Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending SAP SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida with the rest of the ClickSoftware team. As a show veteran, this was my fifth year in a row attending, I had two pairs of socks on to cushion the impact of all the interactions across the floor with SAP personnel, prospects, customers and partners. Those who know, understand that SAPPHIRE is best attacked, rather than just waiting at a booth for things to happen. There were a number of things that surprised me this year that I wanted to share.
As in previous years, I engaged in interesting discussions while resting my toes at the ClickSoftware booth with people across various industries—capital equipment, home healthcare, utilities, oil and gas—to name a few. Unlike previous years, the conversation was more refined around mobile field resource management. Representatives of a wide range of vertical markets were not looking to simply be educated on what solutions are available, but seeking out a more refined conversation. How can they address very customer specific needs while also managing costs, field personnel considerations, support varied needs across their operation, ensure their organization can adapt and adjust to changing market needs? There seemed to be a heightened appreciation for more advanced features within our solutions across the varied vertical markets, where artificial intelligence, machine learning, and optimization were not just a “nice to have,”but being sought out to address very specific needs. It was especially striking since just a few weeks earlier, I had engaged in very similar conversations at Field Services USA.
Another theme that pervaded at the show was around the customer and truly getting to know them through the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and machine learning. A trend I hadn’t heard at SAPPHIRE shows of the past.
These themes of customer centric, artificial intelligence and optimization weren’t constrained to conversations with customers, prospects and partners. Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP, spoke of these “new school” benefits in his keynote. As I was listening with the masses, I found the messaging around SAP HANA and how it will help its customers and partners become customer-centric and look to operationalize their dark data to accomplish this very interesting, especially as it relates to ClickSoftware and the field service industry.
At ClickSoftware, we allow service operations to increase the level of precision within their service operations, getting down to the individual activity, asset and customer level, among a great deal of other criteria. This generates a tremendous amount of valuable data to help a service operation understand its business and equip itself to continually improve. Once you operationalize the data, you’re able to learn from it, and then put it to use by being able to predict similar customer data in the future. Being able to constantly pull and use data to perfect the customer experience is always top of mind at ClickSoftware.
I also attended the roundtable discussion hosted by SaskPower’s Sheldon Smith. SaskPower is a ClickSoftware customer and they use our products to manage a wide range of field service needs within their single solution instance seamlessly with their SAP solution. This included the typical utility services, meter operations, as well as street lights and vegetation control. Sheldon, as well as the roundtable attendees, also spoke of the push toward becoming more customer centric. The impacts of customer expectations was being felt, expressed and met with the help of SAP’s Work Scheduling and Optimization.
The many years I’ve worked within the mobile field resource management market, it’s clear the trend is moving toward the customer and a higher degree of precision when building, managing, executing, and refining the field service approach. My impression is that it will intensify, resulting in more pressure on service operations to become even more customer centric. Attribute this to increasing customer expectations derived from an ever customer centric world. The collision of legacy approaches and systems within mobile field resource management and ever increasing expectations, demands a response. It will be interesting to see how, post SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, their customers and partners alike will put what they learned into effect, especially when it comes to customer experience. What do you think? Did you attend SAP SAPPHIRE NOW? If so, what did you find most impactful?