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Evolution of an organisation’s field service and field service maturity models are hot topics and gaining increasing attention in field service management right now. Moving from basic, manual processes through to automated stages and beyond can deliver significant results to an organisation. But what does this maturity model mean in reality to an organisation and do all field service companies need to strive for the highest levels of field service maturity?
With over 35 years’ experience in the technology industry, Steve Wellen is somebody who knows more than most how important developing maturity is to business success. Prior to joining FieldAware, nearly two years ago, Steve held executive positions with software giants Domo, Inc and Omniture and his passion for the results that technology can deliver is clear.
It is useful to get his insight into how the concept of a field service maturity models can turn into reality for organisations and to take a closer look at the evolution that is happening right now. “I hear time and time again from our clients directly and through our customer support teams that field service is moving on from simply bringing efficiencies into operations, keeping customers happy and managing costs.
“These are important factors in any business, without doubt, but the focus is shifting and that shift is away from service delivery being considered to be an overhead within the business model and for field service to be an integral part of the company, that adds real value. With this strategic shift on the operational side, technology has to at least match these objectives or better still drive and deliver the outcome. Field service leaders realise they have the means to be empowered by the many recent developments in software capabilities - and how forward thinking companies are applying them - to become true value drivers in their business.”
As Steve highlights, technology and operational maturity are integral to one another, so it is useful to talk through the stages that are identified in the FieldAware model.
“In the simplest terms, we have outlined five stages going from the basic, paper-based processes through to a wholly transformative level of maturity which embraces the latest capabilities and emerging technologies.”
At the most basic stage, the field service team is seen as purely reactive, Steve explains. “The organisation’s operational development is restricted by the use of paper-based processes; there is reduced visibility of the workflow and the approach to managing work will generally be function-based and hence, reactive in nature. The field team is likely to be a siloed operation with strong focus on the department, rather than any wider business requirements.”
Moving up to the next level to part-automation means with near real-time management the work can move to a less reactive, more controlled approach with procedures and processes more easily established. However, while field service KPIs may be more easily defined because of the enhanced visibility, they may not align to wider business strategy, so the field service operations may continue to operate within a silo.
The next stage identified in the FieldAware model brings in integrated technology, and as such the operations become more managed. At level three, an integrated operation brings realtime visibility across all of the elements that need to be considered, bringing improved collaboration between teams and increased accountability within them.
Operational growth across the wider business can start to be realised, extending the impact of the field service organisation without compromising effective delivery of service promises and SLAs.
The fourth level is an optimised stage of technology maturity which means operationally field service turns into an opportunity to drive business as continual operational improvement becomes the norm. Processes become underpinned by true business intelligence and trend analysis.
Operations become more quantitatively measured and managed. An optimised stage brings with it a shift from being seen merely as service delivery, to unlocking the business value of field service with the competitive advantage that this can bring.
Finally, the most advanced stage of maturity in the FieldAware model is transformative, where the emerging technologies of IoT, AR, AI and Machine Learning become the norm and this stage has potential to have huge influence on field service operations. At this stage of maturity, the field service organisation is wholly connected across the company, applying analysis to continually improve performance, and adding value to the business through product and service innovation.
Ultimately, this enables field service to drive, not only the business, but the market, which is how companies differentiate themselves from their competition and lead company growth. The maturity of a company’s field service operations is dictated by many factors, explains Steve. Company size, type of industry and customers served, complexity of workflow, value of the assets and equipment they supply and service, and importantly, their leadership.
"One of the most significant transitions for companies, Steve believes comes when they focus on their business insight..."
So, taking these into account, what then drives a company to develop and evolve their field service solution and how is FieldAware seeing this firsthand I ask. “There are four key drivers we see within organisations looking to evolve. The first driver is growth as it is imperative that a growing field service organisation has solutions to support it and keep pace with operational needs. Next is flexibility, which is crucial to a developing field service organisation – being locked into using any solution that can’t easily adapt, handcuffs the business and restricts its development. Efficiency is critical as not having the right technology in place can be a cost driver, limit productivity and compromise service delivery.”
Last, but certainly no means least important is the increasing need for business insight. With more data available to field service organisations than ever, field service leaders demand better insight into their business and they understand that the right software holds the key to this.”
One of the most significant transitions for companies, Steve believes comes when they focus on their business insight. It becomes clear as Steve talks that business intelligence and analytics is an area he is particularly passionate about. His previous role as COO at Domo, Inc has enabled him to bring a fresh look at the application of analytics capabilities in field service.
“The premise of Domo is that it unifies every component of your business and while field service solutions have long had the capability to integrate into other business systems, such as CRM, ERP and accounting, it is analytics that provides the means for field service organisations to realise their full potential.” “Companies that recognise this value, see the importance of a closely integrated and connected field service within the wider business. The new interactions that come from this connection, further unlock the value for the company in terms of customer service, sales or product development to fuel competitive advantage.”
FieldAware has a strong focus on enabling clients to know more through their business insight, allowing them to serve more and grow more as a business. Steve again believes that analytics underpins much of this and for him seeing FieldAware clients achieve their objectives for company growth is another area he has great passion for.
“We are starting to see analytical data being used in unique ways to help field service organisations leverage the findings that are uncovered to drive innovation into their products and services. Forward-thinking companies apply these insights to help customise the service they offer to their customers more easily, deepening the customer relationship and improving levels of satisfaction.” “At the transformative level, the creation of new, unique, predictive and preventative services will help them to serve more and ultimately achieve greater growth.”
FieldAware is working with many organisations through their stages of maturity to address issues they encounter when their operational and technology stages are not aligned. Meadows Office Interiors is just one example. With over 50 years in business, Meadows Office Interiors creates innovative workspaces and company growth along with a strong customer focus, meant the creation of Meadows Service Group to offer ongoing support to their customer base.
A dedicated team was set up to focus on maximising the lifetime and effectiveness of their clients’ workplace assets, but as Steve explained it soon become clear to the management that current processes and practices couldn’t keep pace and more streamlined ways of working had to be introduced.
“Meadows quickly realised they had to be more strategic in the way they worked, to effectively manage the operational side of the business. Working with them to develop their technology maturity enabled improved day-to-day operational management, which has translated into driving their revenue growth. A great success for our client.”
It certainly seems like a successful approach for FieldAware and it is interesting times with their field service maturity model, which will mean more and more organisations will be asking themselves the question is the time right for their evolution in field service maturity.
For more information on field service maturity visit www.fieldaware.com or see Marc Tatarsky, SVP Marketing at FieldAware who joins a panel at Field Service USA 2019, Wednesday April 24th at the JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa
Insights from a recent study by the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School can help you understand if you’re on the right path to advanced services. Professor Tim Baines explains...
Insights from a recent study by the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School can help you understand if you’re on the right path to advanced services. Professor Tim Baines explains...
Is Servitization a burning topic for your organisation - join Professor Baines and the Advanced Services Group for the Spring Servitization Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 - 16 May 2018 more info @ https://www.advancedservicesgroup.co.uk/ssc2018
Researchers and pioneering manufacturers have been singing the praises of servitization and its benefits to business – and it seems industry is starting to listen.
Increasing numbers of manufacturing and technology companies are trying to implement services-led strategies. How to go about doing this in practice, however, still presents a challenge to many. The leaders of today’s industry see the success of Rolls-Royce and Xerox in this area, yet they often struggle to work out how to achieve the same for their own businesses.
Within the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School we’ve been working with manufacturers around the world using the latest research to support them in finding their path to compete through advanced services.
Advanced services’ go a step beyond the product condition and focus on the outcomes that the product enables.While most manufacturers already offer ‘base services’ focusing on product provision such as warranty and spare parts, others take a further step by providing ‘intermediate services’ focused on the product condition such as maintenance, repair, overhaul and remanufacturing,. ‘Advanced services’ go a step beyond the product condition and focus on the outcomes that the product enables.
Real-life examples include Rolls-Royce’s Total-Care offer on gas turbines for their airline customers based on a ‘fixed dollar per flying hour’; Xerox delivering ‘pay-per-click’ scanning, copying and printing of documents; and Alstom Train-Life Services supporting Virgin by assuring the availability, reliability and performance of their Pendolino trains on the UK West Coast Mainline. Advanced services such as these are a core concept in servitization.
With their potential to radically disrupt and alter the face of manufacturing, understanding the process of introducing them is vital to businesses and the economy.
At the Advanced Services Group, this is the focus of our work.
In a recent study, we examined two key questions about the path to servitization:
- What stages do manufacturing companies go through to achieve competitive advantage through advanced services?
- What factors and forces affect their progression through those stages?
We conducted interviews with 14 multinational manufacturing companies, all on a trajectory to compete through advanced services, representing a range of industries – from aerospace, defence and road transport through to air filtration and precision motion control systems.
The four stages of transformation
We found that manufacturing companies go through four stages in their transformation to compete through advanced services: exploration, engagement, expansion and exploitation. As manufacturers become conscious of the concept of servitization and suspect that advanced services may be relevant to their organisation, they will start out in a stage of Exploration, where they are doing their research to find out more about the concept and how it could benefit their business.
If the Exploration stage yields a viable opportunity for growth, the initiative will move to Engagement. Here, companies experiment and run pilots with customers and relevant technology, to evaluate and demonstrate the potential value of advanced services.
If the Exploration stage yields a viable opportunity for growth, the initiative will move to Engagement. Here, companies experiment and run pilots with customers and relevant technology, to evaluate and demonstrate the potential value of advanced services.Once a constructive outcome is achieved, the attention moves to Expansion, where advanced services are innovated and implemented with increased scale and speed. When the value of these is demonstrated, attention will switch from individual projects, to initiatives focused on the reliable and efficient delivery of a portfolio of services across the organisation. In doing this, manufacturers are focusing on Exploitation of advanced services.
In each of these stages you can expect multiple iterations and interactions until there is sufficient evidence and consent to move to the following stage.
Progression through the four stages – or in some cases falling back – is influenced by five forces.
Five forces affecting transformation
1. Customer Pull
Customers’ appetite for services has a significant influence on progression.
Several companies described their decision to offer more advanced services, together with usage-based revenue models (i.e. pay-for-flight-hours or pay-for-passengers-moved) as a direct reaction to customer demand.
2. Technology Push
Other manufacturers start servitization having become aware of the technology that could record how their products are being used and transmit this data back. The data makes it possible to develop advanced services contracts based around payment for outputs achieved rather than asset ownership.
The majority of the companies we studied said they had been influenced by this ‘technology push’; IoT and industry 4.0, which are hot topics in industry at the moment, were often mentioned. Fewer companies mentioned the ‘customer pull’ factor, and yet customers’ growing appetite for ‘experiences’ over ownership is arguably just as significant.
In the UK for example, the appetite for services has grown 2.4% per year for the past 20 years according to the Office for National Statistics, significantly outstripping that for selling products – a trend that is being replicated in every developed economy across the world.
3. Value network position
The position of the organisation within the wider value network can affect business transformation.
As an example, working through distributors can restrict access to customers and inhibit the changes needed to deliver services. In several cases, manufacturers chose to acquire their distributors.
One manufacturer was stalled by the access to remote sensing technologies, wrestling for some time over acquiring a technology vendor, to give them access and control over information. Positioning in the value network that delivers dependable access to both customers and suppliers has a significant influence.
4. Readiness to change
Internal organisational factors influence readiness to change and can affect progression. Having reliable and well-performing products, for example, is a prerequisite to compete through services. It also leads to an interest in advanced services in cases where, increasingly, product reliability and performance are no longer differentiators.
Organisational commitment is also important. In some cases, where the support of the management board was in place from the outset, companies progressed quickly through the exploration and engagement stages. Without this, progress can be much slower.
5. Competitor threat
The actions of competitors significantly affect organisational commitment. In one case, organisational commitment to advanced services came about when a principal competitor acquired a network of service providers.
This caused anxiety amongst the leadership of the company and led to significant investment in its own advanced services programme.
Are you on the right path?
The findings of our study suggest that transformation towards servitization is neither a clear-cut, linear processnor an easy one. In each of the four stages, key milestones have to be achieved before a company can move to the next stage.
The five influencing forces work internally and externally, affecting progress in each stage. These five forces may be so strong that the manufacturer moves rapidly through all four stages. In other instances, they may be so weak that the manufacturer fails to progress entirely.
Next month we will be running the seventh annual Spring Servitization Conference, this time in partnership with Copenhagen Business School, where we will examine research into the detail of these stages and influencing forces.
The Conference is the go-to place for researchers from around the world to present and discuss their latest work, and topics this year will include: changing the mindset of the organisation in order to compete through services; pricing advanced services; how to use data as an enabler for servitization; how SMEs, in particular, can create value through servitization; internal and external enablers and inhibitors.
To book your place, visit https://www.advancedservicesgroup.co.uk/ssc2018.
Field Service News will be reporting from the conference and interviewing some of the industrial speakers; look out for updates in future issues.
Can’t join us at the conference?
You can still develop the skills, knowledge and action plans to implement servitization and advanced services at our Skills for Servitization workshop on 22 May 2018. Find out more at https://www.advancedservicesgroup.co.uk/skills-for-servitization In the meantime if you want to assess where your company stands today in terms of adopting a services strategy and where you’re aiming to get to- and compare your thoughts with colleagues to test your alignment- our quick survey Unlock Your Insight will give you a personalised set of feedback in under five minutes. Visit https://www.unlockyourinsight.co.uk/
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