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Taking time out for the tribe

Jan 16 • Features, Software and Apps, Uncategorized • 1719 Views • No Comments on Taking time out for the tribe

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With a handy announcement from Gartner arriving just in time for their annual European conference Maximize Europe, ServiceMax were in buoyant mood across the two days in Amsterdam. Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News was on hand to get reaction from ServiceMax’s Dave Yarnold and Rick Gustafson…

With in excess of three hundred attendees sitting in the main hall of the Krasnopolsky Hotel in Amsterdam waiting for Dave Yarnold’s keynote speech, the mood in the ServiceMax camp was already on a high. However, what tipped the mood into one of true celebration was the announcement just a few days earlier that the San Francisco based company had just come out at the top of the pile of the much awaited Gartner Magic Quadrant Field Service report.

With a whole bunch of product innovations and customer success stories already lined up for the next two days – this recognition from Gartner really was perfectly timed – adding both a sense of gravitas and triumph to the sessions across the two days of Maximize Europe.

“We didn’t know when it [the Gartner announcement] was going to hit the street so everything you saw, the whole presentation around our model, our platform, our services, and our passion was already in place. But then we were able to insert the validation of all of that as well,” comments Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax as I caught up with him a little later in the day.

“It was a beautiful thing to be able to come here present our mission and our progress and then show that validation from a really credible third party – it was really fantastic. The timing was terrific – Dave Yarnold, CEO, ServiceMax

“It was a beautiful thing to be able to come here present our mission and our progress and then show that validation from a really credible third party – it was really fantastic. The timing was terrific,” he adds.

Indeed, one of the biggest factors in why the Gartner Magic Quadrants are so widely acknowledged as key industry benchmarks is that it they are not just based on a set defined group of criterion from one organisation, but also upon feedback from each company’s own clients. This is something that makes the recognition even more important for Yarnold.

“It’s the biggest thing,” he says. “Everybody meets with these analysts and everybody presents their products but where there the rubber meets the road is the references.”

“Being able to give the analysts lots and lots of accounts with lots of companies getting results from their operations and then of course the specific comments that were made in the report about large companies expanding their global roll outs and actually getting all kinds of great financial returns – those are the things that go beyond hype,” he adds.

However, one gets the feeling that even without the Gartner announcement, the conference would have been a very upbeat affair. Field Service News has now attended the last three Maximize Europe events in a row and there are considerably more people and more buzz about the place than there was at the inaugural event held in Paris just a few years ago.

“We changed our strategy a little bit this year,” explains Yarnold when I comment on the growth of the event. “Instead of having a major event in San Francisco and two minor events in Europe and APAC, we’ve acknowledged all three regions are important to our business so rather than force our European or Japanese customers to fly to San Francisco we decided to make a concerted effort to do a great event in all three places.”

“I think what’s important when you’re trying to grab the hearts and the minds of a group is you have to create an environment for the tribe to get together so they can share experiences and learn from one another,” Yarnold continues.

“Even at lunch I was introducing companies who were saying ‘oh you’re a ServiceMax user that’s great, we use your parts in our products so let’s talk’ and that really helps. It helps them with their business and clearly it helps us because they’re bonding around the experience that they’ve had with us.”

There was one slide in particular that really caught my eye in the morning’s opening sessions and that was the sheer number of partners within the ServiceMax ecosystem, the market place for which was only launched just over a year ago. I was keen to understand just how important that partnership ecosystem was in the continuing success and vision of ServiceMax and what role it would play in the future of the company.

“Several years ago we came to a couple of realisations,” opens Yarnold when I discuss this with him.

We’ve brought to market a nice bite-sized way to go about this that can deliver real business value -Rick Gustafson, CFO, ServiceMax

“One was that at the time, we were doing all of our implementations because customer satisfaction was so important to us – we wanted to make sure that every single customer was thrilled with us. However, we reached a point where continuing to do that would mean it would be really hard to scale the company. Also we were broadening our geographic presence and we needed to have partners that operated locally, using the local language.”

“The other thing that we were seeing, especially as we got into larger situations, was there were areas of functionality that it just didn’t make sense for us to build when some of our partners had that functionality.”

“Still we were surprised how fired up those partners were to engage with us and the last time I checked about half of our customers have actually used one of our partner’s products in conjunction with ServiceMax. It’s been really great to see that since we set up that partner market place . We can’t do it all so we’ve been thrilled with the support we’ve got from the partner community.”

In terms of the technology itself there was one definite show-stealer Field Service Connect, ServiceMax’s IoT solution, which was showcased with a number of successful case studies. Given the relative infancy of the product which launched just over a year ago, were the team at ServiceMax surprised how quickly these customers were able to show real value in using the tool?

“I was not surprised by it all,” replies Rick Gustafson, CFO, ServiceMax. “We’ve brought to market a nice bite-sized way to go about this that can deliver real business value. We’ve had the early adopter program which we’ve run half a dozen customers through it and now we have a couple of customers that are going to expand it broaden it out across the business.”

“I think the key to this is we boil it [IoT] down to a very simple value proposition and we talk about it as a way of getting started with IoT. We make it very understandable, very pragmatic, with well-defined outcomes and when we sit down with the customers we intentionally say let’s focus on two or three use cases lets not try to boil the ocean,” Yarnold adds.

“The key to these hype areas is you’ve got to get some value for your early customers otherwise everybody says it was just over-hyped and it dies. Here there is real business value,” he concludes.

It would seem that both an army of satisfied customers and now Gartner themselves would agree with him too.

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