In today’s service economy it’s often not enough to push out a product and call it a day. That is why the ability to productize services (a practice that has become known as “servitization”) has become so important to many organizations. The ability to offer a service commitment to a customer, whether it’s in the form of “white glove” repair service, extended warranty, or long-term consultative relationship, can be a huge boon to an organization’s bottom line and change the nature of their customer relationships.
But for servitization to be successful, everyone involved in the service and maintenance of a product must be able to easily share information and collaborate. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.
Traditionally, a product failure is followed by a flurry of phone calls and emails between factory managers, OEMs, service technicians and others. Everyone scrambles to determine the problem, formulate a repair plan, and figure out the answers to important questions—Is it covered under warranty? What is its service history?
Once on site, there may be another round of calls and emails as technicians ask for additional tools, parts, approvals, estimates, etc. This coordination can sometimes take longer than the actual repair, which only hurts uptime and damages providers’ service reputations.
Implementing an integrated, closed-loop framework that connects disparate data sources can close this communication loop and serve multiple purposes.
First, collecting all relevant information about a product (its service history, warranty data, recommended maintenance schedules) can provide a 360-degree view of an asset’s components and lifecycle. This enables the system to create context for the service team, helping them understand what to do now (actionable information) and how to make the best choices (in-context, complete information). Data presented in-context makes it easier for teams to diagnose problems, determine the best fixes, and create a workable repair plan to get the product up and running in a shorter amount of time while avoiding incorrect or incomplete fixes.
Second, having all information in one place ensures that everyone in the service process has access to all necessary data, thereby enhancing collaboration and communications. If an asset fails, all team members have access to the same vital data about that failure. For instance, a service provider can look at sensor diagnostic data, as well as the history of a specific piece of equipment, to get a better sense of the problem. Field technicians can access schematics, diagrams, and other pieces of information while on site. OEMs can easily provide warranty information and other details to expedite the repair process.
In short, all individuals can more easily work together, in near real-time, to minimize downtime and improve service. OEMs are able to schedule technicians more efficiently (and, therefore, more cost-effectively) and get immediate feedback on estimated repair times and costs. Technicians can rest assured that they have the most updated information, so they can attack a problem more quickly with the right tools.
As the volume of data collected by the system grows, the equipment provider can use analytics tools to anticipate possible problems and schedule preventive maintenance. This helps keep products running and ensures that providers are keeping up their end of service bargains. The analytics can also provide useful insights on ways to further smooth the service process.
A company that successfully engages in servitization can create new revenue streams, maintain better customer relations, and gain an advantage over its competition. For this to happen, information-sharing and collaboration must become easier and more efficient. Implementing a closed-loop framework for better communication makes this possible and helps organizations turn servitization into a viable revenue stream.
Dick Hyatt is president and CEO of Decisiv