Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the annual Smarter Services Executive Symposium held by the folks at The Service Council. It’s a great event with great speakers and sessions that are not all about best practices around service delivery. The 3-day event included a session on designing new service offerings from leading design firm IDEO; behavioral economics and customer decision making from a professor at UC San Diego and, my favorite, what it takes to deliver championship level service from the head of guest services for the San Francisco Giants.
Hearing people in the industry speak and talking to people who have spent their entire careers in field service is always a reality check for me. Here are a few take-aways from my experience facilitating some of the breakouts and talking with attendees at the event.
Varying levels of adoption maturity
As a technology provider, it’s sometimes easy to assume every target customer has “bought in” to the idea of field service automation; it’s just a matter of ServiceMax winning out over other competitors. In fact, so many companies continue to operate out of the cost-center model of the past. The people represented at this event definitely have the desire to become a more strategic service organization; they just need some help on the basics − Mobile infrastructure, mobile policy, content collaboration − before they can really begin to evaluate complete solutions.
Talent issues are very real
The scarcity in talent for field service was probably the most visible subject that came up in virtually every discussion. Organizations are being forced to deal with this due to two factors. First, the reality of a workforce that is nearing retirement means that they need to find replacements for workers with decades of experience who are moving on to the next phase of their lives. The second factor is the competitive nature associated with hiring out of the millennial talent pool. The younger workforce comes with expectations on the work environment and tools used to do their jobs. They expect access to technology including mobile apps. They want to collaborate and interact electronically. This talent issue has a direct correlation with the technology adoption issue.
Hunger for a roadmap forward
If the attendees at the conference are a good representation of the market, I feel very optimistic because there is absolute desire to move forward with a more advanced approach to delivering Field Service. Companies at the early stages of the maturity curve need help with the fundamentals of advancing their service operations using technology. The companies that have made some investment choices in Field Service technology need help better understanding how to drive higher adoption and usage out of their existing users.
IoT remains in its infancy
Connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic that people want to learn more about so they can find ways to deliver more proactive service to their customers. As with other topics discussed at the Symposium, there is huge interest in the benefits IoT can provide to service delivery, but companies are at the very early stages of adoption.
Need for Training, Education, Communication
The theme around improving communication and education is also a reflection of the transformation taking place within field service. This transformation is driving a new way of doing business that increases the need for training across various groups impacted by field service.
It was a great three days with an enthusiastic group of attendees all passionate about elevating field service within their organizations to drive better results for their business and higher levels of satisfaction from their customers.