Service is an increasingly important aspect of business for competitive differentiation and improving bottom and top line revenues. However, service information across industries is sub-par, resulting in low repair performance and increased service and warranty costs. Software as a service (SaaS) -based content delivery offers product companies and service organizations a cost-effective way to disseminate better and timelier information to the field. Enigma has a new SaaS Electronic Parts Catalog (EPC
On one hand, service is a way for product companies to increase top-line revenue. For example, 47% of Caterpillar's $32 billion revenue in 2009 was from sales of parts and services. On the other hand, with poor service come high costs and the inadvertent consequence of a tarnished brand image, often resulting in the loss of once presumed faithful customers.
With the critical responsibility product companies give to service technicians in rectifying product problems, being responsible to product operation and safety and, by extension, maintaining the brand image, it is critical that these individuals have the right resources to perform these tasks well. Availability of up-to-date and configuration-specific service information, however is a significant challenge facing service technicians and this challenge is compounded by increased product complexity and in many cases, embedded control software which requires added skills and training to maintain or repair.
These challenges can cause difficulties in accurate diagnosis, often result in suboptimal service performance. This is reflected in a high amount of parts replaced per call, high no fault found (NFF) rates and low first time fix (FTF) rates, which increase not only repair time and cost but also spare part inventory related costs. An indirect yet critically important side effect of subpar service performance is the additional burden it puts on warranty expenses because of the needless increase in repair time, parts use, and repeat repair attempts.
An obvious contributor to these challenges is service information. Service technicians must rely on having access to the most up-to-date corporate knowledge and service information at any time and from anywhere.
Cloud-based solutions make it possible for equipment manufacturers and service organizations to update and disseminate configuration-specific product and service information, to an extended network in real time. Companies will be able to minimize profit leakage related to hunting for information, repeated repair attempts, and holding excess parts inventories by adopting SaaS-based service information offerings. In addition to these efficiencies, many will be able to generate and capitalize on additional service revenue.
Using a subscription model, SaaS-based offerings have a low entry cost, making them justifiable in most budgets, especially for companies with limited IT resources, like SMBs. These applications are capable of handling unlimited incremental updates of technical content and are easily navigated by the user through both text and visual tools. Because content is managed and delivered from the cloud, these applications provide the on-demand access from anywhere that service and repair organizations so desperately need.
The adoption of cloud-based content will be accelerated by the maturation of cloud infrastructure, including the necessary security and intellectual property protection, as well as the availability of low-cost, high-performance, and secure mobile devices.
Going forward, tï»¿he critical role of service, and therefore service information, will increase. Product complexity and pressure on service revenue will continue to build, and aging work-force issues and the increased use of performance-based service contracts will also continue to impact field service importance.
For more on this topic, including essential guidance, please read my perspective, Service Information Delivered as a Service Improves Quality, Reduces Costs (subscription required). I welcome your comments on the topic.