Sarah shares some of the biggest themes and interesting discussions that took place last week at Field Service Europe in Amsterdam.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I'm here in rainy, but beautiful, Amsterdam, where Field Service Europe just wrapped for 2023. I thought I would give you all a bit of a summary of the themes, and topics, and discussions that came up here at the event over the last two days.
I would be remiss not to start with my favorite session, which happened to be the one that I had the pleasure of moderating with Electrolux. I was joined by Reinier Welschen, who is best title ever, Head of Peace of Mind for Electrolux Group, as well as Charlotte Lewyllie, who is the Business Transformation Lead, and Jelle Coppens, who is Business Process Expert for Field Operations. These three folks from Electrolux have been intimately involved in the company's journey of service transformation. Electrolux is a company with a deep rich history, more than 100 years. A couple of years ago overall shifted to a more customer-centric strategy, and recognized that service obviously plays a critical role in its competitive differentiation and customer experience.
But at the time, was working on a homegrown service management system that dated as far back as the mid-'80s. They knew it was time to not only modernize the technology, but invest in a platform that would allow them to really introduce more intelligence, automation, and efficiency into their service operations, and also set the stage for a lot of the things they would like to be able to do in the future. It is a global service transformation project that Electrolux has selected IFS for, that is in its earlier stages. It's been underway for a while, but this team from the Benelux has been pivotal to the beginnings of the project.
The team joined, and talked not only about the catalyst for the change, and how the technological upgrade will help them with their service differentiation, they also shared a lot of the specifics around selection criteria, change management, lessons learned. I think we talked about challenges, as well as pleasant surprises, and it was a great session. Those three folks from the Electrolux team are folks that I haven't had the opportunity to interview before. Some of you may remember that Kristoffer Brun, from the Stockholm region, has been on the podcast before and has spoken at some of our events.
It was my first time having the opportunity to speak on stage with Rei, Charlotte, and Jelle, and it was great. They were all wonderful, and I think the crowd here really enjoyed the session, because it was just a very realistic view of what it takes to truly set a strong foundation for service innovation. That was great, but there has been a number of wonderful sessions over the last two days. There was a panel discussion on Tuesday about continuous innovation in service, and one of the things that stood out to me from that conversation is a gentleman, Matthew Skipworth, from Terex said, "By 2030, I don't believe we will have a skilled workforce in our industry."
Quite a bold statement. I'm actually hoping that I can get in touch with Matthew, and he'll agree to come on the podcast and have a conversation about that. But what he was saying is that by 2030, what he anticipates is, I think the way he put it was two feet and a heartbeat can do the work that needs to be done on site. Really, essentially, the source, or the core of value in service for the customer, he believes will shift. It was interesting to hear that statement, and also hear how the other panelists felt about some of the changes that are taking place in more remote work, more digital service offerings, self-service, all sorts of things that are changing what the traditional means of service delivery had looked like.
There was a Women in Service panel yesterday, with Chiara Maiello of Thermo Fisher, Anna Bonerandi from Donaldson, and Maria Jose Aguado from Glory Global. Those three women, along with Maureen, talked about the fact that most organizations are still really struggling to get women into service, particularly in frontline service technician roles. They each shared a bit about their own journeys, talked about how their companies are looking at that challenge, and making changes in terms of how job descriptions are written, and what mentorships look like. It was an interesting conversation. I think it was Maria that said how often she's asked, when she's traveling, who's taking care of her children, which if you listen to this podcast, or read any of my content, is a sentiment that I can fully empathize with.
They also spoke about how critically important, in each of their own careers, male mentors and advocates have been, and how important it is to make sure that we aren't being anti-men, which isn't the objective here. What we're talking about is the fact that women are just one form of diversity that is still significantly lacking in the service sector, and getting creative about how we can change that. It was a really good conversation.
There was a conversation, later in the day, talking about the evolution of the field workforce. Tying into Matthew's statement, earlier in the day, about what he believes will happen by 2030, but talking about how organizations are looking at their frontline workforce. What's changing, how they're upskilling, or what different skills they're looking for, et cetera.
That panel conversation had Didier De Vos from Glory Global, Christophe Hiette from Cytiva, Elena Lubrano from Tetra Pak, and was moderated by Alvaro Pombo from Pronto Forms. Some of the things that came up in that discussion, one of the things that I've talked a bit about before, and I think we'll continue to see, is the idea of segmenting work differently, so that you can allocate different strengths and skillsets to different roles that need to be done in the field.
Different organizations share different examples of how they're doing that. Some, I think they had a junior technician, a regular technician, a senior technician, others is done by product line or area of specialty. But the idea being that you have different ways to segment the work, where you can align strengths to the more technical jobs, you can align strengths to the more relationship building or customer-centric aspects of the job, et cetera.
Another important point in that conversation was the importance of career progression, and giving people a clear picture when they come into an organization of what their opportunity is within the business, and how they can progress through different training, acquiring different skillsets, and ultimately progressing through different roles. One of the things that I liked during this panel is actually something Alvaro said, that I believe he said his father used to always say to him, which is, "Thinking doesn't cost a lot of money."
That struck me, because I think, in service, a lot of our lot of what holds us back from the progress we could be making is that we don't want to think differently. We can make a lot of excuses for why things can't change. I think a lot more would happen if we just took that advice, "Thinking doesn't cost a thing," and did more creative thinking, more brainstorming about what is possible, instead of always tying ourselves to what we think is not possible.
There was a keynote presentation this morning, Wednesday morning, from Rick Lash, who was on the Future of Field Service podcast, along with Christine Miners. They co-authored the book Once Upon a Leader. If you haven't listened to that episode, and would like to do so, it's great. It's episode 226. But Rick gave a keynote presentation on the importance of your leadership narrative, and it was such a great session. I had so many people coming up to me after, just talking about how great it was to hear that presentation at an event like this.
He was very much speaking about how when we're young, we start to form our story; who we are, why we are who we are, what matters to us, what our purpose is. Over time, our environment can erode that, and often distracts us from our story, or encourages us to focus more on what our company's story is, or what our teams, or customers, or whoever’s stories are, and not necessarily staying true to ourselves. And how, as leaders, continuing to understand your story, live your story, allows you to connect with your teams. It allows you to stay motivated, stay energized to do the work, and really just how impactful it can be. It was a great message, and I think one that resonated with everyone in the room.
There was a panel discussion, after, on the circular economy. That was with Ralf Bootz from Philips, Zoltan Gal from ABB, Costas Dintsios from Frigoglass, Marcel van Beek from Gomocha, and Markus Hucko from Leadec. That was a conversation all about how things like refurbishment, recycling, and reuse come into play when we talk about the intersection between service, and how we can help the environment. Things like how insights can be fed back into product development to extend product life cycles, make assets more serviceable, and then how that intersects with the topic of servitization.
Because obviously, as we've discussed on this podcast before, if a company is manufacturing a product for acquisition price, and then the use of spare parts, et cetera, it's a far different business model than if a company is manufacturing a product for maximum lifecycle and cost of service, so how that plays a big role.
Also, how companies are helping their customers with their sustainability initiatives, looking at things like helping them lower energy costs, things like that. I think it was Costas that said, "We have to remember that this conversation is part of culture, and it can sometimes be at odds with things that are only focused on reducing costs. We have to be willing to look at the big picture, and think about value through those different lenses." It was a really interesting conversation.
Then there was conversation this afternoon with Andrea Pelizzaro of Alfa Laval, Valeria Zimenkova from Xylem, Tjerk Smits from Boston Scientific, moderated by Jan van Veen with moreMomentum, talking all about data, and really focused on the monetization of data, and using that as a service revenue stream, as a value proposition. But where the conversation went is that while that is certainly an objective for most organizations. It's really important to master the use of data internally for the purposes of efficiency, and productivity, and knowledge transfer, and business decisions, before you look at how to put it to work in creating a new customer value proposition.
It was interesting to hear where each of those companies are at on that journey. Andrea spoke about a lot of the work that Alfa Laval is doing to coach its sales teams on selling more value-based service offerings, and really working toward that end of creating new revenue streams through these digital connected products, and the data and insights that can be gathered from them.
Very well-rounded collection of topics here this week. Great conversations. It was wonderful to see some friendly faces, and meet some new folks as well. Pleasure to be here, and I believe this is my last trip to Europe for the year. We'll look forward to coming back next year. But in the meantime, stay tuned. I hope to reach out to some of the folks that spoke here this week, and ask them to come be guests, and talk to you all on the podcast directly.
In the meantime, you can, of course, find content on very similar topics by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. While you're there, be sure to sign up for the Future of Field Service Insider, so you can get the latest content delivered to your inbox every other week. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.