How the services industry is driving the growth of best practices with rise of AI, Blockchain and IoT
By Kris Puthucode, CEO and Principal Consultant, Software Quality Center LLC
About 80% of the global economy today is “service based”, or the service industry as we know it. Many organizations lack the ability to react quickly to incidents that impact service delivery, leading to time delays, cost overruns, and failure to meet customer expectations.
Added to this, Industry 4.0 (and Smart Factory 4.0), are here. Gartner estimates that by 2020, more than 3 million workers will be supervised directly or indirectly by a “robo-boss”. PWC research in 2015 reconfirmed that almost 60% of US manufacturers are using some sort of robotics technology.
Although the advent of AI-enabled industries are primarily focused on products, many forget that there is the “servicing” of the product or the “provisioning” of the product to customers that serves as the foundation for building trustworthy, long term relationships for companies that are suppliers. How does the service industry differ from the traditional product-based ones., and what should the product companies do to ensure their end deliverable actually meets customer expectations and they can service the product and build a long term relationship? What best practices can they adopt to improve their service delivery capability? And how do they sustain it?
We look at some of these aspects., most critical among them., drawn from traditional best practices being used by some of the best organizations in the world.
1. Focus on Service Delivery development first – if you are unsure what the service needs are., after your product is ready to ship out, start with defining what is your overall service “lifecycle” or the cradle to grave analogy for services that you or your partner companies may be required to fulfill in maintaining your product and ensuring a customer relationship. This could entail defining service contracts., estimation of what is a service request., (e.g. a call to helpdesk)., what services you will fulfill., what infrastructure is needed (e.g. physical facilities, people, equipment etc), time constraints and most importantly Quality requirements (e.g. if you will be expected to answer and fix questions on defects on the product, you may need to run a helpdesk operation with few people., and they need the tools and knowledge to fix the defects – in which case., certain high priority defects may need to be fixed within 4 hours or alike). Having an overall approach for defining what constitutes this “service system” will help you staff and build up the resources necessary. Many industries like banks, for example, model their expected customer-arrival patterns in a Teller, to plan for how many tellers they need during office hours.
2. A robust service request system has to be then defined and implemented – a service request constitutes any call for help., in simple terms., – i.e. a helpdesk receiving a call for support on a defect found on the field, a call center receiving a complaint or a regular enquiry by a customer are all examples of service request. Service request fulfillment systems are often accomplished by software tools such as ticketing systems. Popular tools include JIRA® or similar software tools that track from the ticket to resolution including the ability to modify., and customize to your process workflow., however simple or complex.
3. Think about what can be considered as a possible interruption in service delivery and service requests., such as power failures., or your staff resigning, or similar. Try and implement a way to deal with such possible incidents and plan a workaround, or preventive actions by selecting few commonly recurring problems and implementing those actions to reduce occurrence. (for example, a Hotel guests could be often complaining about room service not cleaning to their satisfaction and this can often be fixed by re-training staff and reassigning staff with clear instructions). An incident resolution approach is hence helpful to regain the trust of your customers.
4. In parallel, think about possible bigger disruptions or threats to being able to deliver consistent services., such as threats of severe weather., malfunctioning equipment in AI enabled environments, cyber vulnerabilities with IOT which are quite common today, and terrorist attacks. Preparing for such vulnerabilities and doing the best you can, as individuals and businesses can help you build business resilience. Service continuity is not totally impossible theory., but the impact can be reduced for sure.
Knowing these key abilities and developing approaches that begin to address these critical aspects will ensure you truly understand the implications of what delivering and sustaining superior, consistent services to your customers and gain their trust for years to come. As we say, it is easier to retain and harnessing existing customers many times., rather than trying new ones.
A related new development along these lines, is the newly redesigned CMMI® Capability Maturity Model Integration for SERVICES, V2.0 which contains a plethora of best practices amassed through 25+ years of industry experience., and research., has been released. This model is the de-facto “Gold Standard” today for best practices for the Service industry. The model was originally developed by Software Engineering Institute under Carnegie Mellon University in 2006 and is now under the stewardship of the CMMI Institute, an ISACA Enterprise. Take a look at the new redesigned model at https://cmmiinstitute.com/cmmi/svc
CMMI Services is an integrated set of best practices that improves an organization’s capability to efficiently and effectively deliver quality service offerings that meet market and customer needs.
With AI enabling services businesses today, IoT and blockchain offering to provide faster, cheaper and more efficient customer experiences., it is imperative the service industry integrates best practices in their overall business., to thrive!