Predictions are based on experience and knowledge; both of which are abundant among the team at IFS. However, as we’ve learned over the past two years, predictions aren’t always easy to make, and the path we expect to follow sometimes takes us on a significantly different journey. This hasn’t been truer than the total disruption we faced in 2020 and the pandemic’s continuing impact on our world. But nonetheless, we still see the beginning-of-year “top trends” and “predictions” blogs infiltrate our LinkedIn feeds and inboxes. Some present realistic, almost inevitable, predictions and others tell tale of futuristic technologies that are far beyond the next 12 months.
At IFS, we believe that much of what will take place in service in 2022 is a continuation and maturation of key trends we’ve been “predicting” for a while. This is because we’re at a level of sophistication with technology and innovation in service that the excitement isn’t in any singular “next big thing,” but in the nuance of mastering the layers of change that come with ongoing evolution and transformation.
So, while these insights may differ a bit from traditional “predictions,” what I’m sharing here is are thoughts on the topics that will continue to be at the forefront of service leaders’ focus in 2022 and how I believe these conversations will evolve in the coming year.
#1: Employee Experience Takes Priority in Service Organizations
While customer experience is no less important than it has been – in 2022, employee experience will take center stage. It simply must. The Great Resignation will force companies to reflect on everything from their company culture to the strength and quality of their leadership to the employee value proposition to how much (or how little) opportunity exists for career development, and much more.
Organizations will be forced to take responsibility to get more creative in how – and whom – they hire. Leaders will need to do and give more in the form of mentorship, encouragement, and recognition. The masses are realizing that the stellar customer experience they aim to deliver is impossible without engaged and satisfied employees. In 2022, service organizations must do what it takes to understand what employees want and need to be happy and they must work tirelessly to deliver that.
From a technology perspective, IFS understands the potential software has to act as a great enabler – or a massive deterrent. This is evident not least in the ability for workers to efficiently carry out their jobs, but even more so in the experience and satisfaction levels created by the software. A platform that offers an intuitive UI and consumer grade experience while also providing meaningful insights, and access to remote resources at the touch of a button will significantly improve your employees’ experience.
#2: Mental Health Gets the Attention It Deserves in the Workplace
You cannot dispute the depths of stress and worry and trauma that have been experienced over the last two years. Of course, there are varying degrees – some have lost loved ones, some have had to juggle working with children at home, and some are forced to show up to work with colleagues who have very different fundamental beliefs than they do. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, really. Not to mention the fact that even pre-Covid, mental health deserved far more attention in the workplace than it was getting.
For frontline service workers, and their leadership, the necessity of in-person work exacerbates the stress of the pandemic. While remote assistance, deployed adeptly by companies like Munters as the pandemic began, has proven an invaluable tool in helping minimize unnecessary on-site visits and fostering easier internal collaboration, it can’t and won’t replace all need to deliver on-site service. As such, service organizations both need to continue to evolve service delivery strategies to best leverage tools like remote assistance but also accept the responsibility for playing a more active role in supporting employee mental health.
While the efforts to normalize the topic of mental health in the workplace have begun, we have a long way to go. There’s ample room for improvement when it comes to how these discussions are handled – and encouraged, what resources are available and how they’re used, how leaders lead by example, and how we deal with the realities of providing a safe place for employees who are struggling.
#3: Companies Find Their Digital Identities
In 2022, service organizations will gain more clarity around the digital continuum. Digital isn’t something that needs to be “done,” but rather something that needs to become a part of each company’s identity. This means eliminating siloes, combining disjointed approaches and strategies, and moving beyond fragmented systems and tools.
Digital as a part of a company’s identity means it is within the business’ DNA – it’s a part of every conversation, every function, every role. Digital leadership is strong and digital reputation is considered. Digital is being leveraged to streamline internal operations in a way that enables the best customer experience as well as efficiency, and it’s being used externally as a part of a company’s value proposition. As a company masters a foundational level of capability, they look for layers of sophistication and intelligence to layer on.
IFS supports our customers as they progress through the digital continuum and within our platform we meet both the foundational needs as well as the needs of companies seeking greater and greater sophistication. Various IFS customers are leading the way and serve as great examples for those still seeking their digital identify. For instance, Cimcorp has learned the value of working smarter rather than harder. ANDRITZ is building upon its digital foundation to add layers of intelligence and automation. And Smart Care Equipment Solutions has a vision for how data will set its company apart from its competition.
#4: The Service Value Proposition is No Longer Service
Here’s the punchline: your customers don’t want service. They want uptime, outcomes, peace of mind. They want the complexity that goes into making “it” work to be invisible. They don’t want to buy “things” – they want knowledge and insights and perspective that helps them be and do better.
Whether we refer to this evolution as Servitization, the move to delivering outcomes, As-a-Service, or the subscription economy, it means that service organizations need to re-evaluate how they’re doing business and how they’re talking about service (hint: it shouldn’t be an “offering”). Companies need to equip themselves with the technological underpinnings that allow for guaranteed outcomes and need to be reconsidering their identity – moving away from manufacturer of X or servicer of Y to provider of (insert your differentiation here).
This evolution is not possible without first releasing all legacy thinking and habitual practices and focusing objectively on what your customers are seeking. It’s also not possible without the technological sophistication that allows for impeccable asset intelligence and data collection, optimal utilization of resources, a seamless customer experience, and the ability to derive business intelligence that feeds new value propositions. This journey is not one that can happen overnight, but in 2022 we’ll see more companies take leaps and bounds of progress because the market simply demands it.
#5: Sustainability Spurs Service Growth
With the growing realization of how much more effort we need to be putting into saving our environment, and new standards and regulations being introduced around the globe, there’s a lot to discuss around sustainability. Even more specifically, there’s an immense amount of opportunity here for service organizations to introduce new offerings – as well as a natural fit in how a focus on sustainability lends itself to the benefits that Servitization introduces in terms of longer-lasting products and a more circular approach.
Last year, IFS held its first Change for Good Sustainability Awards to showcase how our customers are making a positive impact. We also spoke with customers like Bureau Veritas to discuss how they are embracing the services potential around sustainability. In 2022, we’ll continue to explore this intersection and discuss how companies are making changes that positively impact both the environment and their service objectives.
While 2022 inevitably presents more uncertainty, service organizations have proven their ability to navigate challenges and persevere. The important lessons learned in 2020 and 2021 are being channeled into innovation, agility, and empathy in ways I watch in awe. We are cautiously optimistic that 2022 will bring a greater degree of normalcy and I’m certain it will bring progress in each of these five areas. I look forward to continuing the conversations and sharing how businesses are mastering these layers of change.
Read more from Sarah Nicastro, as she shares the lessons learned in 2021 by service leaders – https://futureoffieldservice.com/2021/12/27/service-leaders-share-lessons-learned-in-2021/
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