Don't let disruption leave you behind

March 2019

Disruption continues at pace

You won't need me to tell you that most sectors are experiencing unprecedented change due to digitisation and the evolution of customer expectations. New technologies are grabbing the headlines and traditional operating models are getting disrupted through collaborative and crowdsourced models, interconnected networks of partners, platforms or start-ups bringing innovative solutions to market.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is moving from the back-end to the front-end of organisations and their interactions with customers. It is (optimistically) predicted that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020. From autonomous driving vehicles to live translations using artificial neural networks, artificial intelligence will continue to drive new levels of customer engagement.

Digitally driven operating models are accelerating change for organisations and consumers. Think of the roll out of smart meters in the UK; at its simplest the smart meter home display will give consumers greater visibility of their energy consumption.

Towards digital platforms

The future smart meter, however, will enable the adoption of more flexible time of use tariffs and switching; the uptake of consumer demand side technologies such as grid connected battery storage; smart connected appliances and the enablement of smart grids. When deployed at scale, smart grids at a city level could operate at twice the efficiency of legacy electrical grids, and by 2050 could be worth approximately £13 billion and £5 billion in exports. Digital models like these are already blurring traditional industry boundaries and changing the game for the consumer.

Digital platforms are also driving business model disruption, causing changes in marketing, finance, innovation, operations and strategy. The increased uptake of cloud and on-demand services has eliminated traditional market entry barriers and is leveling the competitive landscape for start-ups.

To illustrate the point, take the much quoted statement that:

Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory; and Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

These are all platform based, requiring nothing more than code to exist. In addition, 70% of so-called 'unicorn' start-ups were platform companies in 2015, so the trend will run and run.

Interfacing the customer experience

The interface and customer experience are driving the value, whereas traditionally hardware or product would have driven value. For example, iTunes generates profit by being the thin software between the music industry and the music retailer. Phillips Hue smart lighting translates a commoditised light bulb to an interactive connected lighting system.

Taking logistics as an example, the Uber model also points towards the rise of operations based on crowdsourcing and sharing economy approaches. For example, crowdshippers (such as UberCARGO, Friendshipper and Roadie) and local delivery networks (such as Doordash and Postmates) are enabling asset-light, low fixed-cost models that disrupt the last mile delivery model. Organisations like Keychain Logistics are creating a business shipping marketplace where users can manage the end to end of their shipments to find and aggregate delivery across warehouses, hubs, depots and delivery providers.

The sharing economy, currently worth £7 billion per year is forecast to be worth £140 billion per year in the UK alone by 2025. The past couple of decades have also shown a rapid development of the routes to market of B2C and B2B organisations, and the experience and expectations of their customers and employees.

The impact on operations and field service

Innovative companies now accept they need a seamless multi-channel user experience, taking the elements of each channel that their customers or employees value most, and combining them to deliver a more valuable experience overall. The expectations of the so-called 'digital natives' means that companies must keep up with the pace of change and deliver a digital experience across all of their channels, or lose customer trust and relevance.

Field service management continues to look for new applications of technology to improve efficiency, resource utilisation, quality of service and field performance metrics.

Organisations with field operations are increasingly leveraging asset insights to better model requirements, consolidate shipments and position inventory in better locations. Heads-up display devices can deliver instructions and schematics in front of a field technician's face or overlaid on the asset being serviced. Field service software itself is still getting smarter and leveraging mobility and analytics to drive decision making. Warehousing is receiving a lot of technology focus through the push to automation, robotics and autonomous vehicles.

The customer experience challenge

Customers who raise a problem to their service provider want to know that it will be seamlessly and successfully resolved, whatever channel they interact with. They want to be able to self-serve an appointment at a date and time of their choosing. When an engineer is to be dispatched, the customer increasingly wants to know who will solve their issue, when that engineer will arrive, and what services will be performed when they are there.

Field engineers have therefore become the brand ambassadors for the service organisation. Alongside delivering a productive, right first time work order, they need the right tools, information, and skills to efficiently resolve any issues that may arise.

What to do next

Operational improvement is what we do. Over the past two decades whether our clients have needed field service improvement, consulting led transformation or technology applications that revolutionise their customer experience, we have worked relentlessly to optimise business performance.

We are unique in having such a deep field operations transformation heritage and use this insight every day to produce digital applications that customers love. Applications that help customers receive a more seamless, next generation service experience. Applications that give customers control over how they book their appointments and that use the power of merged reality to bring instant help to customers and technicians.

When these applications are combined with our deep insight and experience...real change happens! Get in touch with us to find out how our amazing customer experience and digital products can help your business.
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