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December 7, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

Insights from Field Service Europe 2022

December 7, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

Insights from Field Service Europe 2022

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Sarah reports in from Amsterdam to share some of the insightful conversations that took place last week at Field Service Europe 2022.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I am recording this episode in the beautiful city of Amsterdam where I was this week, last week once you're hearing this, for Field Service Europe. It was a great week, a great event. This is an event put on by WBR, so the same conference organization that puts on Field Service, Palm Springs, Field Service East, which some of you may be familiar with. So this version of the event, Field Service Europe, hasn't happened since fall of 2019, and it was really heartwarming to see the energy at the event and how happy people were to be back together here in person. So I had the privilege of being at the 2019 event. That was my first time speaking at Field Service Europe, and I think people were just very, very glad to be back in this setting, engaging face to face, talking to one another, learning from one another, so it was really nice to see that happen.

There was a lot of great content. It was spread over two days, and I'm going to recap here for you all, some of the key points. So I wrote an article which we'll publish or did publish on Monday, talking about the opening keynote presentation that Jean-Claude Jobard from Marmon gave. I know Jean-Claude. He spoke at the Paris Future Field Service Live Tour event, and I absolutely admire his passion for service. He really, really loves this space and loves what he does, and those of you that know me know that that's something I can really resonate with. So he gave the opening presentation, and I don't want to say too much because you should read the article, but one of his key messages was that right now, service really has no limits. It's just up to your willingness to drive change, and I really, really liked his message.

It set the stage very well for the content that followed over the next two days, and if you want to hear more what he spoke about, go back and take a look at the article from Monday. So I'm going to go through some of the key points and talk a little bit about some of the sessions that I was either a part of or sat in on and some of the things that were brought up that I think are worth sharing here with you all. So one of the topics of course that was discussed quite a bit throughout the event is around talent and resourcing. There was a panel discussion featuring Louise Morton from Baxi, Xavier Bertrand from Boston Scientific and Sven Müller from SMA. It was a great discussion and I thought they did a really good job of reinforcing some of the points we all already know are important, but also bringing up some new food for thought.

One of the points that Lou from Baxi shared that I thought was really, really good is that the skills and capabilities we're going to need from talent, even in three years’ time, is significantly different than what we are actively looking for today, and we need to make sure that we are thinking about and strategizing around and planning for that now so that we don't find ourselves even further behind by focusing only on the historical types of talent that we've been looking for. So that obviously ties into the discussion around how the role of the field technician is changing, which ties into the conversation around remote service and self-service and advanced services. So there's some interconnectedness among some of these themes, but I think that is a really important point to be getting a bit ahead of what the talent is that you are going to be needing, not just right this moment, but in the years to come.

She also spoke about how she's seeing a really big focus on work life balance. So I think someone had asked about salary and how big of an issue that is, how competitive it's become, et cetera, and obviously the panelists all acknowledge that it is indeed important. But she mentioned that, for her, it is important, but the work life balance topic is equally important. So part of what they're doing is looking at how they can really expand their employee value proposition in that area. One of the things that Xavier said that I really liked is that he said, "I only see opportunity here because service has never held so much value." I love that point. I share that perspective, although I also realize that I am not the one in the role of having to find talent right now today.

So totally acknowledge that, but I think it is a very true point, and that goes back to the ways that service is evolving and what that means in terms of the potential that there is to really change the skillsets that we're looking for to really cast a wider net and be able to include a lot more types of folks, types of skillsets than we have before. And then Sven made a very good point, I think, around leveraging third party technicians or outsourcing some of your field service work and saying that we shouldn't be thinking about it as outsourcing. We should be thinking about it as a partnership. So I think that is a really good point as well. And part of the panel discussion was also around making sure that, and we've talked about this a bit in our content on future of field service as well, making sure that we aren't focused so heavily on recruiting and attracting new talent that we aren't focusing amply or equally on retaining talent. So that was a really great conversation.

There was a couple different panels on that topic and a lot of good discussion. Lou from Baxi moderated a round table, and there was a lot of conversation there about how to improve diversity and how to really become more creative in what and how things are being done so that we can solve some of these challenges. The second big topic, again, not a surprise, is around servitization and advanced services. There was a really good session with Ravichandra Kshirasagar, I'm sure I'm not doing that justice, Ravi, I'm sorry, from Schneider Electric, Claire Keelan from Johnson Controls and Rajat Kakar from Quickwork. And in that conversation, Claire actually brought up the fact that at Johnson Controls, they're three years into the advanced services journey, and she said it is still a conversation around culture and mindset every single day. So I think that's a very important point to emphasize. There's a couple discussions we had. I had a fireside chat with Perry Leijten from Andritz also around servitization, and we talked about how significant of a mindset shift, almost a company identity shift, that is.

So I think Claire's point is that isn't a point that you acknowledge and sort of grapple with one time. You need to do so continually along the journey, and she also brought up the point of seeking your evangelists and being willing to recognize the people who really just will not come along on the journey with you. So I thought those were some really, really good points. Ravi talked about the need to achieve clarity around your intangible value. Such a good point because again, most of the companies that are on the servitization journey are coming from a legacy, a deep rich legacy often, of being a product provider, a seller of things, and it is just a really big change from selling things to being able to articulate well and resonate that intangible value. And he also made the point of, "Not all of your customers are going to be ready for advanced services when you are ready to start introducing them, so start with the customers who are and build momentum that way."

Just looking at my notes. And then in my session with Perry from Andritz, we talked a lot about some of those same things, the mindset shift. We really talked about how the idea of delivering outcomes, it's based on trust and trust starts with making sure that you are consistently executing on the basics before you start to expand your value proposition, and I think that is an incredibly important point as well. And then another really good point that Perry brought up is, "Data is not a differentiator. What you do with the data is what can be a differentiator," so I think that's a really good point as well. Another big topic, again, no surprises here, was around remote service. So I actually moderated a panel with Marc Robitzkat from Ecolab, Jonathan Zur from Xerox, Nicolas Teyssot from Fives and Jörgen Remmelg from XM Reality. Really good discussion. One of the things that I really liked is that each panelist is using augmented reality, merge reality type technology in really different ways.

And so it was a good way to illustrate for the audience the different use cases, business cases, for the technology and what those look like in the real world today. So Nicolas spoke about how Fives is using augmented reality for training to speed the time to value of its new hires and to make sure that even when they go out into the field, they have access to that internal expertise and internal support. Jonathan talked about how Xerox is using the technology to really increase customer self-service to reduce travel. Jörgen talked about how they have a lot of customers who are using the technology for pre-installation or pre-service inspections so that those clients can maximize their first time fix rates, and Marc spoke about how Ecolab perceives remote service as part of its overall shift in customer value and business model. So really good different examples of how the technology is being leveraged.

There was some discussion around, "What should the dialogue with customers be when you're introducing remote service? How do you manage change?" and I think a general agreement that there is still yet a lot of potential in the realm of remote service to achieve a lot more with the technology. The fourth major topic I wanted to recap for you was a great conversation on the industrial metaverse. This was a session posted by Rajat Kakar featuring Ivo Siebers from TKE, Erik Lapre from VMI, Martin Fischer from Zeiss and Zoltan Gal from ABB. And the three technologies or things that they spoke about in this session were first, the metaverse, which I think there was a general agreement among not only the panelists but the event attendees that it's come up in conversation. It's something that folks are beginning to think about but not yet taking action on, so I think this is a topic that we will see more conversation around in the months and years to come.

The reason the thinking and the starting to factor how this fits is important is obviously because they talked about how embedded it is for the younger generations and needing to get our arms around that. The second point that was discussed was around AI, and so there was a point made that, I can't remember which panelist, one said, "We're making exponential investments in AI but still evaluating where it actually drives real value," and I think a lot of companies could agree with that statement. Rajat actually brought up the point that he feels we've barely touched the iceberg of potential in terms of AI because the instances that are being leveraged or do exist are single environment use, single company use, and there's really this interconnectedness of data and intelligence that could completely expand the impact of the potential of the technology. Excuse me.

And then there was a conversation as well around digital twins and determining the best way to leverage that technology to different companies' advantage. I think one of the good points that was brought up there was to really work closely with R&D and provide some specific direction on what you want to learn and how you want them to investigate, but really kind of relying on that function to do some of that work. So those were some of the key topics that we talked about at Field Service Europe. Again, it was a great event. There just seemed to be really an overall sense of, honestly, excitement about the potential that exists in service right now, and I think a real sense of positivity around some of the change, which sometimes, we tend to resist change. We talked about that a lot or we feel burdened by it and it was really refreshing to be in a group of, I believe, there were between 250 and 300 attendees that were really just very excited about the things going on in this space despite the fact that there are some real challenges at the moment.

So that was really nice and it was a great week. It was great to be here and excellent to connect with some of the folks that I was able to meet and build relationships with since the last Field Service Europe and throughout the Future of Field Service Live Tour this year. So really good stuff. Again, take a look at the article that ran Monday on Jean-Claude's opening keynote. He had a lot of really good perspective that he shared that I tried my best to summarize. And be sure to check out the website for more, futurefieldservice.com. Stay tuned on LinkedIn. We will soon be announcing the dates for the 2023 Live Tour and some other exciting things are coming. So stay posted and as always, appreciate you all tuning in. The Future of Field Service podcast is of course sponsored by IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.