ServiceMax have been one of the undoubted success stories in field service software of recent years. Kris Oldland, Field Service News Editor spoke to Their COO Scott Berg to find out about the journey they have been on and what happens next….
It was a cold early morning in Paris towards the tail end of last year when I met with Scott Berg. For me having flown in late the night before the famous Parisian coffee brought the welcome caffeine boost required to focus my sleep deprived brain.
However, when Berg entered the room, looking fresh in a crisp suit and bounding with a relaxed and jovial energy, it was clear that for him no such shot of espresso was required. Despite what had been a pretty hectic schedule he was clearly the type of guy that gets up raring to go every morning. And why shouldn’t he be, as COO of ServiceMax he was clearly in a good place.
It seems that almost every other company I speak to at the minute has recently moved to their field service management platform. If that sounds like an exaggeration here’s some interesting statistics to consider.
They have just finished their sixth year with a 100% year on year growth so and added 125 customers to their roster within the last twelve months. They operate in a highly competitive market and as far a I am aware at least, nobody is making that kind of progress and taking that kind of volume.
As Berg himself acknowledges “We’ve won more business in the last year than some of our competitors have done in the last 15.”
And these customers come in all shapes and sizes, from all verticals across every corner of the globe.
“The really fun thing for us is to see the variety of companies that we are working with.” Berg begins in an enthusiastic manner “We recently ran a Chief Service Officers summit, the first event that we had ever tried like that and there were 6 Global Heads of Service with the likes of Coca-Cola and Becton Dickinson and so on there. So on one hand we were working with these massive companies and then on the other hand there are companies like Service2 which is a husband and wife owned company that have gone from having five technicians to 10 since they employed ServiceMax – so it’s a kinda cool thrill a minute kind of energy in the market right now” he adds.
This has always been one of the fascinating things about field service, there are so many parallel challenges across disparate industries and this is something Berg elaborates on further as we talk.
“That was completely the case yesterday, there was the Head of Professional Services for the Sony group, the man in charge of service for everything except their consumer brands. So movie theatre camera systems and BBC News and all of the big news network type of things “ he explains “and he had the same talent acquisition issues as everybody else, he had the same political challenges internally of getting a seat at the boardroom table to enable him to pursue some initiatives, even though he was the only growing part of the business.
“All day it was the same story and it didn’t matter whether you were curing cancer or showing the latest movie at the cinema, it was basically the same sets of conversations we were having with people.”
And it is easy to imagine Berg being able to hold such conversations with these Global Heads of Service or equally with an owner of a small SME such as Service2 who are just taking the first steps in growing their business. He comes across as an approachable and enthusiastic but there is also an earnestness about him as well.
However, it’s easy enough to talk about all the good things ServiceMax have achieved but what about the things that they haven’t. Is there anywhere that Berg felt remained a work in progress for what is lets not forget still a relatively young organisation in it’s market segment.
“I think we’ve done a phenomenal job when it comes to capitalising on the mobility space” he begins “We’ve developed our Android platform and we’ve revamped our iOS solution which has been positive. It’s been somewhat of a surprise in how ready and willing the market is to take on these high-end portable devices. “
“One of the things that still perplexes me though is how slow the uptake on Internet of Things, and machine to machine communication.” he continues.
“It’s funny, I use solar panels on my house and from my phone I can tell you if they’re working and then through my Nest thermostat I can turn the heating up and down from my phone also. Yet here are these massive, powerful, hi-tech intellectual property companies and they can’t figure out how to get an Ethernet connector jack plug into their devices?” he adds with a laugh.
The thing is he has a point. Widespread adoption of IoT in field service is behind where it should be based on the technology available. And to be fair to ServiceMax for those clients that are set to take advantage of M2M connectivity they are pretty much ready to go .
“We are very eager to jump on this [IoT]” he comments “We do have some customers like Elekta who have a full offering which we call IntelMax for machine to machine connectivity and Johnson Controls made huge investments in the area but it still strikes me how hard its been for industry. I have a little hundred dollar consumer device on the wall of my home that can do it and yet industry can’t?”
So is the ServiceMax product all set to go for Internet of Things?” I ask “Is it just a case of waiting for the market to catch up?”
“I think it is” Berg replies ‘”There are certainly relationships we are trying to build. We’re in discussions with people like Cisco and others to try and bridge that last mile of connectivity and we’ve explored some of the Apple iBeacon technology sensing people, locations and the physicality with the device.”