Sarah shares a synopsis of the topics discussed at the Future of Field Service Live Tour 2023 stop in Birmingham on May 17th.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. So we just wrapped the Birmingham Future of Field Service Live Tour event, so our UK event, which is the second of this year, our first event was in Sydney in March. And I realized I did not do a recap podcast for the Sydney event, which is unfortunate, but I'm going to chalk up to the time difference and jet lag and get back to it with the UK event. So this episode is going to be a bit of a recap and some thoughts on some of the key points that came out of this week's UK event. I liked doing these reflection podcasts last year because I thought it was interesting to go back and see what some of the common themes were that came up globally at all of the events.
Hopefully the video, for those of you that are watching this, looks okay and the sound is okay, because I had some travel challenges getting to Europe and ended up not having my luggage. So thankfully I, of course, had my laptop with me in my carryon, but the camera and headphones that I typically use aren't with me, so we'll just make do.
All right, so the UK event, we had a great day of sessions, a combination of interview-based sessions where I welcomed some great speakers to share their stories, their challenges, their lessons learned with the attendees, and then we had time both in the morning and in the afternoon where we broke out into small groups and had some sort of workshop or round table discussions to allow everyone an opportunity to really engage and share some of their own experiences.
The first session we had was with Alec Anderson of Koolmill and Dr. Parikshit Naik of the Advanced Services Group from Aston Business School. The Advanced Services Group, if you aren't familiar, are experts in servitization, and they're actually based in Birmingham, and they work with a variety of companies who are on the servitization or advanced services journey, one of which is Koolmill. Some of you may be familiar with Alec if you listen to the podcast regularly, he was a guest a while back and talked about their journey to servitization, so he shared a bit of that with the audience. Koolmill is in the rice milling industry, and it's quite interesting not only how their equipment is a differentiator, disruptive to the industry in how it is different than traditional milling equipment, but also how the servitization business model, or the as a service model, has been disruptive to the industry.
Some of the things we talked about during that session, one is really how, for companies in manufacturing that have a really deep legacy or history, a lot of times it's the cultural shift, the mindset shift to or around servitization that can be one of the most challenging aspects, or at least one of the earliest challenging aspects, so we talked a bit about that. We of course talked about the different benefits of the ASA service model in Koolmill's example, so we talked about the benefit to the company, we talked about the benefit to its customers, and we talked about the benefit to the environment and how it ties in with sustainability.
We also talked about how companies need to really look at servitization as the continuum that it is and understand that it's not a mission you can embark on and complete quickly, it's something that you really need to plan for over a period of time and really consider the different layers of transition that take place. So the Advanced Services Group is a really good resource in that way because they have a lot of content broken down into what that whole continuum looks like and what some of the biggest considerations are, also some of the most common challenges that organizations make.
So Alec shared some of his own experience, and then Parikshit added to that from the perspective of a lot of the other organizations that the Advanced Services Group works with, and I think really the mindset or the culture shift was a big one, understanding that when you start looking at advanced service offerings, or servitized offerings, you need to realize you're not going to be selling those to the same people that you sold your traditional products and services to, so making sure that you know factor that into your process. Another part of what came up is making sure that you wisely select the first company, or the first couple of companies or customers that you work with on your offering. So how you pilot it, find folks that are a little bit more innovative in their own mindset that you can really partner with to make that offering a success before you start to position it to some of those that are maybe a little bit more skeptical or resistant to change.
So that was the first session. The second session was a conversation with Adam Barrett, who is the Operations Director at Mitie Fire and Security. And Mitie is, like many organizations, facing a lot of challenges related to talent scarcity. They're having a hard time recruiting and retaining field technicians, and they are working on looking at that from the perspective of over the long term, how do they bring more people into the industry, create apprenticeship programs, et cetera. But in the short term, Adam spoke about their need to really focus on maximizing their resource utilization. So they had some pretty inefficient processes in place related to how they scheduled, dispatched, how the technicians ran their daily, weekly, even monthly routes and workload, how information was exchanged, duplication in data entry, and things like that.
So again, it's interesting we tend to think of all of these, what's the latest and greatest things? Everyone wants to know, "How do we use ChatGPT?" But it's important to reflect back and make sure that there aren't some really fundamental inefficiencies taking place in your business, because that can be a really good place to start. So Mitie has deployed the IFS Planning and Scheduling Optimization solution, and Adam of course spoke about the pretty immediate and significant increases in efficiency, reduction in travel, ability to redistribute schedulers and dispatchers, those sorts of things.
But one of the things that I thought was really interesting about his session is he spoke about the impact that planning and scheduling optimization has had on the workforce's emotional wellbeing, and almost from a mental health perspective. He was explaining that the processes that were in place before, there was a lot of, not only a lot of wasted time, which in retrospect was probably quite frustrating for folks, but a lot of back and forth, and sometimes even technicians that would place blame on a scheduler or a dispatcher of, "Well, why would you send me here?" Or, "I don't want to do that job."
And he explained that taking some of that stress away, so taking those one-to-one interactions and opportunity for disagreement away, but also taking away the responsibility on the field technician to really juggle this huge workload where now they're just given one job at a time, it's always the next right job for the overall matrix of their SLAs, et cetera, has really reduced the stress on their employees and also allowed Mitie to give them some flexibility by factoring in to the planning and scheduling optimization solution this employee wants to start their day at this time, this employee wants to make sure that they are back home by this time, the solution can factor all of that in so that they're able to give some flexibility to their employees that has helped with change management.
So if there's an employee that wants to take their kids to school every day and they want to start their day at 9:30, Mitie is very supportive of that and they can factor that into the solution. If there's an employee that wants to be home by a certain time every day, same thing. I thought that was a really interesting and probably under discussed aspect of how we can use that technology to create some value for the employees.
The third speaker that we had was Venkata Reddy Mukku from Bruker Nano. Venkata also was on the podcast not too long ago talking about his commitment to people first leadership, and giving some specifics around how he accomplishes that. So he came to the event to share some of that story with our audience as well. To me it was such an important session because you can tell that there's this divide right now in service organizations where some are really embracing this mentality, they're understanding that we can't only be looking at customer experience, we need to be considering employee experience and making sure that our employees are engaged and satisfied. Not only is that imperative from a recruiting and retention standpoint, but it's truly the only way that we can accomplish the objectives we have to differentiate our business and grow through service.
So there's this group of companies, I think a growing group of companies and leaders, that have recognized that and are working really hard to put actions behind it, and then there's more of an old school group that is still really hanging on to that control type of leadership, how do we ring every last ounce of productivity out of people? Really not looking at people as people, but looking at them as resources or assets, and I think that divide was pretty clear in some of the discussions, at least that I was a part of at the event. And so I think sharing perspectives like Venkata's is so important because I really think he represents a growing group of leaders that are embracing today's realities and really leaning into what modern leadership looks like, and I think the leaders and the organizations that can do that are going to be leaps and bounds ahead of those who are holding onto the way it's always been, so really great session.
Next up was Ged Cranny with Konica Minolta. Jed came to talk about Konica's remote, what they call remote by default mission and how they're putting that in place. So Ged's been with Konica for a long, long time and had a lot of insights to share about how the business has evolved and the necessity for the business in really looking for ways to work smarter. So one of the things we talked about here is this misperception sometimes that when we start talking about remote service, the goal is to move entirely to remote service. With Konica, and with many others, that's not the case, they're not trying to get rid of field service or move to a remote only type of service environment, but they are looking to make sure that they are resolving simple issues remotely, making sure that they're maximizing first time fix, so using remote as a way to make sure that the technician that does need to go on site knows exactly what they're going to do and has any parts, tools, skills that they would need to resolve that issue when they're there.
So really, again, similar to Mitie's stories, taking a lot of those inefficiencies out of the business and just essentially modernizing what their service delivery looks like. So I think it's a journey, Konica is on a journey that a lot of companies either are on or will soon be on, because when you think about the intersection of customer expectations, talent shortages and talent evolution, and the technological capabilities that are quite readily available today, it just doesn't make sense to continue operating in a way where you're going onsite just to triage, and then going back to do a repair, or just not leveraging what's available.
And then the last session of the day was Adam Rodda of Bosch and Russell Masters with Amey, who did a session together with myself on change management. So what are some of the challenges with change management? We know it's important, everyone always says that that's the one area they wish they would've spent more time on, or that's the area where they got off course. If they look back like what's one thing you would do different, change management. But while we know that, it continues to be under prioritized. So we talked a bit about why that is, what some of the challenges are, and we talked about the need to really make employees feel involved, to really listen to employees and take their input and put it to action.
We talked about personalizing the why. We talked about making sure that you are doing pilots and early adopter programs so that you can get some real world input and feedback before you try and roll a solution out to the masses. We talked about leaning into power users and having them help with communicating the change to everyone else. So we talked through those things.
The part of the conversation that stuck out to me the most is really around this idea of we tend to think of, or have historically thought of change management as this project-based or program-based thing. So it's tied to, okay, we have this change coming, we need to make sure we're managing it, and there's this temporary focus put on communicating around that change and getting people to accept it. But in today's landscape, change is really ongoing. It's continuing to amplify, it's continuing to speed up, there's not really a point in sight, or probably in our future, where we're go back to more of a stable or a stagnant type of environment.
So with that being said, I think one of the most important parts of that conversation was around, do we need to stop thinking about it as change management? So stop thinking about it as this temporary thing, or this thing tied to a project, and start thinking more about how the topic itself ties in with leadership and company culture and really a mindset and processes and a culture of agility and flexibility and continual improvement. Because that's really what companies are focusing on today, whether that's through technological innovation, or whether that's through development of their value proposition, it's not really a finish line you're crossing and then taking a break from, it's something that's ongoing. So I think we need to really start redefining how we talk about change and what that looks like within our organizations.
It was a great day, it was at a venue called The Compound in Birmingham, which was a really, really cool space, and big shout out to Joanna Darby and the team that does all of the logistical planning for these events, it was really well put on, I think the attendees enjoyed themselves and enjoyed the ability to take some time away from their daily lives and come together as a community, which is something that I always am happy to see.
So that's a little bit of insight on what happened in our UK event, next up is Paris, and then we have Minneapolis on June 15th, Dusseldorf on June 21st, and Stockholm on September 7th. So if you're able, I hope you'll come and join us for one of the events. If you're not, you can always find content on all of these topics by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. While you're there make sure you sign up for the Future of Field Service INSIDER so that you can get a recap of our content delivered to your inbox every other week. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS, you can learn more by visiting ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.