TALKING DOUBLE DUTCH

Dec 24 • Features, resources • 2778 Views • No Comments on TALKING DOUBLE DUTCH

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Field Service Europe returned to Amsterdam this autumn. Field Service News was keen to find out what delegates liked about the event and what their key take-aways were. Active technology, IoT progress, mobile device management, task-based scheduling and a shift to customer-focused services were among the hot topics and there was growing recognition that European service organisations face different challenges compared with their their US counterparts.

Here are some of the conversations we had….

Marne Martin, CEO, ServicePower

FSN: Why did you decide to come to Field Service Europe?
The greater Europe and EMEA region is an important one for ServicePower, so definitely being able to meet with customers that cover all these territories is a fantastic opportunity.

I think also it was wonderful to see many of the presentations and companies at various stages of their maturation in field service. We the more mature end with Airbus and what they were doing with IoT but also that there are still companies that don’t understand the difference between scheduling, manual or drag and drop, versus the real power of optimisation.

FSN: Do you find that the European challenges are slightly different to those faced by US based organisations?
I think it’s different. In the US you have larger field forces so the complexity of the size has driven them into optimisation in advance of some of the European companies. However, the European companies have the same pain points in service and now they are also having to effectively do more with less – the new regulations that count travel time to and from a job as working time actually increases demand for productivity-enhancing technology.

I think it is really important that we talk about active technology, technology that you can continue earning a return on investment on..

There is a difference between more passive service management technology like a GPS or some other regular solutions that are just monitoring and giving analytics versus a more active solution that actually can drive cycle times, jobs per day, making sure your working within SLAs, the priority of jobs etc.

I think it is really important that we talk about active technology, technology that you can continue earning a return on investment on. Again the drivers for technology purchases are a little bit different between regions but the pain points in field service are pretty much the same.

Alec Pinto, Associate Director Field Service Central, QIAGEN

FSN: Why did you decide to come to Field Service Europe?
Firstly it was the opportunity to meet with our peers and learn new ideas and see what other companies are doing so we can benchmark against what they are doing and find out what the next steps are for us to grow our service offering.

I normally come away with 20 or 25 ideas for what we can put into place for the next three years, so from a mid-term goal perspective it’s always useful. I’m also with Peak service: we are always looking for new partners so these opportunities are the second big reason we are here. In summary, it’s networking and business opportunities.

FSN: Have there been any significant key take aways for you this year?
What GE healthcare is doing is amazingly good. They’ve got some really good ideas: the concept of categorising the tasks that you do not the engineers ties in well with what we are looking to do – identifying tasks by complexity and grouping them, creating training plans, regional plans and dispatch plans based around that. The idea is something we’ve been playing with, but how to make it concrete is something that just clicked with us this time.

The internet of things is not really taking off like people think it is. It’s not something that will become real in the next three years.

That’s one big thing. What is also interesting is that the internet of things is not really taking off like people think it is. That’s a big realisation. Obviously there is the pressure that we need to get into the Internet of Things but when you see where the market is going it’s not something that will become real in the next three years.

Paul Rogers, Support Engineer Instrumentation Products, Pall Corporation

FS News: Why did you attend FS Europe?
Within our corporation we have a dedicated support team that is now a separate entity in itself. My boss and colleagues in the USA have already attended the Palm Springs session. They thought it would be a good idea for me to come to this conference with a fresh pair of eyes. I guess what we’ll do when I get back is have a round table discussion.

I will then need to see which direction we are already moving in and probably reach out to some of these technology partners and see what is available in terms of compatible systems, look at some of the things that look quite exciting, some of the technology offerings, the use of smartphones and our engineers having something simplistic to improve their workflow.

At the moment,  I guess our support is complex – it needs to move into newer technologies. This is a great place to start and a way forward for our company. We’re doing a very good job at what we do at the moment but we have to work very hard to do that. What we are doing now is moving things up.

In terms of eureka moments what a lot of it will come down to is if things could be implemented in a machine’s design with embedded sensors reporting back so we are able to tailor an instrument’s servicing based on its usage.
Things like that we can maybe start feeding back to the design teams – things that they may or may not be aware and that they may or may not have even thought about. Exciting times are ahead and that was one Eureka moment I guess.

The other ones were just seeing the level of complexity that some of these providers can offer. If you want to go to that level it’s there.

Oleg Huber, Director of Sales, Coresystems

FSN: Why did you decide to come to Field Service Europe?
it was a natural decision for us to be here again this year – we were here a year ago , two years ago, so we know the community already. We know we meet the right people here, we’ve done business here.

FSN: Has there been a difference in the conversations you are having this year compared to previous years?
The delegates are better informed. When people were talking about Internet of Things or M2M communication or service automation two or three years ago mostly we were looking to tell them this is what it is all about; now it is more of a future based discussion.

At the moment they are really in the process of evaluating. A bit down-to-the earth again because after evaluating a year ago they realise, OK, we are not really there yet, so we need to first fix a couple of things internally before we can go to the Internet of Things or such fancy strategic things. But people are much better educated, I think.

FSN: Do you find on the whole companies are looking to upgrade legacy systems or are there still many companies with no FSM system at all?
A system is always in place whether it is paper-based or automated: they have a system they work somehow. Many companies are working either in spreadsheets or even paper and they come to us and they ask for best practice ; what are your unique selling points; why should we talk to you instead. The demand is there and they really want to see how we can help them move forward.

Jonathan Massoud, Divisional Director & Market Analyst, for WBR, organisers of FS Europe

FSN: What have been the big trends at this year’s Field Service Europe Conference?
In terms of the European market, last year conversations were very much about how to offer services and what to offer for services, how to get it down, present it, package it, market it.

At the end of 2015 a lot of the topics have been about refining that value proposition: putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, taking a step back and working towards a ‘what’s good for the customer is good for the company’ type of approach. Shifting towards that sort of mindset and having the technicians follow suit and recognise that is definitely a step along the path for European manufacturers.

An ongoing issue is a move from what can you market to how do we go from free to fee offerings of services and getting customers to pay for them. .

Other themes his year were around the path towards preventative services. Last year, companies were not talking about the technologies embedded into certain products. This year there have been advances in putting IoT into the thought process and companies looking at connected devices.

FS News: You’ve just hosted Field Service East in the US . Would you say that the delegates here, who are mainly European, have more pain points?

The different regions within Europe is the main differentiator between the US and the European manufacturers.

It’s a big deal for global manufacturers but not so much for those just based in the USA. Training around this is also a big issue for European manufacturers.

It’s not just that they have customers that vary with preferences, characteristics, what they expect and their customer demands but their own field workforces are also pretty diverse. European manufacturers struggle to get their own technicians to flex their soft skills to their regional customers as well.

You can even see it with the attendees here versus the attendees in the States – their personas are completely different. Our European constituents are very aware of personal boundaries, for example I’m French you’re German, we’re going to conduct business like this, I expect this it’s my nature. We don’t get that in the US.

In the European market a lot of these guys do business based around their relationships. That makes the community that we are trying to build here even more important. That’s how these guys build their relationships, it’s how they build their levels of trust.

FSN: Has there been any one technology showcased at this year’s conference that leapt out as one to keep our eyes on this year?
Device management has been big. Mobile device management has been one of the things that has been presented here.

Whilst Internet of things has been more of a loftier conversation, practicality and the technologies that were presented on mobile device management, having apps built for customers, creating a service app for your organisation that has been a big differentiator for some of the companies that we have seen presenting here and a big take away.

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