our customers, with the idea of this return to value understanding, are we implementing off of kind of a well understood strategy template, they know what they want to do? Or is this really more of a learning journey that we need to assume that, we need to move as quickly as possible through the design phase, knowing what we know, but then we're going to have multiple cycles potentially of rework UAT, et cetera, or we'll have different phases of adoption, et cetera. So, we need to be able collectively all of us to drive for more clarity on not only say the digital maturity of a company for the point that everyone has made, but also is this a learning journey project, or is this really more of a template implementation, business value realization?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think that's a really good point, Marne. And it makes me think earlier on in the conversation, as we're talking about the silos within the company being one of the biggest barriers to ROI, in the content that I work on, those silos are also one of the biggest barriers to servitization or advanced services, or realizing the opportunity of more strategic service. Right? And so you kind of have two parallel journies happening where, to your point, depending on where the company is at in sort of the business journey, what's the business model? How are we innovating? What have we been and who are we trying to be?

Sarah Nicastro: And how well-defined that is and how much alignment exists on those objectives, and how much the silos have already been eliminated in that effort will have a huge impact on what that digital transformation journey looks like. Right? Because it is really, the huge enabler of all of that progress, right? So that's a really good point of kind of the, intersection points along those settings.

Marne Martin: For sure. I'll make one other point, which I know Phil has research on, and perhaps you won't ask Fredrik to comment, but, and I'll explain why in a moment. It's interesting, and there was a really fascinating piece of research that I read in the last few weeks about how digitally competent most CEOs are. Right? If you think about how most CEOs are promoted and get to the C-suite, it's a lot of the business acumen, the relationships with customer, shareholders, et cetera. And the majority of their career, they won't be in the digitally active cycles like we are now, whether, just kind of how Moore's law is to say bleeding into everything that we do in technology, including how organizations need to adapt or, this post-COVID era. So, I read this statistic that only about 25% of CEOs feel that they understand how to drive themselves digital realization.

Marne Martin: And it made me wonder that we should look at perhaps the correlations, of the 25, approximately percent of companies that are getting ROI from the digital investments. Does that match to say the more digitally aware experienced CEOs? Yes or no? How do we not only need to think about business and IT at the implementation level, but also of how we're working with the C-suite and boards. So, I'd love to hear your thoughts Phil, on this. And again, I have no idea if there's actually a statistical correlation or not, but I just thought it was really fascinating research.

Phillip Carter: Well, yeah, absolutely. In line with a lot of what we're seeing on it. So based on our C-suite survey, we asked the question, so who's most likely to be the next CEO in your organization. And first of all, it was COO, second was external hire and then third was CTO. So that's the first time that we've seen the technology leader on the leader board effectively on the career development path. And it reflects a new reality where to your point, you need that different understanding around digital and technology capabilities, in order to deliver the new value. So if you look at, there's really interesting dynamic happening at the moment where there's a correlation that we're looking at between digital maturity and actual valuation. So market valuation, because we've got an index that tracks digital maturity by company.

Phillip Carter: And we look at the stock price overtime and you can see a clear correlation. So what does that mean? Well, for the CEO, it means if I'm chasing value, then I need to chase tech, which means I need to ensure that I've got the right level of skills in the organization. And if I'm the CEO, then I need to also ramp up my capabilities in that respect. I need to appoint the right technology leader. And there's a huge amount of change in the technology leadership happening in the market at the moment, because of that. And I might have to acquire some tech companies, which as you see that ramping up, we've had two inquiries in the last week of healthcare device manufacturers asking about software acquisitions. So, just I think you will see, so it's and the CFO linked to that, is going to have to become a lot more savvy around valuation of tech as they make those investments around what's the price to pay for the tech.

Phillip Carter: And you, again, build by partner. So that's a fascinating part of the outcome of this acceleration to our digital destiny that I highlighted earlier. But I don't know, Fredrik it would be great to get your perspective on this, because I know the CEO of, Maersk Drilling is kind of big behind the digital transformation of the broader organization, but any thoughts on how you see that evolving?

Fredrik Tukk: Yeah, it's an interesting observation, Phil and yes, our CEO three years ago when we brought this up, that we wanted to drive digitalization much more and try it out. He was behind that, and has been supportive of it all the time. So he's actually... And, I guess it's also because he sees his own limits within this space at the same time he sees that it's a good thing that we as an organization learn this and try out stuff. So he was very supportive of that, but it's like I say, it's not only in [inaudible 00:34:23], I've spoken to a lot of other C-level people. And one guy in another company he said to me, that when we were discussing, he said, "I used to not believe in this, with a lot of digitalization. And I said to people, you can't make money by getting clicks. I was wrong." He said.

Fredrik Tukk: And that's the whole new economy basically. So he said that they changed their minds. So the more example, if they see, and the more transformation that is happening around, more and more companies now also C-levels saying that we, we used to make money off of our core business. And now we see startups come up or other companies moving much faster and we need to do something about it. And so they are awakening to some extent. So that's interesting to see.

Phillip Carter: What's starting, because I've done a bunch of CEO interviews recently and what I'm starting to hear is that the untapped potential around tech as being open to them. So they seeing this, one of them is a train operator and they managed to get access or transfer ownership of a new trained in the midst of a lockdown completely remotely, similar to the remote example that Fredrik mentioned earlier. And now they're not going to go back to an onsite delivery of that asset, it's going to be complete... Because they realize it's cheaper, it's more efficient and the customer experiences data. So that's just a portal into the potential that's in front of them. And I think as a result of that, the next question is, "Okay, how do we make sure that this is scalable and outcome is driven across the organization?" But I hear a lot of what Fredrik described in terms of, I used to think this way now I realize that it needs to be done differently and it's going to be a big part of the business model moving forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It almost seems, in terms of the CEO role that it's really overcoming any sort of legacy thinking or culture, it's more of an awareness and a willingness to put the right team in place than it is necessarily having to have, the skills themselves. Right? And, and I think that's reflected when you start looking at the organizations that are making the most progress and then, look at what the mindset of that leadership is. Fredrik, I wanted to come back to the point about, looking into the future of digitalization, your thoughts on some of the work you're doing on building out that ecosystem and the importance of co-innovation with customers. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Fredrik Tukk: Sure. Yeah, because we come to realize yes, as Phil said before as well, that you need to take these decisions on, do want to build it or buy it or co-created, or have a strategy on that? And the best way we found out is that if you... We need to start with the customer needs. And it's so easy to forget that, but you say to the bigger organization, they think that you have a lot of knowledge, you build something, that then the customer doesn't really want to need, or at least don't want to pay for. So you need to involve them early on, which we do now in all the products we're on, basically stores based on a customer need.

Fredrik Tukk: But then again, if we need to have the flexibility and the agility, to build these things, we don't... If you're going to scale up that internally or taking an external supplier, that you have a traditional working relationship with, it mostly takes too much time and as Phil before, the lifetime expectancy of solutions, now the digital ones are shorter and things go faster. It's easier to copy as well from your competitors. So that's why we are looking and taking more and more startups to actually deliver this to us. Because if you find the right startup and that's, of course the challenging is, is to find the right data flows, to find the right startups and evaluate them, to make sure that they can deliver this.

Fredrik Tukk: But if you find them, because I can guarantee you, they are out there, whatever your problem is, as startup, you can do this today. There's many, and they are also developing so fast. They also die very fast. So you have to be aware of that. You need to be quick and you need to help them to grow. But if you do that, then you have a much more flexible, structure. And as Phil said, as well, the example I gave before, where we now built a solution with two months, I never met that startup physically. I found them online, we negotiated online, they delivered a demo online, they deliver the product online.

Fredrik Tukk: We have been talking to them, I have teams all the time. So we never met them, you don't have to. Before it was like, you need to see them in the eyes and say, "Hey, yeah, and we need to have a beauty parade with X number of companies as procurement would ask you for." And these days, when we find someone that is like, we can do this maybe for 80% of the solution, we co-create the rest together, because that's the fastest way forward we see, so.

Marne Martin: For sure, I think, related to the innovation cycle and how we build an innovation here at IFS, that is something that continues to accelerate. And of course, we're doing it both for point solutions, as well as a broader platform. The start a point is interesting, having done startups in my career, early on in my career, I still love how we can partner with these startups, right? And even IFS as a vendor, there are times that we also will work with them on how we can enable, say a go to market structure, how we can think about embedding them into our applications to accelerate what we're doing and even acquiring them.

Marne Martin: So, what's great is that you see vendors like, IFS that are really looking to how they can be more flexible, faster and more progressive in terms of bringing innovation of the various type that's needed by customers, to satisfy their end customers. But also, one of the parts of, that I enjoy at my job, is getting to know these startups and the ones that are, validated as being in our key verticals and impactful for our customers, thinking about how we can either partner on a go to market or continue to make some interesting acquisitions.

Fredrik Tukk: Yeah, and that's a good point, Marne where everybody's like you say, trying to be more agile, more flexible to you also as supplier can see that, you have the opportunity to bring in knowledge on some cutting edge technologies, to improve your product. But it's interesting, because there was one of our biggest products that came to be a couple of months ago and said, "We have this huge challenge, and we think it's going to take two years to build it, but we heard that you are connected to startups, can you find someone that can do this?" And I had this, and I presented them with three startups. They interviewed two of them and came back to me and said, "That's amazing. These guys can do this in three months. And they are exactly what we're looking. We didn't know they existed."

Fredrik Tukk: And that's also an eye-opener for my companies to see that there are other ways of doing this, than the traditional way. And that's also where you need to be. It doesn't say that startup is the only answer or the answer all the time. It's just that, that alternative that many corporates hasn't considered that before. And now you see that with the increasing pace and everything, you need to look into it at least to see if that's an option.

Marne Martin: To be pragmatic. Again, a lot of companies won't necessarily be as progressive as Fredrik's, and there'll be concerned about the risk of the startup, them running out money before they can deliver et cetera. So, it's always a balancing act, but it's absolutely is true that there's such a vibrancy of new technology and innovation that's present today. So, for example, if there are startups that can get validated with an enterprise customer, but maybe stall out at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,000,000 and in revenue, which is often the case, at that point, they often have an inflection point, do they say start the private equity journey and how that is?

Marne Martin: Do they align with the strategic, et cetera? And I think, here at IFS again, we are working to be more and more nimble, and we bring a lot of very impactful technology to market as part of ERP, FSM, EAM, et cetera. But also, sometimes I laugh at Fredrik who'd be, almost our corp dev department, letting us know which startups he thinks are most cool for us to go look at, to talk to.

Phillip Carter: I think it's a new business model for Maersk Drilling to be the startup to connect that.

Marne Martin: Exactly the issue in point.

Sarah Nicastro: There you go.

Marne Martin: But you really don't know it. Having run startups myself. I mean, there is such a big step for a startup to move from alpha to beta, to really true enterprise GA. That is not to be underestimated by anybody. But to the extent you can get a startup at exactly the right inflection point, and do that at a value that is accretive, per Phil's point, that is really interesting. And of course, something that we also do at IFS.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Good. All right. So I'm going to ask you all one, sort of closing question of my own, and then we're going to try and have a couple of minutes for a few audience questions. So just in terms of summarizing our conversation so far today, if each of you had to give sort of one key piece of advice for listeners on how to prepare for the future of digitalization, what would that be? So I don't know who wants to start. Phil?

Phillip Carter: I can go-

Marne Martin: Can I go first and then Fredrik-

Phillip Carter: ... Yeah. You go on.

Marne Martin: ... and Phil wrap it up, with their insights. So, we've talked a lot about technology and what have you. And technology is what powers our daily lives, our businesses, our future. But the one piece of advice I have to all of you is don't forget the people aspect of it and specifically you need the right type of leadership to be successful, whether it's a digital transformation, new business models, your company continuing to perform. So you need to make sure that you are analyzing, assessing, recruiting, developing, making sure they stay happy, the leaders in your organization, the people that are going to make this happen. Because technology doesn't get implemented on its own, business value doesn't get realized on its own and if you don't have the right leaders in your organization, then you will be, not able to leverage technology projects, opportunities that you otherwise have.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. Phil, do you want to go next?

Phillip Carter: Okay. Yeah, I will let Fredrik close it off with his wise words. No, so why recommendation is get the order right. And what I mean by that is start with the business. So what is the use case? And then the measurement associated with that. So then you measure and you drive the performance of the back of that, and then comes a technology. So use case, metric technology, and then build up, the use case journey. So that becomes the new digital roadmap to prepare for the future where horizon three, the longer term mission is clear and the whole digital dream team is on board and agreed on that ultimate mission, and then execute along that roadmap. So get the order right.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. And Fredrik.

Fredrik Tukk: Yeah. I'm trying and find some value based on all these fantastic advice, as you know, from Marne and Phillip, mine, and it's a personal reflection basically, but I came to realize this, in the last couple of years, got to try, don't sit and plan for too long. Don't sit and think, oh, we should find someone else, we should do this. We should plan more, give it a go, give it a try. The worst thing can happen is you fail. But if you do it small and fast, no big harm done. And the other thing then to do that is to start small. And then when you notice it's actually functioning, then you can scale it, but don't plan for this massive product that's going to take four years, it's like dare to try.

Sarah Nicastro: Very good advice.

Marne Martin: I love that. I mean, the soft skills of courage and curiosity I think are under analyzed as necessary components to successful digital transformation. I think that's a fabulous point Fredrik.

Fredrik Tukk: Thanks.

Marne Martin: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. Okay. All right. Let's get to a couple of audience questions real quick before we close. So the first is you mentioned the digital dream team, but for a company where projects have traditionally been led by business or IT, how do we determine who the coach is? So who leads the digital dream team?

Marne Martin: So I think coach the change. Phil will have some other insights on kind of the personas or the roles perhaps that have been most successful. But I think you need to look for the people that can work through the conflict. Make sure, keep the team on track, being able to motivate and drive the courage and the curiosity to actually get it done. So there are certainly, and I'd love to hear Phil and Fredrik who kind of the archetypes or the personas that also most frequently rise to the top, but, I encourage people. Don't just think of it from a functional perspective. Think about it as who has the enablers to it done and that that person might come from finance, or might come from sales, or might come from operations, IT, you don't know necessarily where that person comes from. It might also be a C-suite sponsor.

Marne Martin: And then, you can figure out once you have the person that has the right leadership and soft skills to run the change, how you compliment that. I love the point that Fredrik made that, you don't necessarily need a CEO, that's a CTO, but you need someone that sets the agenda and make sure that the project, the talents are all staffed appropriately.

Phillip Carter: Yeah. I mean, I would say building on that, that it's much less about the title, but more about the personality. And so I think it's the classic T-shaped person, someone who's strong in key detail areas where it linked to the project at hand. So they need to understand at least the domain associated with the use case, but then have those emotional intelligence so to speak, in terms of courage, in terms of curiosity, in terms of engagement, bringing people along, dealing with the friction, picking up the ball, running with it. So I think that that's more of the personality type that should lead. But then there's the question of, it shouldn't be business or IT driven. Now my view on that is, if it's more of a specific area, which is driven by a specific business function, then the business needs to lead more clearly.

Phillip Carter: If it's more kind of a platform based approach, which cuts across multiple functions, then IT probably needs to play more of a role or maybe not IT, but that the technology leader, that digital leader that should be able to cut across those areas. And I think that the new type of IT leadership are able to orchestrate, and so budget stakeholders, architectures across that platform. And if they're not able to then new people step into that frame, and those are the new leaders, right? So the new digital leaders that we see emerging, that would be my take, I don't know if Fredrik, if you've got a perspective on that.

Fredrik Tukk: No, I fully agree, Phil because like you said, if on one hand, the business are closer to the customer and the market, so they might have some insights, but they might not have the understanding of how to drive, or to tell what the solutions should be, then it's better that you keep actually the IT department who are more in the forefront of the technical development to lead it, so I fully agree with your analysis there.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. Let's get to one more question, real quick before we close, which is our last digital initiative, did not go well. And how do we bounce back from that, from a cultural perspective?

Marne Martin: Fredrik, I think you have the lead off answer on that one.

Fredrik Tukk: It's an interesting question of course, you know what I mean? There have been probably marketing needs as a big thing, and the big change, and if it's a failure, then no one has the belief in the technology. If it's a specific technology they were doing or that product, and then how do you get people convinced? And again, back to my point, I think then you need to start small and maybe you should launch a couple of other initiatives, that you can get some pilots or something that shows that this is actually working. And then you take the biggest steps and launch it at the biggest scale, because then people will build back the belief in it, and see that it is actually working. But if you do it in a different way, maybe... And then of course you can make an analysis on that specific products and why did it fail?

Fredrik Tukk: Was it resistance? Was it lack of knowledge or the resource? Or whatever it might be, you find the reason for it. But then again, I'm a fun believer in saying that you can show and prove that it's working in a small scale, then it's easy to scale it. So that's my point. I'll take on that. And Phil's probably have some good points as well.

Phillip Carter: Yeah. I think what we've heard is this notion of moving to a ritual descent type of model, where you are willing and everyone accepts the idea that you should take feedback. If something doesn't go according to plan, then you have an open discussion and people provide their feedback. You're not allowed to defend yourself. You basically hear the feedback and that there's no blame off the back of that, and you move forward quickly. So that, that's a culture that, I mean, you've got to develop that culture overtime. If you're used to have a blame culture, then it's difficult, that's the objective, if you can get to that, then it's amazing what can be done because it's a sense of honesty, but at constructive feedback, as part of the conversation.

Marne Martin: 100% agree with that, I think, organizations that are very, very political and kind of what I call zero sum type organizations that someone, there's winners and losers, that's really hard to implement the type of culture that Fredrik is talked to, dare to dream, dare to fail, dare to innovate. So, the advice that I have is absolutely, even though people don't like doing postmortems and sometimes it's hard, do one that's very honest and think about how you remove the impediments of the past failure, and then make sure that you're doing projects for the right reasons. I can't comment too much on the reason for the failure without understanding more, but it might be that had the wrong expectations or the wrong team, or what have you. So, digesting it so that you don't repeat, say the reasons for the failure again is really important.

Marne Martin: But you also have to have a culture that does allow people to move forward and take some chances. Because even the best performing people in the world, and I'll go back to my sports analogy to wrap up, every time they have a strike and goal, they don't make a goal, every time, LeBron James in the U.S takes a shot he doesn't necessarily make a point, right? Even the people in the hall of fame in baseball, didn't bat 100%. So you have to figure out what your tolerance level is for failure and mount that into the cultural expectations of the business. Obviously you want to minimize that, if you think about statistical normal distribution, you want most of your projects to be successful. You might have some small tail positive ones that far exceed the expectations, but you're also going to have some failures, i.e., your small tail negative outcomes. And in that you have to recognize and move forward on.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. Very good insights. So Fredrik, Phil and Marne, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate you all being here and sharing your wisdom. So, thank you for that. And everyone that joined, thank you as well. Be sure to visit IDC and IFS, to find some of their content. You could also check out Future of Field Service, and hear some stories from the industry. Thank you for being here and hope everyone has a great day.

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July 19, 2021 | 8 Mins Read

Closing the Digital Transformation ROI Gap: How to Overcome the #1 Issue that Hinders Success

July 19, 2021 | 8 Mins Read

Closing the Digital Transformation ROI Gap: How to Overcome the #1 Issue that Hinders Success

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

The term ‘digital transformation’ easily rolls off the tongue of every business leader in the world today. But what does a modern definition of digital transformation entail? Certainly, we’re far past the point of actually digitizing paper-based information and processes. Digital transformation in today’s terms is representative of a company’s shift to excelling in the digital era – the mastery of digital tools, the cohesiveness of customer experience, and the introduction of digital products and services.

While the criticality of digital is widely understood, many companies are still grappling with how to articulate their digital identity and make tangible progress in their digital evolution. This is largely since organizational structure, culture, and company workflow aren’t historically set up in a way that is conducive to the collaboration and agility that today’s digital imperative demands.

In a recent session with Phillip Carter, Chief Analyst for IDC in Europe, Fredrik Tukk, Head of Innovation Scouting at Maersk Drilling, and Marne Martin, President of the Service Management Global Business Unit at IFS, we dove into a detailed conversation on what it takes to achieve digital transformation ROI in today’s landscape. There were many important points discussed and you can stay tuned to the podcast for a replay of the full session coming soon, but what stood out to me that I want to cover in this article is the number one issue that stands in the way of digital transformation ROI and how you can move past that barrier.

Organizational Silos Kill Digital Progress

“2020 was an inflection point for IT spend and digital transformation efforts more specifically because it was the first time ever we saw a lack of correlation between GDP trends and IT spend. Normally with a significant drop in GDP, IT spend follows that very closely,” says Carter. “If you look at 2020, the biggest drop in GDP since World War II, IT spend held up remarkably well, and that was driven primarily by investments in digital transformation. Our research shows that we will hit $1.5 trillion investments in digital transformation globally this year, growing at about 15%. So, we are literally hurtling towards our digital destiny.”

This digital destiny is being recognized in both our personal lives and in the business world. But as businesses look to keep pace with digital innovation, there exists a significant disconnect between the investment in digital and achieving ROI. “We're moving towards a digital first mindset, not just at a business level, but also at a personal level, a societal level. I think we can feel that we can see that,” explains Carter. “But the problem is that our pre-pandemic research showcases that only 26% of organizations are really delivering an ROI from all of those investments. That's the digital ROI gap, as we call it. And we need to close that gap to drive the next phase as we move to reignite business, across the board.”

To close the gap, we need to examine what it is that is keeping organizations who know digital investment is important from achieving their desired outcomes. “The primary reason for the ROI gap is the inability to scale due to organizational silos. These silos create barriers across traditional organizational structures which are linked to the legacy technology architectures of the past,” says Carter. “We also hear feedback that IT and security leaders slow things down, so there is a sense that business and IT need to come together in a more cohesive fashion to drive scale. We call it the digital dream team, where every business function becomes a technology function. This requires a need to raise the tech IQ across all of those business functions, and IT needs to be at the table as well.”

Building Your Digital Dream Team

In building a digital dream team, you should consider that the goal is to – as Carter said – raise the tech IQ of every business function and create a more cohesive, collaborative approach to digital transformation. This forces elimination of silos and brings issues to the surface in order to identify, resolve, and move past them. “It used to be that the IT department was building the technological foundation for the company. But these days, many times you find new technologies or new vendors that come to you with a different perspective where you can execute. And sometimes, especially around COVID, it hasn't been focused on the ROI,” explains Tukk. “It's been focused on actually delivering a value to the customer that might not be measurable. One example I have from our industry, from when we couldn't travel. We needed to focus on utilizing new technology and doing remote maintenance. There isn’t a direct ROI on that. It’s not a business decision, it's a necessity to keep the rig going. So, you need to find the solution, where then technology played a major part, and that solution wouldn't come from IT, and you need to find someone who can deliver that to you today. And that's why you need to find other ways of working than the traditional way.”

It's time to work past the age-old IT and business divide and to create an environment where a team approach with shared goals is the norm. To do this, you need not only to identify who the team players will be but who will lead, or coach, the team. “If you think about Premier League, for example. So often the business feels they are the offense, and we need them to be the offense, but there's either a perception or sometimes reality that IT is playing defense and slows down the offense,” says Martin. “We need to be thinking about how we get a full team to be working together. We often don't have that coach or a leader that can bring the offensive and defensive elements together to work as a team and, specifically, a Premier League team. So that's where we have actions that we can continue to drive and be better at, as part of IFS as a vendor. But we're also looking to how we can enable the leaders and the coaches in an organization to be more effective. And, to the extent that there isn't that type of leader in the digital dream team, that we call that out and work with our customers to address that.”

Teamwork Builds Speed and Effectiveness

In the more traditional, IT-leads-all approach, there can often be a sense of control that creates friction and can cause a lack of flexibility. “When it comes to digital transformation, there is for some natural reasons a lack of flexibility and adaptability to take on new technologies and test them out on the side more or less to the legacy system,” explains Tukk. “For example, we’re working with a startup who suggest a technology that might be set in a different cloud setting. If I come to my IT department, they say, ‘No, we are Microsoft, no discussion.’ No flexibility. I understand they also can't just say yes to everything, but with increased speed in change in digital, go to market needs to be fast. When you work as a team and focus on solving your problem you can go to market much faster.”

And, yes, speed is critical. That’s not to say rush haphazardly, but the pace of change is continuing to increase and the pace of innovation – effective innovation – needs to match. “I talk quite a lot about this notion of four-wheel drive innovation, which is taking the speed and mindset from the digital innovation initiatives around the edge, into the core as well. And that's basically saying, ‘Okay, we need to evolve quickly so that there can't be two speeds of technology investment or technology adoption, or business direction.’ It needs to be one speed,” explains Carter. “And that speed is a lot faster than it currently is. But that requires people like Fredrik who drive digital innovation initiatives and push the agenda on the frontiers to also bring that mindset into the core, across all the different business units. And that's part of the digital dream team stepping up to this new level around digital investments and outcomes associated with that.”

This move to a digital dream team requires team members letting go of ego and focusing on problem resolution. The most effective way to accomplish this is to ensure the whole team is focused around a common goal. “What we see here as a way of driving that alignment across the teams is a focus on metrics that everyone signs up to,” notes Carter. “With the remote maintenance example that Fredrik highlighted, if you've got a metric around meantime to resolution and IT, and the business, and digital are working towards that, then suddenly there's a different level of alignment. And you bring that speed from the innovation areas into the core, as part of the fact that everyone is going to be measured on that outcome.”

So, if the digital dream team is how you overcome the havoc that organizational silos have on digital transformation success, it seems the coach you choose to lead that team would take some careful consideration. What makes a good digital dream team leader? “You need to look for people that can work through conflict,” says Martin. “Keep the team on track, be able to motivate and drive the courage and the curiosity to actually get it done. Don't just think of it from a functional perspective, think about it as who has the enablers to do the job well and that that person might come from finance, or might come from sales, or might come from operations, IT, you don't know necessarily where that person comes from.”

The coach role is far less about function or title, and far more about personality. “It's much less about the title, but more about the personality,” says Carter. “I think it's the classic T-shaped person, someone who's strong in key detail areas where it links to the project at hand. They need to understand at least the domain associated with the use case, but then have the emotional intelligence so to speak, in terms of courage, in terms of curiosity, in terms of engagement, bringing people along, dealing with the friction, picking up the ball and running with it.”

As we experience our digital destiny unfold, we’ll witness death to complacency and over-caution. Tukk shares some wise words, “I’ve come to realize that you’ve just got to try. Don't sit and plan for too long. Don't sit and think, oh, we should find someone else, we should do this or that, we should plan more. Give it a go, give it a try. The worst thing that can happen is you fail. But if you do it small and fast, no big harm done.”

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July 16, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Your First Service Appointment

July 16, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Your First Service Appointment

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By Tom Paquin

A few months ago, my wife Kate and I welcomed our baby girl into the world. She is the light of our life and I am so madly in love with her, proud of her mom for everything she put her body and mind through to bring her into the world, and overjoyed at a lifetime of possibilities for our little one.

While we were very fortunate to have a relatively straightforward pregnancy and birth for our child, I understand implicitly that the act of childbirth is never really stress-free. Birth at a hospital, too is complex—You’re working with a network of caretakers, managing processes that can shift on a dime, all the time with the implicit need to keep processes quick and seamless.

As it is with any service-oriented activity, I can’t turn off my service brain, and, really, any visit to the hospital is a kind of service appointment. For my baby girl, it was her first. And like any service appointment, there are lessons that we can learn and apply broadly to other service instances. Let’s discuss a few. For this exercise, we’ll consider a hospital as the service provider.

Predictive Planning and Scenario Screening

While it’s impossible to know precisely when a baby is going to be born (unless it’s scheduled, of course), you can usually get a pretty decent idea how many patients will be giving birth at any given time at a specific hospital. You take the number of childbearing people who have OBs within the hospital’s network and build some statistical analysis based on how far those people are along, how many additional people might show up unexpectedly based on historical data, and you can build a pretty decent projection of staffing, inventory, and room needs for a given time within a specific range.

We’ve talked about this before but it remains a salient—and overlooked—utility for service development that I think is key in all service scenarios, but in hospitals, getting it right could be the difference between life and death.

Knowledge Management

Television shows have long prepared me for the presence of the eponymous “chart” hanging from the end of every hospital bed in the world, ready to share any pertinent information about a patient’s symptoms, status, and course of treatment with the medical professionals on any given shift.

Understanding not just the milestones that a customer experiences as they go through a service visit, but also the “condition” of that customer is key in any service appointment. Are they ready for an upsell? Do they have specific requirements as highlighted in an SLA agreement? Not too long ago we discussed the importance of meeting customers where they are, and this is another component of that.

The Handoff

When you have a baby, if everything goes according to plan, there’s an instant when suddenly there’s a new patient. The mother, as a patient, is “sunsetted”, and the baby, as a patient emerges (Somewhat literally). This can happen in all sorts of service appointments, as well. Perhaps, in isolating an issue on a customer site, it becomes clear that there’s, instead an infrastructure problem. This is not uncommon in areas like telco and utilities, in which consumer needs are often tied to transmission and distribution challenges, though the two are not always mutually exclusive, and are sometimes interconnected.

The important thing in these scenarios is don’t forget customer #1. If the issue is resolved at the handoff, but persists at the symptomatic site, then guess what? Not only do you have an unhappy customer, you have an issue that hasn’t been resolved.

These are just a few examples, but these are all competencies that, while spending a few days in the hospital with our daughter, we saw managed with various degrees of competency. Nevertheless, when you’re living it (and you can’t turn off the service part of your brain), you start to see the connections, and realize that there are a great deal of areas that service companies could ignore at their own peril.

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July 14, 2021 | 17 Mins Read

Modernizing Technician Utilization for Today’s Field Service Objectives

July 14, 2021 | 17 Mins Read

Modernizing Technician Utilization for Today’s Field Service Objectives

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Ian Pattinson, former VP technical operations at Rogers Communications, talks with Sarah about how the perception and responsibilities of a field technician have changed, the need to prioritize use of your most skill resources, and how compensation can make – or break – performance.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be talking about an important topic, which is modernizing technician utilization. We all know that today's field service objectives are far different than they were five years ago, even in some instances a year or two ago. What are the ways that we can modernize how we're leveraging our field technician resources? I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Ian Pattinson, who's the former vice president of technical operations at Rogers Communications. Ian, welcome to the podcast.


Ian Pattinson: Good morning, Sarah. And thank you very much for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for being here. Before we get into the meat of the conversation, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

Ian Pattinson: Oh, great. Good morning. Well, I've loved working in the telecom industry for the last 25 years. I started out in technology development, network operations and technical support, and then grew into a VP roles and product development, new business general management, and most recently completed field technical operations with the very large Canadian cable and wireless operator that you just mentioned. I'm really an executive that thrives on driving change transformation with a very hands-on delivery of achieving the plan and its results.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, great. Well, we're excited to have you here sharing some of your experience. We're going to talk about how to maximize utilization, but before we do that, let's talk about some of the ways that the perception of, the use of, the responsibilities of field technicians have changed in recent times.

Ian Pattinson: Yeah. Yes. It has been a massive change, and I really look at it both in two ways, that it's changed both internally within companies and externally in the industry. Firstly, internally, from a service provider perspective, it's really changed from being what was a necessary installation obligation that we had on a hundred percent of orders being done by generalist technicians. Now in a world where we've got advanced self-installation by customers themselves, and then incredibly complex homes because the customer's homes are coming increasingly more technically complicated as we begin to 15 plus devices and beyond in homes. The technician has really become that key strategic asset for the service provider who is the trusted technical advisor that is welcomed into a home by customers and really becomes the face of the brand. It's also one of the biggest operational costs.

Ian Pattinson: It's a massive opportunity to drive compounding material improvements across the P&L. Then looking at stonewalling at the greater marketplace, there are several iconic consumer brands out there that have already delivered on new spectacular service experiences. Combined with pervasive social media and these increasingly more complex homes, customers’ expectations have really increased, and their tolerances for problems have really decreased. That has really increased the technical needs and skills required by technicians. I think if we even look more recently and you touched on it there, the pandemic has really created a massive public visibility to the frontline technicians who have taken on great personal risk to actually keep delivering on the essential home services that we all now rely upon. They are very much front and center part of a service provider brands.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. What's interesting to me, and on this podcast, we have folks from a variety of different industries. Even as you look outside of telecommunications, that key concept that you brought up, which is technicians being leveraged more strategically, that might look or feel a little bit different industry to industry, or whether you're servicing consumers versus businesses, et cetera. The reality is, in almost every situation, every industry, every organization that we're talking with that is a key objective, is to evolve that relationship from one that is transactional, obligatory, as you said to one that is strategic and value added, and more relationship-based and really a way to differentiate the brand. I think that's a really exciting change, but it's one that requires a lot of evolution in terms of evolving what that field technician role looks like. I want to talk next just about what has that happened first? Which, in my opinion, is this recognition of the potential that that role can hold beyond that transactional historical duty.

Sarah Nicastro: What do you think is the difference between organizations that adopt this mindset or this belief that they can leverage technicians strategically versus organizations that don't necessarily see that potential?

Ian Pattinson: Yeah. I think that's a great question. It's a big change and it's an enormous opportunity for companies. In my experience is that the change starts with the text being seen truly as that new strategic asset opportunity and formerly becoming part of the corporate strategy so that it spreads company-wide to get that buy-in and becomes embraced as that key opportunity, because it needs full cross functional collaboration, everywhere from finance to marketing and, and beyond. It's not just about the operations groups going in and doing something new that might be marketed. It is a true cross functional collaboration, because it's really about evolving the entire service model from recruiting, training, compensation, career development, rewards, process redesign, and then the critical dispatch systems that are actually the lungs, particularly a service providers business. It's also really critical to transparently involve the frontline workforce themselves to help collaborate on the new strategy and achieve that real buy-in where they really believe in it and live it. When this all comes together, it's really amazing to see the sea change that gets delivered for customers, employees and the company.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. But the coming together part is not so simple. I have a couple of questions on that. The first is just, you mentioned the buy-in of the frontline workers themselves. In your experience, I'm just curious, if you had to maybe tie a percent to how many are excited about that opportunity versus hesitant or resistant to doing something different than that more historical model?

Ian Pattinson: Well, it certainly starts up, starts out and it's a multi-stage process. This is not a one-time thrown speech to the front line that they've all heard multiple times and it's lip service. It has to be a change management program that is organized advance with those cross-functional teams, because again, it involves changes to compensation and rewards and process redesign, et cetera. Like any large change management activity, you've got to go through those different phases. In the initial stages, there are going to be a third, a third, then a third. There's going to be a third of the group that are really pumped and really get it and, are really bought in right at the very beginning. Then there's going to be a group that's kind of in the middle, and then there's a group that has seen it before, done before, it isn't going to work. So, the change management strategies that have to really address each of those different constituents, because you've got to have everybody on onboard.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. The other question I wanted to ask is, we talked about the importance of this being a cross functional effort and there needing to be alignment company-wide on the evolving use of service and the technicians themselves. What's your advice on what it takes to achieve that alignment?

Ian Pattinson: Well, again, I think it's back to that formal change management program. My experience has been that we've got some incredibly great suggestions and techniques that have come from some of the cross functional teams. If I go back several years to when I was in the product organization, I didn't even know what the name of our dispatch system was. Now, that's a really critical component of it, and we really got some great, great suggestions and techniques that came from the different cross functional groups. Confidence breeds confidence. If it's just coming from the operations team, it's not as real as when it is becomes part of the vocabulary of the entire organization in terms of what the opportunity is, and then it becomes electric and contagious, and you receive tremendous buy in.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So the next thing I want to talk about is, we're talking about maximizing the use of our field technician resources to really evolve our service model to one that is more strategic and more focused on customer experience, customer relationships, being seen, as you said, as a trusted advisor. To do that, there's an element of re-skilling or up-skilling, and getting your technicians to the point where they're confident enough to handle those interactions, but there can also be an element of eliminating some of the work from their plates that isn't that value add work. I want to talk a little bit about that idea of how do we prepare our technicians for this new role, and then what's the opportunity to leverage contract workers or to offload some of the duties from them that are not that value add strategic work that we want them to focus on?

Ian Pattinson: Yeah, I think you're right. As those customer homes become more technically complex, so does their work and their tools, the skills required and the training that's needed. Not every technician can be a top level expert on all skills and all points in time, and then in the future, with technology changing so quickly. I think if you just look at the wifi, for example, how much wifi has changed in the last three years with WiFi 6, 6E, pods, dynamic channel selection, bands tearing, et cetera. It's a complex world. With generalist texts and generalist orders, this creates a growing risk that the order may not get implemented with the [PFO Spalding 00:15:17], and the reality is that there is a stratification of complexity of orders, and this is a big opportunity, both at the more complex at the orders as well as at the lower end.

Ian Pattinson: By breaking down the install and repair process into several technical skills and levels, joined with all the disposition and telemetry data that is widely available now, this enables the matching of the skills of the technician to the specific attributes and needs of the customer. This dramatically increases the probability of getting it right the first time, first time right being really, really critical, and eliminating a lot of the breakage and the inevitable downstream costs that create a much better customer experience. I think if we continue the example of wifi and using your example there with contractors, there's a big difference. If we look at two different kinds of homes, there's a really big difference between the installation and troubleshooting and training needs that are required for a fairly low value order that is just basic wifi in a small home versus a high value order that has near a gigabit Wi-Fi speed needs and intermittent interference issues from a large home.

Ian Pattinson: With dynamic skills-based dispatching, the highest skilled technicians are dynamically dispatched to these complex overs, and the lower skill resources are a lower task and time order, and can be assigned. Those technicians are also creating a career development opportunity for those lower skilled technicians. Lastly, with the dynamics skills dispatching, simple orders don't end up getting overpaid if you've got just a single task for types of orders, and then the complex orders don't end up being underpaid where quality gets risked because not enough time has been allocated.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Ian, over the coming years, how do you see the use of contract workers evolving? Do you see it growing? Do you see it staying the same? What do you think the role leveraging that type of workforce plays in this quest to become more strategic?

Ian Pattinson: Yeah, contractors are a big asset, and I think there is a bit of a false word out there that contractors just do the low-end work. My experience has been that some of the best quality work is done by contractors, but the contract partners really enable the ability to post in terms of capacity and can be an opportunity for other types of low value work as well, based on dynamic dispatching.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. Okay. Let's talk next about compensation, you've brought up compensation a couple of different times, and the need to consider what your compensation model and strategy is as you work to evolve the role of the field technician to become more customer centric. What's your advice around this topic?

Ian Pattinson: Oh, yes. This is absolutely critical. This is probably one of the penultimate examples of where that strong cross-functional collaboration is required to evolve the compensation model and career development, frankly, from what has been a traditionally a tenure based model to a skills and quality based performance model, truly cross-functional. Quality levels need to be determined and continually monitored based on a variety of a bunch of different data points, like day of the install success rates, task codes usage, post-install device telemetry performance in terms of how well the home was actually operating after the installation was done, along with correlations with the post-install technical support call dispositions and customer satisfaction surveys. My experience has been that after only a short time, the data clearly demonstrates the correlation between specific quality problems, and skill and compliance gaps.

Ian Pattinson: Automatically tagging under threshold performers for management triage and attention of retraining is really, really important. It's beyond just the compensation and career development and rewards, delivering this new model also requires investing in a new training curriculum, data analytics reporting is fundamental, and that moreover allocating the right amount of task time to do the work properly, and then empowering individual technician discretion when additional time is required, because now they're actually being measured and performing based on quality. When that quality gets delivered, it just pays back in spades. It takes senior management conviction to drive that change management program that we were talking earlier on to create what can be slightly more complex order stratification, and increasing and decreasing task codes, but the total cost of ownership improvements do come from what are reduced downstream, repeat calls, repeat visits, more satisfied customers with higher retention, higher tenure, and frankly, more satisfied the technicians that do a better job.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I want to come back to that, but I have one question before we talk about the impact on employee and customer satisfaction, which is, you mentioned a lot of metrics, and so when you start measuring on quality, there's a lot of ways that you can look at that quality and a lot of those metrics that give you insights, as you mentioned, on where are the gaps. What do we need to address? How do we improve this overall? What that makes me curious about though, Ian, is from an employee perspective, how are those, or are those metrics, do they need to be simplified in a way where maybe the company is looking at 15 different criteria to glean the insights they need to determine who needs training or where do we need to intervene? Or what are the common themes, if any, that we see?

Sarah Nicastro: But I assume you don't want the technicians having to follow 15 metrics of their own performance to gauge their level of success. Is there an internal versus employee facing way that you would order those things, so that for the technician experience, it's a little bit more streamlined and they're able to easily see how they're tracking? What would that look like?

Ian Pattinson: Sure. I think it starts with that the scorecard has to be transparent, and it has to be easily explainable, otherwise it's not credible and you won't get that buy-in. I mentioned a couple of the different dimensions that are fairly well understood by the front line, and you would give them full visibility to that. And then the more complex, deep analytics that is going to cause the model to keep evolving, is really the more private side of the ongoing analytics. But credibility of that is absolutely critical. It impacts people's compensation, and so it's got to be credible, it's got to be transparent and explainable and easily understood.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. You mentioned that this takes a lot of hard work, but when it's done well, there's a positive impact both on employee and customer satisfaction. The customer satisfaction part seems pretty straightforward to me. You're evolving the model to focus more on quality and really focus more on the customer experience, so I can see how that would have a positive impact on them. I'm curious, though, if you can speak a little bit to that, and then also, how and why does this impact employee satisfaction so much?

Ian Pattinson: Certainly. Totally agree. It's fairly straight forward on the customer side that more satisfied customers are going to call less, tenure is going to be higher, et cetera, and that flows through the entire P&L. On the employee side, I don't think it's well known in the industry that most techs really do care about the work they do and they want to get it right for customers. I think this is starting to become more visible. If you think about it as a tech, and I've been there, it's quite demoralizing when you don't have the skills or the tools to be able to fix the problem. Nothing worse than being embarrassed in front of the customer that you can't fix the problem, or you've got to have someone else come back to do the work. Again, conversely, when you do have the skills and the tools to fix that complex for the customer, you become the hero with the customer. To me, it's a bit of a simple philosophy that happy customers stay longer and drive less trailing costs, and having employees stay longer and do better work.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's really the ultimate story of teamwork, because they want to do well, but perhaps in certain situations, they're just not set up process-wise or system-wise to have that opportunity to always be doing well. If you recreate the process and you put systems in place that essentially do this element of matching the right skills with the right roles, then they have almost a bullet-proof chance at success when they arrive. That makes sense. They feel more fulfilled because they're showing up, they're getting work done, they're making people happy, and then they're moving on to the next thing, instead of being at jobs that they're not equipped for, or what have you. Yeah. It's a win-win. We've talked quite a bit on Future of Field Service about the correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, and I think there can tend to be... I don't want to say an overemphasis on the customer side because it's critical, but sometimes companies overlook the real importance of, how does all of this impact our employees? How do our employees feel? What do our employees need?

Sarah Nicastro: Because if we can get that right, our chances of success getting the customer side right are infinitely higher. That makes sense. All right. Ian, the last thing I want to talk about is the role of modern technology in all of this. There's a lot of internal alignment, which we talked about. First, you have to have the right mindset that this evolution is possible and it's a fit for your company. Then you need to get everyone on the same page, including the front line and cross-functionally, and look at how do our processes need to change? How does our compensation model need to change? Et cetera. But the other big element of this is leveraging modern technology. Talk to us a little bit about how important that is in this ultimate mission.

Ian Pattinson: Certainly. I think earlier used the term that the dispatch systems are truly the lungs of the service provider organization. Yes, the billing system may be the heart, but dispatch systems are the lungs. It really is a massive enabler of a lot of the customer, employee and financial opportunities that we've been talking about here today. My experience has been, moving to a standard based product that was cloud-based really resolved kind of three key issues with an old on-prem system. The first is that the old platform just couldn't deliver on the new strategy. It had been so highly customized, was no longer standard product, and hence was incredibly slow, expensive, and risky to change. It's just a horrible, dangerous combination there. Secondly, that the infrastructure on prem became quickly outdated, had slow latency performance from more and unpredictable usage, needing expensive hardware, uplifts, and then, of course, corresponding software dependencies from the new hardware changes, again, driving millions of dollars of costs and moreover orders to implement. Change quickly is absolutely critical. Come to the last key area was around stability and availability problems.

Ian Pattinson: I know the on-prem systems typically around 98% availability, when you do the math on that, that's seven days of downtime per year where no appointments can be made, technicians stuck in customer's homes and thousands of frontline staff waiting for systems to come up and extremely frustrating for customers. Again, my direct experience of moving to a cloud-based standard product resolved those three key areas. System availability went to over 99.9%. That's less than 10 minutes per month, which is just huge. We'll talk about building credibility with frontline technicians, systems stability is one of the top three for them. Number two, incredible system latency performance, because the cloud-based platforms can dynamically adjust to sudden increases in demand. But I think, most importantly, that the standard ultra-low customized product really enabled the ongoing rapid delivery of new features and capability that keep the platform current with constant new product development improvements and security updates.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's interesting when you talk about the use of technology here, it can't do all of the hard work for you, but without it, all of the hard work is for not. If you did all of that hard work, all of that alignment, all of that change management, and then you still had outdated, unreliable technology in place, it's all for nothing. It is, like you said, the ultimate enabler of having success with making the most of your technician resources and your service objective. Good. Ian, before we close, do you have any other comments or words of wisdom that you want to share with our listeners?

Ian Pattinson: Well, I don't know if it's wisdom, but let's face it. I think you've pointed out there, dispatch systems haven't historically been sexy to work on and frequently seen as non-strategic cost centers. They don't really get changed that often. Frankly, I mentioned earlier on most people don't know the name of the platform. Even when I was in the product team, I didn't know the name of that platform, but moving to that standard product cloud platform is just so enabling of improving the entire service model. It is, again, just amazing to watch the results both financial, customer and employee, like we've talked about, that get delivered when the company embraces and collaborates around the new platform. Frankly, it's something, having done it, I'm really proud of what our team delivered.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. For those listening that are using really outdated technology, now is the time to do some research and find something that will take you into the modern era. Good. Well, Ian, thank you so much for being here and sharing your experiences and insights. I really appreciate it.

Ian Pattinson: You're quite welcome.

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

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July 12, 2021 | 6 Mins Read

Modernizing Technician Utilization to Keep Pace with Customer Demands

July 12, 2021 | 6 Mins Read

Modernizing Technician Utilization to Keep Pace with Customer Demands

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

We often discuss the ways in which the role of the field technician is evolving and what the job might look like in a year or two or five. But, perhaps in doing so we are overlooking an important question: how are you handling the demands of the present day? Forward-thinking is important, but the reality is that many organizations have yet to modernize technician utilization enough to meet today’s demands.

I recently sat down with Ian Pattinson, who's the former vice president of technical operations at Rogers Communications, to record a podcast on this topic that will publish this week. Ian has spent more than 25 years in telecommunications and has a wealth of knowledge on what it takes to evolve technician utilization to meet today’s customer demands. While his knowledge is born of telecom experience, the points are applicable to many industries.

Today, the moment of service presents an opportunity for strategic differentiation for companies in telecommunications and beyond. But delivering on that moment of service in an environment that is increasingly complex isn’t possible without evolving and modernizing business strategy, processes, and technology. Taking on this change is necessary not only to keep pace with today’s pressures but most certainly to be able to compete effectively as the future we’re all envisioning unfolds.

Recognize Field Technicians for the Key Strategic Asset They Are

The reason the topic of technician utilization is imperative is because of the technician’s role in the service experience that is now – in most cases – what sets one company apart from the next. This importance is compounded by the fact that technicians are becoming harder and harder to recruit and hire, making utilization even more critical. “In a world where we've got advanced self-installation by customers themselves, and then increasingly more technically complicated customer homes as we begin, the technician has really become that key strategic asset for the service provider,” says Ian. “The technician is the trusted technical advisor that is welcomed into a home by customers and really becomes the face of the brand. It is also one of the biggest operational costs, which presents a massive opportunity to drive compounding material improvements across the P&L. Looking at the greater marketplace, there are several iconic consumer brands out there that have already delivered on new spectacular service experiences. These factors, combined with pervasive social media, mean that customers’ expectations have really increased, and their tolerances for problems have really decreased.”

(Re)Categorize Service Work and Technician Skillsets

For organizations like those Ian is referencing, where the service environment is becoming increasingly complex or the role of the technician is expanding to trusted advisory, the concept of categorizing technician work into various levels may be worthwhile. “As those customer homes become more technically complex, so does their work and their tools, the skills required and the training that's needed,” explains Ian. “Not every technician can be a top-level expert on all skills and all points in time, and then in the future, with technology changing so quickly. By breaking down the install and repair process into several technical skills and levels, joined with all the disposition and telemetry data that is widely available now, this enables the matching of the skills of the technician to the specific attributes and needs of the customer. This categorization dramatically increases the probability of getting it right the first time, first time right being really, really critical, and eliminating a lot of the breakage and the inevitable downstream costs that create a much better customer experience.”

In categorizing or tiering technician skills and work, you create the potential to more easily incorporate the use of contract workers if you choose. As discussed in this podcast, some organizations are leveraging contingent workers to complete some foundational tasks so that they can work on upskilling their salaried talent to take on more of the trusted advisor role.

Align Technician Compensation to Customer Centricity

One of the most important points Ian and I discuss during the podcast is that, while most organizations have adopted a strong customer focus, many have not introduced changes in technician compensation to align their performance to that focus. “Strong cross-functional collaboration is required to evolve the compensation model and career development, frankly, from what has been traditionally a tenure-based model to a skills and quality-based performance model,” says Ian. “Quality levels need to be determined and continually monitored based on a variety of different data points. My experience has been that after only a short time, the data clearly demonstrates the correlation between specific quality problems, and skill and compliance gaps.”

This data gives organizations invaluable insight into where within its talent pool attention is needed to address issues in training, knowledge, buy-in, or compliance so that customer outcomes are prioritized. “Automatically tagging under-threshold performers for management triage and attention of retraining is really, really important,” explains Ian. “It's beyond just the compensation and career development and rewards; delivering this new model also requires investing in a new training curriculum, data analytics reporting, and moreover allocating the right amount of task time to do the work properly, and then empowering individual technician discretion when additional time is required. Now they're being measured and performing based on quality and, when that quality gets delivered, it just pays back in spades. It takes senior management conviction to drive this change management program and to create what can be slightly more complex order stratification, and increasing and decreasing task codes, but the total cost of ownership improvements do come from what are reduced downstream, repeat calls, repeat visits, more satisfied customers with higher retention, higher tenure, and frankly, more satisfied the technicians that do a better job.”

Modernize Your Digital Toolset

The final area to address is that optimizing technician utilization cannot be accomplished without modernizing your digital toolset. Particularly in high-volume applications such as telecommunications, sophistication in the scheduling and dispatching of technicians is key to achieving customer satisfaction with today’s expectations. Understanding the capabilities of today’s software choices, which have evolved significantly in recent years, will help you to see how powerful of an enabler technology is in the customer experience. “My experience has been that moving to a standard-based, cloud product resolved three key issues with an old on-prem system. The first is that the old platform just couldn't deliver on the new strategy. It had been so highly customized, was no longer standard product, and hence was incredibly slow, expensive, and risky to change.  Secondly, the infrastructure on-prem became quickly outdated, had slow latency performance from more and unpredictable usage, with no option to change quickly which is important in today’s landscape. The last key area was around stability and availability problems.”

While legacy technology can be a major barrier to customer satisfaction, prioritizing the modernization of your digital tools can drive momentum. And when you leverage a system that helps you ensure the appropriate matching and prioritization of technician to customer, not only do you positively impact the customer experience, but you improve employee satisfaction as well. “Moving to a cloud-based standard product resolved those three key areas. System availability went to over 99.9%, we built credibility with frontline technicians, and we enabled the ongoing rapid delivery of new features and capability to keep the platform current.”

Be sure to listen to Ian’s interview on the Future of Field Service podcast this week to hear more.

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July 9, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Companies are Abandoning On-Prem Support. What Comes Next For Those Who Need It?

July 9, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Companies are Abandoning On-Prem Support. What Comes Next For Those Who Need It?

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By Tom Paquin

“Cloud” has long since emerged from the ether and cemented itself not as the future, but as the present. This has been accelerated (as have all things) by COVID-19, as businesses grapple with a newly-dispersed workforce and the challenges that such a scenario invariably uncover. With the march towards cloud, developing products and maintaining support for “dinosaur” on-prem systems seems like more and more of a liability. In a world where everybody wants to sell you a subscription, why devote resources to a one-time purchase product that you’ll need to support with bug updates?

So, unsurprisingly, legacy vendors have been sprinting away from their on-prem products at an breakneck pace. Of course, for the businesses that employ these products, especially in service, there are invariably a great deal of questions that need to be answered. How long will my current build be supported? What does an upgrade path look like? What if my business requires on-prem for regulatory or security reasons? Let’s dig into some of these:

Building a Bridge

So I’ll start by saying—if you need an on-prem solution and your on-prem solution provider is unequivocally moving away from on-prem, you’re going to have to find a solution with your current vendor, find a new on-prem vendor, or perhaps own, build, and update your system yourself, which is an incredibly daunting task. For the rest of you, read on.

The bottom line is that if your vendor has announced an end to support of on-prem products, you’re going to start thinking of your bridge. Whether they’ll coordinate a transition to a cloud product or not is certainly a consideration. But it’s important to ask: If you’re going to be doing a whole new implementation, does it make sense to keep this product?

Realistically, a dramatic business change in a software vendor is a perfect opportunity to take a step back and evaluate the market. Part of that is of course auditing your own tech stack and decide, based on what you know about your competitors, if it’s not time to look at what features and functions have become the industry standard.

Hey, and what do you know? We covered that in our Back to Basics series last year!

Obviously there are many dimensions to a new implementation, including usability, features, price, integration, and so on. But if you’re looking for a viable solution to give you on-prem flexibility, you should look to containerized products.

Containerization and the Future of On-Prem

As I covered recently, containerization, or Kubernetes, or whatever you’d like to call it, is the act of building a service instance that is modularly developed. A containerized cloud product can live in the multi-tenant cloud world, the single tenant world of a cloud managed by the end user, or, crucially, the containerized product can be thrown into an on-prem server system under your direct control.

While this is in some ways more complex that a standard on-prem delivery, it, for most businesses, represents the future of what on-prem really means. Of course, you may evaluate your needs, decide that a single-tenant provides enough support, and that’s that. But that degree of functional flexibility is a key component of best-in-class service applications.

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