Competition is getting tougher in the Field Service industry

For solution provider SAP, that is investing a lot in field service right now, improving it’s offering to customers boils down to three priorities at the moment:
Customer support. Field service management. And the Spare parts digital channels, says company VP Dietmar Bohn.
The bottom line: competition is getting tougher.

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Productivity and profitability, are animals that never sleep. And this is still one of the main challenges, for solution providers in the field service industry. SAP SE:s Industry Solution Management Vice President, Dietmar Bohn, has a clear picture, about where most of SAP:s customers currently have their focus.
Many of our customers, are under pressure. They want to do a better chop, in service management. But they only want more business and turnover, if it is profitable. They want better productivity and profitability, but with the same service organisation. They do not want to invest a lot of money, in hiring new people.
Most field service customers, are happy with the back office that they now have. So according to Dietmar Bohn, the main challenge for him and his global brand, is about helping out with better solutions. Specifically in three main sectors:
Number one, our end users want better customer support. It’s about the way that their customers can index with them. Like call centres, chat capabilities, and better portable digital channels for self-service.
Number two, is about improving their field service management, and equipping their service technicians, with better tools:
For example, with mobile tools that, on an offline mode, is providing all the information they need. And capabilities like 3 D/visualisation, in offline mode.
And number three, focuses on spare parts.
Digital channels to their customers especially. A “one-stop-shop”, access to all digital channels they need. Like if they need to order a part with the help of 3D-visualisation, et cetera.
The main focus of SAP:s field service organisation right now, is keeping up with customer demands in these three sectors.
At Copperbergs Field Service Forum in Amsterdam on May 31 – June 1 this summer, SAP has three high calibre speakers present, discussing current industry trends and solutions:
John Heald, Global Vice President Solution and Strategy, at SAP Hybris Service. Ulf Guttmann, Solution Manager at SAP Industry Business Unit. And Gert Tackaert, a Vice President at SAP Product Management.
SAP of course, more or less covers the entire globe. With SAP Field Service:s biggest markets, currently being in Europe (including the Nordics), and North America.
That is where the biggest demand from our customer side comes, says Dietmar Bohn.
But many of SAP:s customers in the field service sector, now see a big challenge, appearing from the far east.
We can see how some of our customers, are becoming a bit nervous. In China a lot of companies offer service now, and they are indeed a competitor, says Dietmar Bohn.
Because now it is obvious, that the Chinese companies, are able to produce good quality solutions.
Dietmar continues:
Chinese companies are saying “we offer full support for all our equipment”. And for SAP:s Life Science customers, there is a big competition is starting now. With the business model, “The equipment is still in your books, we pay for the consumption”.
In other words, the service is an enabler. Service simply has to provide operating costs, on a lower level. For SAP, this means that they have to help their clients solve a simple equation:
If they cannot keep the operating cost at lower level, they can not operate successfully.

How can you help your customers, in the areas that you have mentioned?
It has a lot to do with Knowledge management, not everyone has to “reinvent the wheel”. It has a lot to do with Parts management, how do you get the right parts on site as efficiently as possible? And it has a lot to do with billing… and so on and so forth…
There is also another very important angle to pay attention to nowadays: Innovation.
– Of course the new processes in digital business, in areas like the Internet of Things, and Predictive maintenance. We also have many customers, who want us to help them with asset management, which of course involves the cloud.
So what, according to you, gives SAP an edge then – compared to some other vendors?
– The beauty of SAP, is that we have a big ecosystem. Some “stuff” that we have developed for other industries, work very well for field service now. Like Machine learning and Chatbots. Tools like these can quickly be reused now, that they get more relevant for the field service business.

Footnote: SAP is present, showcasing it’s solutions, at Copperbergs Field Service Forum in Amsterdams NH Schiphol Hotel, on May 31 – June 1.