This month I interview Sara Mueller, Executive Program Director, Field Service Events at Worldwide Business Research (WBR) about challenges and opportunities facing the Field Services Industry, and why Field Service executives should attend Field Service USA 2018 in Palm Desert, California from April 17-20, 2018.
BLUMBERG: What are the Biggest challenges in the Field service industry?
MUELLER: In talking with our attendees, speakers, and people who I speak to when researching topics for our conference, I’ve found that one of the challenges that field services executives have is finding ways to do more with less. Basically, they want to leverage technology to make things faster and efficient. The challenge for our conference participants is deciding where to invest by determining which technologies will move the needle on service.
BLUMBERG: In your opinion, what is the most important trend in Field Service?
MUELLER: By far, its “Next Generation IoT”! For leading edge organizations who have been using IoT for years and years, the question has now become “What do we do with all the data?” Field Service companies are now using data to make better business decisions about Field Service operations. The conversation has moved onto the topic of using Artificial Intelligence in predictive maintenance scenarios and reducing the dependency on Field Service engineers.
BLUMBERG: One of the most anticipated annual events in Field Service is Field Service USA. What is it and why should people attend?
MUELLER: Field Service USA is an event created by World Business Research (WBR) in 2003. It brings together cross industry service & support executives to network, benchmark, and share best practices and strategies for advancing service operations. The event features big forward-looking keynote speakers as well as smaller group, niche discussions so that attendees can learn and network from the wealth of people who will be at the conference.
BLUMBERG: Field Service USA seems like a more intimate event than the large industry conferences and exhibitions with hundreds of vendors and thousands of participants that business executives often attend. Was this format created by design?
MUELLER: While we have experienced growth in the number of participants and always looking for more, WBR events have always been a small intimate gathering. We are interested in building relationships among executive director positions and above. Our objective is to have the appropriate number of participants so it’s easier for them to talk to their peers. We strive to have a balance of peer to peer exchange with participation from the best of the best vendors at our conference.
BLUMBERG: Can you provide me with an overview of they key topics that will be presented at Field Service USA 2018?
- Transitioning to XaaS – selling a product to selling an outcome or service; it needs to be a company-wide, cultural shift
- Using AI to move toward autonomous service
- Leveraging big data
- Generating more service revenue
- Team building – recruiting, retaining, and engagement. The higher level of employee engagement the higher levels of customer satisfaction.
BLUMBERG: What is going to be different about Field Service USA this year?
MUELLER: We attempt to build on the success of previous years by keeping what works and getting ride of what doesn’t. This year we will have more talks around to topics of Machine Learning, AI, and AR. We are also adding discussions on the topic of service revenue and team building, and this year we’ve added “industry board rooms” which are industry focused board rooms, on the first afternoon of the main day of the conference. Of course, we are still offering the same interactive formats that get people talking to people who have been in their shoes before. We are also keeping things fresh by bringing in new speakers from Otis Elevator, Robert Bosch, Nokia, BP, Comcast Business, Haier America, Dish Network, Jacobs Engineering, and NCR to name a few.
BLUMBERG: Why did you choose to make these changes?
MUELLER: This event has grown. Its the largest event that WBR produces. We want to give people the big conference feeling by having key notes but will also want to bring people together talking. I found that when I was doing my research, every business executives brought up some aspect of team building, recruiting, training, and employee engagement. Given the fact the service revenue generation is one of our main themes and more of our attendees are responsible for this, we’ve added it to our agenda. It ties back to the shift in the business model from cost center to profit center. We see the attendees are positioning themselves that way (e.g., as profit centers) and more and more of our attendees are focused on marketing issues.
BLUMBERG: What is one thing that people will miss if they do not attend Field Service USA this year?
MUELLER: We all get so caught up in the day to day of our jobs and group think within our own companies that we lose sight of the big picture. Its good to get other perspectives. People attending Field Service USA consistently have been leaders in the markets they serve, and I think its because they attend.
BLUMBERG: If someone needed come up with one reason why to attend, what should it be?
MUELLER: People will benefit no matter what their objective is for the next 12 months to 3 to 5 years. We have small group discussions and lots of carefully planned out network events and parties. There are lots of ways to build relationships, have fun, network and find new answers.