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July 5, 2023 | 20 Mins Read

Konica Minolta’s Remote by Default Mission

July 5, 2023 | 20 Mins Read

Konica Minolta’s Remote by Default Mission


In a session from the Future of Field Service Live Tour stop in Birmingham, UK, Sarah talks with Ged Cranny, Sr. Consultant, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe about how Konica Minolta is stepping up to face the realities of why, when, and how service delivery is evolving by putting in place a remote-by-default approach.

Sarah Nicastro: Ged, welcome.

Ged Cranny: Nice to meet you.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for being here. All right, go ahead and get comfortable. So we're going to talk about Konica Minolta's remote by default mission and plan of attack. So as I mentioned this morning in one of my trends is this idea of how much opportunity there is to really evolve how we're delivering service and what that looks like. So that's what we're going to focus on. Can you tell everyone a little bit more about yourself?

Ged Cranny: Yeah, I'm Ged Cranny. I've worked for Konica Minolta products since I was 17 years old. I saw an advert in the paper and thought, company car, didn't like driving my dad's car. It was in Allegro if you're old enough to remember what one of them is. And came into an industry that stopped me going in the RAF, if I'm honest. Found out that from my view of the world, people were lazy in this sort of organization and loved the fact that I was traveling around the Northeast as a photocopier engineer.

Worked my way up through the company I worked in, which was a dealership and they were bought by a very large American company from Florida and found some wonderful people who saw some good in me. Spent a lot of invested time like your last speaker was talking about. Give me the opportunity to run the UK or to work with the teams within the UK. And then Konica came literally out of the blue and just offered me a job to bring everything into a hub. I think one of your first speakers was talking about buying lots of different companies, but you needed to have a hub to bring everything in.

So my talents in the American company were helping buy companies and bringing them in. So this is what they wanted to use. I believed it was a five-year job and I would do that for five years and go do something else. I managed to last 21 years, 22 years, and I was leaving Konica Minolta and in my six months of leaving, head office in Europe asked me would I become a consultant. I hate the word consultant, but that's the senior consultant that I am now.

My job is to work with the 27 different leaders across Europe and help them with operational performance analytics. And then this IFS project came up and in 2017 I really bought into... We'd had shift left, everybody's had shift left where your accountants have started this thing about it's expensive to have engineers go in the field, let's get rid of lots of engineers by fixing things over the phone. We've had IoT since the '80s, it was a product in the manufacturing area to age the machines really fast so we could see them aging and see what they would look like after five years by all the sensors. And somebody in marketing went, "It should be really good to get the meter readings." So we spent a lot of time doing that. We started to get a little bit brighter. Reporting got a little bit better. So we were able-

Sarah Nicastro: Did you notice how when you said brighter the sun-

Ged Cranny: Did it?

Sarah Nicastro: ... lightened up the whole room?

Ged Cranny: I just thought it was my eyes.

So we were able to start utilizing our data for predictive maintenance. And I've got a really great boss, Andre, and he suddenly came up with this remote by default. About 2017, I was still leader in the UK then. And I really bought into it because it was a story you could talk to. Engineers shift left, they were suspicious. They thought this is getting rid of us.

Remote by default, you started playing to their technical brains, i.e. what can we do? What's the art of possible? And when you started sitting down and talking default, it's not a sort of Brexit 51/49 type vote. It's got to be in my brain, maybe I'm just a bit weird, but 60% plus fixing. We're coming from like 20%, 25%. So how do you sit down with the engineers and say, "What are we going to do? We've got an aging workforce." 2017 my average age of my engineers was 48. I listen in to this call still in the UK and each week somebody is having an anniversary. And generally if you get over 20 years, he's one of our engineers. When you get over 30 years, it's definitely one of our engineers and we're now getting 40 years.

What are you going to do with that talent? They carry huge cases around. They drive around, they go out in the rain. The UK's not the best place for sunshine, so they're out every single day carrying around. So people getting to sort of my age, we've come through the biggest growth in our finance, understanding our financial benefits, house owning. So these guys are going, "Wow, actually I'm going to go and be a grandad. I'm going to walk away because I don't want to do this." But when you start talking about being on a service desk and using their talent and then talking to the new generations in a different way and utilizing different terms, and that's why I'm excited to do this.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's awesome. So it sounds like you're telling me.... Your journey at Konica made me think of the quote, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." And here you are. So one of the things I want to talk about is when we talk about remote service, I think one of the initial reactions is people tend to think remote only instead of remote first. And that can cause some panic or some trepidation. So can you talk a little bit about, when you say remote by default specifically, what is the aim? What are we looking to accomplish in using remote service?

Ged Cranny: So create the different options that our customers need to interface with us. So not only are our engineers aging, so is our customer base, but also we've got the younger customer base coming through who don't use paper. Funny enough, we use paper. They don't want... They've been brought up in a world where instant fix, so my app doesn't work, instant fix. I think somebody said, "Switch off, switch on, and the world comes back to life again." They're not waiting for somebody to wake up at eight o'clock in the morning, have a service desk and make a call. They want their complaint in there and then. They want somebody to give them a message to say that the engineer is being booked or they want some fixes coming back towards them.

So it's not just about building the desk, changing the attitude. It's about working with your customers and understand your customers' attitude. I always warn people, as my son was growing up, I realized when he was about 16 that when he got to 40, as a printing business, we had a problem. He's 40 next week. So you suddenly start to, all the things that I could see him doing, no paper, instant, wants to fix, wasn't interested in having thousands of CDs about the house. He wanted everything on his Pod. He wanted to be able to access it and if them access points weren't there, he wanted instant fix. Didn't expect what was happening in the world, how many servers were creating this and how much CO2 he was creating. He just wanted it.

That's the thing that we have to start. We have to start with how do you interface with your aging population? How would you with the late '80s, '90s people and definitely, definitely how would you interface with the 2000s? Because they're now arriving in the workplace. They're not the influencers, but they will be in 10 years' time. So start thinking now about how them people interact. If you've got children and they're finishing university now, start watching what they're doing. Start understanding how they're interacting with the world because they interact differently than I interact with the world, but you've got to create the opportunity for all these pieces.

So when I say about remote first, we found out that let's get our desks. Have we got them right? No, not yet. We've got to get our knowledge bases. Well, when you start talking about knowledge bases, the first thing our accountants did was go, "How many people can we get rid of? Because we've got a knowledge base.? And I went, "You can't." So if you've got 10 people on the desk, the 10 people on the desk have still got to work. But we need to take four of them to teach the baby to understand, to get it into junior school, to get it into senior school, to get it to university. And when it gets to university, guess what? Its thirst for knowledge doesn't reduce, it actually gets bigger, but so does the need to teach it. So as much as you think that you will replace people, I think you'll create new rules and different ways of working.

And then we also found out that... I work for a manufacturer, Konica Minolta. The factories output products that deliver, if I'm talking about the print side, they deliver print. The service organization delivers outcomes. So they're two different things. So talking back to the factories and definitely the change in the customer attitude with the pandemic, i.e. the biosecurity, we don't want people onsite, opened the doors for us to be able to go back to Japan and say, "Look, it's great. Your products are fantastic. They're well-made, but we need to have more customer interaction. The customer wants more interaction and we have to be able to support that."

And now what's come out of all of this is smart hands. Somebody was talking in one of the meetings I was in about you bring more diversity by bringing the smart hands piece, then you bring more enlightenment to everybody so that we can be more diverse. And instead of just sticking with let's have white males as our engineers, we suddenly sit around and say, wait a minute. 25% of most of the engineering jobs, if you break it down, are actually technical. The rest of it is getting ready, being prepared. Understand your customer, talk to your customer, listen and all the tools. Not being funny, and I might just get stones thrown at me as some people have already threatened, but the female population are 10 times better than the male population at doing that. And I'm not being sexist. If I get thrown off-stage, do it now.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, I'm not going to throw you off-stage for saying that. No, I think it's a good point. And in one of the breakout sessions, we also had some different discussions about how when we start thinking about how service delivery is changing, we can start to think about the creation of new roles and then that can broaden the types of people that ultimately we can have working in the organization. Can we talk a little bit, Ged, I want to talk about what are the technological components to this, right? So when you think about how you're enabling the workforce differently, how are you doing that? What combination of things are you using for the remote by default? And then let's talk a little bit more about the impact on customers and the impact on the organization.

Ged Cranny: Okay. I'll start the journey with the customer, if you don't mind.

Sarah Nicastro: Sure.

Ged Cranny: And then I'll bring it back through to the engineer.

Sarah Nicastro: I can tell, Ged, you're going to start wherever you want to start and that is perfectly fine. This reminds me of Mike Gosling.

Ged Cranny: Go on.

Sarah Nicastro: You're fine. Last year in London, I think I probably only had to ask you one question, and then a half an hour later I said, "Well, thanks for the break, Mike. That was great."

Ged Cranny: He's actually the person who brought me to come here today.

Sarah Nicastro: Well, there you go. Yeah.

Ged Cranny: I enjoyed that session so well.

You've got all of your portals, but your portals that you built early, which we did, were built about what we wanted and not what the customer wanted. So we've had to address the portals and how the portals interface with different people, and that's an ongoing process. Then we had to link the knowledge bases and we had lots of different knowledge bases from lots of different countries with lots of different ways of interpreting it. So we've needed people to sit there and start to make them knowledge bases. We've bought tools. So we bought a ticketing tool because the need for our IT services was completely different from the print services and it was a multiple level jobs. So we might have five days or even three months of work with multiple touch points. And the SAP system couldn't do it.

So we'd already invested in a ticketing tool. That ticketing tool allows us then to start breaking out from there and making the service desk more transparent, more open, and with more flexibility to do different parts, but also link our desks, our portals, our knowledge bases together. The discussions with IT were hilarious, if you've got a sense of humor, but everybody's going in different lines. So we had a different project going, which was called SPSC, and that was literally aligning all the different areas of which would be the master system where we would make data lakes. And as much as it all sounds mad to you at the present moment in time, because it did to me as a techie, sitting with the IT people, they've hidden places, they've got your databases in one place, got your knowledge pools in another place, and then trying to bring all that work together and then link it to the cloud was really, really difficult.

And then it became really obvious we needed a field service enablement tool that absolutely delivered 100%. Because if the desks were going to interrogate, whether by looking into the back of the machines with the predictive maintenance, whether they did it by talking to the customer, whether the customer had gone through our knowledge bases and then got sick and wanted to get an engineer there, we had to be better than 85% right, which in service organizations, 85% right, that's okay. It's not in the world we live in anymore. So we found IFS and we linked that and we started a process by getting 27 different countries to align their processes. That's why I have a sense of humor, if I'm honest.

Sarah Nicastro: I bet.

Ged Cranny: It's not like America where everybody speaks the same language. When they get angry, everybody reverts to their language. I'm sure I heard my name a few times with derogatory words coming into it, but we managed to get a bunch of advocates to agree that this was the process we would work. We used that to go out and we invited 15 different companies to come and see us. Of that, we took five through to RFI and we found the tool, or we feel we found the tool that will deliver for the long term. The difficulty I found: culture eats technology or even strategy for breakfast.

So we spent five months on the interfaces. We spent three weeks talking in pandemic over teams to people about the changes, the effects that this would have on the team. And when we launched, everything was fine. We missed the middle management, we didn't get the middle management piece. And I think it was said by our last person on the stand was if you middle management's not there, they don't push. So somebody pushes back, somebody sees his push, but somebody pushes back, somebody pushes back.

So again, sit down, take the time, listen to what's being said about understanding what the people do for a living. The tool will deliver how the tool wants to win and how you set it to win. So think about your SLAs, think about how it fits right back in that journey to the service desk, to the remote by default and what you're going to do, what's your outputs, how is it going to work? So we linked IFS to SAP, SAP links to ServiceNow for the ticketing tool. And then we've got the portals through ServiceNow, but everything revolves around SAP within our business.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I had a podcast maybe a couple of months ago with a woman who is a neuroscientist, and we were talking about the neuroscience of change management and it was really interesting and I was just thinking about how you said the culture part and how that's often the toughest part and then the focus on middle management. But one of the points she made that I really, really liked is simple, but it's just that we have to remember that resistance to change, it's like a physiological response. So the point being it's not abnormal, it's not uncommon, it's not even avoidable really. You can mitigate it, you can minimize it, but you have to expect that because that's just kind of human response. So I think that sometimes when you're introducing a big change and you get that initial resistance, you can panic or feel like, are we doing the wrong thing, or get frustrated that that response is coming and let that cloud how you work through it. But really we need to remember that that's just very, very normal and plan for that and help people get to the other side of that.

Ged Cranny: I think when you do your testing, you do your testing in a laboratory, four or five incidents, 20 incidents. When you're opening up and the full day comes and I go to somewhere I don't like to go to, I heard it last year in London and it was something that resonated in my small brain was if they don't like going to King's Cross, tell them they're going to King's Cross. Sorry. And the reason being is you've got to stick to the targets that you set, but people have got to understand the why of what you're trying to achieve. And as much as we spoke about the system of giving one call at a time and the benefits of giving one call at a time, you're going to go here, but we're going to work you home, which the system did.

What the system did also was it sent them at eight o'clock in the morning to somewhere maybe an hour and a half away because it was already working for the last call of the day. And what happened was that you had a culture of actually I get my first call, I'm going to pick three different incidences. I'm going to do what I want to do and I'm going to do it in the order I want to do it. And actually I'm going to take the kids to school. Our break-fix starts at eight o'clock. By 11 o'clock, 70% is in there. 70% of our work is break-fix. So with two and four-hour response times, guess what? You've got to be rolling towards these things and you've got to be thinking really, really quickly. So the fact that these people were suddenly being a little bit more stricter, they realized and the realization, they never calculated that realization until it became 100% of their jobs. And I think even doing it slowly wouldn't help.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So just to recap here, you knew going into this that remote by default means to solve as many issues as you can remotely and to have technicians as informed as possible when they do need to go onsite, but that you were not going to resolve every issue remotely. It's just a matter of not wasting trips to go out and basically diagnose or to do things that could be done remotely. So that's one part of this. And then you put IFS in place to make sure that the work you are doing onsite is optimized. I know you mentioned that with the nature of Konica's business, this was sort of something that you knew at some point was going to become necessary. You needed to take that inefficiency out and maximize productivity. How would you describe the impact to customers of the remote by default approach?

Ged Cranny: Before pandemic, because of the way the contracts were, because of the way for 20, 30, 40 years, we've dealt with our customers, quite often you would get, "My contract says you will come to site. I'm not interested in helping." It changed very, very quickly.

Sarah Nicastro: During the pandemic.

Ged Cranny: It actually changed just... As the pandemic started, I was explaining to somebody earlier on today, offices were being shut because somebody came into the office, they had COVID, so they had to shut the office down and anybody who was in the office had to go and self-isolate because there were the rules. So people suddenly realized about the biosecurity of their offices. And so the attitude changed. So it was more, "We don't want an engineer to come to site, we want you to fix it. What can you do?" And we've had all of the IoT, we just didn't use it. We didn't have the tools in the background to use it.

So as I said, as we came through 2010, 2015, we started to build the data mining, the data lakes to be able to start doing predictive maintenance, to start being able to predict where we needed to put parts around the UK so we don't have thousands and thousands or millions and millions worth of pounds worth of parts just sitting in the back house. So putting them in the right places. So it's aligning all of these different things. But then it was some of the bigger companies, they were really ready to embrace these sort of things. And the smaller companies were very much, "My contract says this." We do a lot with government and it was very much, "Our contract says this because that's the ABC that we play to." Then playbooks have been changed. And the more that we have our quality meetings with people, the more we've shown them the benefits of what we've been doing, the more we're able to expand on that and show them that, look, actually this is a different way, it's a better way. And we're going to put smart hands.

So we would send an engineer from Germany to one of our security camera systems to change a modem. As bad as I was an engineer, even I can change a modem. So how much fun would it be if you organized the IFS tool to be able to organize the specialist in the desk, the engineer, smart hands, to go onto the site, save the flight from Germany, me to work in, I'll say York for you because you'll know where that is. Me to do a job in York, which is 30 miles for me to drive. I arrive onsite, the system tells the specialist I'm arriving onsite, the specialist then helps me. Legally I've had all of the training that keeps me legal, but then the specialist is able to see what's happening and then he will complete the job. I'm just the smart hands onsite.

Again, it brings in more enablement, it brings in different ways of thinking. It brings in different ways we can train people. And it also brings in the opportunity that we can have more of a gig workforce because that's a big area we've not tapped into, which is the gig workforce. And that's something we put into our tender with all of the people who came for the field enablement was the ability at some point in the future to be able to tap into that gig economy.

Sarah Nicastro: A couple of points I just wanted to come back to real quick before we wrap up is, so we talked this morning about organizations that are on the servitization journey or are delivering outcomes. This idea of how much is remote versus how much onsite doesn't necessarily matter because it's just the outcome. Companies though that aren't delivering outcomes, that are still delivering service, whether that's through contract or whatever the arrangement is, can sometimes be deterred by that objection of, no, the contract says you'll be here. So that's what it is.

And again, I think we need to think about how to shift that conversation to a value-based conversation. And we don't necessarily naturally do that because the conversation has always been a time and materials conversation. But I think there's just as much argument for organizations, any organization to leverage this technology. I think we need to get more comfortable pushing back to, well, would you prefer resolution in 30 minutes or in X amount of hours or days? Again, the same way we talked about in the servitization session, maybe you lead with the companies, to your point, that are more open to that and focus on those first and worry about some others later.

The other point of that though is you mentioned the business review sessions. One way we need to remember to offset less time onsite is by more insight, more information. So it can't just be that the value you provide becomes less visible. It's less visible in terms of a technician being there. But you need to then take the data of here's how many failures were avoided, here's how many issues were handled remotely, here's what that equates to in terms of uptime of your equipment, et cetera. Give them back the insight that represents the value that you used to accomplish by sending someone onsite. So I think it's just, again, thinking about how we shift that narrative and the different ways to represent remote value in a way that will resonate. Because we know that it's there, it's just a matter of its new and it's different.

Ged, last question is, what do you think... Well, I have a couple more, but we only have time for one. I'm going to ask you two though. What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far and where do you see this going in the future? So what do you think the future is of remote by default for Konica?

Ged Cranny: First one, biggest issue, culture eats strategy for breakfast. And spend-

Sarah Nicastro: I would've bet you would say that.

Ged Cranny: Yeah, I think you would. Spend more time. You can speak to people and they will nod their heads, especially in a large group because everybody else is not in their head. So 90% of people will nod their heads. Explain to people what the changes would be, but the why and what the benefits are. But not just the benefits to the company, the benefits to them, but also the negatives of if you don't and what problems that brings. But also if it brings opportunities, try and bring the opportunities to the front. What is it? What does it mean to Konica Minolta and where do we go?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So what do you think of the future of remote by default, what does that look like for Konica? What will happen next?

Ged Cranny: We will start getting the portals and the first point of contact to the customers a lot better using the new tools that are available with the IoT that we have back to their machine. So linking the IoT from their machine back into the conversation, linking it into the AI that's talking to the partner, if it's beyond them, back into the desk. But learning and feeding that back in. We are working on harmonizing three desks across the world, but not taking out the local desks. So we've got the local desk linked for nine till five, but then what we're going to do is we're going to make sure that the global desks take on more of, I think somebody called it the boring work, where you push the red button and you push the red button. So all the automated work is going to go into three desks so that we can do 24 hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That's where I see it.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Exciting stuff.

Ged Cranny: Hopefully.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for coming and sharing with us.

Ged Cranny: Sorry for talking too much.

Sarah Nicastro: Appreciate it.

Ged Cranny: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you.

Ged Cranny: Sorry, I talk too much.