Madhu Karnani Oza, Director, Customer and Technical Services Asia Pacific at Abbott, talks with Sarah about some of the key considerations around where to place the service function within your organizational structure to achieve the greatest success if you’re looking to evolve, advance, and progress your service focus and revenues.

Listen on Apple Podcasts  Listen on Spotify  Listen on Google Podcasts

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we’re going to be talking about how to structure a company properly to achieve service success. I’m excited to welcome to the podcast today Madhu Karnani Oza who is the Director of Customer and Technical Services for Asia Pacific at Abbott. Madhu, welcome to the podcast.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Hey Sarah, I’m glad to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for being here. To kick us off, let’s have you tell the listeners a bit about yourself, anything you want to share about your background and your role at Abbott.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Currently I am the Director of Technical Services for Electrophysiology business at Abbott for Asia Pacific. I’m based out of Singapore. Currently we’re responsible for all technical remote services, field services, professional services provided post-sales. Most of my career I’ve spent within this company, within in St. Jude which was bought over by Abbott, in various roles in product development and then over to telehealth operations. That was when I was based in California. We’re based here in Singapore, loving it. I have three children, in between that and work and everything, we’re pretty busy.

Sarah Nicastro: I can imagine. Similar here. You had shared that you were born in India and then you went to, was it graduate school in the States?

Madhu Karnani Oza: That’s right. University of Wisconsin.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. Then you took the role in Singapore. The reason I mention that is because when you and I connected and we started talking about some of the trends in service and the evolution of product companies towards Servitization and things like that, it was interesting because we could talk about those viewpoints from almost a regional level and the differences in where folks are at in that journey. As we talked about that, one of the things that came up in conversation is the topic we’re going to tackle today which is as a company looks to embrace service more as a strategic differentiator as a path to revenue growth, what does that look like operationally? Where does service reside in the org structure to have the best chance of success? This is something that comes up these days in a lot of my conversations because people are struggling with trying to figure out what is the best situation for their business.

Sarah Nicastro: I wanted to start with saying there really isn’t one answer. It’s going to be individualized based on each person’s situation. It could even evolve over time but I know it’s something that you had some opinions on, based on your experience. I thought it would be really interesting. Before we talk about some of the choices, some of the pros and cons, et cetera, talk a little bit about why this is such an important topic. Why it’s top of mind for you, why it’s top of mind for a lot of other people in service roles.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Basically, if you think about it, there was a time when product companies were product companies. I think in the last couple of decades, various sectors have moved toward using service either as a differentiator or as you said, as a revenue generator. The fact that companies are going through that change means that now there’s something new, something that’s traditionally not very well known. That’s why, I think, different companies take different approaches. A lot of them are not very deliberate approaches because it’s something new, it’s just sort of happens. I think that once it happens and then you’re moving through the phases of growth, that’s when you start to realize, “Wait a minute. Why is it like this? Shouldn’t there be another way?” I think a lot of it is just growing pains.

Madhu Karnani Oza: The other reason I think it’s also important to talk about this is because I talk to several people about this because it’s a dilemma in a lot of our minds. I talked to people about it, it’s amazing to me how when people are giving you their response, they give it to you like it’s so obvious. But yet, all of them have such different views. I’ve talked to people who are like, “That’s a no brainer, it belongs here or it belongs there.” I think because of that, this is, I think, one of those conversations people should have. For some reason it’s obvious in a lot of minds but they are very, very different answers.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That’s a really good point. The first piece of advice, then, what you said, it’s not always deliberate. Companies can start on a path and then find themselves where, okay here we are and here’s how we’ve set things up. Now we’re just kind of forging ahead. If a company were wanting to be more deliberate, what are some of the considerations? What’s your best advice for how to be a little bit more strategic and a little bit more deliberate in setting some goals to determine what the best structure is?

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think as you said, I really think this is one of those things that people need to be deliberate about. It’s okay that I think things have evolved how they have evolved. That’s totally natural. You have something new, it sticks somewhere but I don’t think it needs to be the answer forever. I think service is very unique because it has a very highly operational aspect to it but also extremely customer facing. It’s in a very unique situation as to where it is. I think that’s why people really need to be deliberate about this decision. I think that the first thing to do is for leadership, management leadership, visionaries, to step back, take a think, have discussions, agree and then the last piece, which is communicate. I think this is one of those discussions that needs to be happening deliberately. Step back, look at what is the goal of services in your organization. What is its impact to your business? How much of your business is service going to be dependent on. There are direct dependencies, like direct revenue, and there are a lot of indirect dependencies like what pull through is it going to have for your product, for example. Or is it going to be generating goodwill for your company and thereby has some really indirect impact to your business.

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think first of all, it’s important for companies to step back and think through, what is the goal of services for your company at that point of time? I do say it does evolve. This is a conversation that needs to be had, honestly every few years depending on how service is changes as part of your business. That’s what I would say is first of all, step back, think about it. Have your opinions and whatnot but then come together, discuss, come to an agreement. Now, I can’t emphasize enough on the communication piece of it. I do think that a lot of this comes top down. I think a lot of these decisions, these discussions, et cetera, they start top down. They must. But I also don’t think that working in silos is a good idea. You have some sort of definition up top. I think it’s very important to start trickling that information down, being able to get some of your key people to provide their opinions because you’re sitting up here but unless you know what’s happening in the real world, your decisions are not going to be fully informed. That last piece of, before it’s absolutely set in stone to communicate, communicate up and down and ensure you have all those points of view. I think that would be very, very key.

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think during those discussions themselves; I think certain obvious answers may even present themselves to you by having these conversations. Not just amongst the leadership team but also with customers and with your people who are actually on the ground. That’s one thing. I think that also helps to build culture and again, cannot emphasize enough how important it is to build culture. A lot of our companies are extremely large. A lot of it is consolidation and share resources and so on, multiple businesses. It is truly important to set that culture of not only are we thinking this through, we’re talking to you. We want to know what you’re of thinking and our decision is going to be an informed one.

Sarah Nicastro: There’s a couple of really good points in there. The one thing is, like you said, it can evolve. The path you choose isn’t necessarily set in stone. You can always evolve and pivot. One of our recent podcast guests headed up service transformation at GEA, the food manufacturer. She actually talked a lot about a 10 year trajectory and how it started as a pretty small, focused team looking at what is the service opportunity. Then it evolved into a formalized group and then eventually as it caught on, it was infiltrated into the business at large to where it isn’t its own entity, it’s sort of blended in. That’s a good point. I think the other thing is depending on the industry and depending on the goals of the business, some companies have an objective to really, truly become service providers. Even if they do manufacture a product, it’s almost going to be part of the service. That is the path.

Sarah Nicastro: For others, it’s just an area of the business that maybe they want to grow and expand on but not necessarily all the way to that point. Having some idea of where you want to get to, while you’re not setting it in stone, having an idea of where you ultimately want to land also prohibits you from taking steps that are going to waste time and energy and effort and resources. The communication part is key. The other thing I’ve seen is situations where the desire to really emphasize service or expand service is not coming from the top down, it’s coming from service. Then that’s a very frustrating spot for the person that sees the opportunity but is in a silo and doesn’t have the ability to really influence, to the degree they want, the outcome. Very good points. We’ll get into some hypotheticals I guess. Let’s talk about as a company as considering how to structure, we, in our previous chat, identified three main options. Let’s talk through those and then talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each in your opinion. The first is commercial. Structuring within commercial.

Madhu Karnani Oza: First of all, I think before we get into those pros and cons, it is very important to clarify that whether the service organization resides within operations or commercial or whatever you decide on, having a separate entity with its own leadership, meaning service as an organization with its own leadership, I think is first of all incredibly important. Wherever it resides, whatever I’m about to say in terms of pros and cons, there’s no doubt that there needs to be a separate leadership with focus on service. Secondly that you need something like a service excellence organization, service transformation, whatever you might call them, the people that are not on the ground providing the operational service but some of the people in the background who are looking how to improve it, how to roll out new services and new tools and things like that.

Madhu Karnani Oza: To me, first of all, that’s a given. I don’t want that to be in any doubt whatsoever. That’s absolutely necessary. But having said that, having formed this organization now, the question is where do they fit in, in a company? That’s why, as we said, the first potential answer would be, for example, commercial. First of all, this is something I do a lot which is that the main thing service is about is service. It’s customers. In an interview, I will often ask people, in every interview I will ask people what do you think this job is about or what’s the main goal or what have you? If the word customer service is not part of that answer, that’s usually the end of that interview because you’ve got to understand whatever your end goal, whether it is to generate good will or generate culture or to generate revenue, it doesn’t matter. It is all very customer centric. Keeping that in mind, that service is all about that customer, you’ve got to have a team structure that enables the company, the employees of the company that interact with the customer to be one team. To appear as one team. To not appear fragmented. To not have separate goals or be working in silos.

Madhu Karnani Oza: If I am a customer and I hear, let’s say it’s my cell phone and I’m talking to two representatives. One is trying to sell me something and another who is trying to fix my problem. If I feel like those guys haven’t talked to each other, or they have separate goals, they’re pushing their own separate agendas on me, that’s not great customer service. That’s a very simplistic, consumer type of example but I think it applies to anybody out there, whether they’re dealing with large capital manufacturing equipment or large medical equipment or diagnostic equipment, it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to have these large companies pushing on two different fronts. They want to provide that one single face of customer service, customer most important, whether you’re selling something or you’re supporting something. I think it’s very important. I think that service being a part of commercial, I think, facilitates that because now people have got the same goals, you’re being led top down by the same leadership, the same organization. I think it just makes it a lot easier to have that one team, one face kind of approach to the customer. I think that’s absolutely the biggest pro of having service be a part of commercial.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Now, I will put in the disclaimer here that some of this is also culturally made harder. For example, I think in some countries, I have seen where in an organization it was not part of commercial that it actually works okay because they’re used to collaborating with each other and the customer sees no issues, they don’t see any kind of separation or anything. It does happen. I think when you start thinking about it and I’m more sensitive to this, having worked on different continents, is that there are cultures where there’s a lot of hierarchy within an organization. If that hierarchy is such that one of those, either the service guy or the sales guy, one of those feels more powerful or acts more powerful than the other, which happens a lot, then that’s going to tilt that one face approach again. It’s not that easy at that point in time. At that point in time, you need that organizational structure, the organization goal to allow both of those people to have the same voice with the company. To be able to collaborate and not for one of them to dominate the other. This is honestly just everyday stuff that happens at companies at various levels.

Madhu Karnani Oza: I do think that culture makes a difference as well. Whenever I talk to people from some of the countries that my peers in other regions will say, “Oh yeah but we’ve never seen that problem because the two organizations still work very hand in hand.” I agree, that’s true, but it does make it harder in some cultures and so on. Anyway, that’s a big part of it is the pro in this part for commercial. Now, the other big piece is hello P&L. That’s how all business decisions are made. You have the revenue piece, you have the cost piece and boy, looking at them separately is not a good idea. You can’t have one without the other. When you’re making business decisions, where should you put resources? Where should you provide better tools or maybe a new tool? Or where should you go to innovate? You’ve always got to look at both sides of that. When commercial is separate from service, one is looking at the revenue, the other is looking at cost. Then the conversation isn’t a complete conversation. Again, it can be done. I can sit here and look at both sides but I can be siloed in one team. It’s just not the same thing.

Madhu Karnani Oza: A very simple example would be if you’re deciding whether to buy or fund a project that would aid in a decision-making tool. In terms of cost, an operations team is going to think of, “What’s the cost effectiveness of that? By adding this tool am I going to save headcount somehow? Remove manual work and thereby save headcount?” That’s going to be their focus on it. But, on the other hand, if that tool facilitates decision making, there’s no easy way to quantify what that’s going to bring in, in terms of revenue, because you don’t know. But eventually it should. That’s the kind of conversation that needs to be had when you look at both sides of that coin. I think that’s what is facilitated when you have service and commercial working as part of one organization.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. What about cons?

Madhu Karnani Oza: That one, you have to think about that one a little bit. I do think there are a couple of things. There are cons to this as well. One thing would be that, depending on your industry, depending on the customer, there are times when you hear the customer really likes their service guy because the service guy isn’t trying to sell them anything. I think some of that may become blurry if the service and commercial lines are not well drawn, if the responsibilities and goals are not well separated. Suddenly, if the customer feels like everyone in this customer is just pushing and peddling for something, we don’t want that to occur either. You want a high trust factor. Somehow you do need to make sure that even if service and commercial are one organization, that there is that empathy and that trust factor you continue to grow with the customer and now appear sales-y to everybody.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think that’s really it in terms of the cons of that approach.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. The second choice would be within operations.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Yeah. With operations, I certainly think that, again, it’s about the phase at which you are. When you’re trying to operationalize something new, I think operational teams are very good at that. Getting the team together, the right people, the right processes. Process is very, very, very big in service. That is something that I think operations teams, their thought process is very well suited for. When you’re an immature organization, it makes sense to get that help with operationalizing something new. I’ve certainly seen that be very, very successful. I think secondly, the other big plus point of being under operations is that as you know, operations is very good at efficiency, productivity, KPIs and then running with those numbers and being very, very good about not digressing. Staying on that track. That discipline I think is very high in an operational team. That naturally works well for services. You have a field team or whether you have a remote support team or you have both, just having those specific KPIs and running through things and never letting your eyes off of that because boy, your bonus is tied to that 0.2% deviation. I think that makes a very big different. It does help the operational side of services in a big way.

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think the other thing, also, is depending again on your business, being able to tie back to capital management processes, which is usually an operations process, manufacturing and operations and distribution process, just being able to tie back with that because so much of what service does in a capital organization is capital movement. That’s where the cost, honestly, comes in depending on your product and your organization. Usually a big part of services is parts. The exchange of parts, the repair of parts, all that ties in very well with operations. Another very big plus point of being part of operations and I’ve seen both of these factors really come into play personally as well.

Madhu Karnani Oza: On the con side of the operations piece is that, like we mentioned, you’re a separate team from commercial and sales but you’re both very customer facing and now it’s that difference in goals, difference in mindset make it harder for you to have that one face of the company customer service, that one brilliant experience that doesn’t feel like it’s fragmented. That piece. Then of course the fact that, again, if you’re very focused on cost only as part of operations, then I think you miss out on some of that innovation that you could have in creating a new revenue stream. Your focus is so wholly on staying within KPIs that the innovative spirit is left up to someone else. Neither side is really looking at that piece. I do think that’s a lot of con of the whole thing.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that’s the biggest one, honestly. Right now, to me at least, that’s where the industry is at is that innovation. Customers want different things, how do we meet those needs? We have different opportunities to deliver adjacent, complimentary, advanced services. How do we position ourselves to do that. To me, if you don’t sort out how to work that innovation in, you become very stagnant. I think the pace of evolution is so fast right now within services that if you don’t prioritize that innovation, you’re going to have some trouble.

Madhu Karnani Oza: That’s directly tied into right now what we’re seeing in the world, which is this digitalization, which has been accelerated by COVID but honestly it was very much a need even before 2020. As you say, then there’s no one thinking of both sides and being able to say, “I want to be able to provide this other service or a better service or be on a digital platform and increase throughput or efficiency or just customer satisfaction and ease.” Then your service organization just becomes, “Look, I’ve got a job to do and my goal is to meet these KPIs and that’s that.” That may be an oversimplification of things but honestly, this stuff makes a huge difference in the culture and the mindset. If the top down vision does not include that innovation and being able to think outside the box and to be able to take very calculated risks, then progress will be incremental only. It will not be making a big jump of progress, I think it’s very difficult.

Sarah Nicastro: Particularly when you think about service in operations, what comes to mind for me is, as you said, it’s been driven historically by efficiency, productivity, cut costs, minimize head count, all of those perceptions. I think part of the impact of that, then also just generationally with the workforce is they’re just, “This is what we do.” It’s show up, do your job. They don’t necessarily think out of the box. They’re not, in any way, inclined or incentivized to bring new ideas to the table. I’m over generalizing but I’m saying in terms of some of the drawbacks, they are probably not interested in expanding soft skills and customer facing traits. They just want to show up with a toolbox and fix what they’re fixing and move on.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Exactly.

Sarah Nicastro: I think the innovation thing and the evolving the thinking, evolving the culture, you really have to get out of that operations mindset. You need it but you have to, like you said, be able to marry the two worlds together, strike the right balance, those sorts of things.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Absolutely. I think the mindset thing I think is big. As you said, if your job and your goal is to get in there, get your stuff done and get out and that’s that. You’re driven by KPIs or “How much time do you spend over there at the site? Let’s minimize that.” The culture of customer relationships is generally a more commercial concept than an operational concept. While again, as I said, absolutely things can be done irrespective of where you belong but-

Sarah Nicastro: Sure.

Madhu Karnani Oza: … culture is top-driven and it permeates through whatever group you’re in. I think the other aspect of that is that it really is difficult to create that culture of innovation and customer service excellence, there’s also the fact that the talent that you attract and the talent that you retain can also be impacted by that culture. The people you attract and then retain are the ones who like that operational productivity, efficiency driven work. I think it has a ripple effect, it’s not just your culture today, it’s your culture for the future as well.

Sarah Nicastro: When you talked earlier about communication, one of the things I think about is in that operational culture, even if you have a vision at the top for this innovation, you can communicate that vision but the goal isn’t to drive compliance. The goal is to drive commitment to that. If you don’t have the people that have the right frame of mind, personality type, inclination, incentives, too, it does come down to there are some people that have been doing that operational role for a long time. They don’t want to sell or they don’t want to be a trusted advisor or they don’t want to have a consultative relationship with the customer. This is why it’s an evolution not a, “Boom, let’s make this happen.”

Madhu Karnani Oza: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: When you really start digging into the layers, those are the things you come up against. You can’t just have some super cool, fresh thinking upper management that comes in and is like, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” You could have the best change management strategy but if you don’t have the right people, at best they’re going to comply. You’re not going to have the customer impact you want by just compliance. Then it becomes a longer game of seeding the right talent and thinking about how you want things to be in two, three, five years. It’s really cool stuff. I say that because I talk to people about it and not actually do it, which is a little bit different. All right. The third option would be to have this as a totally separate entity. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

Madhu Karnani Oza: This one I will say I have less experience in and whether first hand or even further degrees removed. I think the biggest pro for having a completely separate entity I think would be the ability to make change really fast. You want to develop something, a new service and a new model and new everything. You get that freedom to be your own entity, be more entrepreneurial, be fast, be agile. I think if you’re that autonomous, surely I think the ability to make that change can be very quick. I do think there’s something to be said about that. That’s why going back to what you were saying, it’s about where you are in that journey. What’s right for your company, what are you developing, what do you need it to be? What’s that vision? Based on all of that, there may be situations where you want it to be a completely separate entity, which is just doing its own thing. I do think that’s definitely a possibility. Also if service is going to be a massive part of what you’re doing, then of course I think again, it deserves its own entity as well, perhaps. I think those would be the reasons for being separate. Really it’s all about that driving a very big change in a very short time. That’s what you need to have. You need to be autonomous to that level.

Madhu Karnani Oza: On the other hand, you kind of get the disadvantages of both the earlier options we talked about. You have a disadvantage of you don’t really have KPI driven operational discipline in that case. Again, you go right back to the fact is your commercial group different and you are separated. How do you provide that one face, one name customer support. You do still have those same challenges to deal with as a separate entity. Again, as I said, if it’s large enough, if it’s a big enough proportion of the business, absolutely it does make sense at that level. Especially if you want to innovate really fast.

Sarah Nicastro: I think the other consideration here, though, obviously it would vary company to company but what does the customer journey look like? I think this also poses the biggest risk of not providing a consistent, cohesive experience. To me, that’s another big-

Madhu Karnani Oza: Exactly.

Sarah Nicastro: … point of consideration.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Exactly. I do think the way you would think about it is that there’s a company that just needs to make some innovation and really, really quick. They don’t have the time or whatever. I think it could be a good intermediate step.

Sarah Nicastro: Almost like an incubator.

Madhu Karnani Oza: It is exactly that. Go off and do this thing.

Sarah Nicastro: That’s sort of how the woman I referenced earlier from GEA, that’s how that started. She basically said it almost went through these stages and then it became where there is a chief service officer in each function. They are responsible for driving the innovation, all of those things. But it’s really integrated into the business. It started out as a separate small team that was just driving them forward.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Exactly.

Sarah Nicastro: As we said earlier, it could certainly evolve and it very well may. I think there’s some good points that you’ve brought up for people to think through and consider and weigh. To your point at the beginning, I think people find themselves working off of a structure, whatever that originates as and not necessarily being deliberate about thinking if that’s the best structure for their goals or if they should even be thinking or working toward something other than that. All right. Here’s a good question for you. If I forced you to pick one, what would it be?

Madhu Karnani Oza: I’m going to go the political way on this. I do think it depends on where your organization is at. As I said, if it’s going to go to the point where you need to make a fast change, go develop something off to the side and then eventually integrate. If it’s just about setting up operational efficiency and discipline, if that’s what is needed, absolutely go to that. I would say in a majority of situations that I’ve come across that, as I said, because customer service is absolutely at the heart of your service organization, being a part of a single commercial organization I think would probably get the most top votes for this particular question because it is important that at the end of the day, your customer service be excellent irrespective of what your end goal is. It starts and ends with that customer experience. If the best way to provide that and to innovate for that is as part of commercial, I think that’s the way to go. There’s no right answer, there’s no one answer. People can do-

Sarah Nicastro: All right. That’s fair enough. We touched on these but let’s revisit some of the key points of consideration for people. Knowing your end game. You might not have 100% clarity on that but at least having an idea of strategically what is the role of service where you’re headed and how does that weigh in?

Madhu Karnani Oza: I think it’s important to have some marketing functions dedicated to service. Those are the guys that help you put your strategy together. Where service strategy fits as part of the overall business strategy, it’s just important to know why we’re doing this. I do think that again, knowing that end game and being deliberate in communicating it is just really important.

Sarah Nicastro: We talked about gaining the trust and optimizing the experience of the customer, I think that’s pretty clear. Culture, one of the things you just said is in a lot of manufacturing industries that have deep, rich history it’s also infiltrating service into the culture. It’s not just this is something that happens after we sold something and something breaks but starting to really plant seeds, even before you want to make any major changes on here’s why this is way more important than you may think.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Actually, to tell you the truth, I think one of the things that we will often say, it goes on slides everywhere I’m sure, in all companies. One of the things, when it comes to service is a common theme, that is a lot of the hurdles we face are internal. A lot of the hurdles we face are culture. Internal culture which is the mindset of even the folks within your organization. Do they believe in what service can do? That has got to be a big one. That actually helps you decide where that should reside. If the internal hurdle is high, the internal cultural hurdle is high, then you want your service organization to be front and center. You want that message to be out there that this is important and it’s going to be part of whatever is the most central organization for that product. It may be operations and it may be commercial. If you want to send that message that it’s important, you’ve got to put it where it shines and not tucked away.

Sarah Nicastro: That’s a really good point. I think that’s a struggle that everyone shares that’s really trying to make strides here. I think the one we haven’t touched on is tying the field to R&D.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Again, that one … The reason I haven’t brought it up so far but it’s a consideration is that it just works differently in different companies. Whether which of your groups has a better tie-in with R&D because the people on the field, the people working with the customers, they understand what the issues are. They are the best form of input for future innovation. Again, in most cases, if that’s going to be a field organization, which is usually the commercial organization, the customer facing organization, it makes sense to also have service in there because then you can tie it all back in together as one bowl of feedback over to R&D to be able to create in the future. But that’s not to say people in operations don’t have that tie-in to R&D. In fact, in several organizations they have a better tie-in to R&D. I think that could go either way. It’s one consideration. Overall for providing better service is also to innovate using that service team force.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. We’ve given a lot of advice.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: If you had to summarize or give any final points on weighing these decisions and carving a path forward, what would it be?

Madhu Karnani Oza: I guess I think more of to summarize what we’ve touched upon already is first of all, be deliberate. Do not let it be sitting by the wayside. It’s okay to not make a change but it’s not okay to not think about it. Be deliberate and set your vision end goal. That one step of setting your vision and goal and then communicating it downward, it’s so important. Look at the life cycle, where in the life cycle you are. Is it to establish a new service? Is it to operationalize? Is it to scale up service? Or is it to drive innovation and to drive revenue or drive pull through of your product. I really think it’s important to figure out what you’re after and what role does service play in that overall vision and goal. Then communicate. Be deliberate, think through those things, have a vision and goal, communicate those. Then the last piece of it is always have a timeline to revisit. It’s okay to make a decision today but know that it’s not forever and that you need to evolve. Again, service is unique. It doesn’t always have an obvious answer as to where it belongs. Be ready to make those changes as and when needed but have a timeline. Be deliberate. Think about it and communicate it.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing you said earlier that I really like that I’m going to add for you is take calculated risks. I think that’s an essential part of all of this mix right now is to not just stick with the status quo or not just make incremental improvements but look for areas where you really are willing to make some-

Madhu Karnani Oza: I give my own team this example often which is that Domino’s, I forget the year of the decade which this was but probably in the 80s or 90s I want to say. Domino’s was struggling a bit with their business. There was a lot of competition, their pizza was good but it really didn’t set them apart from anyone else around at that point in time. Then they had this thought of delivering within 30 minutes. That wasn’t part of their product, it was a service. It required innovation, it required thinking outside the box. It required being able to understand what the customer wants. I always think about that and tell people that’s how you need to be thinking. What is the equivalent of the 30-minute idea for us? What do you think we need to really differentiate ourselves? That’s one of the main things that Domino’s has. Everyone in the world knows about its 30-minute promise or it’s free. I think we need to have that innovation and that kind of thought process. I think that’s truly important to be able to think outside the box.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. The pizza box.

Madhu Karnani Oza: The pizza box. There you go.

Sarah Nicastro: Madhu, thank you so much for joining me. I really, really appreciate it. This has been great. The audience doesn’t know this but you and I have already landed on our second podcast topic. I’ll be asking you to come back and spend some more time with me sooner than later. Thank you again. I really appreciate it.

Madhu Karnani Oza: Absolutely. Loved it. Thank you so much for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: You’re welcome. You can check out more of our content by visiting You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureofFS, the Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS Service Management by visiting As always, thank you for listening.