The customer is in charge. That was a prevailing theme throughout the first full day of activity at this year’s IFS World Conference, taking place this week in Boston.
IFS CEO Darren Roos set the tone during his morning welcome, saying the company made this year’s event more customer-centric in response to feedback from last year.
As the day went on, IFS executives and presenters stressed the importance of listening to customers and working with them to deliver solutions that meet concrete business goals and deliver expected outcomes.
To that effect, the company announced two offerings that revolve around catering to customer needs – IFS Select and IFS Success. IFS Select is an engagement framework that calls for a close working relationship between vendor and customer from project inception to completion and follow-up. IFS Success lets customers choose the service components that match their business priorities and desired outcomes.
“You know how you want to run your business,” said Matt Kempson, IFS Global Head of Services Transformation, during a session explaining IFS Select. But that doesn’t mean letting the customer flounder by letting them making poor choices during a transformation project or implementation. As Lars Bruun Larsen, Vice President of European Support and Maintenance, explained, IFS experts provide guidance and suggest alternatives so the customer can optimize the value of the technology investment.
In its efforts to support customers, Roos said, IFS is working to help customers fulfill their top priorities. In his conversations with CEOs at customer organizations, he has found those priorities to be:
- Faster time to value
- Ease of use
- Lower total cost of ownership
Delivering on these requires a keen focus, and Roos said that’s what IFS has been doing. Recent research by IDC shows the company’s efforts are paying off, based on these findings:
- 413% return on investment in five years
- 18% employees productivity increase
- 14% faster order fulfillment and product delivery
- 28% more work orders completed
- 21% faster budgetary cycles
In helping customers transition to a digital future, IFS is especially interested in what it calls “challengers,” the disrupters that are trying to gain a competitive edge against market leaders.
One concrete step the company took today to support customers was to enter an agreement to acquire field service management vendor Astea. “This is an incredibly exciting segment of the industry. We become the undisputed No. 1 in field service with 8000 combined customers. Being the No. 1 player is a truly meaningful distinguishing moment for us,” Roos said.
IFS doesn’t just help challengers and disrupters; the company views itself as one. To prove the point, the vendor has adopted the #forthechallengers hashtag, which is being displayed prominently at this week’s event.
Innovation of course is at the heart of the disrupter movement, and IFS has been working hard to infuse into its suite of solutions, including field service management, enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. One such innovation is the company’s Aurena UX, which is now available across the full suite
While other vendors talk about emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) in the future tense, Roos said IFS solutions is already using these technologies
— IFS (@ifs) October 8, 2019
Morton Fon, CEO of IFS customer Jotun, a maker of paints and coating solutions, says IFS software has enabled the company to standardize processes across the organization. It has also helped Jotun become more efficient, grow the business, and start to leverage IoT technology.
For instance, Fon said, Jotun now has the capability of deploying IoT sensors in the sailing vessels for which it provides paint and coating solutions. This makes it possible for the vessels to transmit information about sailing and boat conditions in real time. That information, once received, processed and analyzed, allows Jotun to become a better partner to its customers, he said.
In another example of IFS software delivering real-world results, Akhilesh Tiwari, global head of Enterprise Application Services, Tata Consultancy Services, said Tata used IFS technology to fully automate the services dispatching for a major European telecom. As a result, service technicians were able to do the same amount of work in half the time and reduce drive times to service calls by 30%.
Much of today’s discussion focused on digital transformation, a process that just about every customer has embarked on. To guarantee success, customers must not get too enamored of technology, especially if they lack clear business goals. A CEO panel discussion on digital transformation, moderated by said Linda Hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, focused on driving change and creating value.
“Stay clear of technology for technology’s sake,” said Melissa Di Donato, CEO of SUSE. Instead, she said, focus on the business impact and outcomes by following creating and following a roadmap with clear goals. “At the end of the day, digital transformation is really about business transformation using technology as the underpinning.”
— Melissa Di Donato (@mdidonato1) October 8, 2019
Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC, said companies sometimes embark on transformation projects because the technology is cool but doesn’t necessarily deliver value across the organization. Therefore, it’s important to ensure the technology is important enough to implement and scalable across the organization.
Jon Roskill, CEO of Acumatica, stressed the importance of getting all stakeholders to work together for a project to succeed. And success, he added, requires strong management. “Without that, it’s almost destined to fail,” he said.
No matter what happens, Di Donato stressed, always put customers first by delivering technology and services that helps them grow faster and better. “We need to be customer-obsessed. That’s really the rule of the road.”
Carrying the theme of minding the customer into the evening, IFS is closing out the day with a “Customer Appreciation Night” featuring performances by artist Lewis Capaldi and The Function Band.
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Photography: Kurt Rebry