26 Billion Service Calls Will Cost a Bundle

By Rick Marquardt

What's your strategy for reducing costs and increasing efficiency in an IoT world?


The field-service industry encompasses millions of field technicians in vans and trucks spread across the world, with many more working behind the scenes. As the Internet of Things (IoT) converges with the service industry, one thing is certain: adding an estimated 26 billion connected devices by 2020 will not only impact the field-service industry, but knock it off its feet.

As the IoT grows and matures, service will no longer be about fixing just machines or devices. Service will encompass systems such as business applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as data warehouses and, yes, even people.

Why people? To start, 84 percent of millennial customers have used a self-service portal for customer service. Millennials see self-service as mandatory, and to succeed, organizations need to provide self-service as an option, if possible. Furthermore, 64 percent of consumers have switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service. The bottom line is that consumers’ service expectations are increasing almost as quickly as the number of IoT devices—and they expect the same level of innovation, convenience and ease across all their touchpoints.

While the burgeoning IoT is disrupting the service industry, it is also redefining how service is delivered, ultimately providing organizations with exactly what they need to meet consumers’ service-level demands. IoT technology—sensors, real-time monitoring and data—are transforming the service industry mentality from “break fix” to “predict and adapt.”

While dispatching a technician has historically been the first (and sometimes only) form of service, the IoT now offers other options that are less expensive and can improve customer service and satisfaction.

When an issue arises, machine-to-machine (M2M is the first phase of the resolution process. The communication between an onsite endpoint and services is remotely automated. Resolution can happen within seconds, without human intervention. M2M is not just about resolution, though. It is also an effective preventative tool, stopping problems before an issue ever arises.

If the M2M model cannot resolve the service-related issue, the next level is a machine-to-human or human-to-human approach. The incident is resolved remotely within minutes with the assistance of a human—either through remote action or via direct communication with the customer. NCR conducts hundreds of these interactions daily across our Service Operations Centers.

If the incident still cannot be resolved, then an engineer with the appropriate skill set and replacement parts inventory can be dispatched to resolve the issue. This human-to-dispatch is the traditional service call approach.

More Data Points—Fewer Service Calls
Every day, an IoT-connected device generates significant amounts of data, from standard functioning and workload data to sensor or component part data, to fault and error data. Every device is unique, as is the data produced. It is the combined data from hundreds, thousands or millions of devices that allows data analysts and executives to develop a better understanding of standard and non-standard performance behavior.

We call this “services continuous engineering in action.” For example, in a pilot with a Tier 1 financial institution, increasing services continuous engineering usage resulted in the following outcomes:
• Deposit availability increased by 0.4 percent.
• Withdraw availability increased by 0.05 percent.
• Downtime in hours decreased by more than 335,000 hours.

There is no doubt that dispatching a service worker is a costly way to resolve an issue. Yet making the transformation to a services model that capitalizes on the IoT to meet the demands of a digital and omnichannel marketplace can also be costly. One way to mitigate that expense is to partner with a managed services provider offering best-in-class services that can help you navigate through the transformation with actionable insights from the intersection of the IoT and big data.

With the right partner, you can:
• Improve availability to the customer by applying big data and automation
• Minimize endpoint downtime for a better consumer experience
• Get continuous improvement to quality of service through scalable services operations
• Make the transformation to digital services strategies seamlessly

The IoT will have far-reaching consequences on the service industry. Organizations that can efficiently scale and adapt new service models, capitalize on the available data, and enable a consolidated digital approach will win with more efficient and fewer costly service calls; improved device availability and uptime; and a better customer experience, which is the most important metric of all.

Rick Marquardt is NCR‘s EVP of services, enterprise quality and telecom and technology. He leadis the services transformation strategic initiative at NCR, helping the company’s customers respond to the disruptive changes in globalization, digitization, consumerism and technology presented by the connected economy. NCR Services comprises more than 20,000 service professionals serving customers on a 24x7x365 basis in more than 100 countries around the world. Marquardt is responsible for all of NCR’s global support services, including its outsourced and managed service offerings, as well as service delivery, sales and enablement across NCR’s target industries and markets.