In Part One of this Industry Leader interview, Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax, spoke about the company’s rapid growth and the technology underpinning that rise to prominence. In Part Two, he talks to Marc Ambasna-Jones about the the changing world of field service and the 4Ps he considers essential to success.
Service is not just considered a cost centre any longer, Yarnold points out. “Service people are getting involved in growth discussions. So you will have to know what is going with your customers and all these products will have to be calibrated and serviced and this means a field service tech is needed to go do it.
More of service will be on manufacturers now and they will want it because it’s an opportunity to evolve selling product into a service business model. Instead of just selling licenses and products up front, you now have powerful long term relationships because you offer upgrades and so on. There is more tie-in. It also gives manufacturers longer, recession-proof, financial models and you will see more field techs as a result.
The reality of course is that no one knows for sure how service will develop. All you can do is support the service teams with a set of tools that make them more central to the ongoing success of a business.”
People, Products, Processes and Promise
FSN: While this sounds great, surely there are gaps in the ServiceMax arsenal?
DY: “All this stuff is deep. When you dive into the four Ps – People, Products, Processes and Promise – (ServiceMax’s key message), there’s just an incredible amount of depth that you can add into the platform. We built it with the 4 Ps in mind, so we can expand. I don’t see any huge gaps but the more we get into it, the more we peel back the onion and discover more about our customers’ needs, the more we can develop new features and pump out capabilities.”
FSN: Is Product IQ is an example of that?
DY: Yes, Product IQ enables companies to uncover, track and interact with their installed base and make it come alive.
How many companies have a handle on their installed base and their system of record for all their customer assets? Very few. It’s a big gap – all these companies growing through acquisitions with all these different sets of data in different systems. It’s not one of the first things that gets harmonised so we are hoping we can help.
How many companies have a handle on their installed base and their system of record for all their customer assets? Very few.
Selling on Salesforce
FSN: Looking back, how important has Salesforce been to ServiceMax and what is the relationship now? They must look at you and think, ‘I wish we’d done that?’
“Well, yes, they have the platform on which to build but we have spent a lot of money and time to build ServiceMax. It’s taken years to understand the needs of a market, which is one of the reasons why it’s not been disrupted previously. From a system perspective it has all the complexities of an ERP system, multiple functions having to work together, multiple data sources, a lot of integration points.
Plus it has all the complexities of a CRM system in that you have to deliver a customer-facing app to enable customer-facing folks to do their jobs. So, it’s got to be simple, easy to use, easy to interact with and on top of that it has to be disconnected and mobile.
That of course means solving the problem of data synchronisation – you are talking about one of the most complex enterprise application domains ever – so it’s not trivial to go and build one of these.
“In terms of Salesforce, it has been an awesome enabling technology because we go into service organisations that are tasked with taking care of massive customer bases and they are not going to put that at risk. It’s reputation and a significant revenue stream, so organisations must be super conservative.
We are riding in on one of the best, well established cloud platforms and in many cases already tried and tested and used for sales and marketing, so building on the Salesforce platform has given us a tremendous head start. It’s allowed us to get over a lot of hurdles that we would have otherwise had to face in a very conservative target market.”
Service people are in front of customers every day. They are generating revenue and performing this incredibly vital function. Why does nobody think about those guys?
FSN: ServiceMax growth has been impressive. Does it reflect the growing importance of the service industry?
“When we were a 40-50 person company I was having meetings with CIOs of $25bn Fortune 500 companies.
There were times when I was looking around thinking this is unbelievable. When we started the company we looked at the competitive landscape and realised nothing has really happened since the late 90s. No one had really cared about this market and that surprised me. Considering how much revenue comes out of service operations, it’s shocking.
I won’t share the logo but, when I spoke to the CIO and head of service one of the biggest companies in the world, I asked ‘why is it the case that when a new mobile device comes out everyone says, your sales people need these?’
Service people are in front of customers every day. They are generating revenue and performing this incredibly vital function. Why does nobody think about those guys? He shook his head and said, “I’m not sure.”
FSN: Do you see yourself as championing their cause? Is that what drives you and the business?
“It’s one of the drivers. Certainly for a long time service has been an afterthought. It goes back to the business model. If you generate a sale and from that sale, everything after cuts into that profit, so businesses want to minimise costs. Service has traditionally been viewed as a cost but times are changing fast and we believe we are a big part of that change.”
Yarnold talks a great game. He has enthusiasm and determination in abundance and that can only be applauded.
He has come a long way since his days with Clarify and there is a sense that he really does want to fly the flag for field service but it is the company’s land grab that is intriguing and also telling.
Offices in Europe and the Far East have been added to the roster. Although Salesforce may not be jockeying for position, the giants of Oracle and SAP are players yet to fully wake to the potential of the market. By the time they do ServiceMax could be an attractive acquisition target anyway. Certainly ServiceMax is not short on investors.
“There are a lot of service companies out there, millions of field technicians around the world who are trying to do their job but still don’t have great tools. They have clipboards, old Lotus Notes, applications that are simple and do not do a great job in terms of helping them do their job. There is a huge opportunity for us here. And as a place to invest technology dollars, that sentiment is starting to build.”