Customer Outcomes Take Priority in the IoT Journey




Field service technicians from Trane Inc. probably know that you went to see “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” instead of that artsy intellectual documentary. Fortunately, they don’t judge our taste in movies, they use the Internet of Things data stream – ticket sales, weather patterns, building designs – to be sure the theater audience is comfortable.

Trane has more than 2,500 field technicians who know that “connecting with your customer is how you make a difference” and IoT is helping companies create new kinds of services that matter, said Kevin Bollom, the company’s vice president of building services.

For more than a century, Trane has made customer service its focus, Bollom told the keynote audience at LiveWorx 2016. Today, that means using data and remote wireless technologies so building owners and managers can focus on bigger-picture efficiency of heating and cooling their facilities.

“For almost a decade we’ve been using IoT to bring data to deliver the best solution possible in how they operate their building,” Bollom told the LiveWorx audience. “It still comes down to a person talking to another person, technology can help you do that in a new way.”

These days, buildings  “talk” to each other and report to their managers with relevant data. Window shades can close at the correct time every day as sun heats your space. Thermostats and sensor networks send in-building data so HVAC systems adjust automatically before people arrive, so resources are used only where and when needed.

Customers want outcomes, not just products, is a consistent LiveWorx theme and the IoT transformation for any business requires:

  • finding new ways of adding value,
  • reducing disruptions to your clients, and
  • improving the return on product sales with service and repair revenue.

“We challenged ourselves and wanted to lower total overall costs – to change and transform how we think about services,” said Autumn Braswell, COO of iQor, an outsource service provider. “And getting started is half the battle.”

The company operates in 18 countries and handles thousands of customer service calls daily. It lowered labor and overtime costs by $2 million in a set-top cable box repair operation; 5 percent material savings and reduced inventory, she said. For the client, a 75 percent increase in efficiency was a new way to provide unique value, she added.

Everything can be improved. And connected IoT systems means upgrades and services can be switched while products are in use -- not by replacing them. Old terms like ‘production’ or ‘downtime’ are giving way to dynamic, responsive, customized services.  In an Accenture survey more than 80 percent of respondents said IoT will dramatically affect their operations in the next five years.

Agile workflows used to update software are now being applied to manufacturing, said Joe Justice of Scrum Inc. The ‘done, doing, needed’ model of team-based ‘sprints’ to a project’s completion is shortening product lifecycles. Existing machinery can be updated or diagnosed remotely instead of reacting when interruptions occur.

Capacity and service delivery adjust to predicted demand, rather than responding when calls come in. That means Justice isn’t boasting when he recites the Agile goal of “twice the work in half the time.”

A NEW BUSINESS MODEL OR A NEW BUSINESS

IoT expertise is reviving distributors, partners and independent vendors. In some ways, small companies are proving wrong the early Internet predictions of ‘disintermediating’ business. Today’s more complex and connected production and service networks are creating new sources of knowledge and value for the companies willing to mine data to spot new opportunities.

Understanding your business and your customer’s daily operations is crucial – and adding anecdotes, knowledge and history to data is part of the mission. One story from Diebold Corp. found that repairs to ATM card readers increased not only with the number of uses, but also the humidity levels in their locations. That correlation may not be obvious so people need to persist in asking questions to find the actionable information.

Combining systems data with historical patterns to find growth, savings or new value is a multi-year and multi-disciplinary initiative. But the payoff can be worth it: in addition to happy customers, Trane generates an estimated $12 in after-sale revenue for every $1 in product sales over the life of its products.

Making your business -- and, ideally your client’s operations -- more predictable, stable and efficient is a journey that has many possible destinations, said Cindy Elliott of Aston Business School, a UK program that focuses on service, innovation and consistent improvement.

Data and connected systems is fuel for that trip.

LiveWorx 17 will be held on May 22-25 in Boston. Registration is now available online at http://www.showreg.net/LWORX1706. To receive a discounted All-Access pass for only $695, register using the promo code ATTEND17 by August 15.


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