ServiceMax Blog

The Cost of Unplanned Downtime and the Rally for Digital Transformation

New Survey Shows the State of Field Service Today

82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years. Analyst firm Aberdeen Research says that unplanned downtime can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour.

That paints a grim picture with bottom lines at stake and customer service expectations continuing to grow.

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A new study sponsored by ServiceMax, from GE Digital, “After The Fall: Cost, Causes and Consequences of Unplanned Downtime,” surveyed 450 field service and IT decision makers in the UK, US, France and Germany across many industries including, manufacturing, medical, oil and gas, energy and utilities, and transportation. The study found that productivity, IT, and customer service are still hit hardest by unplanned downtime, with damaging repercussions for businesses as a whole.

Unplanned downtime is also driving renewed investment in digital transformation:

  • Of the 82 percent of companies that have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years, those outages lasted an average of four hours and cost an average of $2 million.
  • Unplanned downtime results in loss of customer trust and productivity — 46 percent couldn’t deliver services to customers, 37 percent lost production time on a critical asset, and 29 percent were totally unable to service or support specific equipment or assets.
  • Only 12 percent of respondents from organizations in the US consider their organization to be exactly where they need to be and ahead of their competitors in terms of their digital industrial journey — compared to 16 percent in both the UK and France, and 23 percent in Germany.

Another startling statistic is that more than 70 percent of respondents aren’t fully aware of when their equipment is due for maintenance, upgrade or replacement.

The devastating impact of unplanned machine downtime is felt by businesses around the world, but the survey also shows that executive leadership teams from all industries are really taking notice. These leaders are getting on board with the urgent call for digital transformation and innovation within their service organizations.

More specifically:

  • 44 percent say a digital twin with predictive maintenance and artificial intelligence (AI) would help prevent major failures.
  • 49 percent plan to invest in Field Service Management (FSM) in the next three years.
  • 51 percent plan to invest in Asset Performance Management (APM) in the next three years.
  • 60 percent of organizations confirm that digital transformation is a high, or number one board-level priority, and 56 percent report the same for innovation.

Machines are an integral part of our lives, from something as simple as an elevator to as complex as an MRI machine. So it’s no surprise that unplanned downtime for any business hurts when a machine breaks, that’s time and money lost in repair as well as the stalled output, not to mention a loss of customer trust. If service organizations hope to differentiate their offerings in an age where customer expectations are sky high, it’s time that digital transformation be baked into their core operations.

In a world where unplanned downtime remains pervasive, no one wins. The time is now to invest in the digital tools that will transform your business, and arm technicians with the technology to deliver faster, flawless service. The vision for ServiceMax, from GE Digital, is to leverage digital transformation to reach zero unplanned downtime.

The study was conducted by Vanson Bourne. A copy of the Vanson Bourne Whitepaper and Executive Summary, can be downloaded here.