The Internet of Things (IoT) is not just making the equipment your techs service smarter, it’s also making that equipment’s owners — your customers — smarter and more demanding. Service is a critical battleground, and companies need a solid plan for how to make to make smarter, IoT-enabled equipment work for them — and for their customers. But where to start? We sat down with Sean Riley, global manufacturing and supply chain solutions director at Software AG, to find out how service leaders can put a plan in place to modernize their service operations.

Keep reading for a sneak peek at the tips Sean will discuss during an upcoming webinar: “A Blueprint for the Future of Field Service” (August 17, 10 a.m. PT). Register today!

What are the main steps along the journey toward modernizing a service organization?

Sean Riley

Sean Riley

Sean Riley: The first step is to understand the underlying end-to-end processes and to correlate those to the critical KPIs driving your organization’s decisions. Those should align with differentiating your customer-facing performance.

Secondly, understand your point of differentiation that you plan to not only market but also build into your service agreements. This is critical as all other potential decisions will rest upon these two linchpins.

The questions — what outcomes do we want to deliver now and in the future, and how are we delivering those outcomes today and in the future? — can only be answered by working through the first two steps. Understanding and selecting the correct technology becomes critical at this juncture. Typically, companies select a field service platform that enables both past- and future-proofing for their businesses by working with legacy systems, while also being able to scale to meet ever-growing data analysis requirements. This is a core decision and will govern the ability for a service provider to deliver differentiated services well into the future.

Is there a critical, but often overlooked, step that companies often fail to devote the proper time or resources to?

SR: Companies tend to overlook the full value of a field services transformation. Typically, companies focus on operational ROI in terms of how service operations can be more productive or efficient while delivering against current agreements. Calculating the impact on future revenues to both services and equipment based on new offerings is difficult but feasible, but many companies don’t take the time to do this properly.

For example, a flow valve and pump manufacturer might rightly assume that pumps degrade slowly and can be maintained rather easily, so what is the value of attaching active sensors to valves and pumps? The value isn’t necessarily determined based on monumental operational improvements but by enabling changes to the business model for selling pumps and valves and incorporating their importance into the overall production operation.

Let’s talk about service orgs that have a plan in motion. Is there one metric that gives the clearest picture of how they’re performing?

SR: During the transformation, first-time fix rate, average response time and mean time to complete a repair are critical to gauge performance. After the transformation, mean time to complete, mean time to repair, first-time fix rate and repeat visit become crucial metrics. They support an outcomes-based arrangement with your customer and also ensure it can be delivered cost effectively.

What partnerships or relationships do service leaders need to forge or lean on to be successful?

SR: Service leaders and IT professionals will become intertwined to the point where it will be difficult to discern one from the other. This will be due to the new capabilities that technology can provide to service leaders today — first and foremost, the ability for machines to interject themselves into the notification process by communicating needs directly with the service provider, and for the provider to respond automatically according to the levels of service dictated by the customer agreement. To do this successfully, ongoing collaboration between service professionals and their IT counterparts will be necessary.

Register today for “A Blueprint for the Future of Field Service” (August 17, 10 a.m. PT)