We help solve problems with long troubleshooting times and too many visits to the same machine to fix the same issue, and we help our customers solve the challenges around transferring extremely valuable subject matter expert knowledge from one generation of technicians the next – and that’s what our customers have been coming to us for, for almost 20 years. An urgent need to start making service more efficient and reduce troubleshooting time through our dynamic troubleshooting guides.
And that has always been the premise for long and strong partnerships.
However, that premise is starting to expand a bit.
A few years ago, one of our very visionary customers (manufacturing excavators) came to us and asked if we could somehow turn the combination of our software platform and their expert troubleshooting knowledge base into a product that they could sell to their customers to make a profit.
This would help them address cases where the customers were out of service contracts or out of warranty and want to perform corrective maintenance on their own using their own employees. The only problem was that the employees weren’t necessarily experts in all products or on fixing all errors, so they were in need of a troubleshooting knowledge base just as much as the manufacturer’s own people.
We made arrangements and they started selling the troubleshooting knowledge base as part of their service products – with great success!
Of course, the customers don’t know that the underlying platform is Dezide, they just see the manufacturers troubleshooting software product.
This is a customer who has taken an amazing journey from realizing the need to optimize service and make technicians more effective, to capitalizing on the result of that optimization. It’s been very exciting to follow this company to see the progress from challenges with long downtimes and too many dispatches to a modern efficient service organization that fixes problems on the first visit using fewer spare parts and in less time. Even more interesting to see how they managed to productize that service and turn an otherwise costly business unit into a revenue stream.
Fast forward a few years and revenue generation from service offerings are no longer something only for the visionaries. It’s something we are starting to see become more of a requirement.
In fact, one of our latest customers approached us from a need to improve service, but the business side of the company dictates that any software purchase must be turned into a product. If the software in question cannot generate revenue it doesn’t get purchased. So, the pilot project wasn’t just about evaluating Dezide as a fit for the service organization but just as much about evaluating the potential for turning the software into a sellable product.
The pilot was even planned with different stages each aimed at evaluating different aspects of the software and its potentials – the very first phase was about building a simple yet sellable prototype. If that didn’t happen, no further stages would be performed!
That says a lot about how much focus enterprises have on revenue in all business units. It’s no longer enough to prove the ROI and bring home massive savings each year – it must be sellable too.
So, how do you make sure that you choose the right software that supports these visions?
Let’s look at that next …
9 Tips for Selecting the Right Software for Productizing Expert Knowledge
In our experience, these are some of the highlights that customers appreciate the most and ensure productization success:
- It is imperative that the solution is very easy to use for customers. They should be able to use the software without any formal training from the manufacturer. This includes making sure that the solution is mobile friendly as the technical workforce is increasingly going mobile.
- It should be possible for the customers to provide feedback on knowledge base content in-app. Keep the cycle from receiving feedback to processing and publishing short so customers can see that their feedback is valued and used.
- It must be as easy as possible to capture and structure knowledge. This is the core of the solution. It is essential that the solution uses a good model for capturing and organizing knowledge. If knowledge cannot be easily stored, updated and optimized, then the rest of the items in this list are mute points.
- The best way to grow and improve the knowledge base is activating the expert community in the field. Making a contribution to the knowledge base has to be easy and quick to make sure that vital tribal knowledge is captured when the tech is ready to make a contribution.
- Up to 30% of a technicians time is spent looking for the right content. You want to make sure that your customers can find what they are looking for really quickly. Troubleshooting solutions have to be easy to search out by free text, keywords or even look up the right content for the right asset based on serial numbers or other identification.
- No software lives in isolation and it’s extremely important that the knowledge base solution that you choose can fit into the IT landscape of your service organization. Furthermore, when productizing a software service and presenting it to the customers through self-service solutions, it has to be easy to integrate into front-end assets. Both online, offline and through browsers and mobile apps.
- Many machines operate in areas with limited or no network connection. In these cases, it is a huge advantage that the solution works in off-line mode. The technicians should be able to get troubleshooting instructions and content from the tool running locally on the laptop, tablet or phone.
- Turning a service into a product implies that it must be possible to package the service and ship it to the customer in some form. Whether as an online login, a desktop application or as a mobile app available through the various mobile phone app stores – the solution has to support this kind of distribution.
- Because productizing a service means packaging up something that was built internally and selling it externals, there will be licensing discussions with the vendor of the solution. Make sure you choose a vendor with a flexible licensing model and one that is willing to adapt to the circumstances that you are operating under.
Most enterprises already have sales and marketing organizations that can build campaigns for the new product, so a troubleshooting solution should just facilitate the ease of capturing knowledge and sharing it through multiple channels- even offline for use in disconnected environments.
With that in mind, make sure that your knowledge base is the best solution for reselling troubleshooting knowledge to customers, as easily as possible.
Your knowledge base must support current and future service and support strategies and help you capitalize on your knowledge as a service for your own and competing products in businesses with an increased focus on Industry 4.0, where service is key for pushing revenue and shareholder value even higher.
We see a growing trend in the industry to provide service for customers even on competing products and the knowledge base should provide that opportunity.
As service and support organizations start to realize that service can be a business unit equal to or greater than new product sales in terms of revenue, the need for improving field service is rapidly growing. With more and more companies expecting a significant part of their business to come from an extended service business, we need to successfully transform your service business and boost your company’s profitability. We need to start considering service as a product.
And so, we see service organizations take on a more active strategy and attempt to productize their internal services by building product development, sales and marketing and distribution capabilities in support of their product vision. A vision to deliver service technology to customers in order to gain a competitive advantage.