The Digital Supply Chain podcast

Field service management in supply chain - a chat with Craig Blumberg

April 26, 2021 Tom Raftery / Craig Blumberg Season 1 Episode 125
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
Field service management in supply chain - a chat with Craig Blumberg
Show Notes Transcript

I try to cover as many aspects of the supply chain as possible on this podcast - everything from planning, engineering, manufacturing, warehousing logistics, delivery, but to-date I haven't featured anyone talking about field service management, so this episode finally fixes that!

I invited Craig Blumberg to come on the podcast to talk about what is happening in field service management today, what the trends are, and where it is all going. Craig is the solution owner for Field Service Management and scheduling at SAP, so if anyone knows about field service it is going to be Craig.

We had an excellent conversation and, as is often the case, I learned loads, I hope you do too...

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

To learn more about how Industry 4.0 technologies can help your organisation read the 2020 global research study 'The Power of change from Industry 4.0 in manufacturing' (https://www.sap.com/cmp/dg/industry4-manufacturing/index.html)

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Craig Blumberg:

I believe that, you know, service is now going to extend outside of the traditional water service organization was. It's going to play a part in all of the different elements of of the entire organization all the way back into billing, by the way, which is, you know, the reason why many companies exist is they need to make revenue.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, where everywhere in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain. And I'm your host, global vice president of SAP. Tom Raftery. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the show today I have my special guest, Craig Craig, would you like to introduce yourself?

Craig Blumberg:

Yeah. Hi, Tom. Thanks for having me. It's Craig Blumberg here. I'm the solution owner for Field Service Management at ASAP and looking after FSM, as I mentioned, and scheduling, so very pleased to be here.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. So Field Service Management. For, as I say, often enough, on the podcast, a lot of the people who listen to this come from all different aspects of supply chain. So for people who might not be familiar with Field Service Management, I'm assuming that's as the name would imply managing service technicians out in the field who are repairing devices is that is that it?

Craig Blumberg:

So yeah, definitely a part of it. For me, Field Service Management is really that into end elements. So for example, it would be not only the technicians out in the field, but it will be how dispatches in the back office, make sure that they optimizing the right jobs, for example, to go to technicians with the right skills with the right equipment with the right tools, consumables, and making sure that when technicians on site, they have all the digital information on hand and all of that information can flow back. So it's really not only about the technician, while a very important part, it's really connecting the back office to the execution and then back into the back office again.

Tom Raftery:

So we're no longer getting someone in overalls knocking on the door with a clipboard in their hands.

Craig Blumberg:

We hope not doing exactly. And funnily enough, you know, a lot of these technicians as such, the way things are going is pretty much you and I it's being able to self manage and self fix many, many different things and having someone over the wire actually helping you and guiding you in what to do. So it's becoming a very interesting area.

Tom Raftery:

Wow. So it's, I hadn't realized. So now I can go to a company site, they may have a page that guides me through repairing it myself.

Craig Blumberg:

So that's one part. For example, I'll give you a very silly example. But nonetheless, I installed a ring alarm system at my house a couple of months ago, and it's literally self guided with videos. If you need to speak to someone, you can go on an instant chat, you could call really, really easy flexible. And I was ultimately the installer in that case, the technician. Another example would be, you know, whereby you phone support desk, or you initiate a call. And there's augmented reality. So somebody literally guides you through a video on your mobile device. So you're showing it with a camera. And they're using ultimately drawings in their hands to show you where to plug things in or fix things. So it's, it's really the full spectrum now.

Tom Raftery:

So Field Service Management is obviously uh about, fixing things in the field. It spans everything from consumer, I assume, right? The way out to, you know, let's say, a large utility company with distributed generation devices, wind turbines, solar farms, all that kind of thing. There's been to your point, lots of changes in the last few years. But what aspect of it do you think has changed the most in the in the shortest length of time? what's what's the biggest change you're seeing?

Craig Blumberg:

So I think, for me, it's exactly as you mentioned. So you know, from the consumer all the way to large utilities, there's oil and gas is machine manufacturers. I mean, at the end of the day service, the number of changes, the first thing is services, it used to be very categorized by the concept of break, fix go out, you fix something that's broken. And one of the key changes is this digitization that's happening, and it has been happening for many years. But ultimately, how do we make sure that the machine is still operating and still running when we fix it, so it hasn't broken yet. So it's kind of more predictive, making sure that the machine is speaking to us. So there are many different, you know, areas of IoT, and where the machine is speaking to two systems in order to say I'm only running at a specific level. But one thing that I would say in the last couple of years is kind of been of key interest to me is Really that the level of engagement from employees as well as from customers? Are they ready for this digital journey? So for example, our employees themselves who are actually using all of these new digital elements, whether it's a mobile phone or AR glasses, whatever it may be, are they ready for that transition, because as you mentioned, in the beginning with a clipboard, we starting to see a big shift. And if you don't mind, I'll give you one quick example of a customer was speaking to the other day, massive machine manufacturer on a global level. And they went through a digital transformation. And I was waiting for Yes, we've installed X, Y, or Z technology and so forth. And the service director basically said to me, Well, what we did over the last 18 months, and this was about six to nine months ago, this conversation, he said, what we did is we made sure our entire service organization from a field service perspective, were of the ages of basically 25, up to around 3945, because they wanted to digitize the mind in terms of they wanted to make sure that the people executing their services were very iffy and happy with mobile and Deaf concept, then, you know, struck straighter away a chord with me saying, that is a massive, important element that we often don't think about, because we always think technology will change the mindset. Whereas sometimes the mind check said changes the way in order of which we use the technology. And this was very interesting concept for me.

Tom Raftery:

Well, fascinating, fascinating. And we're seeing as well, a big shift towards the likes of equipment as a service product as a service, how is that impacting the whole field service area.

Craig Blumberg:

So it's also another area that is kind of, you know, let's say, on a massive journey of transformation, because equipment as a service, or servitization, is not only changing the way in which we service equipment, it's changing the way of the entire organization. So now we can no longer be siloed. Because the offer, for example, in the change of the business model, the way you sell the equipment as a service, it's no longer that you selling a product, so you don't have only the sales organization to worry about. You have to make sure that contract sales, marketing, everything is aligned with your service operation. So that as you sell this equipment as a service, from start to end, the entire organization is ready. So business models have shifted completely. And there's a there's a long journey, by the way, in this equipment as a service, I don't think every organization will, you know, start straightaway and in X amount of time, just be at the end. But the entire as I mentioned, the market is changing substantially. I think there is a lot of new technologies that will be born out of this as well. But more importantly, the customer expectations and their ability to serve a customer will increase substantially. Because no longer are you buying a product that you need to service you buying an outcome. And you have to make sure and companies have to make sure that that outcome that the customer expects and is purchased, according to an SLA or an agreement is always operational and up and running for the customer. So so it is changing a lot of mindsets. It's changing substantially in the way businesses are conducting, but it is allowing us to kind of you know leapfrog where equipment itself and service itself is transitioning to so super, super exciting again, sorry, I get really excited about all of these different elements in service.

Tom Raftery:

Sure, but the whole shift to product or equipment as a service means that it is now no longer How do I how do I put this, you no longer are incentivized to build in obsolescence into your devices are maybe a better way to say it would be it's now no longer it's no more in your interest to have the devices not require service or require the little service as possible or to be as resilient and reliable as possible. Does this mean that the the requirement for field service technicians and utilization will drop

Craig Blumberg:

I think it will actually increase and the way to increase whether using internal technicians or subcontractors for different elements of the service will be paramount. And the reason I say that is generally we would always wait for something to let's say break down so equipment will break down and ultimately you would then go in and service it and you would schedule someone who's available. Now all of a sudden because customers expectations are that these machines have to operate 100% 24 seven is that even when it drops let's say from a an element of of the equipment running from 100 to a 85% instantly, even though the customer themselves don't necessarily know that the equipment effectiveness or efficiency has dropped, the actual equipment manufacturer in this case, or the service organization may get an alert straight away, send someone else to go and fix it before it breaks down. So what we're doing is we're becoming a lot more inclusive inside of what the service operation is. And therefore, we need a lot more people or a lot more, let's say, certified engaged, technicians out there who really know what they doing, because you can't also wait with equipment as a service for something. So your mean time to repair, for example, to be 510 15 days, because all of a sudden, you know, you're losing a portion of revenue, whereas you need to ensure that that service is executed as quickly as possible, and as correctly as possible to increase that utilization back to 100%. So I believe it will change into the positive, but we would collaborate more with external parties to make sure that we can handle the liquid workforces such

Tom Raftery:

Interesting. Interesting, I always say that shift to equipment as a service is a huge gain in terms of sustainability, because it means you are massively prolonging the lifetime and the utilization of the devices that are manufactured, just by definition, are there other kind of sustainability and optimization winds that you see in Field Service Management at the moment,

Craig Blumberg:

100%. So for example, even in the optimization of let's say, for example, bundling jobs. So let's say you have a maintenance job on a piece of equipment, plus you have a break fix, or you have to go and service, a piece of equipment, the optimization tools now are saying well hang on a second, you have an SLA in place with the customer where you have to carry out two jobs, but then within a three week period of one another, let's go and use the same resource to do the maintenance and the service on that piece of equipment at the same time. So reducing travel time reducing travel costs, reduce reducing the co2 emission of sending someone out twice to the same place within a specific timeframe. So that's one element. The second element is the way that we execute in terms of which job to attend. We can do that now on for example, which route is more green? So are you traveling in traffic where you are idling and you're using a lot more? Once again, you know, co2 emission? Or are you going to do something more green? If you can also plan two to three weeks in advance? How many jobs can I do within that timeframe, because I'm planning so much more effectively, and make sure that I utilize my resources much better and therefore reducing travel as well. So there's many different elements. There are many different ways by no means are we at the end of the game. But I do believe that these iterative improvements in what we believe will enhance our sustainability within the service organization will continue to improve. And we'll see the benefits very soon. Nice,

Tom Raftery:

nice, nice. And what about, you know, customer expectations, because people's views of, you know, field service technicians can be can be varied, depending on experiences that had with them, people showing up at your door. Rarely, you know, in the window, they say they will, for example, that kind of thing. How is that changing?

Craig Blumberg:

Look, customer expectations is always the one or let's say the most challenging one because I think the era has been born with all of these devices that customers expect whatever they expected they expected. Now, the term the customer's always right is being challenged substantially, while the customer expectation may be right and what they expect and what the requirement is. The customer themselves also need to be challenged in a productive in a proper way of what it is that they really do want. So for example, a customer wants, let's say a taxi these days, they can go on to an application, but they always want to get a taxi that suits them at the right time at the right price at the right place. But as soon as there's a surge, because so many people are looking for the same thing, their expectation levels are like, Oh, this is the most rubbish thing in the world. So the level of what a customer identifies, in essence of what is agreeable, is something that the customer themselves also have to go through these changes. And the reason I say that is as we go along the path of, you know, always on always connected. The customers themselves need to understand what does that mean, because there's also a limit to a finite number of resources. There's a finite number of hours in the day, whether we like it or not, they all always constraints that a customer themselves, including you including myself, have to take into consideration that sometimes when you really want something You can get it, but you do have to wait. Or you do have to then look at, okay, what should I forego in order to get this or prioritize this higher. So I think the customer needs to change a little bit in their perception of what it is the expectation levels, but at the same time, it is an ongoing approach that customers, you know, with the changing business models with this entire equipment as a service, it's almost like one massive kind of ball that we need to move really slowly, but everybody needs to be aligned, because as soon as the customer isn't aligned with current company or equipment isn't aligned with customer and company, I think that's when the breakdown occurs. So it will change customer's expectations are at an all time high, I would say, Okay. However, in saying that I do believe customers are driving a lot of these initiatives, which is also really positive step, by the way. So all in all, I think the customer expectation is kind of paramount to making sure that we enhance and adapt as quickly as possible,

Tom Raftery:

I think as well, one of one of the biggest issues, I suspect, and correct me if I'm wrong here. But one of the biggest issues I suspect, is lack of information. Because to my earlier point, if you know, you're told the day before that the service technician is going to be there sometime between, you know, two and three in the afternoon. And it's four o'clock, and they still haven't shown up, you're sitting there fuming. Whereas because we're starting to digitize all this stuff, it should now be possible to see where the field service technician is roughly how long if they have been delayed, you should, that should be visible. When people get annoyed by things like this. It's because they have a lack of information, not because the person is late arriving to do the work, but because they don't know when they are actually about to show up. Is it in the next minute? Is it in the next hour? Is it in the next 10 hours? Is it in the next week? You know, and that that's what leads to frustration, I think it's lack of information, not the fact that someone that is actually late. If they're told, okay, this person has hit a traffic jam, or the last job was taken longer, they'd be there in 20 minutes after the time they were supposed to show up, then, okay, it's 20 minutes, it's annoying, but at least I know

Craig Blumberg:

100% hit the nail on the head. That's exactly it. So the communication channels need to be completely transparent, we need to be visible with customers, we need to ensure that when a technician not only says he's going to be there between two and three that you know, 20 minutes, 30 minutes before you may be outside driving yourself delayed yourself that you get an instant notification whether it's on an app, whether it's an email or text message, whatever is suitable to you as is what the customer requires, says technician will arrive within 2030 minutes based on his geolocation based on the current traffic status, etc. This is becoming a 100% not even a lot nice to have. It's it's necessary because the customer themselves expect that. And why shouldn't they you know, at the end of the day, why shouldn't they? So I believe Yes, you are 100% correct. This is something that is is paramount in the communication between company and customer to make sure that but bearing in mind that too much communication can also lead to frustration. So we have to hit the you know, that kind of fine line between expectation of exact versus Okay, now they just annoying me with so much communication all the time. Sure. Yes, sure.

Tom Raftery:

It's all about managing expectations, I think. And I think it's always best to under promise and over deliver rather than the other way around.

Craig Blumberg:

spot on 100%. Tom, I think you you summed it up quite nicely there.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, what's coming next? I mean, we've talked about some of the big changes that have happened in the last few years and Field Service Management, what's coming in the next few years? What What do we got to look forward to.

Craig Blumberg:

So I think it's this end to end connectivity that we speak of, I think it's entire organizations where we were very siloed. And I believe that, you know, service is now going to extend outside of the traditional water service organization was, it's going to play a part in all of the different elements of of the entire organization all the way back into billing, by the way, which is, you know, the reason why many companies exist is they need to make revenue. So, for me, it's about the foundation of the integration element, or the platform element where all of these different technologies and the different civilizations and equipment as a service, how they all embedded within a platform that is reliable, that is scalable, that is from a security perspective, because everything is ultimately wireless or cloud based these days. So that's really important, and how that all then combines into a single collaborative, whether you're using an enterprise resource planning solution, so ni, RP, or your single source of truth, but how that all marries together to make sure that from an out ciders perspective. So from the customer's perspective, the single touch point into an organization makes no difference because there's a single source of truth within that data set. And that's going to be for me the foundation of all of these different elements coming together quite nicely.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, super, super. Craig, we're coming towards the end of the podcast to know, is there any question? I have not asked you that you kind of wish I had? Or is there any topic we've not discussed that you think it's important for people to be aware of?

Craig Blumberg:

I can speak about this stuff for hours to be honest. Look, I think for me, you know, optimization we've covered we've covered sustainability. If you have the I'm happy. Okay, super, super.

Tom Raftery:

In that case, Greg, it's been great. If people want to know more about yourself, or about Field Service Management, or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Craig Blumberg:

So best part is we have a lot of almost all this information sitting on our SAP Field Service Management websites. And obviously, people are more than welcome to look at my LinkedIn and contact me and you know, gather any information, all of the assets are available there as well. And I would just recommend, you're reaching out, following what's happening in our ASAP. LinkedIn and communication on the social channels, where a lot of this information and by the way, externally as well, so engaging with customers and partners and making sure we attend events and making sure that people understand what we doing is really key to our journey. And obviously what we want to talk about.

Tom Raftery:

Super super Greg, that's been great. Thanks again for coming on the podcast

Craig Blumberg:

today. Thanks for having me, Tom.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to sa p.com slash digital supply chain or, or simply drop me an email to Tom Raftery at sa p.com. If you'd like to show, please don't forget to subscribe to it and your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.