Sarah reports in from her travels with a synopsis of the topics discussed at the second Future of Field Service Live Tour stop in Paris on May 5th.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. I was thinking before I got on to record this that I often dive right into these episodes without thinking about the fact that while some of you join on an ongoing basis, we do have new folks that join us each time. So let me just take a quick pause and kind of explain what I’m going to talk about today.
Sarah Nicastro: So this episode is going to be a bit of a recap of the Future of Field Service Live Tour London, which was yesterday. Well, I’m recording this Friday, this will air next week, so it was last week for you all. And so just to explain that a bit, so Future of Field Service, this podcast that you’re listening to, the platform that you’re engaged with has been a content resource, a thought leadership resource for the service community. I would say service, not just field service. We talk about a lot more than field service, for the last three plus years. So we write at least one original article every week and produce one podcast episode each week that air on Wednesdays.
Sarah Nicastro: So this year for the very first time we’ve been able to take what has been a content platform with Future Field Service, and turn it into really the basis for community. By taking the show on the road, if you will, and visiting five cities across the globe. So we had our first event in Paris a few weeks ago. London just happened on May 5th, and then we have three more events coming up. We’re visiting Frankfurt May 19th, Stockholm May 24th and then Austin, Texas on June 14th.
Sarah Nicastro: It’s been really, really fulfilling for me to see the way that this platform enables people to come together, and connect and to feel a sense of camaraderie and to share insights, and perspectives, learn something new. It’s been very, very fulfilling for me to be able to see that happen. It’s something that I had a vision for when Future Field Services first began, but with COVID and all sorts of different things, it just hasn’t been realistic to happen until now. So I’m very happy to see it coming to life, and if you’re listening to this and you haven’t taken a look at the live tour agendas and schedules, please do so at the website futureoffieldservice.com, and join us if you can. They’ve been great.
Sarah Nicastro: So a few weeks ago, I did a recap of the Paris event and today I’m going to do a short recap of what we covered in London yesterday. Each city has speakers unique to that area. So the content at every single location will be different and just as we do at Future of Field Service, as our norm, it is centered around what the service leaders in that area want to discuss. What’s important to them? What are they learning? What are they working towards? What are their wins? What are their challenges? So yesterday we had a great day in London. We were at the Arboretum, which was a very cool venue near Charing Cross, I believe. So we had a great lineup. So I’m just going to walk you through a couple of key themes or takeaways, and hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to do more of a deep dive on some of the content as we go along.
Sarah Nicastro: So the first session yesterday was with Tim Baines, who is the head of the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School. Tim is someone who I met for the first time in person in London, but have talked to many times and appreciate his passion for the topic of servitization, as well as the wonderful insights that he collects and shares with the world. So Tim talked about servitization, and how servitization is something that is not only applicable to those in manufacturing. But how it is really a mindset, a journey of organizations that are looking to provide an outcome versus a product or a service. So ultimately shifting our thinking around what value we can provide on an ongoing, and often as a service basis that our customers will be willing to pay for. He also talked about the four phases that organizations go through as they are on the servitization journey. So the Advanced Services Group works with a lot of companies that are in this process, and they take a lot of those learnings and findings and sort of create tools and resources that organizations can use. Not necessarily to use as a blueprint, because I don’t think such a thing exists, but to sort of get a sense of what to expect and what organizations typically go through. So that was great.
Sarah Nicastro: And then immediately following Tim’s session, we actually welcomed James Galloway of Baxi Heating in the UK, as well as Iain McKechnie, who is also from the Advanced Services group. So Baxi is one of the organizations that the advanced services group has worked with directly on their servitization journey. And Baxi is in the process of introducing heat as a service here in the UK. And we had an interesting conversation about where they’re at on that journey. I believe James said that he would place them in sort of between the second and third phases that Tim covered of what that journey often looks like. And so they are in the thick of it, if you will, and definitely learning a lot, experiencing a lot, testing, trialing and engaging with their customers. So we talked a lot about some of the shifting and thinking that’s necessary. Some of the change management that’s necessary, and really just the way that it changes the entire value proposition for the customer, which requires a lot of adjustment within the organization in thinking and process, et cetera.
Sarah Nicastro: So it was really interesting. One of the reasons that Baxi is on this journey is because a lot of the regulatory changes that are happening here related to becoming more carbon friendly and sustainable, will make Baxi’s traditional business at some point impossible. So they need to shift how they’re providing heat away from gas over time. And so that is part of the catalyst for their evolution. And Iain spoke a bit about how sustainability is impacting a lot of companies interest in servitizing, and some of the ways that servitization creates more sustainability sort of naturally, if you will. Some of the things about it that lend themselves well to becoming more sustainable, both from a customer perspective and the organization that is providing the service. So that was really interesting.
Sarah Nicastro: We then welcomed Mike Gosling from Cubic Transportation who spoke about their journey to outcomes based service. So Cubic Transportation provides manufactures, services, and provides all of the equipment that you would use to buy tickets and get on and off of public transport here in London, as well as other cities across the world. So Transport for London is Cubic’s a customer here in London who I guess most notably owns and runs all of the Tube, so all of the public transport here.
Sarah Nicastro: And what happened with Cubic is interesting. So in the first few conversations, we were talking about some of the drivers of the journey to outcomes. And for Cubic, that driver was essentially Transport for London coming to them and demanding that Cubic shift its model from break/fix to guaranteeing uptime. Luckily Cubic had already been on a digital transformation journey that made that demand possible. And so Mike spoke about sort of what that shift required. What’s interesting is that I would say generally it’s two major things. One of those is that they rely heavily on automation. He’s said before that there’s really no way to scale up manpower to be able to deliver outcomes. So they are relying on IFS planning and scheduling optimization, which is an AI based dynamic scheduling tool, that they have had great success with in automating a lot of the outcomes process to make it possible.
Sarah Nicastro: And they’ve actually grown since moving to outcomes without having to hire additional technicians. What’s interesting is that while technology has been a really big part of it, the other big part is on the human side and the change management side. And Mike spoke a lot about the things that they’ve done, that he’s done, and that they have a business have done to overcome legacy thinking, and to really get everyone on board with what it takes to be successful in the journey.
Sarah Nicastro: We also had Neil Taplin who is with Genius Sports, join us. He had to join us remotely, he wasn’t able to be with us in person. But he did talk quite a bit about… So Neil has previously been in field service and operations in companies like Virgin Media and Arteva. And about a year ago, he transitioned into Genius Sports, which is a bit of a different industry than he has typically been in and a different flavor of field service. So he talked a lot about the work that Genius Sports does documenting and providing data to organizations on all types of different sporting events, all across the world. And what that looks like in terms of capacity planning and scheduling and all sorts of things. So he talked about some of the parallels in what it takes to achieve field service excellence, both in a traditional environment, as well as in more of a unique situation like the sports world. Certainly again, the tech human balance was a theme and the power of data and all of the opportunities that exist around using data both internally, externally as a value proposition.
Sarah Nicastro: We then ended the day with two panels. The first was with Robin Butler of Waterlogic, and Karl Lowe from Edwards Vacuum. And that was a discussion around really setting a strong foundation for service transformation. They both have experience in multiple organizations, leading transformation journeys in service, and they themselves have some different and unique perspectives on what that looks like in different businesses. So I asked them at the end what their biggest takeaway would be, what their biggest piece of advice would be. Robin shared a story about how, at one of his previous organizations, he took a very hands off approach to the technology selection. He felt that he could rely on IT to handle that part. And so he really delegated that and later regretted it. So it doesn’t mean that you need to micromanage that, but certainly that partnership between the business and IT is very important. And Karl who at one point early in his career was a technician himself, talked about the importance of always remembering, to think of and listen to the frontline technician perspective, which is super important.
Sarah Nicastro: The last panel we had was with Newland McKelvey of Fujitsu and Nicolas Teyssot of Fives Cryomec. And during that conversation, we talked about the skills gap, which is a huge conversation. And so we talked about the need to not focus on hiring on experience, how that’s virtually impossible to do. How you need to look for more creative ways to hire, how you need to take the responsibility to train people up. Nicolas spoke about their focus on hiring based on soft skills, and providing some of the more mechanical and technical skills. If they find the people, they feel like are a good fit from a soft skills perspective. We talked a lot about different ways, both for them, and then with participants in the audience of how people are focused on increasing diversity in their field force. We talked about the importance of defining career paths and giving new hires a vision from the very beginning of joining the organization on where they can go with the company.
Sarah Nicastro: We talked about how important it is for talent today to feel that they’re joining an organization that has a purpose, where they’re contributing something bigger than just the job itself. And I think Newland made the point of, we want to be able to give people a career, not just a job. So really shifting our thinking around what we want from our field technicians, what the role looks like, how we find those folks, what traits are most important, and focusing also a lot more on the employee experience. So that once they are a part of the organization, we can continue to have them be there. We also talked a bit about the role technology plays in automating certain menial or manual tasks, things like augmented reality and how that can help get people up to speed and increase time to value of new hires. We talked about how remote service can take some of the burden off of the skills gap by eliminating unnecessary onsite visits, so a whole lot on that topic.
Sarah Nicastro: We closed the day with some cocktails and networking. We got a lot of good feedback on how happy people were to be in person, to be having these conversations and to have the opportunity to get together. So it was a great day and I’m super thankful to all of the speakers that joined and made it possible as well as the team that has been helping organize these events, which has just gone seamlessly. Which takes so much stress off of my shoulders, so big thank you to them as well. And like I said earlier, we would love to see you at one of the three events that are left. So Frankfurt May 19th, Stockholm May 24th, Austin, Texas on June 14th. Take a look at the website, if you would like some more information as always, that is futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.