2015……The year of the S

by NIck Frank on February 11, 2015

SheepThis is an article published in Field Service News annual ‘Handy Little Book…’ on the world of Field Service.

 

A variant also published in another blog I am working on  “Service in Industry’

 

 

 2014 saw an explosion in our societies understanding of the potential for connected devices. Driven mainly by the SMART phones and the ease of connection to the internet, just about everyone from your primary school kid to their grandmother is getting connected.  And is it my imagination, but utter the words Big Data, Analytics and IoT and they all seem to nod ‘sagely’?

So with all this ‘wisdom’ in the world, it’s not surprising that in their struggle to differentiate, Service IT Solution providers have been falling over themselves to describe capabilities that manage knowledge, bring transparency and leverage big data. And in fairness this is not just talk. The capabilities on offer are impressive, as Field Service, Parts Management, CRM technologies are increasingly integrated into seamless end to end solutions.  Indeed this trend is driving the next wave of consolidation in the industry.  Led by PTC with their acquisition of Axeda and ThingWorx, solution providers are looking  to develop the technology platforms to enable Remote Services. Another example of the big bets being made is GE’s multi million dollar investment in their Predix platform for Machine to Machine (M2M) communications. The effect of this hype has been to dramatically raise the profile of the potential value connected technologies could have on industry.

But I am troubled by this jargon and thinking. In my mind these technologies and capabilities have no value if you do not do anything with the information they create.  Yet we are all being told that if you don’t have an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, you are dead!

But while working on a couple of projects in the area of Analytics and Remote Services, I had a Eureka moment.

It’s about the way we think!

Ok I admit, its probably blindingly obvious,  but I believe that 2015 will increasingly become the year of S.   And that is not because it’s now the ‘Chinese year of the Sheep’!

No, I believe we have it all wrong when we talk about IoT. It should be the iotS

S for Service Thinking.

In simple terms ‘Service Thinking’ is the culture or even passionate belief that value is only created by applying your technical or business knowledge to improve whatever it is your customer is trying to achieve.

But to do this professionals will start to adopt new ways of thinking and I am afraid new jargon. We will hear more of ‘Co-Creation’ & ‘Service Experience’. Metric will be biased towards outcomes rather than operational inputs.  ‘Continuous improvement via learning’, which is a very much part of the service psyche, will enable companies to find new ways to ‘run, transform and innovate’ their business.

Indeed this type of thinking is not just limited to field service. Already most really profitable manufacturing companies have moved away from a product dominant focus to a Service Centric approach. These companies focus on value creation in their customer’s business leveraging their technology and inherent know how to earn better than average margins.  Indeed this is a concept I will be promoting in 2015 together with the Servitisation guru Professor Tim Baines of Aston Business School, as part of the Manufacturing Services Thought Leadership network initiative to be launched later this year.

But it also dawned on me, that it is our imagination that is now the limiting factor. Frankly the technology is out there to do more or less what ever you want.  The big gap is our understanding of what these technologies can do for our business.

Indeed it is Service Thinking and Imagination, which companies must master if they are to reap the full rewards offered by these new technologies. Already larger OEM’s are exploring these concepts in a very pragmatic way. We see them building infrastructure that sits between their Service Management System and their devices as they discover the benefits of remote services. In the coming year, together with FSN, we will explore the progress they are making.

So in 2015 if you want to stay ahead, don’t be a sheep…. Be a Service Thinker!

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