HPE’s Operational Services Strategy | Future of Field Service
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HPE’s Operational Services Strategy


Sarah welcomes Norbert Schöfberger, Global Vice President of Infrastructure Services Sales at HPE, to discuss how the company is adapting to customer expectations and evolving its GTM. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we’re going to be getting an inside look into HPE’s operational services strategy. I’m excited to be joined today by Norbert Schöfberger, who is the Global Vice President of Infrastructure Services Sales at HPE. Norbert, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Norbert Schöfberger: Thanks Sarah for having me. Welcome.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, thanks for being here. Okay, so before we get into taking a look at where HPE is related to selling service and some of the things that are evolving and some of the things you’re learning, just tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your role, and your background with HPE?

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, sure. So, I’m with the IT industry for more than 25 years. I’m located in the center of Europe in beautiful Vienna. And I’m now since five years with the services part of the organization within HPE. I’ve been running Austria as a managing director. I’ve been handling the services business for the DACH here, so Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. And now since close to 18 months I’m running the job on a global scale, which is a very nice experience. And I would not miss, would not like to miss the last 18 months.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, well, and five years represents a lot of change and growth for services. So very exciting timeframe to have moved to that part of the business. Excellent. And I have not had an opportunity myself to visit Vienna, but it is on my list and I hope to make that happen.

Norbert Schöfberger: Great.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about some of the shifts that are happening in the industry that have prompted HPE to really reflect on and evolve its approach to service?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, no, it’s a very good starting point here, Sarah. So, I think the shifts in the industry that we see, and it starts with a personal experience that we have every single day. If you recall, for example, how you consume your preferred video today, you’re just going to click on Netflix. It’s here, you’re going to, that’s it. Or how do you operate? In the past you’ve taken a cab from A to B. Today you open map, you push on Uber, Arrived, or Lyft, or whatever is around. So a lot of these things happened in the last years and it is at the end of the day, everything is around customer experience. So what is your experience that you have with your whatever, your Uber, your Netflix, your Amazon stuff, whatever you do?

If you’re happy with the experience and things work fine, you’re going to revisit. You’re going to do the same thing again. On the other hand side, if you’re not happy, you’re going to do something else. And this experience economy where we are going into is also so much related if you, again, compare it with a personal experience that you have on consuming your IT that you have at home. So in the past you bought whatever, a license, a CD or something that you put in your laptop or in your PC when you installed Microsoft.

Today everything is coming over the app. It’s coming as a service, you’re going to pay as you go. And this is getting into more and more details of your private life. And therefore the consumerization always shifts into professional life. And this is what we see going on in business environments, in enterprise environments, since a couple of years where the things are going to, and this also affected us as HPE obviously, how to adapt to this new type of environment, to the shifts in the industry? And how can we cope with a more than 75 years legacy as a company to adopt to the new situations?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it’s funny, when you brought up Netflix as an example, I was thinking, just this weekend my, so I have two sons. My older son is seven and my younger son is nearly six, so they’re very close in age. And it was a rainy weekend, so we were just hanging out around the house. Of course, they were tearing it apart. And they found a DVD. It was Kung Fu Panda, coincidentally. And my son said, “Mommy, let’s watch this.” And I said, “Well, actually, buddy, we don’t have a DVD player.” And he pointed the TV and he said, “Yes, we do. It’s right there.” And I’m like, “No, this is a DVD.” And he’s like, “What are you talking about? Just put it on.” And I’m like, so it’s absolutely has permeated every part of our lives.

And you bring up a really good point, which is companies that have a 75 year legacy, even a 15 year, a 20 year legacy, they have to really urge themselves to make sure they’re not staying tied to that, and that they’re adapting. So it’s a really good point. And I don’t think there are a lot of companies that are not really accepting of where we are and where we’re going, but there are some. There are some that want to keep the blinders on, just because they’re comfortable with what they’re doing.

But you mentioned consumerization of IT. And it made me think, not to date myself, but when I started in this space, that conversation was happening around hardware. And so when we talked about the mobile devices that field technicians would carry around, you were talking about big, big rugged devices. And I won’t name a bunch of names, I could, but you don’t hear about many of them anymore, unless you’re talking about a situation that really demands that. And that’s because when the iPhone came out and other smartphone devices, it just became the preference of first people, then employees and customers. So, it’s the same thing here. The way that we consume is absolutely influenced by what goes on in our personal lives. So, when you think about, or if you can talk to us about that reality, that shift, what does that look like in terms of how HPE’s customers, how their expectations have sort of shifted?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, absolutely. And you touched a couple of very good points here, Sarah. If we look on the trends and how things move forward, there are a couple of facts that we need to consider, also as a customer situation. So for example, Gartner has stated more than 80% of customer service interactions will be self-serve already this year. Then you have Forbes who have a study that more than 95% of customers say that service is important to their choice. So, it is the end-to-end capability that you have everything that you need also from a service perspective at the tip of your fingers, which is digitized.

Then ideally with the most intelligent that you can provide to your customized environment that you have as a customer, so means digitized and personalized. And then you don’t want to have lengthy discussions with people. And I remember some 10, 15 years ago, when you designed a services contract on a mission critical environment that you had to provide, it was lengthy discussions on details here or there. Today things are pretty easy and you can leverage knowledge from around the globe that is available on similar customer situations on possibilities when all the environments that you have and new sources of digital customer experience and self-service insights are brought together that you can benefit from this.

Sarah Nicastro: I think a couple of things here. Number one, when you think about those conversations related to mission critical relationships, contracts, historically, I think in many ways that has set the bar. It doesn’t necessarily, I’m not minimizing the importance of mission critical situations or environments, but the reality is, today a customer doesn’t care if their operation is mission critical or not, they just expect the performance. So, those conversations that used to happen about situations that necessitated some superior level of outcome, output, now every customer has a very similar expectation. So, the onus is put on the company providing the product and or service to figure out, “Okay, well, we’re not just talking about creating this experience for this elite set of customers that have a specific need. We’re talking about needing to create it for just about everyone who’s willing to pay for it, right?”

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing I wanted to point out that I think is such an important point in this conversation, and one that is very challenging is, you pointed out that … So, if we talk about HPE specifically and we talk about customers that want to move more to as a service model. They want to pay for what they’re receiving. They want what they’re receiving to work when it needs to work. They want that peace of mind, et cetera. You’re talking about a very well-orchestrated set of products and services. And I think one of the biggest challenges within organizations when it comes to providing that seamless, digitized, positive customer experience is internal silos, right? Because if you don’t have this vision and strategy across the organization, you’re not working toward that customer journey at large. If you’re just in charge of this piece, and you may have it perfected, but if it isn’t tied to the next piece and the next piece that ultimately gives them that experience, it’s all for nothing.

And so I think breaking down those silos and making sure that you’re not transforming internally to be the best at what your function in the business is, but you’re transforming externally to have that customer impact is a really important point of clarification. So, that of course is something that HPE has had to grapple with. I mean, you’re not just talking about, “Okay, I’m in charge of this piece. So here’s what I’ve done to make it the best.” You have to look at, our customers interact with all of these pieces and here’s how we’re working together to give them what they want. So, let’s talk about what that means in terms of your role and your area, and then kind of the company at large? So, we’ll just touch on a few things here that I have some notes on, and then if there’s others, we can weave those in as well. The first thing is that customers are looking for new sources of value. So they’re expecting more from you than they have historically. Tell us a little bit about what that means, what that looks like? Give us some examples?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, on the new sources of value, I would highlight three things that you should look at from a service perspective. The one and first thing, and maybe the most important thing, it needs to be truly customer-centric. So each customer has to be in front and center in a personalized way that you look at the specific environment is around. That’s the one thing, and I’m going to elaborate a little further in detail in a minute. Second is, everything that you do from a new source of value should be digital and data driven. So what do I mean with this? I just touched on a minute ago on the global possibility that you can leverage from the knowledge in similar situations. So today you have the most intelligent products out in the market, and there is lots of very intelligent ingredients in these products, like info site, cloud physics, you name it.

So lots of staff sending telemetric data on the health and then the status of the equipment, what it is, to an intelligent data hub. Let’s call it this way. And therefore, if you have a similar situation that someone in, I don’t know, in APAC or in Europe or in Latin America or in the U.S., and there is a similar constellation coming up, there is an AI-driven intelligence. So an artificial intelligence associated to it. And this could bring up a popup and not even tell you that you could run into an issue in the next 48 or 72 hours, but could from a machine-to-machine connection automatically go into a self-healing mode and going to say, “Okay, I’m going to accept this.” They’re going to change this piece of configuration, et cetera, as long as it’s software driven, when it’s not a physical part that is going to be defect in there. And you don’t even realize what is going on at the end of the scene and your system are seamless where.

And that’s also one part and portion of the thinking. If you move to a consumption environment, if you remember 20 years ago, 30 years ago, did you ever ask your telephone provider what the backend stuff is? What the thing, no, a dial tone was a God given right, and that’s it. And it’s the same, if you consume IT in there in the backend, what’s going on and how this is working itself? This should not bother you. It is the service that you leverage and it’s the highest interest of the provider that the service is up and running, because otherwise you can’t use it. And then the vendor doesn’t get money for it because you can’t get a bill if it’s not used in there. So, that’s the element in there.

And on the third point I would like to make is, it’s driving innovation by leveraging intelligence. So, the days are over when service was a static thing, did you say, “Okay, we’re going to make a contract for three years, five years, whatever it is, and this is what we’re going to do. And yeah, we’re going to make sure that all your light bulbs are blinking green and not red. And this is all good.” But if you not innovate on these investment cycles and innovation cycles that we have in industry on a regular base, on a customer-specific environment, then it will be very, very difficult. So this is how it phrase it from it. I mean, it’s a digital customer experience. It’s a self-service insight info and the expertise to leverage on driving new sources of value going forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I want to ask you two questions on that.

Norbert Schöfberger: Sure.

Sarah Nicastro: Number one is, I agree with the point about personalization, but how do you achieve a level of personalization at a scale that is feasible in terms of running a business?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, the personalization starts, and this is closely linked to self-service on the environment, so that you’re going to have an automated tool that you’re going to bring up on a single log-on portal. You’re going to go there as a single source of tools for your existing environment, where you have all the health status of your equipment, where you can see if there is a problem. You can start an interaction with a technology specialist, if you want to. And this is a 100% customized to your specific environment. So this is not a one fit all. It’s an environment that is made for you being the unique customer. Yes, it’s a common platform that is used because of scaling effects, but this is exactly tailored to your environment. And then you have, depending on the service levels you’re going to act and operate in, it could be a physical person that you could connect to at a push of a button, or you can go into a chat situation. And again, this is a 100% personalized and made tailored for you and your specific requirements, what you have.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, we were chatting before we started recording about how roles related to service are evolving. And so I just want to also point out, there are folks within this audience that have businesses that differ from HPE’s. And some of those are, we’re talking about larger equipment, we’re talking about different types of service, et cetera, but I just want to point out that personalization also depends a lot on … This is where relationships and the human side of service becomes so important. Because if the goal is, or not even the goal, the reality is that we’re going to leverage self-service and remote service more to provide that ultimate outcome that customers want, they will appreciate that. But when they need a response from a person or when you are engaging with customers to talk about their innovation cycles and to talk about the business relationship, those are your opportunities to personalize it in a human way. And I just think that’s super important as well.

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, absolutely agree. And that’s why we have with the largest engagements and is our enterprise customers where we’re going to operate in, you have regular sure fixes where you have this physical touchpoint, at least once a quarter. And depending on your situation, if you’re going to move or you’re going to do an M&A and you’re going to integrate something, et cetera, where you have these detailed analysis and going to plan ahead, what is the next phase you are going to approach in the next two, three, four months? And then from a service perspective, we should take care on how to wrap this in a cozy, nice feeling and going to take care about everything that the customer can move forward, make a mantle, tick in a box and we’re going to manage the stuff. And that’s the physical engagement that you’re going to have, and less the standard service that you’re going to keep the engine running.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Okay, I’m going to save my other question for later because I think it’s going to be applicable to some of the other things we’re going to talk about. Okay, so let’s talk about how the changing customer expectations and industry trends and the new sources of value that are becoming expected, how does that lend itself to HPE’s focus on creating new revenue model? How is that sort of a natural transition, and why is that consumption model needed and desired among the customer base?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, it’s a very good point. And if you look on the consumption model you just mentioned, Sarah is that the compound average growth rate, the CAGR is projected at roughly 20%, 25% going forward. And therefore there is one key metric what you have on recurring revenues that you usually have if you have lengthy engagements, that’s the ARR, so it’s the annualized revenue run rate. And this ARR is a key metric if you’re going to move into the consumption world. And the software companies are doing this since years. And now it’s also, if you go into environments like hybrids cloud environments and stuff like this, where we’re going to look into this on a much more detailed way.

And the beauty of this is that the transition that you mentioned, it’s not a black or white issue that you push a button and the entire world is just consuming that way. You can have a mixed environment of CapEx and OPEX, and you can leverage and decide what is run on which environment, depending on how you want to do it. But the trending what we’re going to see is definitely moving to the OPEX environment, and therefore reflecting in the ARR metric from a revenue streaming perspective, because that’s the future. And also for us being a company and all for the other companies being in a consumption world, this is reflecting also the stickiness of your services, how your customers are happy and accepting what you’re doing and how you move together forward a step.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I mean, to me, when you talk about some of the things we talked about first, so moving toward more self-service, a digital experience, the appreciation or expectation of insights and expertise. These things lend themselves very well to and as a service model. I mean, it’s really what I see is companies that start introducing some of the transformation, and they’re doing so though on their existing business model and then running into some challenges. Well, we’ve introduced more self-service capabilities, but our customers don’t want to pay for it. And that’s because their customers are paying for them to be on site. They’re compensated for hours of service, not for uptime or outcome. And this is where we get into to a little bit of challenges.

And I think ultimately your point is a good point, which is the trend is toward that consumption model, that as a service model. And so as we see that become more and more of a reality, it gives the organization providing the products and or services the capability to innovate more on service delivery and cost of service without it affecting the way they recognize revenue from their customer base. So, I think there’s some areas of this transformation where we’re almost getting ahead of ourselves in terms of wanting or achieving the capabilities without recognizing the impact on more of the business transformation, not the actual service transformation, if that makes sense? And so let’s talk a little bit then, Norbert about how these trends change some of HPE’s structure and route to market. So, your point also about, this isn’t an all or nothing approach. It isn’t all CapEx, it isn’t all OPEX, it can be a hybrid. So, how does that impact the way that you structure the organization, the way you go to market with your customers, et cetera?

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, and that’s exactly the point. It’s nothing that you do depending on the size of your company. So we are still some 60,000 people in the field, and this is nothing that you do within one quarter, or not even within two quarters. It’s a mental model shift that you need to do and that you need to facilitate how to discuss and talk about outcomes. So it’s a multi-year sales transformation that you have to do. And this is one you decide to going to go there, not just for us, also for our customers and specifically for our business partners. Because together with our business partners on the go-to market, this is so important that we’re going to stay aligned here and that we’re going to have a detailed understanding and each and everyone’s specialties and how to move forward that we’re going to align this.

But I think the future sales force should be absolutely driving outcome-based discussions and selling. Because it is something, not a lot of customers in the future will just buy a product from you because it’s the nice and fancy and the most features and specs and whatever you have around in there. The customers are interested in outcome, and this leads to how do you manage workloads? How can they manage workloads efficiently, cost effective, et cetera, going forward? And therefore it is something what you need to understand from a sales perspective and go-to market that services-led experience is a continuum across the entire IT environment. And it’s regardless what your environment is in the data center today, you need to start at a point and say, “Take a decision, what do I keep as CapEx, where going to go to OPEX.”

And then you’re going to have this famous land and adopt, expand, and renew. And this entire process is something that customers are walking through the transformation the same like we do with our sales community and our structure as a company, because it’s a different way than you just have R&D creating excellent high tech products, then you’re going to build a perfect supply chain. Then you’re going to do it and you’re going to configure it, you’re going to order it and you’re going to deploy it and you’re going to build it. That’s a different approach.

Sarah Nicastro: And I mean, ultimately it requires completely different skills from a sales perspective, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s the point when you say maybe 15, 20 years ago, the best sales folks have been the ones who had a very detailed, technical understanding on the equipment product, how a data center is built, how is the IT foundation working that you walk through the layers? What do you need to look in? And this is shifting more and more because the discussion between a customer and the vendor is less about bits and bites and specs and features. It gets more about, “Hey, what is the value add you provide to my business or to my customer’s business and make my life easier with the solution that you are offering to me?” And that’s a different discussion you have to facilitate with a different knowledge. You need to have more detailed knowledge on the specific industry the customer is working at to understand the market conditions and the customer’s customer environment.

And then you can tackle the right discussion, how this leads to a solution that best fits the customer’s needs. And it’s by no means set that everything or for everything the right answer and best answer is consumption. It could be that a customer has an environment, they say, “Hey, I still, I’m still very happy on having a product that I buy with wrapped perfect services around it on a CapEx environment. And I’m going to leverage this, whatever four years, five years, I’m going to do it. And then I’m going to go into the next cycle.” Or it is something that you’re going to say, “Okay, I have my equipment that is aging. I’m going to do just a tech refresh and do the staffing services, or I’m going to just continue to leverage.” But we have customers out there who are leveraging the products already since seven, eight years, because it is working.

The application is not demanding on me what is running there for whatever internal compliance reasons they need to have this, so they are just renewing the services contract that they make sure everything is wrapped in the right services level, that they can operate internally and with their customers. Or ultimately it’s the third option then that the customer says, “Hey, I understand where the world is moving in here. I want to join this train. And we’re going to move the certain environment to a consumption model.” And therefore, so for us at HPE, it’s the GreenLake offering that we have out, and with all the workloads that we’re going to manage through this, I’m going to go to the GreenLake platform and can I move this forward?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I just wanted to come back to two points. When we talk about what the changes are from a sales perspective. One other point is, and let me know if this is accurate for HPE, but for a lot of organizations it’s not only a change in approach, required knowledge, and ability to communicate and build relationships. It’s also often a change in who you’re selling to within your customer base, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely, absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So that’s another thing to be aware of and to prepare for. Because if you go in with this great message of this outcomes approach and it’s to the person that you’ve just had sign off on purchasing products, they may not be receptive. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a business fit, it could just be that it’s not the right person.

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah. No, absolutely, agree a 100% with this, Sarah. So it’s because if you come with a strong legacy in the data center, usually you’ve been talking to the data center manager, maybe to the CIO in there. By the way, the role of the CIO is also changing with the way forward that we’re going to have here, but that’s a different topic. And if you stick to go to your old context that you have since years, then you potentially have an issue be if you show up with a different, so you need to try to find the language of the business of the customer and this understanding, and then you can land the proposition that you’re going to have in there.

Sarah Nicastro: The other point I wanted to bring up is that as those relationships evolve and change and you’re having more of an outcomes-based conversation, you mentioned the fact that this isn’t just about going in and having a look, a perspective, a knowledge on the HPE part of the ecosystem, it’s really looking at it as a whole. And I just want to say, for a company that has a legacy, this is a really important point of when you go into those environments, those conversations, that is how you look at what value you can expand to delivering. And so don’t get stuck in the, “Oh, well, we don’t do that. That isn’t part of our offering. We can’t help with this.” Listen to what it is they need at the highest level of what the outcomes are, and be willing to get creative on having conversations internally of, “Well, we keep hearing this need, we maybe don’t solve that directly now, but what should we be thinking about?” That’s where the innovation comes from is being willing to step outside of the role you’ve historically played and think about the role you can play going forward.

Norbert Schöfberger: Right, absolutely. And this is also, I don’t think there is any company out there that can deliver everything that a customer needs. So this is where, from our perspective our partner ecosystem is so important that you have this as a company and the vendor, because this is complimentary. And regardless if you talk about the partner programs that are out there from a services perspective and how to tie things together, or to glue this together, that the customer really gets what they want. You need to have complimentary maybe services here, or a piece of a product there to make the end-to-end solution that best fits for the customer’s needs. And I think this is very important also the way going forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. So, what is the focus at HPE on driving the go-to market acceleration going forward?

Norbert Schöfberger: So, I think the focus is that we clearly identify and see on the three options I mentioned in there. So is it you’re going to keep what you have, you’re going to just renew the service contract, install base? Classical selling in there. Is it a technology refresh when customer just wants to bring in fresh technology or going to move to consumption? And with this motion going forward in combination with our partners together, I think the go-to market push that we are going to leverage, first of all, on a very large installed base that is out there. Luckily with great market shares around the globe that we’re going to have, this sets us up perfectly on the future and on the way going forward.

The trick here is on a go-to market like we touched that we’re going to develop and evolve from a type of how we’re going to sell and whom are we going to talk to with the customers? Where are the next sets of best partners for the future strategy this is going forward? How do we walk this story together with our existing, great partners that we’re going to have in there? And how do we evolve with our own sales force that we’re going to move into the workload outcome-based discussion and accompany the customers with their transformation, regardless on what level or maturity level they are currently on the way to digitalization?

Sarah Nicastro: So, is it fair to say that the go-to market is to meet any of those three needs-

Norbert Schöfberger: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: But there is a focus, as we talked about the shift to outcomes takes years. So, while there’s still those three paths, there is also a focus on shifting to the outcomes approach in terms of focus or prioritization, or just continuing that internal mindset shift, skill building, et cetera?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yes, absolutely. And this is so, when you ask on the go-to market and how to drive there, we already have, as of today, our CEO stated already couple of years ago that by ’22 we will have all of our services that we’re going to offer ready in a consumption model. So we are currently in a, I could call it a hybrid phase, is it CapEx or OPEX? And it’s the best solution for the customer that we need to propose, also from a go to market perspective. And this hybrid model will, from my personal perspective, move towards a consumption model going forward. So the legacy and the CapEx, also my personal opinion, will never a 100% disappear. They will always be product business, but the portion of the consumption business going forward will increase.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, okay. That makes sense. All right, so we talked quite a bit about this, but if there’s anything we didn’t touch on, is there anything we didn’t discuss when we think about what it takes to be successful selling service in today’s landscape?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, I think there is maybe one point to add this, that you need to look at it from a customer perspective that service is kind of a function that is very essential to an organization, that it engages with customers at every step of their journey. And if you’re going to look at this from a vendor perspective, you would say, “Hey, it starts with pre-sales, during the sales position, past sales afterwards, this is sometime forgotten. Because in the past you showed up every three years, four years, and you’re going to did some deal done tick in a box. And therefore the infrastructure sale at the beginning, if you’re going to go this way, it’s just the beginning and not the end. And then you need to elaborate particular during the sales process and with the post-sales environment that you’re going to cover all the needs that are around the customers. This is just, and then the story gets complete then.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. So, we talked quite a bit about what has changed. If you were to try and give your predictions for what things will look like, if not at HPE specifically, in this sort of ecosystem 10 years from now? Where do you think we’ll be?

Norbert Schöfberger: Well, if we would notice, we in the famous crystal ball, maybe in there, but it’s a gut feeling, I would say. So everything in the future, I think it’s proactive, preventive remediation. It will be kind of the gold standard of support that you can do. Leveraging all around machine-to-machine connectivity in combination with AI. And therefore meaning less physical interaction on the traditional service environments and moving close to a 100% to digitized and personalized, customized for the customers. That would be in a nutshell where I would see potentially in a couple of years, is it 10 years? I’m not exactly right in there, but this is where we’re going to.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, and I think when we talked at the beginning about new sources of value and the digitalization, the personalization, that sort of seamlessness and peace of mind that customers want, those things sound very simple. They sound very simple, very straightforward, and they are things that everyone is talking about. And the problem with that is, they’re not simple to execute. And this is why when I say, where are we headed? Five years, 10 years, whatever. We’re not really talking about anything different, at least based on what we know right now. We’re not talking about, “A meteor will hit and this will happen and the whole game will change.”

It’s really taking the time to execute on those mindset shifts, the skill building that needs to take place, the customer journey, all of those things that will inch this to where we see that increase in consumption, increase in as a service, because it will become, I think, the standard approach, because we will as an industry master the things that it takes. Right now some people would argue, “Oh, we’ve been talking about this for however long.” Yes, but there are foundational business shifts that take time to see come to fruition. So, as someone that’s been covering this space a long time, I hate it when people ask me for predictions. But I also say, “Look, don’t spend your energy trying to think about what is the next big thing. Spend your energy getting good at the things we’re talking about right now.” Because there’s still a lot of work to be done, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: And I’m a 100% with you, Sarah, and maybe some easy examples. So we’ve all been through difficult times the last two and a half years. And I remember at the very beginning we’ve not been able to enter onsite customer data center due to the regulations, and you’ve not been allowed to. So all the customers who have already been further advanced in this journey, they benefited from the digital and remote environment. Just as a simple example in there.

Or secondly, I remember customers that told us for years, “Things like remote access and home office is impossible. This will never happen in there.” Hey, these guys called me a couple of days after this thing started two and a half years ago. “Hey, what can we do? I need this now.” So maybe sometimes it needs, even if it’s difficult, some events are going to reopen thinking and get unblindfolded to kind of move things forward. And this is why exactly what you say. It’s so difficult to predict what will be around in 10 years or in five years, because we don’t know what, and if we just master what is around today and what the visionaries today say, that will be good to do, I would really support and suggest that everyone takes a deep look in there, because things are moving pretty fast and quick. And at the end of the day, it just makes lives easier.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, for sure. Okay, Norbert. So, you came into sort of the service part of this world five years ago. And I’m curious if you can share, what has been your biggest lesson learned as someone leading service now for the last five years?

Norbert Schöfberger: Yeah, so I think one of the biggest things is that selling services requires a different mindset and skillset. It is, there are comparisons out there say, “Hey, if you sell a product, you sell a solution. If you sell a service you sell a vision.” And this is something in the discussions with the customers and the changes we see, particularly in the services area as five years ago, I mean, consumption just started in the professional business environment, at least in there. And with the hockey stick we saw till today, this would be the biggest change that I see what we need to adopt to. And there is no end yet in line of sight when this will be over.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, that’s good because it makes things exciting, right?

Norbert Schöfberger: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: There’s a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of change yet to be realized, and certainly a lot of potential. So, thank you, Norbert for coming and sharing, I appreciate it.

Norbert Schöfberger: Thank you very much for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it was fun. You can find more by visiting us at 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 at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.