While the hype suggests that, just like magic we can go from reactive service relationship to proactive and preventative ones, the reality is a little more nuanced than that…

GE has famously been saying for the past few years that it is in a transition – moving from a company that makes large scale industrial machinery to one which leverages software to sell services to customers. But while that is certainly a desirable end-state, it’s not something that happens either overnight, or in one swift progression. Rather, there is a continuum between traditional models and service-based ones, and organizations are, at different rates, moving along that continuum.

This is particularly so when you’re an organization that services the very machinery that, over time, will move from CapEx models to OpEx ones. In that case, you’re squeezed between organizations that should be moving faster but are conservative, and those who are already far along the continuum, and put pressure on your own business models. How do these service companies reinvent their own operating models to help this process occur?

One of the large software providers to service companies is ServiceMax, itself ironically a GE-owned company. ServiceMax offers field service management software, the stuff that helps service technicians get their job schedule, fill in their paperwork and generally plan their days to be as efficient as possible. But, as I said, increasingly the 20 million people globally who install, maintain and repair machines are having to do their bit to drive new revenue streams and increase efficiencies for their customers.

Which is where ServiceMax comes in – no longer is it sufficient to simply deliver a job list to technicians’ mobile devices and hope for the best, increasingly the service management platform needs to do its bit to add value. To move from a reactive (break-fix model) to proactive service. And so it is with ServiceMax’s latest release which helps the company in its aim to be an enabler of this change.

Driving predictive from the serviceperson’s role

For those starting this journey with planned maintenance service delivery models, ServiceMax is trying to enable proactive service and remote service capabilities that automate the entire service process. The latest release features Condition Based Maintenance and Ranked Appointment Booking capabilities.

Condition Based Maintenance

The Condition Based Maintenance feature automates service requests and aligns future maintenance schedules for the optimal preventive equipment service. Current maintenance plans are generally based on ideal conditions, without accounting for real-world equipment usage or environmental factors that result in a need for fluctuating maintenance schedules. With Condition Based Maintenance, proactive work orders are triggered by actual equipment conditions, determined by either Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) signals or manual data readings. The idea o Condition Based Maintenance is to minimize the cost of operating plant, while still delivering high performance.

Ranked Appointment Booking

Ranked Appointment Booking enables the real-time Schedule Optimization engine to retrieve and rank appointment options. As a result, dispatchers can be more nuanced in their job scheduling and provide higher customer service without compromising business costs. This approach would seem to have its basis in real world performance improvement. According to Gartner:

Organizations that continuously implement automation, modeling and historical data into their processes using schedule automation tools, can reduce unproductive activities by 15% or more, both for technicians and dispatchers… At the same time, schedule automation tools increase customer satisfaction through better SLA [service level agreement] attainment and higher first-time fix rates.

Ranked Appointment Booking becomes particularly important in proactive service delivery scenarios where dispatchers have the flexibility to offer customers one or more service windows but lack the visibility into how their choices align with their business goals.


In an ideal world, all industrial plant would be utilized via service-based models where the equipment manufacturer had a range of different digital systems that could automatically arrange optimal maintenance and service patterns. In the real world, however, this change is a gradual process and has lots of intermediate steps. By allowing service personnel to get smarter in terms of how and when they perform servicing tasks, ServiceMax is helping organizations make the change to digital.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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