Demystifying Internet of Things (IoT)

Your wrist watch sending your heart pulse, temperature and BP to your doctor and medical record, on exceeding set limit, is an example of Internet of Things (IoT) and I’m sure you are hearing about Internet of Things from long. But still many of us need more clarity on what it is?

Is it networking of the things?
It is communication between heterogeneous devices?
Is it Machine to Machine Communication?
Is it one step ahead in automation?

In fact, it’s ALL of the above!

Internet of things-Quest informatics

We all know that today’s internet devices are connected to the network based on unique IP Address allocated to the device. Therefore devices are able to communicate with each other. But lets us expand the base from internet connected devices to other physical things and see how other things can become part of it.
Conceptually to communicate with each other, what we need iInternet of things 2s

  1. Unique identification
  2. Communication channel
  3. Information or data for communication
  4. Information processing & Events for communication

To achieve unique identification, we can attach any of the below with our physical thing to identify it uniquely

  • IP Address
  • GPS device ID
  • RFID
  • Bluetooth Address etc.

Further any of the supported communication channel can be used for data transmission such as,

  • TCP/IP or http protocols or FTP
  • GPRS or SMS through SIM module
  • Radio waves

The data / information can be collected by any of the following

  • Sensors
  • Receivers
  • Readers
  • & Output from programs or processingiot4-Quest Informatics

Finally firmware program or resident software programs are used to run on the connected device to process data/information & invoke communication either on a

  • Particular Event
  • Or a given Frequency

The solution created from permutation and combination of all above is nothing but Internet of Things, That’s it.

You can no longer keep your ‘Bay Management’ at bay!

15 bizmen set to return high-end cars after bad service to one of them (http://goo.gl/zkIV6y ) & Man Furious with BMW M6’s Faults and Bad Customer Service Smashes it at Frankfurt Show (http://goo.gl/iymSjS)  are only 2 reports out of 20 million+ results that Google News fetches for you when you type ‘bad service of cars’. This in itself is an indicator of the automotive customer’s melancholy, which is the result of ‘bad service’.

Can automakers risk the anger of an Quest Informatics-Service Floor Management Softwareunhappy customer in this digital age? When we know “A happy customer tells a friend & an unhappy customer tells the world” & 78% of consumers have not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience (Source: American Express Survey’11).

In most of the cases, Bad Service is the result of bad management of service bay. Only comprehensive bay management tool will be able to bring down the instances of bad service. A comprehensive Bay Management tool that you choose should perform following activities,

  1. Estimation of vehicles that can be taken by your service station for a day/week/month
  2. Efficiently planning of your work shop resources (human & Bay) and forecasting delivery time to customer & ensuring that delivery is done within promised delivery time. And should also proactively keep customer informed during instances of delay
  3. Interacts with your DMS for capturing customer, vehicle booking and Promised Completion Date (PCD) details
  4. Monitors vehicle movement inside service station in real-time, from one stage to another  like vehicle arrival, inspection, In service, In wash, interior cleaning & ready for delivery
  5. Gives instant access to customers’ service history. It also provides option to drill down to any ticket or open quote from past months or even years
  6. Uses different colors for displaying each stage for easy identification and monitoring on deviations
  7. Provides hierarchy based access control & dashboard furnishing workshop capacity
  8. Feeds your vehicle booking counter with resource availability, booked and carry over information along with current vehicle status of workshop
  9. You can update cause of a stalled/held work & alert the respective department to take necessary action
  10. Analyse activities like Planned vs Actual servicing etc for improving processes

Quest Informatics-Bay Management Software

Organizations which have implemented comprehensive Bay Management System are reaping rich dividends like,

  1. Delighted customer resulting in increased loyalty towards the brand & brings them back to you for repurchase
  2. Increases service revenue by optimizing service processes, resource utilization & by cutting down on delays
  3. Centralized system to monitor bay performance across geographies

It’s been proven umpteen number of times that, effective bay management leads to better service & better service delights customers by exceeding theirs expectations.

Remember:

A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service related than price or product related – Bain & Company

”Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will”- Kate Zabriskie

Relooking at Remanufacturing (REMAN)

$ 100 Billion strong Remanufacturing (REMAN) industry is not new to the World. It’s been active since Second World War, when only Army equipments were remanufactured. But, it’s potential has been realized in the past decade, as WCMs (World Class Manufacturers) started focusing on Remanufacturing as profits from their new product sales started shrinking.

Many WCMs are already yielding good profits from Remanufacturing. For example, in 2013, Cummins, a global leader in engines and related technologies, had 3,000 employees working from nine global facilities, contributing $1 billion to total sales of $17.3 billion. Automotive giant Renault has also expressed its growing faith in remanufacturing, as has Caterpillar & GE, to name a few.

REMAN

WCMs (World Class Manufacturers) are adopting Remanufacturing, because of following business benefits:

  1. Increases the life of materials & profitability
  2. WCMs will be able to offer quality products at lesser price, which also boosts profitability
  3. Reduces dependency on raw materials, whose prices are always volatile
  4. Supports the WCMs in meeting Environmental norms by reducing the use raw materials & lessens pollution by not discarding end-of-life products
  5. Helps WCMs in meeting the “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” regulations

When trying to realize the above benefits, the WCMs are faced with many operational challenges, which are,

  1. Material Management and Operations Synchronization:
    1. Complicated inventory management
    2. Unable to source supply to meet demand
    3. Uncertainties in core quality, sourcing market, product life and technology changes
  2. Production Estimation and Remanufacturing Operations:
    1. Complex Reman cost Estimation, Planning and taxation
    2. Complex documentation and low automation
    3. Managing additional activities like inspection, dismantling and cleaning
  3. Non-synchronized interaction between procurement and redistribution entities
  4. Difficulty in generating customized reports on ad hoc basis

Without addressing the above challenges, it is difficult to realize the benefits of Remanufacturing. Companies that successfully implement re-manufacturing strategy will be the ones who sustain growth and success in the future.

An Insight to Mobile Solutions for Business Application

The fast growing reach of the smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets to the individuals, has forced the solution experts to look for extending the accessibility of business application to these devices. Some of us start looking for the companies who are in mobile application development, without analyzing, if we really need a native mobile application or not.

Mobile app or Mobile Website

We normally mistake the mobile compatible website with the mobile application.

There are two ways you can extend your application to the smart devices

  1. Through native mobile applications and
  2. Through mobile compatible web sites.

 Native mobile app or mobile compatible site?

The native applications usually use internal resource of the device such as processing power, storage memory, GPS, Camera, SIM & NFC and operate system specific. Therefore you need to create different versions to support different operating systems like iOS, Android, Symbian , Windows mobile or Blackberry.  On the other hand the mobile compatible website is just a set of mobile compatible web pages that are directly accessed via web browser.

Practically 95% of the business applications do not need native mobile application, but need a mobile compatible website.  In fact some of the latest browsers allow accessing few mobile resources such as GPS and Camera. Thus you need not develop a native application just to access GPS or Camera. To differentiate the need, let’s take some scenarios.  

Scenario 1:

  • You  want your service engineer to access the call details and update the status
  • You want your  engineer to capture the photo from site and upload
  • You want your management to approve your requests; it could be leave approval, purchase requisition approval, budget approval, order approval, etc.
  • You want your management to access important dashboard
  • You want your client to check the status of their order

If you’re looking for any such application listed in Scenario 1, then you need mobile compatible website rather than native mobile application.  

Scenario 2:

  • You want to track the location of your engineer while on move
  • You want to capture site photograph, edit  or tag photograph and upload to the system
  • You want to upstream video
  • You want to read encrypted  document
  • You want offline and standalone application such a games , personal applications
  • You want offline information update and synchronize later
  • You want to chat and instant messaging  other than email and SMS alerts
  • You want to scan bar code, QR code, face or thumb impression
  • You want to communicate to another device via NFC or wireless

If you are looking for any such application listed in Scenario 2, then you need a native mobile application.

How to build best in class support desk?

• What is behind the success of business leaders?
• How support plays a vital role in branding and customer experience?
• Do you know the pain points of your current customers and what they think about you?

The answer to all the above questions is your support desk.

Customer satisfaction is the primary measure of success for any company and the effective way to reach customers is through a dedicated support desk working hand in hand with them. Support desk or customer service desk is essentially a single point of contact for customers to reach out to your organization with their grievances, know the status of your response and also provide valuable feedback on what they like and what they do not in the service operations. Based on industry, support desk works in different forms viz. Customer Support, Help Desk, Service Desk, Part Desk, Customer Relationship Management, etc. They work closely with customers – troubleshooting their problems, assisting customers in right use of the product, addressing customer grievances and providing right solutions.

Best in class support desk softwares have following characteristics:
• They act as single point of contact (SPOC) to avoid conflicts and delays.
• They manage call monitoring.
• They manage timely responses, status updates and resolution of problems.
• They are equipped with knowledgeable resources to handle in-depth product information and FAQs.
• They offer proactive support for spotting reoccurring issues, identifying root cause and resolving it.
• They have well defined escalation procedures for effective management of responses.

What is the impact of support desk? – Many service professionals understand that good support does matter and the NO or BAD support can harm reputation of company and even lead to huge losses. No support or Bad support leads to –ve customer word of mouth. –ve word of mouth may impact purchase decision, switching to competition or in worst cases legal suites and claims.

Deploying a support desk helps to know where is the customer ticket, how long it has been in queue and what the lead time to response and closure is. This helps companies in knowing who have been resolving or who can resolve what type of issues, at what level and by what time. This helps to define KPI for different levels and type of calls to optimize response and resolution time.

Support desk plays a vital role to develop customer loyalty as customer feels he is closely connected to the company and this invariably drives company to deliver amazing results.

Aftermarket service maturity: assess where does your company stands

Aftermarket service maturity: assess where does your company stands

In this paper published in “Indian management”, Dr TR Madan Mohan, Rudresh Basavarajappa and R Ganapathy describe stages of aftermarket maturity and how to traverse from initial stages to more evolved stages. The maturity model is a useful framework for all OEMs and their dealers across industries such as heavy equipment, automotive, construction, medical, industrial equipment and agricultural products industries where post-sale support exists. 

How big is your after market service?: Are you prepared to cash on after sales?

How big is your after market service?: Are you prepared to cash on after sales?

In this paper published in Indian Management, Dr TR Madan Mohan, Rudresh S Basavarajappa and R Ganapathy describe why aftermarket or after sale process is important from revenue and customer engagement perspective. The paper describes a comprehensive aftermarket framework consisting of service operation, service resource, service product and service organization dimensions. OEMs and their dealers across different verticals like automotive, construction equipment, mining and heavy equipment industries can benefit from uncovering the inefficiencies in their aftermarket operations and grow sustainable revenues.

Why adopt a ‘Progression Driven Approach’ for Electronic Parts Catalogue?

With increasing globalization, and challenging economic environment companies all over the world are recognizing the merits in sustaining “aftermarket parts revenues”. To monetize aftermarket revenues, an OEM need to adopt digitization of not just processes but the parts catalogues, and parts change management. OEM’s in their urge to contain costs; do not invest sufficient time and efforts in designing appropriate aftermarket parts catalogue.

A good parts catalogue will not only help in optimizing the service time (as all dealers’ technicians use common presentations and are trained on same), but overall savings in parts inventory. Unwanted, obsolete or replacement parts inventory management becomes proactive and revenues of dealers and OEMs improve as cash is not locked up in inventory.

In my working at Quest Informatics, I have notices two types of reactions from OEMs. In many OEMs’ despite having sufficient data and resources to improvise the parts catalogue and parts management system, as an organization they are single mindedly focused only on new product development and hence loose the vision of revenue leakages. In other cases companies may actually lack the data needed to create a good aftermarket parts catalogue and parts management system.

Many companies adapting to e-catalogues pursue a big bang approach, wherein they completely overhaul the system. Many a times, despite heavy investment, the outcomes may be poor or unsatisfactory. At Quest Informatics, we therefore recommend an incremental progression driven approach to improve process of data assortment and development of electronic parts catalogue. The progression drive approach

consists of following stages:

Stage 1: In this phase the focus would be more on creating an electronic parts catalogue with the available data. The objective is to obtain the user adoption, concurrence for further changes. This helps in breaking down any barriers, both technological and others in an organization.

Stage 2: Second, we focus on standardizing the information show in parts catalogue. Having achieved initial adoption, the objective is to drive comprehensiveness of presentation.

Stage 3: Improvise the content of data shown by including vendor & sales special configuration details so that business information could be embedded and meaningful business intelligence could be mined.

Stage 4: Provide consultative solution to improvise the process of data structure and information flow in various systems affecting the aftermarket business. The focus is now just not satisfying solution, but optimal solution in terms of DB performance, presentation capabilities, etc.

The four stage progression driven approach ensures that the implementation of changes are well managed, outcomes are measurable and directed.

Managing Customers – Our Focus

In today’s world, customer has become the focal point of all industries where none of the companies even imagine taking risk of ignoring a single customer. Hence in order to understand customer needs and give them due respect, customer service management has evolved and gained tremendous importance.

The primary objective of customer service management is to learn and understand the value of customers. Customer service management is not an easy job until our products and services are appreciated by customer. There is no defined way to satisfy customers unless we understand and cater to their needs. A good customer service representative should be aware of goals of his customer and work with dedication to help him reach their goals.

Below are some of the basic factors to start with for a good Customer service management:
1. Know your customer’s needs before you advice. There might be variety of products your organization offers. Identify the challenges faced by the customer, analyze and recommend right product or services based on your customer needs. Also knowing about future developments and trends that are going to influence your customers, help you to anticipate what they are going to need and be ready to offer it to them.

2. It is important for customer service operatives to understand the client’s concerns so they do not appear standoffish, even if the demands are unrealistic. Pay attention to the needs of the customers. Allow your customer to describe their concern, ask them right questions and listen patiently to what they have to say.

3. Visit customers to provide a one-to-one service. Explore areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction and generate possibilities for remedial action during visit. One of the great advantages of customer visits as a market intelligence tool is that they are field research where you understand what your customer exactly need. But, ensure the right people will make the visit.

4. Apart from taking care of existing customer needs, also recognize upcoming needs or potential opportunities and ensure quality services are provided to exceed customer expectations. Also listen to their ideas and make polite suggestions. Since you understand your existing customer better, you’ll be able to accurately aim business-extending offers to them compared to acquiring a new customer.

5. Not just a client manager, it is important to develop a set of staff that is constantly aware of the business culture related to customer relationships. Employees need to have a scrupulous knowledge about the possible technical issues and methods to solve them. This team is required to help the customers out with a positive approach when they are facing troubles.

The bottom line is, however good your product or service is, a good customer service is very essential to trigger the sales and create an impact in the minds of the customer. Hence it is very important to get into customer’s shoes and learn what his needs; his concerns are and evaluate the right product or service which can cater to the needs, considering his business.