Technology is about to change how services are managed, how end-users interact with service providers, and how service employees interact with end-users and managers. But what are the opportunities and risks associated with using technology to improve service experiences? Discover our research findings below.
Our latest research, conducted with the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (CIFS), including a survey of more than 1400 Facility Management experts and service professionals showed that information and communication technologies (ICT) will have profound impact on the future of service management and the way we interact with end-users.
These technologies will come together to produce new systems that will blend existing social structures and current commercial activities to create something entirely new.
Facility and service managers will have to carefully consider how and when to apply technology to add value to the user experience. If done incorrectly, service providers risk commoditizing their service delivery or worse.
Technology development will open up new service solution areas
The development of smart, automated and autonomous systems will transform service content, service format and service delivery from physical to virtual, resulting in new user experiences with improved accessibility. As a result, user interfaces and service channels will evolve towards smoother and more convenient interactions.
Facility and Service Managers who can make use of big data and micro data to gain insights into the behaviours and preferences of targeted user groups will gain a competitive advantage and make this a business imperative.
As an example, IBM and Apple have partnered to create a new generation of enterprise mobile apps known as IBM MobileFirst that helps front-line employees to connect with analytics and big data on their iOS devices and do their work from anywhere without interruption.
These apps are designed to address specific pain points across different industries such as electronics, banking and financial markets, energy and utilities, government, healthcare and industrial products.
Ford and Microsoft are going in a similar direction by entering a partnership that allows preventative maintenance and service upgrades on a global scale through the Ford Service Delivery Network. The network permits the automation of many services while at the same time collecting enormous amounts of user data. Unlike before where new updates were generated manually, the technology now supports automatic software downloads and installation, updates to entertainment, navigation and vehicle control systems. Thereby Ford now saves customers trips to the dealership for recommended or recall-mandated updates.
Tesla is another example of an automobile manufacturer that routinely updates the software of its vehicles to increase performance and vehicle capabilities. Such capabilities include increasing horsepower and autopilot capabilities.
Risks associated with utilising technology in Service Management
Despite the many opportunities, there are also risks in relying too heavily or solely on technological solutions in Service Management.
While technology is a central driver of change, one cannot ignore the value of the human factor in the services industry, nor neglect the service experience dimension that goes along with it.
Long-term business relationships based on trust, respect and honesty are vital and irreplaceable for business success. Such relationships can only be created between humans through continuous human contact. Hence, if service is technology-based solely (e.g. using only an app), you run the risk of creating a distance to customers and it is only a matter of time until you find another app that can solve your pain points even better.
The other aspect of this is that technological solutions are easy to copy. As one interviewed subject-matter expert said in the study; I believe that you are extremely vulnerable if you reduce your business model to “an app” because competitors will sooner or later copy you. It is as simple as that. You have, in effect, turned your service into a commodity.
The key takeaways for Facility and Service Managers
What will be important for service providers is to assume key roles in the ecosystem in which they choose to operate and where they can apply excellent service experiences at the right touchpoints. As another subject-matter expert remarked; with the emergence of artificial intelligence, we begin to get intelligent systems, robots, etc., and that leaves some users hungry after some human contact. This requires finding the suitable balance between the human touch and technology-based solutions, as well as adequately fulfilling the new workforce requirements that such new technologies bring – attracting, integrating and retaining the talent to be able to thrive in a technology-driven service world.
Finally, Facility and Service Managers should be diligent in their research and development and avoid making investments in obsolescence; that is, developing solutions based on technologies that are quickly replaced with new systems. Indeed, service providers should be careful not to develop a dependency on any one particular technology but instead work closely with partners and suppliers to create agile systems. At the same time, the industry will be challenged in ensuring technological competencies and skills among service professionals are continuously updated in order to maintain service excellence in a changing environment.