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09 April 2015

IT - the new game changer in the service providers industry

Have you ever watched relay races carefully? Being one of my favourite sports, I get impressed again and again by the balanced teamwork and precision that is needed to win such a race. Handing over the baton is the most crucial and exciting part. If that fails, speed doesn’t matter anymore. Everything needs to be in perfect sync: speed, distance, direction and timing.

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Service providers are in a constant relay race. They face enormous international competition, they need constant innovations to improve the quality and scope of their services, and they need efficient processing to retain financial margins and benefits. To win this race, all stakeholders – including customers, contract managers, front offices, back offices, subcontractors, field engineers and admin staff – need to be in perfect sync. They can perform well individually, but if someone drops the baton, the race is definitely lost.

Chain Integration

But how can you ensure that all these stakeholders perform well individually and pass the baton successfully to the next person? In the early days these connection points, where the chain integrates, were supported by basic instruments such as phone calls, emails or personal interactions. A lot of valuable time was wasted and no one was ever really sure if the baton was well transmitted to the next stakeholder. A lot of relevant information got lost or was duplicated, increasing the chance of failure in the next steps of the chain. Moreover nobody could ever analyse the performance of that chain to identify potential areas that needed to be improved. It is interesting to see that nowadays many large service providers still run their businesses on these basic tools whereas their customers have evolved and expect a fast execution, full transparency and competitive offerings.

IT, the new game changer

Service Providers that innovate and acquire others to increase their offering are definitely moving in the right direction. However, without a clear strategy on chain integration and without concrete improvements in their operations, the risk of failure is still huge.

So what is the potential role of IT in chain integration, and how does that impact the industry? Today’s modern Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) offer technology and functionalities that allow you to unify all stakeholders from any service chain in one single IT platform. Customers, contract managers, subcontractors, field engineers, all have access to the same platform via relevant functionalities, tailored to their profile and needs. Customers have easy web based access to self-service or use smart apps to request services. Back office specialists utilise asset management functions, plan maintenance and manage service level agreements. Field engineers use mobile solutions to access and execute assigned work in the most efficient way. And last but not least, managers can monitor and control the complete process from customer demand till services delivery and administrative closure.

IWMS hands over the baton

A truly integrated IWMS or facility management software solution ensures that all stakeholders are unified in a single platform, that they all use the same data and get supported with the relevant functionalities. Just like in a relay race, all stakeholders run on the same track. To ensure a perfectly synced handover of the baton, IWMS offers practical tools such as workflow management, approval procedures, automated dispatching, SLA checks, alerts, notifications, monitoring dashboards, and easy web access to personalised reports.

Innovative service providers utilise IWMS to stand out from the competition by connecting their customers in the chain. In the near future this will become a 'must have' as customers will require such a high level of connection. Threat or opportunity? It depends in which league you want to play. For the service providers who aim for growth, customer retention and a strong competitive edge, this is definitely a great opportunity. It will allow you to increase transparency, reduce processing times and increase your overall efficiency. Resulting in a better, competitive value proposition and healthy margins.

Jos Knops
Director Global Product Marketing