I’m pleased to represent ServiceMax’s Global Customer Transformation team in announcing the publication and release of our 3rd annual Chief Service Officer (CSO) Report. This report encapsulates the key themes and observations captured from last year’s series of virtual CSO Summits, led by my colleague Daniel Brabec. The report also includes a list of strategic recommendations that can support a service-driven business transformation—read the report here.

Key Themes

We released the first version of the CSO Report in 2019 to provide the larger community of service leaders with insight into the types of conversations had between our team and CSOs. At that time, these conversations were taking place at ServiceMax’s CSO Summits, dedicated C-level workshops that were hosted in conjunction with Maximize conferences. Other conversations occurred in the normal course of our value and strategy-focused discussions with service leaders.

The 2021 report is different from its predecessors. It represents the findings from our virtual (mostly on Zoom) conversations with CSOs, either through the virtual CSO Summit series or via virtual ride-along business review sessions. Instead of focusing on regional variations on key themes, the 2021 report highlights the uniform upheaval faced by service leaders across the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the report is organized to highlight the key struggles and initiatives in the five following areas:

  • People
  • Process
  • Parts
  • Data
  • Technology

In the report, we suggest that the framework of success during uncertain times can be built on three major pillars: Prediction, Agility, and Resilience. These represent the characteristics that were most displayed by service organizations who have been most effective in navigating pandemic-driven disruption. Throughout the report, we share examples of what these characteristics look like in response to sudden change, but also how service leaders can use their data and the rapidly evolving portfolio of digital tools to instill a greater level of these essential characteristics within their organizations.

Reflections and CSO Stories

It is impossible to capture and represent all of the discussions that took place during the 2020 CSO Summits. It’s also impossible to detail all of the stories and individual best practices that we have had the opportunity to listen to during our conversations with CSOs. In this regard, the CSO report offers a summary of the discussions we had and a selection of recommendations that will be most valuable for the year ahead.

That said, I asked several of the GCT team members to share impactful moments and observations from past CSO Summit discussions. Below, you’ll find a few:

From Joe Kenny:  It’s amazing how things change over the years. For instance, we had been evangelizing the importance of IoT (Internet of Things) and during the 2017 CSO Summit (in Las Vegas), an existing customer asked us why we were talking about it all the time when in fact it had been implemented in so few places and with so little measurable success. I was caught a little off guard, as we had been pushing really hard on the benefits of IoT and the risk/cost of “doing nothing.” We extended the conversation to the group at large and the response was middling. In general, about half of the group could be summed up as “We see it coming, but it is honestly not a priority for us. Any new equipment we design, manufacture, or purchase will be IoT-enabled, but we see no value in retrofitting legacy equipment to be IoT-enabled and it is not in our immediate plans to adopt.” Fast forward to 36 months later and a pandemic. Companies that had been early adopters and invested heavily in IoT and remote condition monitoring were able to utilize that technology to better manage the economic disruption and pivot to a new way of operating. While we didn’t get to the “True Cost of Doing Nothing” right away, we eventually discovered it during the coronavirus pandemic.

From Coen Jeukens: The CSO Summit reveals the true business issues when the spotlight is out. The event feels more intimate, and we often find ourselves going back to the basics. It is interesting to see how the more we focus on new tools and technologies, the more we end up going back to what I call ‘Service Basics.’ I remember a large industrial manufacturer coming up to me after a CSO Summit discussion and seeking guidance on service sales. For them, the biggest realization was that to achieve their service revenue ambitions, they needed to involve a broader group of stakeholders, particularly those in sales. Without sales buy-in, or a dedicated service sales team, their best-laid service growth ambitions were incomplete.

From Kieran Notter: My highlights from CSO are actually tied to Service Leaders sharing their experiences and, in some ways, helping their peers learn from their mistakes and successes. It has been common to see two potential competitors use the environment of the CSO to discuss their challenges and align on solutions for how they can best influence their overall customer experience. You wouldn’t see this at many other forums.

For me personally, there were several impactful moments from the 2020 CSO Summits, perhaps none more so than the quote selected to begin the 2021 report. “During the pandemic, as product revenues have suffered, service has become the source of resilient revenue.” As we look ahead, service continues to take on the mantle of the essential business, the one that has the relationship with the end customer. As we explore evolving threads of product ownership, outcomes-as-a-service, right-to-repair, the circular economy, and more, they are all grounded in the capacity and capability of the service organization. We fully expect service to take on a more vital role in the coming years.

Looking Ahead

We’re hopeful, that in 2021, we’ll be able to go back to an in-person CSO Summit. Till then, we will be hosting a virtual series of events led by Sara Cerruti. Sara has a wonderful discussion theme planned, one that aligns well with the key findings of the 2021 CSO Report. If interested in participating, I suggest you get in touch with Sara at her email: . In addition, I’d welcome your feedback on the CSO Report. Please share any and all comments with me at or with the broader team at .


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.