The Impact of IoT on Enterprise Service Management – Part II

interent of things

As follow-up to last week’s blog post, I wanted to share some more answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the impact on IoT on Enterprise Service Management (ESM):

  1. What new skills sets are required to support an IoT environment?   IoT generates an extensive amount of real time data, some of which of is unstructured. In order to make use of this data in any meaningful way, a service provider will need to employ “data scientists”. These are individuals skilled at analyzing and interpreting data through predictive analytics.
  2. What impact will IoT have on Call Center personnel? The always on nature of IoT and its ability to send automatic alerts to the service organization will reduce the demand for personnel that handle basic call handling and dispatching procedures. However, there will be a greater need for remote support personnel with the ability to monitor service events in real-time, apply predictive analytics, and initiate corrective action.
  3. What will be the role for Field Service Engineers (FSE)? IoT has the ability to improve the percentage of service events that are resolved remotely without dispatching a FSE.   This does not necessarily equate to a diminished role for FSEs. In fact, the need for FSEs will increase. First, FSEs will be required to deploy IoT solutions. Second, FSEs will be needed to provide onsite diagnostics and troubleshooting when remote resolutions prove ineffective. Third, FSEs will function in the role of onsite consultant in helping the customer obtain maximum benefit from the technology operating at their site.
  4. How will IoT impact the Supply Chain?  Most people agree that IoT will enable Supply Chain personnel to proactively ship a replacement part or consumable to the end-customer before the customer is even aware of their need. The reverse logistics supply chain will also benefit from IoT in the sense that it will gain better visibility into events occurring at the field level that impact demand on return center and depot repair operations.

I know that these answers barely scratch the surface of the questions people have about the impact of IoT on Enterprise Service Management (ESM).  In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to share my insights on IoT and ESM.  As always, I am interested in other people’s perspectives on this subject.  Please feel free to post any comments, thoughts, or fun facts that could help advance the body of knowledge around this subject.

The Impact of IoT on Enterprise Service Management – Part I

iot 1

Last week I attended the IFS World Conference 2015 in Boston, MA and participated in a panel on the subject of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on Enterprise Service Management (ESM).   The other members of the panel included Adam Brody, Director of Enterprise Systems at Sysmex America, Inc. and Tom Bowe, Global Industry Director, IFS, Inc.   We were asked some great questions by our moderator Jon Briggs and members of the audience who were comprised of industry analysts, members of the press, and other influencers.

I am taking the liberty in this blog post of sharing some the key questions that were poised to us and the answers I provided.  Here they are:

  1. Which service industries will be affected by IoT?  It is hard to imagine any industry that will not be affected by IoT especially when it comes to the area of service and support.   As long as there is a way to connect a sensor to electronic or electromechanical equipment, there’s an opportunity for IoT.
  2. How will the end-customers benefit from IoT?  The conventional wisdom is that IoT enables proactive service management. If you can see what’s happening with the equipment in real-time, then you can predict and anticipate what may happen next. Pre-emptive actions could be taken to avoid downtime or prevent failure.
  3. What is the financial gain to manufacturers from IoT? Manufacturers can collect real-time data related to system reliability and maintainability issues which enable them to be more precise in managing service resources.   More importantly, IoT provides manufacturers with a vehicle for offering premium priced services like remote monitoring and diagnostics, automatic replenishment of consumables, and proactive service management.
  4. Will there be divergence in usage between B2B and B2C applications? It’s possible that some segments of the consumer market may be resistant to IoT because they believe that it intrudes on their personnel privacy.
  5. What are the challenges to IoT adoption? One of the biggest challenges to using IoT Technology to transform service management is that it requires updates to the existing technology infrastructure. Some technology out there is 10 years old. If you really want to adopt IoT throughout the enterprise, every piece of technology has to be IoT-enabled. That’s going to take some time. Another challenge is learning how to make use of all the data and information collected by IoT.

 

We covered a few other important topics in this panel discussion which I plan to share in next week’s blog post, so stay tuned.  You might also want to check out the article appearing in Tech Target from Laura Eberle titled “How is the IoT changing Enterprise Service Management?”   Laura did a great job covering the key salient points from this discussion.  Last but not least, I’d appreciate it if you could add to this conversation by sharing your perspective on IoT and what impact it will have on enterprise service management.

Treat salespeople like the valuable assets they are

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With so much merger and acquisition activity occurring within the High Tech Industry, I thought it would make sense to understand how sellers should deal with their most valuable assets, their salespeople.  I posed this question to my friend and business partner, Joe Vanore at Everingham & Kerr, who gave me permission to republish this article from the company’s June/July 2014 newsletter….

Knowledgeable, experienced salespeople with strong customer relationships are worth their weight in gold — or perhaps the premium paid to acquire their company. So the last thing you want to do as you integrate your acquisition is alienate this valuable group of employees. Instead, focus on convincing sales staff of your merger’s merits and involving them in the planning process.

Thwarting the competition

As soon as your deal is announced, competitors are likely to contact your target’s customers to persuade them to jump ship, claiming that your combined organization will be too big or bureaucratic to effectively serve them. Competitors will also attempt to recruit your best salespeople.

Act quickly to thwart competitors’ efforts and reap the benefits that attracted you to the transaction in the first place. Help salespeople communicate the deal to customers by preparing a script that explains expected changes and how customers will benefit. Include FAQs and provide the name of a person in the organization who can answer questions your sales staff can’t.

Face to face meetings

Also be sensitive to the morale in the sales department. It’s not enough to communicate upcoming events via e-mail. CEOs of both organizations need to meet face-to-face with their salespeople as soon as possible to address rumors, reassure employees of their job security and discuss potential opportunities within the merged organization. Keep these presentations short and spend time listening to employee concerns.

Salespeople will — above all — want to know how the deal will affect them. For example:

  1. Will the sales forces of the two companies be combined?
  2. Will salespeople now be expected to sell the other company’s products or services?
  3. Will compensation and benefits change?
  4. How will the new sales department be structured, and who will manage it?

 

If you don’t know the answer to a question off hand, promise that you’ll respond as soon as possible — then keep your word. Following these meetings, salespeople can return to their work and communicate a consistent message to existing and potential customers.

Financial Incentives

Even the most loyal employee will consider a competitor’s offer if the price is right. So consider financial incentives, if you hope to retain top sales producers (and their customers) and encourage staff to cooperate with new colleagues and share knowledge.  Offering retention bonuses and rewards for maintaining and increasing sales — in addition to existing compensation plans — can help. Make such incentives easy to understand and clearly achievable. While interim bonus programs may be expensive in the near term, they can prevent sales from dropping off during the merger process. And they will help you generate far more long-term revenue to offset the immediate cost.

Ask the real experts

Because they work in the trenches, salespeople may have cross-selling and other ideas. Create a temporary sales leadership team to evaluate possible downside risk and increased sales potential. The team should include two to four seasoned salespeople who focus their efforts on retaining customers and maintaining sales during the integration.

There are many ways the team can help accomplish these goals. It can serve as a clearinghouse for customer concerns and employee confusion over the future of product and service offerings. Team members also might have ideas for new product and service offerings or combinations. Sales leaders can be valuable in identifying and monitoring at-risk accounts.

A fragile link

Although all personnel affected by a merger deserve honest communications and an opportunity to voice their concerns, it’s particularly important to keep salespeople in the loop. Your sales staff is your direct link to customers, and this link can be broken if it’s not handled with care.