What does service strategy look like in the new normal?

Field service has changed dramatically in the last 18 months, although we were already on a path of development from one phase of our evolution to the next as an industry.

 

In the first excerpt from a recent white paper we published in partnership with OverIT, we start looking at what we should expect from an FSM solution suited to the post-pandemic world and how do we map an effective path from our existing legacy solutions.

 

The pandemic alone didn’t disrupt how we approach service delivery, we had already planted the seeds some time ago. Undoubtedly, the pandemic accelerated our journey, but it pushed us faster down a path we were already on. It was the catalyst for change rather than the reason.

 

Servitization, for example, had already grown from a niche strategy to a mainstream concept discussed in service organization boardrooms around the world.

 

However, as we begin to see a clearer picture of the new normal, servitization is shifting from a nice to have to an essential strategic move for many companies.

 

Our post-pandemic world is one where we may begin to see a reversal of the drive to the globalization of the supply chain. Many manufacturers are still reeling from the disruption that was brought to their business by external factors. One solution is a more decentralized approach that, while proving more costly, would be far more robust should we face similar challenges once again.

 

Another external factor driving servitization is the focus on the circular economy becoming more pressing as we address climate change issues impacting us all. A focus on sustainability suddenly moves beyond nice-sounding PR. It is now an essential facet of how we, as an industry, must embrace bold thinking as we consider field service in such a context.

 

Servitization, for many companies, allows for shifting the responsibility of output to the service provider, leading by necessity to more intelligent design of assets that are designed to last longer and can be more easily maintained.

 

Similarly, with remote service delivery, we see external factors come into play that could shape its role in the future of service delivery. Remaining on the point of sustainability, for example, the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of the field workforce is hugely boosted by the adoption of remote service tools and technologies.

 

Yet, only a few years ago, remote service delivery was very much the domain of best-in-class leading-edge adopters. Today it is being embraced across our industry. Remote service delivery, an approach to maintenance that companies adopted mainly out of necessity during the times of lockdown have shown us en masse that there could be another way of approaching service delivery, problem triage, and issue resolution.

 

These are two very brief examples of how the industry is currently going through a significant process of evolution, driven in part by factors outside of our control. However, ours is an industry that adapts well. Ours is an industry populated with problem solvers and forward thinkers, a natural result of the often linear progression from field engineer to management that many of our industry’s leaders have chosen to take.

 

Indeed, it was not that long ago that we went through a similarly significant shift, as service moved from cost-center to profit center for a majority of service organizations. Again, this shift was, at first, glance a reaction to external disruption. Many point back to the 2008 recession as a pivotal moment in that shift.

 

With the global economy fractured and product margins being pushed to paper-thin levels, we witnessed a focus on service both as a critical differentiator to win and retain business and as a vital revenue generator.

 

This came at a time when CAPEX investment for new assets was scarce and a desire to sweat assets that much longer, was wholly reliant on strong service agreements. Yet, while the 2008 recession certainly played its part in shaping that phase of industry evolution, much like the ongoing uncertainties in both economic and other factors are doing today, that first decade of the new century showed individuals at the forefront of innovative service design focusing on service as a profit center.

 

Equally, like today, that shift in thinking was inspired by and empowered by a wave of technological innovation. As much as Augmented Reality, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence are changing the way we approach service delivery moving forward now, both Cloud and Mobile Computing radically altered the idea of what was possible then.

 

If we think back to the systems that preceded that era, there was a basic foundational layer within those early FSM solutions that were built and expanded upon, thus creating a new generation of solutions.

 

Elements such as scheduling and engineer-orientated mobile applications were often best-of-breed solutions designed for one purpose that integrated into the FSM platform. Then as we began to see these elements become standard inclusions, we moved into an era of FSM2.0.

 

Similarly, we have now begun to see new technologies like remote assistance tools, AI-based triage, and next-generation dynamic scheduling move through maturation. These tools that were often external to the FSM solution are becoming embedded in sophisticated next-generation platforms such as Geocall from OverIT as we begin to see the emergence of FSM 3.0.

 

In this series, we shall explore what we should expect from such solutions and outline some guidance on the migration from an existing legacy solution to a solution designed with the emerging challenges of the new normal in mind. 

 


 

Further Reading:

 

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