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ServiceMax acquires Zinc

by Chris Gera, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Service Council

ServiceMax zinc

ServiceMax Inc. announced on February 27th that it has acquired collaboration startup Zinc Inc. in its first acquisition since moving under the wing of Silver Lake Partners LP.

I had the opportunity to speak with Stacey Epstein the CEO of Zinc following the announcement. Asked about the timing of this for ServiceMax Stacey shared: “I see this as ServiceMax wasting no time – the SilverLake deal just closed and ServiceMax is making moves already. This is just the first step in delivering a much broader, full service execution management suite.”

We discussed the power that Zinc offers as a mobile communications service that enables users and their companies to focus on “In The Moment” communications. Not only enabling field personnel to collaborate on their work using the usual messaging, voice and video features…the platform also includes several niche capabilities geared specifically toward field service operations.

One such capability is Zinc’s Hotline Groups mechanism. It enables workers to bypass their company’s internal support system when they require urgent assistance and directly contact the specific team best equipped to help them with the task at hand. Another specialized capability, Push to Talk, is essentially a virtual walkie-talkie that allows the user to communicate with many colleagues at once. The ability to connect in “real time” with peers to share tribal knowledge, key “how to” information and gain support without having to wait through hold and handle times in a centralize support center is empowering. We have heard from users in our community that they experience higher first-time fix rates, quicker resolution time and a lift in service employee engagement.

Why this move makes sense to us:

  • ServiceMax is specifically designed for field service, same as Zinc. A fact we have seen played out with companies who have attempted to adopt tools made for desk workers, Zinc is superior for field workers. Since they are already integrated, this provides ServiceMax with an enhanced collaboration tool around its transactional services.
  • This union could provide new ServiceMax customers some quick wins with Zinc just by introducing real-time collaboration, giving them time to consider the broader ServiceMax platform.
  • We know that there is an opportunity for these two systems to be seamlessly integrated in support of normal field service processes. Being able to tie Parts, Work Orders, Sales directly into the customer records originating from Zinc communications. That’s an innovation we want to see.
  • We heard from Stacey how they are considering creating new AI tools using the Zinc platform as the base to help guide field service technicians. For example, a chatbot that asks – “Have you considered this tool to solve this problem?”.
  • As many service teams need to address talent issues, such as shortages, aging workforce, or training pace, Zinc also allows its customers to analyze and visualize ongoing enterprise communications to discover experts and help drive engagement across organizations. By connecting service workers and enabling them to share real-time knowledge within the context of the task at hand, Zinc and ServiceMax together improve productivity, customer experience, and employee engagement.

We asked Stacey about the future and incorporating emerging tech in virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence…she shared with the collaborative resources of the combined teams she expects to speed Zinc’s innovation cycle saying: with things like AI and AR, and a lot of really interesting features and capabilities …that Zinc gives a great platform to speed the innovation in those areas.”

Zinc will continue to work with other field service management platforms and CRM systems including Oracle, Click, and Salesforce. Zinc and ServiceMax integration with the Salesforce platform will also be supported.

I believe this is a very smart acquisition by ServiceMax and has the potential to be a strong innovative addition to the technology portfolio for Service Leaders and Service Organizations. It will be interesting to see how ServiceMax is able to combine the two platforms in a manner that delivers improved speed and efficiency in outcomes for the field service staff by anticipating and linking communication to action in managing parts, sales and problem resolutions. Achieving this seamless connection has a potential unmatched in the market.

Filed under:  Field service mobilityField service workforce managementGlobal service strategyIT strategyOperational technologyService automation 

Chris Gera
Executive Vice President & General Manager,  Service Council

PTC & IFS Global Re-seller Partnership

by Chris Gera, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Service Council

ptc ifs

IFS and PTC announced a new global reseller partnership on February 21st. This move is interesting on several levels.

Why this move makes sense:

Collaboration in this space doesn’t occur often at this level and we are excited about the value proposition that this partnership will have on two very important operational aspects for Service Leaders and their brands related to service excellence and asset readiness. As the pressure on service increases from customer expectations and cost containment…efficiency, execution and delivering customer value remain top priorities.

Right Person, Right Part, Right Time at the Right Place…that’s a constant drumbeat that we hear from Service Leaders as they work to optimize their organizations to deliver outstanding customer experiences that are successful the “first time”! Service Customers want their service providers to help them drive uptime, with smart, predictave, JIT, effortless service resolutions. We believe this partnership could exponentially increase that “value-delivered” service outcome. Its interesting an offering that brings together the strength of PTC Servigistics® to deliver value combining with the IFS Field Service Management™ and including IFS Applications & IFS Maintenix™.

Too often a service executive must “choose” one versus another… while what they really want is to be able to employ the strengths that each solution provider brings to market. For that reason, we are very excited to stay close to the early adopters of this offering and will be sharing with our service community the capabilities and tangible results they can achieve with the combined power of these providers.

We will be watching this closely to see how the value is delivered as this moves forward into their customer systems and platforms. Assuming there are lessons learned from the ServiceMax relationship that will propel the PTC/IFS partnership further we would be encouraged to see additional connections across platforms where the combined offering delivers significantly increased value to the Service Organizations who employ them.

Questions which remain:

Will there be channel conflict issues which arise? We are sure there will be some rough edges as both companies figure out how to develop and deploy this integrated solution to the market and the customer. This innovative approach could spur others with these partners and perhaps across the providers that serve the Service Industry. Just as we focus on how best to deliver services to the end customer across different business segments, its exciting to see these providers refocusing and innovating to help those organizations win.

Does this increase real or perceived value from clients seeking an FSM platform and push IFS into lead position? Too early to tell…we will certainly be watching closely and evaluating what PTC & IFS learn along with sharing what we learn from companies who undertake and implement this integrated offering. We believe there is real value to be had here because the problem they are working to solve is very real to service executives working to deliver for their customers. The question we will continue to ask and evaluate is “Do clients find the integrated solution effortless to adopt and easy to integrate quickly and does it deliver value once up and running…?”

Will customers of other FSM solutions consider a move to IFS in order to gain additional value as result of the value presented by the partnership? As with any new offering there will be a period of adjustment in the market and those organizations who are currently evaluating a new FSM and associated platform now…will they be compelled to pause and evaluate how this partnered solution could unlock value for them. We believe it’s worth a look!

Filed under:  Customer managementCustomer serviceCustomer supportDepot repairField service workforce managementGlobal service strategyInstalled base managementInventory managementOperational technologyParts executionParts planningService automationService partsService supply chainWorkforce management 

Chris Gera
Executive Vice President & General Manager,  Service Council

SAP acquires Qualtrics Intl: Combining X & O Data for the Experience Economy

by Chris Gera, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Service Council

On January 23, 2019, SAP completed its acquisition of Qualtrics International Inc. for US$8 billion in cash (Release). SAP, a Service Council Customer, is excited to be accelerating the new XM category by combining experience data (Qualtrics) with operational data (SAP) to enable organizations to ignite their experience economy strategies. This transformational acquisition we expect will deliver value to SAP customers by providing a unique ability to create highly differentiated offerings. This is expected to have positive impacts on a company’s supply chain, employees, networks and core processes, according to the release.

At the 2018 Service Council Symposium Joe Pine, the author of The Experience Economy, shared with those in attendance the accelerating economic movement from the service economy to the experience economy. Joe also spoke at the 2017 Qualtrics Insight Summit (Watch) extolling that “experiences are a distinct economic offering”. The experience economy is the progression of economic value as companies use their current customer service interactions to figure out exactly what their customers want. Allowing them to turn their old supply chain of mass production (producing more variety) in hopes customers will buy, to one of mass customization (producing in response to customer desires) allowing them to be more efficient & effective.

Most companies we speak with today are focused on improving their customer experience. Companies are measuring outcomes to determine if the customer is benefiting from a nice, easy, convenient and effortless experience doing business with them. These outcomes do not drive experiences…as Pine goes on to say that in order for companies to create an experience it must achieve the following…

  • Is it memorable for the customer?
  • Is it inherently personal for the customer?
  • Is the customer valuing the time they spend with you?

As leaders in the service space we have been focused on “saving time”…saving time for our people to complete more work on a daily basis and saving time for our customer so that they can derive value with choosing how to spend that time. As you shift your organization to encompass experiences, you’re going to be evaluating your customer feedback through a different lens…one that your customer is going to determine if their time with you was “time well spent”. And when you think about the multitude of ways we service our customers today, this isn’t just about an in person experience it also extends to encompass time spent interacting with you through chat, web, phone and email. All of those build resiliency in the brand experience you are providing to your customers.

This move marks another major step by SAP into the experience economy. Entrance into the space in this manner makes a lot of sense given the:

  • Increased interest in companies to find easier ways to link operational data to customer experience data
  • Increased need to integrate customer & operational data to create metrics that focus on delivering customer experiences
  • Organization strategy to build and deliver exceptional employee experiences in order to drive transformational customer experiences

We see a greater focus on customer experience across field service in the coming years. And we are seeing SAP moving in that direction as well, combining their mid 2018 acquisition of Coresystems with this most recent move with Qualtrics. Coresystems’ artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform provides advanced scheduling of field service activities in real time, and easy-to-use mobile apps that enable service technicians in the field to perform installation, maintenance, and repair tasks. With its unique crowd-sourcing capabilities, service organizations can build and expand service networks beyond their own workforce.

In our recently completed 2019 trends research of over 100 executive service leaders, Service Leaders are also telling us their #1 Key Area of Focus for 2019 is Customer Management & Experience Initiatives representing 44% of the respondents. And the top two major external forces impacting their business in 2019 are Workforce & Talent Shortage (59%) and Changing Customer Expectations – Service Delivery (55%). We see that this leads to internal concerns of being able to meet service demand with existing service resources as well as the experience they will be providing. More so, service leaders are also thinking about the work allocation to their highly skilled service workforce and augmenting this workforce with a more flexible labor pool while working to improve the customer experience throughout their service delivery network.

SAP Qualtrics

With these moves SAP is clearly committed to being the leader in combining the Operational (O-Data) with the Experience (X-Data) data to deliver a end to end operational and experience management system to its customers. This directly aligns them to what the market of service organizations is seeking. We believe doing so in a manner that will allow their customers to provide a dynamic workforce to deliver it. This platform will enable SAP customers to create a flexible and powerful service ecosystem with internal experts and external resources, including experienced freelance technicians. This will allow them to respond faster to their customers’ service needs, lower the cost of service, and support entirely new business models.

We will be interested and watching closely how this more integrated offering and approach to service success evolves. We’ve published content on both of these areas related to field service. First being the focus on creating and improving the customer experience across your service organization (Link). Second, check out our insight on creating an agile field service workforce (Link) and steps that an organization can take to address the retiring workforce crisis (Link).

Filed under:  AnalyticsBig DataBusiness insightBusiness intelligenceCustomer experienceCustomer experience managementCustomer managementData scienceGlobal service strategyService growthService transformationStrategy implementationVoice of the customer 

Chris Gera
Executive Vice President & General Manager,  Service Council


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