For all the movie buffs out there, three weeks ago saw the arrival of Back to the Future Day – October 21st 2015 was the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to in their iconic DeLorean in the 1989 sci-fi classic Back to the Future II.

If you remember the movie there were all kinds of interesting new gadgets and technologies – the hover-board, the Black and Decker Hydrator Pizza Machine and who could forget the flying car to name just a few. What the film didn’t portray were field service technicians and repair-men walking around the futuristic town but you can almost picture the scene and what it might have looked like if a technician were to have arrived at Mr. and Mrs. McFly’s house…

“Hi ma’am, apologies for disturbing you but I was notified on my mobile device that your refrigerator has been transmitting some abnormal data, let me take a look at that for you to ensure we keep your service up and running.”



At MaxLive 2015 we were given a glimpse into this future world of service with expert speakers from the likes of Sony Professional Services, Schneider Electric, platinum sponsors PTC and of course the “Father of The Internet of Things” – Kevin Ashton who delivered a brilliant keynote presentation on day one.

I raise the point around the field service technician arriving before the customer knows anything is wrong because technology advancements since the dawn of the smart phone and cloud computing have meant that the ability to proactively source problems before they arise is now becoming reality in market leading service organizations.

On day two of MaxLive Europe we were given a glimpse into this within the medical device industry with Jérôme Piche, ‎VP Global Customer Service at bioMerieux declaring:

“We need to anticipate problems even before the customer realizes anything’s wrong”

The medical industry is a particularly important area for these proactive service strategies as maintaining uptime can sometimes be a matter of life and death however several other industries including high-tech manufacturing, oil and gas and maintenance and residential services can benefit from the operating efficiencies the Internet of Things can bring.

In addition to pre-emptively recognizing problems before they arise, companies that have begun to collect data from customer equipment are very positive about the additional benefits this can bring.

Manish Gupta, SVP of Enterprise Systems at Schneider Electric commented:

“We are realizing more and more when you sell a product to your customers, you want to track how they are using it. We want to ensure they can use it better and we can give them more and more services.”

Personally I feel Kevin Ashton summed it up beautifully in one sentence as he gave us a glimpse into the future of connected service:

“If you don’t get killed by the guy who’s better at reactive service or by the guy who’s better at proactive service you will certainly be killed by the guy who’s using IoT data to improve his product.”

I’m already looking forward to what next year’s event will bring and the results that these pioneering early adopters will be able to demonstrate.