ServiceMax's global roadshow 'Maximize' screeched into London last week (7 and 8 October) settling in Kings Cross, The event pooled customer case studies, round table discussions and a very special guest speaker, not averse to the power of data. Mark Glover fastened his seat belt.
Christian Horner OBE is Team Principal of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, a position he's held since 2005. During this time his team have notched up 61 pole positions, 61 race victories, four drivers' championships and four constructors' championships and like the modern-day service asset his cars deal in data. Lots of data.
"Each car carries approximately 100 sensors," Christian tells me in a meeting room inside the wonderful St.Pancras Renaissance hotel in Kings Cross, London. "Between any amount of time from track side to the operations centre in Milton Keynes, there are 400GBs of data constantly being passed in real time."
He is speaking ahead of his keynote at ServiceMax's Maximize Event, the firm's touring customer showcase that visited Italy in May and has scheduled stops in Chicago and Tokyo before the year is out, and while Christian's presence at such an event may not be too obvious, the similarities between an F1 team and a service outfit are clearer when it comes to big-data management.
He explains there is an astonishing half a second of latency in data transfer between the car and what the engineers back in the UK see during a race or testing. This data is used to monitor the reliability of the car, but primarily to understand the behaviour of the vehicle and gets translated into improvements and developments, again not dis-similar to the service asset, that can expel performance information to engineers who can preempt any faults.
"Red Bull, in their own way are also harnessing the power of virtual reality..."
The growing use of virtual and augmented environments is another link between service and motor sport, Engineers donning a headset can carry out work on an asset while sending images and data back to an office-based colleague, who can advise and guide appropriately. Red Bull, in their own way are also harnessing the power of virtual reality with drivers often climbing into simulators that can exactly replicate circuits in Monaco, Bahrain or Japan.
Max Verstappen the team's Dutch driver will often take to a virtual track to hone his skills, sometimes just a couple of hours after a race. "We're seeing the emergence of this virtual world of racing in e-sports, something that Max is very keen on." Christian says. "His driving style in reality is also working in the virtual world, where the models of the cars are getting more and more accurate and that's fascinating to see these two worlds really starting to converge."
Industry 4.0As well as hosting Christian's keynote, the main stage at Maximize London swelled with case studies from those firms utilising the ServiceMax' product. One such outfit, Hexagon's Manufacturing Intelligence Division, are helping to navigate industrial manufacturers through industry 4.0. The firm can also boast Aston Martin Red Bull Racing as an innovation partner who have been using Hexagon's metrology products in their F1 cars for over a decade.
Mark Wilding is the Division's Director of Global AfterMarket Operations, and after his presentation we found time to discuss, amongst other things, how the language used around service can have a detrimental affect on people's attitudes to the sector. "The terminology we use for service puts it second place and puts it at the back." he says. "Aftersales; aftermarket; break-fix. It implies that it is an afterthought and it's not up front and critical to uptime and quality and the integrity of your customer's products.
"I think that the culture of service needs to evolve, and we need to evolve perceptions within our own organisations but also in educating customers and leading them through it. While we are trying really hard to promote the value of our service offerings, it can be a really tough sell. It's a real campaign to educate customers on the importance of service."
"Hexagon creates this constant innovation..."
Having been with Hexagon since 2012 working across various service roles, prior to which he spent time at Airbus in Toulouse as a Senior Manager of Supplier Development, Mark now occupies a corporate, strategic position in a company that encourages growth through disruption. "Hexagon creates this constant innovation and my job is to get round all these different people and listen to what they're doing and get excited about what they're doing and share that best practice. I'm not the person with the answers. I'm trying to connect all the people with the answers," he pauses, smiling "And it's great."
I ask Mark where he's based and he smiles again, telling me his time is often spent "in the sky, or on Skype", a reference to the amount of travel he undertakes and the remote working necessity of the job. I imagine such logistics are common among ServiceMax customers, whose industries span the world, a theory confirmed when I spoke to Pablo Fichera from Tecpetrol, an oil and gas company based in South America
Active across primarily across Latin America, the company boasts 13 per cent of Argentina's total gas production, however a reliance on cumbersome paper-based processes implemented across a vast array of sub-contractors was having a detrimental affect on efficiency across its sites.
"The most important thing is the safety and security of the people who work for Tecpetrol..."
"We contract a lot of third party companies who give us a lot of different services including electrical, mechanical, instrument maintenance, facilities, security and health and safety crews," Pablo, the firm's IT Project Manager and Head Applications explains. "We use ServiceMax for work order management mostly for the underground services we plan work orders; we can confirm the crew personnel and assign the work orders and create the briefs and we can see in real-time what work is happening in the oil fields."
The health and safety of employees is paramount to all firms regardless of industry but its implementation and 'tick-box' certification methods can be slow. Pablo was keen to emphasise the importance of worker safety on all Tecpetrol sites, a process which was being ring-fenced by ServiceMax's software. "The most important thing is the safety and security of the people who work for Tecpetrol," he affirms. "We are digitising this process by incorporating this into the work flow of the work orders, meaning the worker is not allowed to carry out work without the signed documents. We include permissions and approvals for workers who have to work at height, for example, and the approval of Personal Protective Equipment such as safety glasses."
An Asset-Centric World
My day concluded with ServiceMax's 'top two', an interview with CEO Neil Barua and Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer and former CEO Zinc President Stacey Epstein. As the rain fell outside and I sipped what must have been my fifth coffee of the day, I asked the pair what the next milestone is for the company, given the recent announcement that ServiceMax are servicing over 200,000,000 assets.
"We're going for a trillion," Neil Barua says but perhaps only half joking. "The reason we trumpet that is that the data captured off those assets can be given to people so they can run their businesses more efficiently and service their customers better. It's a material advantage that ServiceMax and no other company in enterprise or Service Execution Management has and it's a real differentiator. Our competitors are focused on the customer or scheduling, we're focused on the asset."
"It's a whole new category of technology that's changing the way people think about delivering service..."
I push Stacey on the role of the asset, presenting the idea of it becoming more important than the engineer. She cites a fresh piece of research commissioned by ServiceMax, carried out by Forrester Consulting, showing that of 675 firms surveyed, 75 per cent felt the asset will outlive the engineers who service them.
"Because of new technologies like AI and IoT and ServiceMax," she explains, "there's this whole new category being created around the asset, which we call 'Asset-centric Service' and it's all about selling the uptime of the asset and not selling the product, and with that service becomes king. If I'm selling you uptime of an asset, then I'd better make sure it stays up."
An asset-centric world and where you're creating a system of record of the asset and not just the parts that were sold, or the parts that were taken but also the diagnostics that's coming from its data, I think it's a whole new category of technology that's changing the way people think about delivering service."
As I switch off my dictaphone and tidy up my coffee cups the rain falls harder outside. My phone bleeps: a notification from Amazon saying a delivery has arrived. I scurry outside, pull my coat collar around me and order an Uber to take me South of the river; I'm off to meet my brother for dinner. I settle in the backseat of the pristine car, grinding slowly through London traffic and I think about Amazon and Uber changing service. Then Stacey's words filter into my head: the asset is a "whole new category of technology that is changing the way people think about delivering service".
The asset is changing service and ServiceMax certainly know it.