Every leader questions their decisions at times, perhaps now more so than ever. Service leaders today face increasingly high customer expectations and service standards, putting pressure on their decisions and a spotlight on their chosen strategy. Data of course, was supposed to help with this, by giving decision makers the intelligent insight required to drive change, efficiencies, and growth. Has it worked? Not entirely, at least according to recent research from Field Service News, The Impact of Asset Data Flow Beyond The Silo of Field Service Operations.
The good news is that digital transformations in service departments are in full swing—the research shows the industry has firmly grasped digital transformation and data-driven approaches to service design and delivery. However, there are some fundamental problems in the breadth of data and how data is managed and used within organizations.
The research revealed that 34% of companies state that while asset data is being shared across the business, its use is limited by disparate systems of record. This is clearly an issue for any firm looking to use its data to generate intelligence on product performance and customer use and requirements. How can any organization really transform effectively if its data is not joined-up and providing in-depth analysis?
The vast majority of organizations—82%—are now able to receive asset data. While this is great, more than half of organizations admit to not using this data effectively within the field service unit. The research found that while over half of respondents cited customer service and sales as having access to service data, there are three core business units that received less than expected asset data.
The Three Critical Business Units Losing Out
The first was product design and R&D, where less than half (46%) of companies stated they shared asset data. The second is within the supply chain, where only 31% of companies share asset data and the third is marketing. Here, less than a quarter (23%) share asset data.
This is a big concern because not only does it suggest money is being wasted on ineffective, or at least, incomplete digital transformation projects, but it also suggests organizations are still making service decisions based on a lack of or incomplete intelligence.
This becomes more obvious when we start to look at the existing data flows and reasoning behind the lack of overall data strategy. The research shows disconnects between departments that would benefit from additional and accurate asset information. For example, less than a tenth (8%) of organizations share coverage or entitlement data across the business. How can sales and marketing effectively manage customer contracts and upselling without this information? Also, only 37% of organizations share parts data with their supply chain departments, suggesting inefficiencies in ordering parts, leading to potential delays and machine downtime.
For many organizations, this represents low-hanging fruit. Asset data can provide a level of intelligence for service teams to pre-order parts and effectively manage service schedules to limit downtime. However, we have found technical as well as cultural issues that are undermining the flow of data. This suggests organizations have limited enterprise-wide strategies for monetizing or maximizing the value of asset data.
It’s interesting because there is clearly an understanding that asset data is important. It’s perhaps not surprising that 61% of service leaders say a re-organization is needed for more effective cross-department collaboration on service and asset data. The industry is moving forward but it’s sporadic.
The Challenge of Disparate IT Systems
Multiple disparate IT systems within most organizations will undoubtedly play a significant role in this. Around a third claim they are using multiple IT solutions and data flow is limited. Just under a fifth (18%) of companies using multiple systems claim a seamless data flow. This is a common problem of digital transformation projects not being led by a common data strategy.
The study also finds that the resolution to better cross-department collaboration sits both in business structure and improving the flow of asset data between disparate systems. In one sense, it could be viewed that the organizational structure enables collaboration, but it is really the common view of data that offers a shared language for all departments to make such collaborations effective.
Why do we need effective collaborations? To make better business decisions. Where data is shared between business units, there’s a greater likelihood of cross-collaboration, servitization, and improved performance. It also leads to efficiencies in how products, services, and customers are managed.
Sharing Asset Data – Higher Performance, Margins, Revenue and Retention
To try and quantify this, we asked respondents whether asset data flow made a difference to the business in terms of factors such as performance, revenue growth, margins, and employee retention. The results were comprehensive. Those who had previously indicated that asset data was shared across the organization stated a higher performance, higher margins, significantly higher revenue growth, and good employee retention. There were also high scores for product quality, service delivery efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
It begs the question—are organizations inadvertently leaving value on the table and exposing themselves to inefficiencies and customer dissatisfaction? Asset data is fundamentally vital data, and the more connected organizations are to that data, the more they can make intelligent decisions and reap the benefits.
To learn more about creating an asset data strategy, read Harvard Business Review’s recent paper, Refining Digital Transformation through Asset Centricity.