Is service management the killer app for the Internet of Things?

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan May 4, 2015
Summary:
ServiceMax is pushing service management into the Internet of Things with a new alliance with PTC.

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Dave Yarnold

Service management meets the Internet of Things.

That's the underlying principle behind a new partnership between ServiceMax and smart connected products provider PTC.

As outlined in the official announcement, the alliance consists of joint marketing, selling, and developing integrations between the companies' respective products. The firms state:

Through the relationship, PTC and its customers will gain access to ServiceMax's powerful and modern cloud-based field service management, execution, and mobile delivery capabilities.

ServiceMax will benefit by empowering its entire portfolio with the PTC ThingWorx state-of-the-art IoT platform, facilitating customers' ability to initiate remote, predictive, and proactive service, as well as outcome-based business models.

ServiceMax will also expand its portfolio with the addition of PTC's advanced, contextual service information and parts management solutions, reach the global base of 28,000 PTC customers, and expand its distribution footprint multifold by leveraging PTC's world-wide channel network.

What this means at the elevator pitch level is:

Upon integration, service organizations will be able to access a complete range of service management applications, consisting of contract entitlements; scheduling and workforce optimization; inventory management, parts planning, and logistics; contextual-enabled service information; and diagnostics.

The drivers

I caught up with ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold yesterday and asked what the drivers were behind this tie-up. It's all about the IoT and what Yarnold believes will be the killer app associated with that concept.

His argument starts with a presumption of a macro trend of organizations pursuing an evolution to an outcomes-based business model:

An IDC study recently said that 40% of companies are trying to develop outcome-based strategies. Everyone is struggling with these evolving strategies.

This leads to the hype around the Internet of Things. Dominating that is the Big Data angle.

You see lots of talk about things like connected thermostats, but what's being lost in that to date is an awareness that you need to start with an understanding of what these things are, who has them, where they are, how they are being serviced.

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Internet of Things

This, of course, is where that killer app comes in, which Yarnold posits is:

predictive and preventative service and doing that based on data and the usage patterns of the machines.

The more you understand about what is going on, the better you can deliver the desired outcome of the customers ans see patterns that indicate an ability to upgrade or upsell.

We believe that having a great service app has a great understanding of how to track all your installed products is key to an IoT strategy.

As an example, he cites the example of an MRI machine hooked up to an IoT cloud platform:

If there is any kind of a fault condition it generates service alerts through ServiceMax. ServiceMax can do the diagnosis remotely. If it can't, it will generate an automatic work order and dispatch a technician who will have full details of the machine that is being serviced. They'll also have access to the real time data on the IoT cloud.

One company that has put its name out there to support this thesis is in the medical and healthcare sector.

Martin Gilday, SVP Services, Elekta, a human care company pioneering significant innovations and clinical solutions for treating cancer and brain disorders, states:

There is clearly great value in giving field technicians access to relevant product information at the point of service delivery.

This development absolutely supports our own company's vision for a fully connected, and integrated, service workflow.

My take

A very interesting thesis. There's no commitment on timescales for shipping product at this point, although Yarnold seems confident that deliverables will make it to market in 2015. We'll see then if the theory works in practice.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the service management footprint beyond basic field services continues apace.