At ServiceMax, we recently held our Service Innovation Summit, an event open to customers and prospects, to discuss the vision for the future of field service and the collaborative steps that can be taken to close the gap between vision and reality. The summit featured keynote presentations, product demonstrations, and an open (albeit virtual) dialog among all participants. The Innovation Summit was also paired with our Customer User Group, a gathering of ServiceMax customers sharing feedback on the progress that they have made using the ServiceMax suite of products and services. This open dialogue, featured both in the Innovation Summit and User Group, is critical to ensuring that the products and services being developed at ServiceMax continue to enable service organizations to deliver increased value to their customers and stakeholders.
A majority of the discussions revolved around the impact of COVID-19 on service operations, business planning, and the overall customer experience. In our summary of the conversations that took place during the events, we would like to break the discussion into two components:
- Surviving COVID-19
- Learning from COVID-19
The themes and trends were similar to those seen at our recent CSO Summit events.
In her opening keynote, ServiceMax’s CMO and Chief Customer Experience Officer, Stacey Epstein, shared examples of how our customers were innovating with the ServiceMax product to keep their businesses running, meet evolving customer needs, and plan for future service requirements.
For example, Eastern Lift Truck Co. kept its operations running despite the fact that 70% of its workforce had to be sent home. With simple process adjustments built into the product, the company was able to extend new customer-driven safety protocols for its technicians.
A large medical device customer used configurable fields in ServiceMax to track open preventive maintenance work orders that were on hold due to customer-driven shutdowns. As a result, the company was able to parse through the data to identify critically overdue PMs and work with its customers to ensure that necessary service was delivered to minimize downtime and further disruption. The organization used the same PM-based backlog reporting to plan for resource needs and staffing levels as customers opened back up.
Another customer, a large industrial manufacturer, mined its installed base data to determine which critical industries would continue to need onsite service during COVID-related shutdowns. Based on this data, the organization repurposed and rededicated service resources to ensure that critical SLAs and emergency service needs were met.
While there were many more stories shared, what was consistent was how these organizations had exhibited the resilience and the flexibility required to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers. A great deal of this flexibility was enabled as a result of the robustness and flexibility on their chosen service business platform.
Learning from COVID-19
IDC’s analyst and program director, Aly Pinder, shared some interesting data on how organizations were beginning to look beyond the initial disruption of COVID-19 to transform their business models. Forward-thinking manufacturers were focused on a return to growth and were prioritizing digital investments with a shorter time to value.
As evidenced from the discussions with customers and prospects, a bulk of these prioritized technology investments fell in the following areas:
- Remote connectivity and remote support
- Field technician enablement – knowledge and communication
- Customer self-service
In each of these areas, organizations were evaluating available tools to deliver the desired features and capabilities, while also strategizing around the operational and commercial elements needed to convert these initiatives into sustainable business investments. There is a recognition from organizations that these areas bring short-term customer and organization value, but they are also a part of a deeper foundation that needs to be established to support customer needs in the future.
Another interesting theme throughout the discussion was how COVID-19 had significantly removed traditional barriers raised by customers around remote connectivity. The value proposition around connectivity was much more evident given increased restrictions around the in-person access to the asset. Companies also shared that they were investigating tools that would enable customers to do self-service because multiple truck rolls by technicians are not feasible or desirable in today’s environment. Similarly, technicians were reducing their resistance to mobile solutions as they began to recognize the impact of readily available information, data, and knowledge in their ability to safely and effectively meet customer needs.
ServiceMax Product Priorities
During the opening keynote our Head of Product, Amit Jain, shared our product and innovation way forward for the company. It was great to see that ServiceMax’s product priorities aligned with the feedback we have been hearing from customers and analysts around service operations, business planning, and customer experience. Our major product investments include:
- Asset data and visibility, especially around field change orders and parts to improve compliance and enable better planning
- Warranty & entitlements to drive higher service margins from assets
- New mobile experience for end customers/operators to improve the customer experience as well as investments into mobile field knowledge for service technicians
There is still a great deal of work to be done in fully utilizing digital tools and information to help companies gain more revenue as well as bridge the collaboration and communication restrictions raised by COVID-19, but it’s evident that organizations are much more prepared to innovate and implement new software and business processes in order to drive customer value.