AUTHOR ARCHIVES: Mark Glover
About the Author:
Epson have announced Epson Moverio Assist – an easy-to-use, “see-what-I-see” remote assistance and inspection solution using Moverio smart glasses for difficult repairs or work tasks out in the field. By enabling real-time collaboration between remote experts and on-site field personnel, Moverio Assist helps make repairs quicker and with fewer mistakes, leading to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and reduced travel costs.
“Most popular remote support solutions today are phone and tablet based, and thus not hands free. There is a real market need for an affordable, turnkey, easy-to-use remote support solution for smart glasses that allows companies to connect in-field personnel with remote experts to collaborate on tasks,” said Leon Laroue, technical product manager, Augmented Reality, Epson America, Inc. “Our new solution is optimized specifically for Moverio® smart glasses to easily and efficiently connect experts with field personnel for real-time communication, inspection, instruction, and sharing of documents and videos.”
When assistance is required, a field technician wears the Moverio BT-300 or BT-350 ANSI smart glasses with built-in camera, powers it on to connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi® or a mobile hotspot, and then launches the Moverio Assist app to initiate the call to company experts logged into MoverioAssist.com via a Chrome™ or Firefox browser. Unlike those using handheld tablets or smartphones, field technicians wearing Moverio glasses have their hands free to make repairs while collaborating in real-time.
Powered by Epson’s breakthrough Si-OLED display technology, Moverio smart glasses allow field technicians to view instructions, photos, PDFs, and videos in high quality, while also giving them a wearable display that minimizes visual obstruction and can be virtually transparent when necessary. Available on a per-glasses, monthly subscription basis, Moverio Assist offers an affordable, hands-free remote assistance and inspection solution for small, medium and large enterprises.
At this week's Housing 2019 event in Manchester, location and mobile technology experts, Localz, talked about the impact of the IConomy to the field service industry. In this article Localz explains how the field service industry can utilise...
At this week's Housing 2019 event in Manchester, location and mobile technology experts, Localz, talked about the impact of the IConomy to the field service industry. In this article Localz explains how the field service industry can utilise mobile technology to deliver “uber” style housing repairs and deliver frictionless customer services in the fourth industrial revolution.
The instant revolution
Consumers are sick and tired of impersonalised and inflexible services which do not fit into their routine. They want to be able to schedule an appointment that fits into their schedule and be able to track and adjust it in realtime. eBay, Deliveroo and Uber are all addressing the need for instant booking, tracking and assurance for its customers. These companies are putting the customer at the centre of its service, giving them control, reassurance and convenience and overall building trust. They are setting the benchmark for all industries and now customers are starting to demand the same experiences from every organisation they engage with.
Applying the success from leading brands and incorporating customer and field service engineer pain points, Localz advises on the key steps to ensure frictionless customer experiences in today’s digital age.
- Be digitally available
Providing convenience means being digitally enabled on various platforms, this includes customers being able to book an appointment via a laptop, tablet or smartphone and smartwatch. Alongside device enablement they also want to be able to book an appointment via different means including, email, telephone, on a brands app and in the future via voice recognition. It is vital that you stay on top of the latest technology and ensure you know how your customers want to interact with you.
1. Confirm and reassure
Once an appointment is booked you need to continually remind and reassure your customers that you are coming. It is vital to provide customers with regular updates throughout the appointment life-cycle, from confirmation to receiving the appointment, to a reminder the day before and the morning of including real-time updates of an ETA.
2. “On my way”
On the day of the appointment provide the customer with a real-time location tracker of the service provider so they can check the platform and are deterred from calling the contact centre. If there are going to be any changes to the appointment then the platform can be triggered to automatically provide push updates on the service providers ETA.
British Gas has seen no-access, failed appointments fall by 20% by using “On my way” notifications. Customers are more informed and therefore aren’t forgetting appointments or rescheduling if needed to.
The ‘Find my Engineer’ solution provides the ultimate transparency by giving customers access to real-time location tracking when the operative is en route. Accurate ETAs are provided, which take live traffic conditions into account. Localz own research shows that 65% of consumers say that viewing their service provider’s ETA is the most important feature on a service provider’s mobile app. This is particularly important in the housing sector as the length of appointments can vary greatly. By providing real-time updates enables customers to track the engineer and get on with their day so they are not stuck within the confines of their own home for hours.
4. Empower engineers
It is time that organisations start cutting out the middleman. A real-time operational dashboard needs to be put in place so both the team on the ground and in the office can see live updates of appointments. Engineers will be able to click and see in one touch full details of the job so they can be prepared ahead of each visit.
By enabling for two-way communications between service engineers and the customer will help to streamline appointments. Two-way communications make it easy for customers to tell you and your operatives important information without having to join a call centre queue. Provide contact centre staff with the same transparency and real-time tracking, so they can give a consistent and reliable message if a customer still decides to call.
OVO Energy’s engineers have cited that using two-way communication has an increase in customer satisfaction. By enabling engineers and customers to directly speak to one another it removes the middle man, which can be a frustrating experience for both parties.
5. “Rate Your Service”
One of the key ingredients to successful communication and one that is often forgotten is the power of listening. Asking consumers to “rate” and feedback on the service will lead to consumers feeling important, cared for and if you respond accordingly listened to.
This is something that Uber has done very well. By allowing consumers to rate their driver it not only leads to customers feeling heard but it enables the organisation to increase the safety of the solution.Both outcomes of providing the score is both of importance to the consumer and the company alike. In environments where interactions are frequent and where 'promises' can be fulfilled reliably and repeatedly trust can be established.
To find out more about Localz’s solutions click here.
Berg Insight estimates that global cellular IoT module shipments increased by 16 percent in 2018 to a new record level of 221 million.
Berg Insight estimates that global cellular IoT module shipments increased by 16 percent in 2018 to a new record level of 221 million.
Annual revenues grew faster at 24 percent, reversing the previous trend of decreasing average module prices. The 3GPP standards for LTE – Cat M and NB-IoT – will contribute substantially to growth in the next coming five years.
These new standards are designed to be less complex to limit power consumption and are priced more favourably to address the mass market and make it viable to connect entirely new applications. In the first half of 2019, several vendors announced 5G NR modules that will become available to developers in the second half of the year. Early adopters will include companies active in the PC, networking and OEM automotive segments.
The results of Berg Insight’s latest cellular IoT module vendor market share assessment show that the four largest module vendors have 61 percent of the market in terms of revenues. “Annual module revenues for the four largest market players Sierra Wireless, Sunsea AIoT, Gemalto and Telit increased by 13 percent to US$ 1.85 billion, with the total market value reaching approximately US$ 3.0 billion”, says Fredrik Stalbrand, Senior Analyst at Sweden-based IoT analyst firm Berg Insight. Sierra Wireless leads IoT module revenues, followed by Sunsea AIoT and Gemalto. Sunsea AIoT leads in shipments and Quectel is number two in terms of volumes and in fifth place in terms of revenues. Fibocom reported the highest growth of 122 percent during the year, reaching US$ 189 million in cellular module sales.
The year marks the first in which a China-based vendor ranks as high as the second largest cellular IoT module vendor by revenue and six of the top ten vendors were from China in 2018. Sunsea AIoT emerged as a new major industry player in 2017 through the acquisitions of Longsung and SIMCom, which had been the market leader by volume for three consecutive years. While there has been some consolidation among the larger suppliers, the long tail of companies with activities in the cellular IoT module market is growing. A number of new players have been attracted to the market, particularly in the emerging NB-IoT and LTE-M segment. Notable examples include the major Bluetooth LE SoC vendor Nordic Semiconductor and the Japanese electronics company Murata.
That’s the message from research conducted last month with the UK’s top FM service providers and consultants. Its findings can be found in a new white paper from ByBox ‘Is the management of spare parts the last hidden cost in the FM supply chain?’
There is no standardised way of getting spare parts to engineers and most FM firms use a variety of different distribution methods depending on the site, the spare, the location and the client. As a result, engineers spend more time looking for spare parts rather than fixing plant. More stock is usually ordered than needed and is often more costly due to purchasing models. The knock-on effect further reduces tight margins and customers’ SLAs are missed incurring penalties. But, many procurement departments within FM service providers often consider the problem too tough to tackle.
“We were surprised at how decentralised the FM industry is,” remarked Stuart Miller, co-founder and CEO, ByBox.“The commonality we found across the sector was the disruption caused by engineers purchasing their own stock. This behaviour - albeit born out of necessity – not only effects engineer efficiency but the entire supply chain, budgets and relationships with other departments such as procurement and finance. Better use of data and distribution methods, will improve SKU optimisation and engineer efficiency as well as streamline internal processes and reduce overheads.”
In its white paper, ByBox shares insights about the approach FM providers are taking to spare part management. The paper delves into some of the challenges involved and offers solutions to removing these hidden costs. These include:
- Centralising procurement and distribution methods of M&E spares;
- Greater reliability and proactivity from the supply chain to be able to source parts from one location before the day starts;
- More standardisation of assets and parts within buildings including architects, specifiers andconstruction firms; stopping the installation of systems manufactured / maintained by one-man bands where any spares come from a single source supplier;
- The ability to store more critical spares in a fixed location close to or on site;
- Better use of CAFM systems to manage inventory at site level, improving the use of data to better forecast break fixes / predictive-based maintenance.
The white paper can be found by clicking here:
National Grid is a British multi-national electricity and gas utility company headquartered in the UK where it operates and owns the high voltage electricity transmission networks in England and Wales and is the electricity system operator for Great Britain.
In addition, it owns and operates the national gas transmission network in Great Britain. In the United States National Grid serves more than 20 million people through its electricity and gas networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Atos will deliver the latest Digital Managed Workplace Services technology and data analytics to digitally empower National Grid employees and improve end-to-end employee experience and service. This will be achieved through a support network, including a global enterprise service desk, device management and printing services, as well as a Proactive Experience Centre.
The centre will be a dedicated employee experience improvement resource with a focus on integrating automation and AI solutions. Atos will work with National Grid’s business to optimise its operational performance by implementing new and smart workplace services solutions in support of its strategic priorities.
Adriana Karaboutis, Group Chief Information and Digital Officer (CI&DO), National Grid, said: “We chose Atos primarily because they shared our vision for digital end-user excellence. Atos has an excellent reputation with other leading UK and US companies and I am excited about our partnership and the transformation ahead.”
“We very much look forward to working with National Grid to achieve a step-change in employee, and ultimately, end user experience through a true partnership with Atos,” said Adrian Gregory, Atos Global Senior Executive Vice President and CEO UK & Ireland. “The comprehensive plan of improvements underpinned by innovative technologies will have a positive impact right across the organisation, enabling National Grid to work smartly and more efficiently”
A strong presence and rich experience within the energy and utilities sector means Atos is well placed to implement tailored Digital Managed Workplace Services for National Grid.
Previous investment in the 5G testbeds and trials programme has driven work in the healthcare, tourism, transport and broadcasting sectors. The latest investment will support similar work in the logistics and manufacturing sectors. Projects will trial ways which can help these sectors increase their productivity and output, boosting the UK economy. The trials could cover different manufacturing processes as well as across road, air, and sea based freight logistics.
The funding was announced by Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright at the 5G World Conference as part of London Tech Week. The latest round of investment is through the £200 million project to test 5G technology that’s up to ten times faster than 4G and able to support more than a million devices per square kilometre.
Wright said: “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making sure that Britain has a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. “5G is about more than mobile phone consumers having a fast and reliable connection anywhere in the country. It’s a vital piece of technology that can be used to improve the productivity and growth of our industrial sectors. That’s why we’re excited to develop new trials in areas such as manufacturing and logistics that can really benefit from 5G.” In addition to the new funding, the Government has confirmed that it will consult on proposals to simplify planning processes in England to both support the further roll-out of 4G and aid the faster introduction of 5G.
Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK, said: “Getting the planning system right for future 5G and today’s 4G networks is critical to ensure the UK continues to lead the world in digital connectivity. It is right that the Government has announced it is to look at simplifying planning processes and we stand ready to work in partnership to ensure this can happen as quickly as possible to aid the continued rollout of mobile networks.”
This is part of the Government’s long-term strategy for meeting its digital connectivity targets, outlined in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. The plans involve tackling barriers to deployment and creating the right conditions for investment to deliver better network coverage that supports the way we live and work today. A key part of this is making new spectrum available to increase capacity for mobile connectivity.
The Ministry of Defence, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has committed to making 168MHz of new spectrum available to facilitate the deployment of fixed and mobile networks. This means the Government has already exceeded its target to make 500MHz of public sector spectrum available for commercial use by 2020, and will continue to work with departments to explore opportunities for more spectrum to be made available.
Rapid early momentum and enthusiasm for 5G has led Ericsson to forecast an extra 400 million enhanced mobile broadband subscriptions globally by the end of 2024. The June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions – up from 1.5 billion forecasted in the November 2018 edition – an increase of almost 27 percent.
Other forecasts have also increased notably as a result of the rapid 5G uptake. 5G coverage is forecast to reach 45 percent of the world’s population by end of 2024. This could surge to 65 percent, as spectrum sharing technology enables 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands.
Communication service providers in several markets have switched on 5G following the launch of 5G-compatible smartphones. Service providers in some markets are also setting more ambitious targets for population coverage of up to 90 percent within the first year.
The strong commitment of chipset and device vendors is also key to the acceleration of 5G adoption. Smartphones for all main spectrum bands are slated to hit the market over the course of this year. As 5G devices increasingly become available and more 5G networks go live, more than 10 million 5G subscriptions are projected worldwide by the end of 2019.
The uptake of 5G subscriptions is expected to be fastest in North America, with 63 percent of anticipated mobile subscriptions in the region being for 5G in 2024. North East Asia follows in second place (47 percent), and Europe in third (40 percent). Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson, says: “5G is definitely taking off and at a rapid pace. This reflects the service providers’ and consumers’ enthusiasm for the technology. 5G will have positive impact on people’s lives and businesses, realizing gains beyond the IoT and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
However, the full benefits of 5G can only be reaped with the establishment of a solid ecosystem in which technology, regulatory, security, and industry partners all have a part to play.” Total mobile data traffic continued to soar globally in Q1 2019, up 82 percent year-on-year. It is predicted to reach 131 exabytes (EB) per month by the end of 2024, at which time 35 percent is projected to be over 5G networks.
There are 1 billion cellular IoT connections globally, a figure that is expected to rise to 4.1 billion by the end of 2024, of which 45 percent are represented by Massive IoT. Industries using Massive IoT include utilities with smart metering, healthcare in the form of medical wearables, and transport with tracking sensors. The June 2019 report also features three articles written jointly with service providers that offer a glimpse of the progress being made in markets that are on the verge of, or already deploying 5G.
With Telstra in Australia, Ericsson explores how to manage the ever-growing demand for data and video while maintaining consumer experience, particularly for live content streaming. MTS in Russia helps to describe how mobile networks should evolve to ensure the level of network performance that will meet customer experience expectations during preparations for 5G. The article co-written with Turkcell in Turkey looks at how network performance and service offerings are managed in a successful fixed wireless access (FWA) implementation.
How To Develop Databased Solutions
Today any machine can be digitized and connected; collecting the data is not an issue; what is becoming more important is how the field data can be exploited to identify the right action to be taken.
This creates a very complex problem, as the right data must be transformed so that only the right information, at the right time, in the right form can be delivered to the right decision-maker, independently of the problem domain - e.g. route cause analysis, demand forecasting, productivity optimisation, spare parts delivery. Helping people taking decisions can be seen as a smart service, that is designed on the base of a thoroughly understanding of the business complexity.
Ecosystems made of people and equipment, business objectives and strategies, as well as personal needs, attitudes and preferences (must-have’s, nice-to-have’s) of each operators. Once these needs are fully understood, information can be elaborated from data to create the right insights. The Data2Action framework provides guidance towards the development of data-driven services. The understanding of why and how customers interact with assets is achieved using Design Thinking approach.
Principles Of Service Design Thinking Underpin the Data2action Framework
A good design is not only a matter of aesthetics. When designing a product, many factors have to be considered. For example, how the product is going to be used, and by who. This determines the product functions, form, materials, colors, etc. This requires the ability to understand what the product user is trying to achieve (an outcome, an experience).
The same applies to service design, in which the object to be designed is a process which aims to reach a goal, through the use of products, software applications, information, etc. The challenge is that there are many more people involved in the consumption and delivery of the service, the service relies on collaboration, the service is mostly intangible. The Service Design approach is based on a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem definition and idea/solution generation can lead to innovation.
This is of utmost importance, as the application of these principles can lead to competitive advantages. Remember you only do things that are of value to you in one form or other. Service Design Thinking (SDT) is an approach that aims at designing services by applying different tools based on five principles.
Service design thinking should be:
• User centred;
Understanding The Problem: Why Understand First?
How can a problem or challenge be successfully solved without understanding it properly? Well, it can not. Without a deep understanding, disruptive solutions will not work, or you will be applying sticky plasters. The challenge lying ahead of you is to understand, describe and visualize the situation. The understanding of a complex problem requires to know who the involved people and equipment are, and how the processes in which they are operating runs. The understanding phase of the Data-2-Action framework consists of mapping the (OVERALL) job-to-be-done of the customer, mapping the actors and using avatars to build the ecosystem to discover and appraise who and what is involved.
Principles for Digital Service Development: How To Generate The Best Ideas
The problem statements and the ecosystem visualization developed provides a solid foundation for the development of new ideas and solutions for services. Some new ideas may have already appeared and can be improved in this phase.
These cases, also called scenarios or user stories, can be visualized using the customer journey blueprint. In the customer journey blueprint, the processes, actions, and involved personas/avatars are visualized to display the desired situation, in which the problems are solved.
Outcomes for each actor here should be clearly defined along with any payoffs. Working in pen and paper works really well. For Smart Services with many actors and many machines expect there to be many scenarios to focus on and even more ideas to provide improvements. In the ideation stage, many ideas will be generated.
The ideas need to be rated in order to evaluate which are worth to be prototyped. For selecting the best ideas, an idea scoring system is best.
Building Valuable Solutions: Creating Information From The Raw Data
With the overview of the ecosystem of people, processes, and machines it becomes clear from the scenarios and user stories of where the data is produced and who needs to consume information derived from it. Prototyping it is a way to validate our ideas and possible solutions and it should be fast and keep concepts as simple as possible. This avoids spending too many resources on building solutions only to then finding out that it does not work.
The best way is to create hand-drawn dashboards or widgets which represent the solution and test them as quickly as possible before starting with the actual implementation (often coding!). The process of drawing dashboards may also reveal new ideas which can be useful or new insights into whether the solution is technically visible or not. Many dashboards should be created, to keep it organized we use the Case Actor Matrix (CAM).
This tool allows matching Actors with a Cases (we use a scenario before) and the dashboard enabling the understanding of their purposes - how would you use it to help make a decision. A logical cascade should be build and dashboard widgets should be reused as much as makes sense. These conceptual solutions need to be challenged from a technical perspective.
We use a Source Target Link Matrix (STL Matrix) to show the information needed from the conceptual point of view. We define the requirements and quality of the data needed to develop the dashboards. The matrix distinguishes between existing data and data that needs to be collected, as well as adjustments and improvements that have to be made to the databases
Test Ideas And Improve
The testing is essential within the data2action frameworks and Service Design. It should happen as quickly to avoid the development of solutions, which do not fulfill the identified case and or are not technical visible. The best method for testing the usability is to hand over the dashboard to the target actor and ask them to try to use it and listen to their feedback based on the feedback the usefulness can be improved. New ideas also come from the feedback discussions. The technical aspect needs to be evaluated as well. Meaning, that the information derived from the data is actually significant. This is determined by the data experts and the user.
Managed print services (MPS) emerged to help deal with the commoditisation of the supplies business and injected new blood into a struggling industry. Years later, MPS itself has become a commodity and, once again, office print providers are...
Managed print services (MPS) emerged to help deal with the commoditisation of the supplies business and injected new blood into a struggling industry. Years later, MPS itself has become a commodity and, once again, office print providers are looking for new ways of doing things.
This article, from service management software firm Asolvi, looks at the rise of seat-based billing and how it could facilitate a new wave of innovation that will help providers transcend beyond print.
The Commoditisation Issue
These new MPS contracts were a win-win. They secured ongoing revenue for dealers while helping customers reduce their printing costs. MPS gave the office print industry a powerful boost.
Yet here we are again with a commoditised product. Only now it’s MPS itself, the one distinguishing feature between most MPS offerings being the price. Still, if there’s anything that office print providers are used to, it’s rapid change. So now they’re looking for a new way to sell. A new way to package their goods and services to create value for the customer and differentiate themselves from the competition.
In this industry, there’s always a new way. One of them is seat-based billing (SBB), an alternative to the traditional way of billing for managed print, which is cost per page (CPP). A number of our clients in this space have expressed an interest in moving from CPP to SBB. As a result, we are already looking at ways of developing our MPS field service management software to accommodate SBB contracts.
But what exactly is SBB? And how does it differ from CPP?
Cost Per Page (CPP) Versus Seat-Based Billing (SBB)
The popularity and wide adoption of the CPP model is one of the reasons it can be difficult to set your solutions apart from the competition. An even bigger problem is that it puts you and your customer at odds. You want your customer to print more. Your customer wants to print less. Indeed the whole premise of an MPS solution is to reduce unnecessary printing. And since page volumes are shrinking, basing your organisation’s revenue on a linear association with those volumes is unsustainable.
However, seat-based billing (SBB) is now emerging as a more sustainable alternative. Also known as per-user billing or cost per seat, SBB is based on staff numbers rather than pages printed. It is a flat fee billed per end user per month that covers support for all print-enabled devices each person uses.
This could include locally connected printers, desktop printers, multifunction devices (MFDs), fax machines and scanners as well as all consumables, maintenance, parts and software. It plays into the all-you-can-eat mentality that so many customers want and is already popular in other industries, e.g. TV and music subscription services like Netflix and Spotify.
SBB involves a shift in perspective, focusing on users and their needs and behaviours rather than the number of pages printed. This offers an escape from the commoditised world of CPP pricing as well as access to new and more profitable revenue streams. It also ensures perfect alignment between you and your customer. Your customer will spend less but you will make more. This makes for a stronger partnership between you.
How Can You Make More Money With SBB?
For example, you could look to add the following to each seat:
- Hardware (printers, copiers, MFDs, desktop computers, servers etc.)
- Document management software
- Workflow software
- Print governance software
- Managed IT services
- Coffee and water services
- Digital signage and displays
- Telecommunications including IP telephony and VoIP
The Challenges Of Maintaining A Profitable Seat Price
It’s important to note that with SBB comes the risk that users will abuse the system and print too much or, for instance, print everything in colour. Even though SBB feels like all-you-can-print, it cannot literally be so. That’s because toner is still the most expensive part of any MPS contract. Moreover, the whole point of MPS is to control an organisation’s print output.
So, to make SBB profitable, you first need to build a seat price that is based on a deep understanding of an organisation’s historical print behaviour. You can do this by way of a thorough user- and device-based assessment that gets rid of any assumptions and unknowns. You then need to put as many controls in place as possible to ensure that users don’t overprint.
The first of these controls is having the right language in your contracts, stipulating volume, colour and coverage ratio limits. The second is including print governance software with each seat. This enables your customers to assign user permissions, set restrictions on printing, and keep track of volume and colour usage.
The third is having a strong field service management (FSM) system that gives you full and detailed visibility and monitoring of all service costs. That FSM system needs to integrate with your customer’s machines and let you easily track toner consumption and contract/machine profitability. Your FSM system should make it immediately obvious when your customer is printing more than they should. Easy access to this data enables you to bill correctly, adjust your contract price and/or terms where necessary, and advise your customer on modifying their print behaviour.
With the right controls and software in place, print management can improve with SBB because it puts a name to behaviour. And while managing print volumes is necessary for both CPP and SBB programs, it’s easier to pinpoint misuse with SBB.
For MPS providers that haven’t yet branched into new areas, SBB makes it easier to do so. Billing in CPP doesn’t really allow you to look much past the page. With SBB you can say to a customer, “For an extra £5 per seat per month, we can take care of your desktop computers as well.” There is no additional contract, just an addendum to the existing one. Nor are there any difficult ROI discussions or a large capital budget approval process as it happens immediately and everything is under subscription.
Going forwards, the ability to continually layer the seat with new offerings is likely to be the biggest advantage of the SBB model. It means that SBB could become a powerful way for office print providers to grow.
XOS UK previously used the server-based solution Service Accent, the precursor to Asolvi’s cloud-based Vantage Online solution. With market pressures mounting, they found that Service Accent wasn’t efficient or versatile enough to accommodate their future success. They needed faster processes, superior reports, a clearer way of seeing information and the ability to work remotely anywhere and anytime. When Vantage Online was launched to replace Service Accent and be the growth platform they were looking for, the decision to migrate was a simple one.
“The transition was painless,” says Bob Cudmore, operations director for XOS UK. “No major issues arose regarding data migration. Naturally, this was a project that needed careful management on the part of both XOS and the Vantage team, but with excellent communication and clear project goals and timelines the migration was delivered on time, on spec and on budget. Downtime was also kept to virtually zero.”
Cutting out clicks
Vantage Online does everything Service Accent did, but better. Interfaces are more intuitive and about 50% fewer clicks and screens are required to complete key processes such as work control, stock management, contract administration and meter billing.
Sales order processing (SOP) and purchase order processing (POP) are quicker and easier thanks to increased levels of automation. For example, if XOS sell 10 of the same order, they no longer have to build each order manually 10 times in the system. They simply duplicate the order instead. Now a multi-machine deal takes the same amount of time to process whether it’s for two or two hundred machines. Additionally, Service Accent used a more laborious “find, add” process for attaching accessories such as trays and staple sorters to an order. Vantage Online, on the other hand, produces an automated list of compatible accessories for each machine.
Meter billing is also a more streamlined process in Vantage Online, involving fewer clicks. For example, XOS can now select different invoice types and consolidate them into one, a feature that was missing in Service Accent.
From paper-based reports to live analytics
Before upgrading to Vantage Online, XOS used Crystal Reports, which was integrated with Service Accent and displayed information on screens designed to be printed. It wasn’t particularly flexible or quick and none of the data was live. Now XOS are benefiting from a totally re-imagined reporting system, with dynamic dashboards displaying key data such as volume trends, KPIs, margins, costs and profitability in real time.
Having this data at their fingertips means that users are no longer required to compile as many reports. And when a report does need to be compiled to send to a stakeholder, the information is easily exported as a CSV file to Excel or other programs for further analysis. In effect, it is lightning-quick for XOS to get the information they need, when they need it, in the form they need it in.
XOS' favourite feature: The integration with their data collection agent
Before Vantage Online, XOS weren’t experiencing the full benefit of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. This is because the integration between Service Accent and their fleet management system, XSM, was more limited in scope. In particular, meter readings were only inputted automatically into Service Accent if they came from certain in-scope devices. For the rest of their fleet, XOS were required to manually enter the data from XSM into Service Accent.
“Perhaps our favourite single feature [of Vantage Online] is the integration with XSM, where meter readings are seamlessly transferred into Vantage Online from all our connected devices,” says Bob Cudmore. “This massively speeds up our billing process.”
Easier remote access
The fact that Vantage Online is a more proactive system with fewer screens, more automation and a better user interface is only half the reason XOS decided to upgrade.
The other half is that it’s cloud-based. Service Accent was a server-based Windows-only application which needed to be physically installed on a computer to be accessed. While remote working solutions were available, they needed to be configured and maintained by an office-based IT team with a solid understanding of server infrastructure. XOS simply didn’t have the resources necessary to do that.
As a cloud-based solution, Vantage Online eliminates IT support burdens by shifting the responsibility for maintaining the software to Asolvi. Remote working is much easier to facilitate because there is no server-based infrastructure that needs configuring or maintaining. A remote worker is good to go as soon as they have login details.
Scope to do more
By increasing the speed and efficiency of their processes, Vantage Online has given XOS the scope to do far more for their customers than they could using Service Accent. This has made them more attractive as a dealer, inciting significant growth of their customer and machine base. They have also expanded internally, taking on more technicians to deal with the extra demand and deliver the enhanced level of service they now offer.