Editor’s note: Patrice Eberline is VP of global customer transformation at ServiceMax. Her latest book, “Into the Diamond Mine: A Field Service Transformation Handbook for Executives,” will be available on September 18, 2017, at Maximize 2017. Reserve for your free copy

We are in an age of technological acceleration.

From the introduction of new technologies like personal navigation systems, 3-D printing, and self-driving cars, to new ways of being social, and new methods of buying and selling (Apple Pay), the world has changed significantly in 20 years.

We have seen businesses and even whole industries radically morph into newer, better, and more customer-centric partners to their customers. Think of Uber’s disruption to the taxi industry, and the introduction of video streaming services that have completely changed the way we consume entertainment. Think for a moment about your mobile phone. From a pure computing power perspective, what you likely have in your pocket has roughly 2.7 times the processing power of the 1985 Cray-2 supercomputer, and more processing power than was used by computers responsible for guidance in the early Apollo missions! Every one of us has adopted these new technologies in some way.

So, what does all of this cool technology have to do with field service? Quite a bit, actually. For years, service took a back seat to other organizations (sales, R&D, etc.), watching as others have received the attention, kudos, and investment dollars needed to grow and succeed. That is changing however. Customers are pushing business into a new world, with new rules.

“Better, faster, cheaper” has morphed into “remove the risk from me and help my business to succeed.” That shift points revenue growth and customer loyalty directly at service, and gives service leaders opportunities they have never before seen. The technological tipping point of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are positioning the service organization to be a true transformational game changer. We are now sitting squarely in a strong position, and with one of the best use cases to take advantage of all that the IIoT can provide — data, information, intelligence and, ultimately, insights — that will allow service departments to serve customers more completely.

Service keeps the world running, and it is doing so in more ways each and every day. For example, with the adoption of sensor technology and machine to machine communication, equipment and assets in industries across the board from health care to energy to manufacturing are now able to connect not only to each other but to the service organization, providing rich pools of data on performance and health. More importantly, this is not just more of the same.

Service keeps the world running, and it is doing so in more ways each and every day.

This new world of connected assets will allow us to see things differently, and identify patterns and trends that simply couldn’t be seen before. We will be better able to answer the questions that support core service value propositions. Why and when do assets need preventive maintenance? What is the health of other assets at a plant and how should preventive maintenance efforts be most efficiently scheduled in order to guarantee the highest uptime and performance? How can we troubleshoot and even resolve issues remotely, without the need for a truck roll? What other value add services can be developed to further remove risk from our customers’ businesses?

It wasn’t too terribly long ago that most of us spoke of IoT and IIoT in very futuristic fashion, without tangible strategies or plans in place to capitalize on opportunities. We must change that approach starting today. By not doing so we risk our very viability, as new business models, value propositions, and even markets are uncovered and claimed by our competition. Yesterday, cloud and mobile were the “next big things” that field service was facing, whereas today they are literally table stakes in the drive towards competitive advantage. Tomorrow, predictive analytics, machine learning, and outcome based value propositions will drive dominance in our markets.

In the future, we will all be more connected than ever imagined. Products, suppliers, customers, and the entire operations chain will be connected in order to provide game changing experience and service to the customer. The timing is right and the potential is huge. The technological tipping point is upon us and our customers are expecting more. Be relentless. Strive to be original and focus on your customer and their business propositions. Be transformative. Be a game changer.

Patrice Eberline will speak at Maximize, the industry’s most valuable field service event, in Las Vegas September 18-20. She will also be available to sign copies of her latest book, “Into the Diamond Mind: A Field Service Transformation Handbook for Executives.” Click here to reserve your free copy. 

ABOUT Patrice Eberline

Avatar photoPatrice Eberline is the former vice president of global customer transformation at ServiceMax. She has nearly two decades of services and leadership experience and has held leadership roles at several fast-growing software companies, including SuccessFactors and Infor.