From The Editor | May 3, 2018

Digital Transformation, IoT, And Service Strategy: Key Themes At IFS World Conference 2018

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Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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IFS World Conference

I’m at IFS World Conference in Atlanta this week, where there’s been an abundance of talk about the shift field service is experiencing toward truly being a strategic (arguably the strategic) part of the overall business. Mark Brewer, global industry director for service management at IFS, spoke about the migration to the “experience economy” – how service organizations are moving beyond the goal of delivering stellar customer service to focus on truly offering customers an experience they can’t get elsewhere.

Daryl Plummer, managing VP, chief of research, and chief Gartner fellow at Gartner delivered yesterday’s keynote, where he echoed this sentiment by saying that “business as usual is no longer an option.” Plummer spoke about how the pace of change is only getting faster – that companies can’t even finish A before it’s time to start B. As a field service leader, I’m sure you can relate to this challenge. But it isn’t going away – it will only progress.

So how do you navigate through all of this rapid change and many competing priorities? One, keep in mind that innovation starts with you – you first need to accept the fact that it is now a critical aspect of field service success, and then embrace new ways of thinking. Ultimately, we know that true innovation and business transformation is more than just the adoption of new technologies – it’s far deeper than that. There’s the huge hurdle of making innovation part of your company culture and getting your employees on board with this new way of thinking. There’s the aspect of making business process improvements and business model shifts to adapt to what Brewer refers to as the “experience economy.” And finally, there’s the technology itself – a collection of powerful tools that can enable incredible transformation when used successfully.

None of this is easy, but there are companies all over the world that are figuring it out. There are a number of IFS customers here at the event telling their stories of innovation, and here are a few that stuck out to me.

Digital Transformation Is A People Thing

Vincent Martin, general manager for the customer service and support division of Kyocera, spoke about how the company has used IFS Field Service Management to standardize across 17 business units. Martin noted that service is a major differentiator for Kyocera, as their industry changes and customers print less. They’re moving from a break/fix model to an outcomes-based service model, so strong contract management capabilities were key. The company is now working to incorporate IoT and is developing a customer portal.

Martin discussed the fact that digital transformation is really a “people thing.” With the standardization of 17 separately-operating business units, change management was imperative to Kyocera’s success with its initiative. The implementation of the solution took Kyocera three years, and Martin explained that it simply takes time to do it right – and that taking that time and focusing on your people is what will ultimately enable you to meet the objectives of your project.

IoT Changes The Game

Jussi Ylinen, managing director at pest control company Anticimex, described the company’s use of IoT to automate work order creation in IFS FSM. The pest company, which operates in 17 countries, has “smart pest control systems” that use a sensor to alert the back office when a rodent has been caught. Previously, this alert sent an email to customer service, who then manually created the work order in IFS, which was dispatched through the mobile app to the technician. Now, the process has been automated using Azure so that when the catch occurs, the email is sent to Azure and the work order is created automatically. Since implementing the system, the company has processed around 10,000 work orders which Ylinen said would have taken around 50,000 emails to manually process.

Going forward, Anticimex will expand its use of IoT through advanced business analytics to determine battery depletion patterns, to detect invasion patterns, and to suggest changes of trap designs. All of this data helps the company to make intelligent business decisions not possible before, to provide a better customer experience, and to create more revenue.

Service Is Your Strategic Differentiator

This morning, Paul Pierozz, senior VP of business services and human resources at Shawcor spoke of how strategic service execution is for the company. He opened his keynote by saying, “digital technology and deployment of IFS is a critical differentiator for our business.” Shawcor provides global energy services and has 80 locations across 20 countries. Pierozz shared that Shawcor has leveraged IFS to streamline, to optimize, and is now focused on leveraging the platform to create value both inside and outside of its organization.

Being able to leverage value outside the organization is the aspect that plays in to Shawcor seeing service as a strategic opportunity. He notes that customer-facing solutions are what will “continue to differentiate” the company. He also discussed the fact that it is up to Shawcor to fully utilize the capabilities of IFS. This is an important point – if you want to be more strategic in how you provide service and the role doing so plays in your overall organization, leveraging the tools you have to their fullest extent is up to YOU. It goes back to the point that the technology itself can’t do the work for you – you have to have the strategic vision for how it can assist your organization in reaching your next generation of service delivery and differentiation.

IFS launched IFS Field Service Management (FSM) 6 yesterday at the event. If you’d like to learn more, you can view that news here.