theCUBE is the world’s leading live interview show covering enterprise tech, innovation and the people who imagine, create and implement the technologies that are changing our world. This year, they joined IFS in Miami for IFS Unleashed 2022. Below is the transcription of an interview with the founder of Future Field of Service, and the VP of Customer Engagement at IFS, Sarah Nicastro, and Roel Rentmeeters, the VP of Digital Transformation at Munters. Enjoy!
theCube: Welcome back to theCUBE, everyone. This is Lisa Martin, live in Miami. I’m at IFS Unleashed 2022. We’ve had a great day talking with IFS executives, customers, partners. We’re going to be having another great conversation next. I have two guests here on set with me, Sarah Nicastro joins us, the founder Future Field of Service, and VP of Customer Engagement at IFS, and Roel Rentmeeters, the VP of Digital Transformation at Munters. Welcome to the program.
Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for having us.
theCube: So, here we are surrounded by about 1500 or so people. The buzz in here is, people are ready to come back. They’re just ready to come back, have these conversations with their peers and their colleagues at IFS which is great to to see and to feel, right? Sarah, let’s start with you, your role, founder Future of Field Service. Talk to me about what that is and what the genesis was.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely. So, a lot of what I do is actually what you’re doing and interviewing folks, creating content. I was in the media before I joined IFS, almost four years ago in service specifically. So service, you’ve probably heard a lot today about moment of service. Service is a huge focus area for IFS and Future of field service is thought leadership resource that IFS allowed me to come on board and create, not only for customers, but for the broader service community. So, I write articles related to service trends host a weekly podcast. Over time with the company as I got to engage with more and more customers, and there’s so much value in them connecting with one another. You see that here, like you said, people are so excited to be together, but fostering those connections within our customer community, allowing them to get to know each other, share our best practices, as well as making sure that we’re bringing the voice of customer always into IFS. So, that’s what I do on the customer engagement side.
theCube: I love it. The voice of the customer is invaluable. And of all the conversations that I’ve had today, it’s so clear how strategic and strong the relationships are that IFS has with its customers. Roel, talk to us a little bit about Munters, you’re a customer and talk about the relationship that you’ve established with IFS and the team.
Roel Rentmeeters: Yeah, with pleasure. So, Munters is a Swedish company. We are a global leader in sustainable air treatment solutions. So, think about deunification, cooling, but in big industrial applications. I am the VP of digital services or digital transformation. Prior to that, until very recently, I was a VP of services. And we started that standardization roadmap five years ago, six years ago. We work very closely with IFS. We’re implementing a new apps version as an ERP for Munters. And so that servitization moving from additional services to outcome-based services has the digital aspect. So, my move is a natural flow with that.
theCube: How long has Munters been in business?
Roel Rentmeeters: It’s founded in 1955.
theCube: Oh wow.
Roel Rentmeeters: It’s a Swedish company, quite traditional still in their manufacturing and delivering services. But the shift is there.
theCube: Talk to me about that shift and how IFS has been an accelerant of that. It’s challenging for legacy businesses to evolve and transform. Obviously in this day and age, you don’t have a choice. But talk to us about the digital transformation of the business so that you can deliver more to your customers and how IFS has been foundational to that.
Roel Rentmeeters: Yeah. So, so that servitization roadmap eventually it is something that our customers want. We captured it. Customers want remote management, they want connected devices, but that alone will not bring you servitization. You need to have your strong foundation in the back with a good process, a good system that can support that process. And that’s where IFS came in for us. We are a long time IFS user, so, we are on the eighth version in Europe of app eight, but we are doing a new implementation to 10, and this way, a global implementation with clean data that needs to be cleansed, new processes, end to end processes. And so IFS is our partner to support us in this roadmap along with other developments and things IFS is doing, think about remote management, something we’ve implemented during COVID and that perfectly aligns with that road towards servitization.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I was just going to say Roel and I were on a panel discussion earlier today with two other customers, and all different industries, but when we said what is the focus of the business they all said servitization or outcomes based services. Me too. Me too, me too, right? So, it’s a journey that a lot of our customers are on looking at how they differentiate through service, how they move away from being a provider of products or things, and someone that their customers can trust to provide peace of mind, uptime, outcomes, experiences, things like that.
theCube: It’s all about outcomes. And we’re hearing more and more about servitization. It’s not a new concept. The term is somewhat newer to some of these conversations. But we’re seeing a lot of businesses especially in light of COVID pivot in that direction and they need a partner that they can trust like IFS to help them get there. Sarah, let’s talk more about customer engagement. What are some of the different facets that need to be considered? You guys, IFS has expertise in five verticals which I love the vertical specialization there. But talk to us about some of those facets that make customer engagement successful.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, so I think you’re absolutely right. So we have our five industries that we focus heavily on, and that is where most of our customer engagement has and does reside, right? So each industry has its own group of customers that get together weigh in on how IFS is innovating, what they need from the company and their respective industries, etc. What I’m focused on, and probably a lot of it is just based on my background. I mentioned on the panel there was a lot of head nods and me-too, me-too. That’s because there are also elements of innovation and change that are happening across industries that our customers care a lot about. So what I’m working on at the moment is introducing sort of another layer of customer engagement where we’re also fostering those cross industry more innovation-centered conversations so that we can not only better understand what our customers are focused on there, but also allow them to connect and learn from one another.
theCube: I love that. There’s so much power and potential. Roel, talk to us about that from your perspective, the opportunity. You mentioned, Sarah, the panel that you guys were on earlier today, but talk to us about the opportunity that IFS is giving you to engage with your peers in other industries, but also for you to learn and get takeaways from them. That’s got to be pretty unique from a technology partner perspective.
Roel Rentmeeters: That definitely is. And the Future of Field Service, it’s one of those four where I think we share so much knowledge, not just while we are sitting together and having our talks with Sarah, also individually we connected with each other. Companies that are also Swedish based like Tetra Park, etc, So, there’s kind of bonds that we can see. But it’s true, we are learning from each other also because some are maybe a bit more advanced than others in this area. So we can learn, not just around how they do their processes, how they find technicians on the market which is very scarce today and very difficult. How do you retain them? But also, what are you experiencing during your implementation?? What is your partner that are… What are pitfalls that you have discovered since you were there? Would you go to cloud or would you still wait in APP 10? So we share that knowledge to each other and we learn a lot from each other, which is something I like. I also like the fact that IFS is a very customer-centric company, as we mentioned before, the fact that you have changed advisory boards where the voice of the customer is going to be important, where you can feed back or IFS feeds back trends and things they see going forward where we can also say, but, “Would it not be better that the user interface for a technician who just wants to do this and this and this is simpler than what you offer today. So, it’s a win-win situation for both of us.
Sarah Nicastro: It’s a collaboration.
Roel Rentmeeters: Yeah, I like it.
Sarah Nicastro: It should be. And I’m really passionate about what what I do, but to be on sessions with a group of customers and have them say, “I’m going to call you later because I want to know more about how you did this, or can we connect?” And to see those connections happen, it’s great to have events like this and they have been on hold, but ideally happen every year or year and a half. But to keep those connections going continuously is really important to me.
theCube: Well, the innovations that IFS can spurn from just those connections alone is infinite, right? I mean, your mind can wander with all of the different things that can come out of that. Sarah, talk a little bit more about… We often talk about the voice of the customer. It’s incredibly powerful. I always think it’s the most objective opinion, but one of the things that I think I was learning earlier today is it’s not just about the voice of the customer. It’s taking the insights from those customers into the company, into the development of the technologies to then be able to fuel customer-driven changes. Talk about that as a one of the focuses that IFS has.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I mean, not only we, but our customers are talking a lot more about outside in innovation, right? An inside out model does not work today. And so, that’s really what the focus is. And there’s so many parallels between what we’re focused on, what our customers are focused on, right? And so, I think voice of the customer, it’s always good to have a quantitative measure where you’re doing surveys, you’re understanding what is your NBS, how do your customers feel, are they satisfied, etc? But it’s also very important to have more of a qualitative or more intimate forum to have those deeper discussions to really get into some of the details that, to Roel’s point, can then influence. Okay, well, we haven’t quite thought about it that way. The more you have those discussions, the more you can notice what those common challenges or opportunities are so that when you are putting effort into our own evolution and modernization, we can make sure that’s geared toward the the impact our customers need.
theCube: Right. That’s critical. It’s all about outcomes. Customers need to move faster and faster and faster these days, right? I think one of the things that was in very short supply during the pandemic was patience and tolerance. And I don’t know that it’s going to come back. I think we are…
Sarah Nicastro: I’ve never had it personally. (Lisa and Sarah laugh)
theCube: I had a little bit of it, but I think the consumerization of tech, we expect these experiences in our professional world to be as easy as going on Amazon and buying whatever we want. We also want the brands to know enough about us where it’s not creepy, but make it personalized to some degree, have that intimate relationship with me that’s good enough to get me the outcome that I’m looking for. We all have that in our personal lives, but it flows into our business lives as well. So you’re dealing with customers that probably have gotten more demanding as a result.
Roel Rentmeeters: I think you’re absolutely right. And at the same time, not all customers want to go into that entire outcome-based direction. So, but what I like about it is, if you can do outcome-based service, you can also accommodate those customers and the service they want without having the outcome, think about as a lay based service or those kind of things because your organization and your systems and your processes are ready to do this. It’s actually part of it. So, that voice of the customer is for us important enough to know it’s not one thing that we should create. It’s not one service offering. It depends on what kind of customers you are. Look at data center customers for which we do a lot of cooling, they are scared to hell that that thing would be brought down because it would endanger their entire data center. They don’t want to connect, but they want to have certain data that they can see inside their environment and that they can pass on to us. So, you need to accommodate all those things. So, your voice of customer is extremely important.
Sarah Nicastro: You mentioned, Lisa, that we’ve been talking about servitization for quite a while, right? And it’s because it involves so many layers of change within a business, right? And so, it’s really more of a journey, a continuum. And to Roel’s point, companies need to be able to address what their customers need at different points. Some may want to remain on a CapEx model and some may want to move to an outcomes model. We also need to be able to address what our customers need on a bit of a continuum, which is what we’re working toward with IFS cloud, is being able to meet people where they are and give them what they need that can grow with them as they grow with their customers.
theCube: And that’s absolutely essential for a good partnership and that makes for those moments of service to happen at the end of the day to that end user, whether it’s an airline or whatnot. IFS cloud, and we have a couple minutes left, but IFS cloud was launched only 18 months ago and I was in the keynote this morning and Christian was actually here on the show with me too, 400,000 plus users in 18 months, that’s growing pretty quickly. What’s been some of the feedback from the customer side, and we’ll get your perspective, Roel, as well?
Roel Rentmeeters: I don’t have cloud yet, so we are implementing APP 10. Why? Because we signed up with IFS two years ago. At that time it was not yet there. And we think now let’s first do this and then we can move to cloud. But it’s not that we will not move to cloud. It’s something we will do eventually. I like the fact that IFS thinks of having everything in one rather than having the different pieces, which made it also for me personally very difficult to make a choice. Do I go for the standalone version of the field service, or do I take the one that is embedded in the ERP? What is the difference between those two? Is there functionalities that I’m going to miss if I choose one or the other? So, the fact that it will be all together, it makes it easier also to add on later on like customer service or the customer ports or all those kind of things.
So, I like that concept. So, I’m very curious to hear from peers here that have done the implementation like the Tetra Pack, how’s it going? What is their feeling? I’m very curious.
theCube: Well, I imagine at this kind of event, you’re going to learn just that.
Roel Rentmeeters: Yep. (Lisa chuckles)
theCube: You were going to say something, Sarah.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I was just going to say, I think it’s a really good point that you mentioned with all of the things we’re used to in our consumer lives, we want simplicity. Having complex technology stacks is at odds with delivering simplicity to the customer, right? And so, so that’s the goal really. I was just in a session before this with Yotin who’s on the journey to Evergreen with IFS cloud. And it’s really the idea of eliminating some of the manual effort that exists in maintaining a system, making it a lot easier and faster for organizations to adopt innovation that comes out and give them more agility really in focusing on meeting their customer needs instead of focusing on managing their technology.
theCube: Absolutely. Nobody wants to be doing that. Thank you so much, both of you for joining me on the program today, talking about what IFS is doing, the Future of Field Service, how you’re partnering, truly partnering with customers. It’s impressive. We talked to a lot of vendors and a lot of customers and I definitely am seeing some unique differentiation here. So, thank you so much for sharing your insights with me today.
Sarah Nicastro: Thanks, Lisa.
Roel Rentmeeters: Thank you.
theCube: Appreciate it. For my guests, I’m Lisa Martin. You’ve been watching theCUBE live from Miami. We’ve been here all day. We thank you so much for watching. We will see you next time. (soft music)
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