“Pale Blue Dot” is one of the most famous pictures ever taken. In 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, then more that 4 billion miles away from Earth and speeding toward the bounds of the solar system, turned around and took this image of the pale blue dot known as Earth. The craft made its turn at the request of Carl Sagan, who then beautifully summarized its impact and significance. Voyager 1’s successor, Voyager 2, is in the news recently as it is on the cusp of escaping the solar system and the impact of the gravitational pull of the sun.

Image via NASA

How can the concept and idea of gravity apply to service organizations? We, as part of the global transformation team at Predix ServiceMax, believe in the concept of asset and service data gravity. Essentially, critical business decisions should be fueled by the core of service and asset data. Note, we aren’t just talking about service business decisions, but the decisions that impact all of the business functions in an organization. We believe that service and asset data serves as the logical center of digital business transformation, and the more that this data is relied on, the more a business can continue to transform its operational and engagement models.

Vanson Bourne recently concluded a landmark research study on the very topic. In their work, they interviewed more than 600 service and IT leaders on the transformations taking place in their business and the opportunity for service and asset data to support these transformations.

A few interesting takeaways:

  • More than eight in ten (82 percent) believe that servitization will make their companies more competitive than before.
  • The vast majority (95 percent) of respondents state that their organizations are either considering or working towards moving some or all their products and services towards an outcome-based or servitized model.

The idea of servitization is front and center in the minds of business professionals as they look to increase value and deepen the engagements with their customers. That said, organizations have a long way to go before they have the necessary tools to build, execute on, and support these outcome-based business models. At the very core of the challenge is data integrity.

  • Nearly 4 in 10 organizations believe that they require significant or complete overhauls in the way that they aggregate, analyze and share asset and service data.
  • Only 50 percent of leaders report that they or other service leaders completely trust the asset service data that they have access to.

If service leaders can’t trust their own data, then how can those around them be expected to leverage this data to transform their businesses? We believe that organizations must focus their resources on solving this data problem. And the solution doesn’t always require a deep investment in sensors or the Internet of Things. Sensors can serve as a vital medium to access relevant asset performance data and many organizations are incorporating sensors into their current and future product roadmaps. That said, we don’t need to wait for that flow of data, we can use it to augment what we have. IoT or sensor-driven data should be one mode of data collection in a simple continuum:

  • Online — available via sensors
  • On-demand — available via customer requests
  • On-site — available via field engineers

In all fairness, these terms were brought to my attention in a recent conversation with the former service IT lead for Tyco-SimplexGrinnell (now Johnson Controls, Inc.) and Becton Dickinson. It makes a lot of sense. We must begin to leverage our field service resources as drivers of service and asset data. The work being done by field engineers can provide a treasure of information particularly as it relates to resource usage and service demand. Capturing this information doesn’t require added steps in a field engineer’s day-to-day. As service organizations, our field service systems should be relied on to capture and aggregate this data. These engineers now have the tools to additionally capture relevant asset performance data that can be extremely valuable for future business decisions. It is imperative that data collection and validation is made part of their working or debrief process and that the field engineers are educated on the importance of capturing this data. It is also beneficial if the data capture process is made as simple as possible, preferably within the workflow of navigating through a work order.

The impact can be quite significant. Based on the work done by Vanson Bourne, organizations believe improved rigor and automation around data capture and management can yield significant top and bottom line results. In fact, respondents expect double digit improvements in cost and revenue accruing just to the service business.

While we consider the incorporation of new forms of technology into our service and overall business processes, it’s worth reconsidering our reliance on our most dedicated resources, our field engineers, to help pave the journey for our Digital Transformations.

I’ll be discussing the topic and concept of asset and service data gravity at the Aftermarket Europe event in Berlin (October 17-19). If you are attending and are interested in my take, please do join my session on Thursday, October 18, at 11.30 a.m. If you can’t make it, please check out Vanson Bourne’s research report and a recording of a recent webinar recapping the results.

ABOUT Sumair Dutta

sumair duttaSumair Dutta is the VP of product marketing at ServiceMax. In this role, he helps shape ServiceMax messaging and positioning to support customers and prospects. Previously, Sumair worked closely with leaders of service businesses to define and shape their service vision while working hand in hand with implementation teams to execute on established service plans. Sumair is a thought leader in the field service and service management spaces and has conducted numerous research projects in the areas of field service, customer support and business strategy. He brings more than 15 years of experience in studying, analyzing and guiding field service organizations, first at the Aberdeen Group and most recently as the chief customer officer at The Service Council.