Your entire company’s service strategy is in your hands, now what? Well, if you’re manufacturing and servicing industrial products chances are you’ve been inundated with talk of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). And while you appreciate and foresee the benefits of these new technologies, most industrial producers are not spending heavily on IT projects. In a recent PwC survey, only 30 percent of U.S.-based industrial manufacturing senior executives said that their companies were planning to increase spending on information technology in the subsequent 12 month — a finding that leads the analysts who conducted the survey to conclude that industrial manufacturers remain risk averse when considering technology investments.
While that conclusion could be true, I think there’s support for a wait-and-see position when it comes to technology investments. Digital service transformation shouldn’t really start with technology considerations.
Leading with Strategy
When some industry pundits talk about the IIoT, they leave you thinking (intentionally or not) that all you have to do is implement an IIoT platform, hook up your customer’s equipment and be on your way to efficient remote service, proactive responses and new service offerings. It’s simple, right?
Well, we all know, technology isn’t always simple and the task of selecting the right solutions is probably the hardest part. What makes the progress toward service priorities harder is not having a strategy in place to guide technology decisions. First, you have to ask yourself, what are my goals– increase customer satisfaction, grow service revenue, improve cost structure? Then, you create a plan to meet these targets. This is your service strategy. This is where your digital transformation starts.
“Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.” — Michael Porter, Harvard professor and author
Achieving the Right Service Strategies
When you start with service strategy, you want to set yourself up for success. One of the fastest ways to put an “end” to your good start is ignoring your corporate initiatives and strategies. Service organizations need to align with them.
Watch the recording of ServiceMax’s and TSIA’s recent joint webinar — Reinvent Services Today: A Call to Action for Industrial Manufacturers
If they are not, your activities around service improvement can come to a halt. Take for example a cost cutting initiative. Cost cutting may not mean all technology investments are off the table, but the strategies you employ as a service organization should probably set direction for productivity and consolidation efforts. No one wants to go into technology discussions, requests for proposals and long evaluations just to have their efforts wasted because their costly plans for a new service offering flies in the face of corporate budget cutting. So, ask yourself, what is the company focused on and how does my service strategy help?
Finding the Right Technology for Your Service Strategy
Dare I say it, but your service business may not need IIoT, augmented reality or chatbots. With a solid service strategy, you’ll know what technology investments to prioritize. For example, your strategy may need to support corporate goals for aggressive new product sales. So, you may want to incorporate new product training into your plans for field engineers. You may need better collaboration and knowledge tools to ensure that once training is done, field workers can continue to learn while on the job at a customer site.
If I extend the example, what if these new products incorporate design improvements that help you easily diagnose failures? Now, your service strategy takes on a new dimension. It’s not only important to get field engineers trained quickly, but you also want to consider service delivery changes that take advantage of new diagnostic processes. Do your current systems support a new way of serving your customers? What if these new products enable a new service offering? Do you have the right technology to power a new line of services?
It’s a lot to consider, but worth the planning. With a solid service strategy, you get perspective on technology–focusing you on the right business outcomes, rather than matching the latest technological capabilities to the tactics of your service business. If you start with your future, the decisions about today’s technologies become simple and easier to justify. So, take your time to get it right.
Learn more about how to start your digital transformation journey from a recent ServiceMax and TSIA webinar: Reinvent Services Today: A Call to Action for Industrial Manufacturers