It is Earth Day today, and for the first time in a while, the crisis facing humanity has taken on a different face. Instead of climate change, we are debating and discussing the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and professions. It’s short-sighted to say that the two crises aren’t related, especially since the strategies to combat both involve an investment in sustainability. And by sustainability, I don’t just mean doing what’s right or good, but what’s necessary to ensure the long-term success of our organizations, our businesses, our environments, and more. In the current environment, we hear a lot of use of the term ‘resilience’. To me, it’s the same as sustainability, but it’s something I am happy to debate.
In discussions with CSOs across the globe, there seems to be a more advanced grasp of the overall concept of sustainability in Europe as opposed to other parts of the world. From what I can see, leaders in Europe have established the link between sustainable business practices, sustainable customer relationships, and the sustainable utilization of resources. This is more and more evident in the depth of thought given to the idea of servitization or outcome-based business models.
European Sustainability Strategies
At the 2019 CSO Summit in London, the topic of advanced services was a central theme of discussion. What I found most interesting was that we weren’t debating the same old merits and demerits of servitization. Instead, we were discussing actions, strategies, and lessons learned from organizations that had already taken steps around this path. Lessons like:
- Know Your Installed Base
- Establish a Common Data Platform
- Consider the Value of Equipment Data Across the Organization
- Look Beyond the Product to Uncover Customer Value
- Build the Services Infrastructure
- Adjust Skill Needs with Changing Business Requirements
Each of these bullets, discussed in our 2020 CSO Report, touches on the theme of sustainability as it relates to the sustainable use of resources, the sustainable development of relationships, and the achievement of sustainable business results.
Advanced Service Models Aren’t One-Size Fits All
Perhaps one of the most interesting debates from the 2019 London CSO Summit was the one around the applicability of the advanced services models for all types of organizations and customers. This ties into the maturity of the level of conversation that is taking place. Not all organizations will make the move to advanced services and for those that do, not all customers will want to engage in the format of outcome-based services.
That said, it is more important for service organizations to dig deeper into their understanding of their customers to begin to determine what portfolio of outcomes is of value. Personalized value conversations will be necessary regardless of the type of services that need to be delivered to achieve this value.
I’ve followed up with several CSOs to get their thoughts on the role of advanced or outcome-based services during these tumultuous times. Are customers seeing this crisis as a lever to move towards those models, or are they retreating to what is familiar and makes sense? For most CSOs, it’s too early to tell. That said, most are using this time to strengthen their foundations in preparation of advanced services. Some are using the time to improve on their installed base data. Others are focused on training to standardize the way their teams use their service solutions. And all are using the time to embrace their customers to find new ways and opportunities to work together in a sustainable way. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.
My colleague, Coen Juekens, has written a wonderful piece: 5 Sustainability Opportunities for Service Execution. I encourage you to spend some time reading it. The paper features a video case study of Schneider Electric’s sustainability strategy that presents lessons that we can all learn, crisis or not.
The 2020 CSO Report is available for download here. If interested in discussing or debating the findings, please feel free to reach out to me directly at or to my team at
Continue Reading from Our 2020 CSO Report Series:
- The 2020 CSO Report: A Guide for Service Leaders
- 5 Recommendations for the Next Generation of Service Leaders
Watch Our ServiceMax Live Episode on the 2020 CSO Report: