On the final day of TSIA’s Technology Services World (TSW) conference in Santa Clara last week, we unveiled a brand new program: Service Revolutions. Service Revolutions gave both service providers and technology vendors alike an opportunity to perform on-stage demonstrations showcasing the “coolest new stuff” in technology services — from cutting-edge services new to the market, to start-ups with innovative service models, to hot advances in service technology, to the latest breakthroughs from the emerging world of service science.
Nine companies made it into the finals and were selected to present their “cool” and revolutionary demos to the entire TSW conference audience of approximately 700 people. A panel of three very distinguished judges commented on each solution presentation:
TSIA’s own VP of Technology Research, John Ragsdale
Dr. James C. Spohrer: Director of IBM University Programs
Dr. Spohrer founded IBM’s first Service Research group in 2003 at the Almaden Research Center with a focus on Service innovations.
The well known best selling author of Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, The Gorilla Game, and Living on the Fault Line. His most recent book is Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution. Mr. Moore is a managing director at TCG Advisors.
While the judges had an opportunity to comment “American Idol” style, the audience did the actual voting. Each member of the audience was given a wireless handheld device with which they could cast their vote from 1 (“way cool”) to 5 (“not cool”) for each of the nine demos.
The nine finalists were divided into three categories: “Service Practitioners”, “Start-Ups”, and “Commercially Available Solutions”. A winner was then chosen from each category based upon the audience vote. The winners were:
Service Practitioners Category – Xerox, for its Maintenance Assistant at the Device demonstration
Start-Ups Category – eXaudios, for its Next-Generation Voice Analysis solution for in call/contact centers
Commercial Category – Kopin, for its “Hands-Free” Wireless Headsets for mobile computing and communications in industrial environments
From a field service perspective, two of the nine demonstrations were particularly striking and relevant to me, so I want to highlight them here:
Kopin’s Hands-Free Wireless Headset
As mentioned, Kopin was the winner in the commercial category. Kopin’s demonstration grabbed the audience’s attention immediately. The presenter didn’t say anything to start; he just donned a headset much like a telephone headset, except this one had a small video screen in front of one of his eyes in addition to the ear piece and the microphone. Then he began speaking simple commands into the microphone. With each command a new screen appeared. Of course we, the audience, were seeing the screens on large displays in the auditorium, but he was seeing them on the small video screen in front of his eye. The screens he pulled up during the demonstration were schematics, parts diagrams, trouble shooting aids, etc. It was immediately apparent to me, and to other field service practitioners I’m sure, how this solution could be applied in the real world to help field service technicians diagnose, isolate, trouble shoot, and resolve problems. Leaving them free to use both hands to work on the device and not have to fumble with keys on a laptop or handheld device. Kopin calls the product “Golden-i”, and the company promotes it as the world’s first mobile computing-communication system to provide a familiar PC experience and “Hands-Free” operation. This is speculation on my part since I don’t know the details, but unit cost may be a consideration for companies with hundreds or thousands of technicians. However, the practical application and uses seem quite apparent.
ServiceMax provides what is traditionally known as Service Management Software. You might think of it as CRM specifically designed for Field Service operations. What sets ServiceMax apart from similar vendors is that the company provides a complete suite of field service software functionality on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis. The solution is based entirely on the Salesforce.com platform.
ServiceMax demonstrated the newest offering in their solution suite: ServiceMax Chatter. Chatter is an instant, real-time collaboration tool that automatically pushes relevant data to the right people. ServiceMax demonstrated the flow of a service work order that was managed automatically by Chatter:
device installed at a customer location uses phone home technology to send a “product chatter” notifying the vendor that there is an issue
“chatter map” graphically displays the location of the service call and other service calls, as well as the location of potentially needed technicians and parts
the work order is then routed through the ServiceMax work force optimization system to assure the most appropriate technician is assigned to the task
ServiceMax Mobile displays product and service history, parts information, entitlement details, etc. to the technician on his/her mobile device
the field service technician uses “chatter” to instantly collaborate with other technicians worldwide for technical support or other needs
Although ServiceMax Chatter was not the winner in the commercial category, it did get the most positive comments from the three judges. In fact, if I may paraphrase John Ragsdale (the Simon Cowell of the trio), he said he hadn’t seen anything he considered to be really new from the service management vendors in several years. But he considers this to be pretty revolutionary, I agree. All three of the judges were quite impressed with this demo.
These were the two demonstrations that struck me as the most relevant and potentially appealing for the Field Service community. I gave them both a 1 (one). Companies with field service technicians who need to access and or interact with data while simultaneously working on equipment should examine Kopin’s “Golden-i”. Firms looking to implement a Service Management System, or planning to replace their legacy Service Management System, should add ServiceMax to their list of potential vendors.
Thanks for your interest – IT MATTERS!