The service supply chain, also referred to as the post-sale or after-sale supply chain, is rife with potential to be enabled by digital transformation.
A quick primer on the space. Working in the service supply chain means planning and managing a range of activities after the sale of goods or services — from asset management, support functions and repairs to the delivery of end-user services.
The problem in the space when it comes to digital transformation is similar to those seen in other industries and processes heavily reliant on legacy systems. The challenge becomes how to go about accessing, compiling and making meaningful large, disparate sets of raw data.
Mike Wooden, CEO of managed supply chain operations services provider OnProcess, knows this problem well.
“Depending on who you believe and who you read,” Wooden said, “the service element can make upwards of 80 percent of the profit that they have on their products. It’s a huge profit driver for them when they do it right.”
While the service supply chain is an important component of businesses across a number of industry verticals, it’s also, he said, one of the last pieces considered for optimization and digitization.
Often, there’s no visibility to begin with, which makes it hard to figure out where to even start.
“The business that we play in really hasn’t changed much over the past 20 years,” Wooden said. “They’ve done the same things the way they did them in the past, and they think it works so they continue doing that.”
This is true across industries, Wooden noted, even in somewhere one might assume it would be a priority — like at technology companies. But even in those cases, while other departments have digitization initiatives, the service supply chain has lagged behind.
But things are looking to change.
There’s been a major push within the space to digitize leveraging managed services and technology solutions as a means to utilize data from every part of the process across the ecosystem — compiling data from vendors, service technicians, 3PLs, etc. — to grow visibility where little, if any, before.
After this transformation, the task for the service supply chain is leveraging that data in an actionable way.
“When you’re talking about data, it’s really about the analytics you can run with that data to be informed and drive actionable results,” Wooden said. “That’s really where, over the next five years, that most of the service supply chain services will start to move. To take advantage of what they already have and use it.”
With increased visibility and accessible data comes the potential for actionable analytics and automation. In many ways, digital transformation and automation go hand-in-hand, noted Wooden.
Automation may have some limits, especially when it comes to less rote, more nuanced processes, which means that additional services and solutions won’t be phased out of the service supply chain anytime soon.
As for OnProcess’ part, Wooden spoke to the recent announcement of a further technology alliance with ServiceMax, a cloud-based field service management solutions provider.
The alliance reaffirms OnProcess’ position as a super-user and technology enabler of ServiceMax’s platform, allowing companies which leverage it to acquire a managed service to optimize use.
OnProcess accomplishes this by leveraging its delivery, analytics-based process improvements, holistic operational view and system silos.
“We’ve been operating on the ServiceMax platform with a number of clients for a number of years,” Wooden said, “so we know how to get the most out of that platform.”
This is just one of many ways organizations are working to digitize and optimize the service supply chain — a key task for businesses looking to leverage data they already have in a way that allows them to hold their own in an increasingly digital world.