Demographic change brings with it many challenges — that’s nothing new. But what is currently being struggled with in many places is the knowledge that is in danger of being lost due to the generational change — and also the technical change. How do you sustainably secure the knowledge of employees — and how do you make it available to technicians, decision-makers and customers in such a way that the solution is only one step away? That’s why Innosoft GmbH has teamed up with Service Mate GmbH. We’re talking about technical service 4.0 — SERVICE TODAY editor Michael Braun discussed what’s behind it with Rainer Goos, Managing Director of Innosoft GmbH.
Michael Braun: Mr. Goos, the image of the classic service technician is changing — not least due to demographic developments in society. What challenges are you observing in this context?
Rainer Goos: In principle, the classic, stereotypical image consists of the service technician on his own who is on the road, on his own responsibility, completing customer appointments, getting the customer’s systems up and running again. These are the good old colleagues who in principle know everything and can do almost everything, simply from experience, especially with long-lived machines that are themselves already of a certain age. The only problem in many service organizations is that this knowledge is still in the minds of the technicians, is poorly or insufficiently documented, and is therefore of no help when the technician himself has no time or the next generation takes over. No matter how committed these colleagues are, they simply lack experience and thus, in many cases, knowledge.
Michael Braun: This is a challenge that you can meet with current approaches to solving…
Rainer Goos: That’s right. We have worked intensively on how we can initiate and establish a sustainable transfer of knowledge with great added value for the service organizations. We asked ourselves how this service knowledge can be collected and stored in such a way that it is helpfully retrievable and ideally already suggests the next step that the technician needs to take. However, we do not do this alone, but cooperate here with the Service Mate from Würzburg.
Michael Braun: What exactly does this cooperation look like?
Rainer Goos: We at Innosoft have been specializing in digitizing service organizations for years, especially when it comes to quotation and order management, ticket processing or scheduling in field service. Our software is available as a classic on premise solution or as a field service management solution from the cloud. As a technology platform, Service Mate integrates the previous system islands of a service organization. We bring the two together in a single solution. The idea is that service employees can access the service content relevant to them from any location. To achieve this, technical documentation and service reports are connected. These can then come from the ticket system at Innosoft, for example, or from the order management. We combine the strengths of both worlds in one system, so to speak.
Michael Braun: How can you then imagine this technically?
Rainer Goos: On the one hand, we have the entire content of a service organization in the Innosoft application. This is available to a service organization, so it can be accessed. Technical documentation, service reports, ticket data — all of this is valuable data, especially when it comes to recognizing and classifying service cases and using them to generate solutions for challenges in the field. We call this SmartSearch: The service technician or the service manager accesses the documents with all their data via a search, and SmartSearch ensures with the intelligent platform that the searcher is guided to exactly the place that contains what he needs for his solution path. So it’s all about good wiring of the content on one side with the technology on the other.
Michael Braun: What does Service Mate do at this point, and what other data sources are imaginable?
Rainer Goos: The great thing is that customers are not limited to the dataset from Innosoft. In the implementation, it is also possible to other data pools can be tapped in order to provide suitable answers to questions and to map even complex processes. For us, it is essential to offer customers added value with this solution. That’s why it’s already integrated into Innosoft FSM and we’ll be expanding our field service management solution even further in this direction. Service Mate connects with various components, for example with technical documentation, which enables problem-related access and automatic linking of the information with each other — across systems, by the way. The already implied fault analysis is great: if required, the guided diagnosis can also include circuit diagrams or spare parts catalogs if necessary.
Michael Braun: How can I then imagine this from the user’s point of view?
Rainer Goos: Specifically, it’s about gaining information. And to get this information, I have to name my current case. But it does not have to be the exact wording that could be stored in the background. It’s about the meaning and context that we want to cover with semantic search. If we think of service cases and wonder where the point of entry could be, then in practice this is stored relatively clearly in the Innosoft interface. he user presses the SmartSearch button and can start the search. The user searches for objects that can help him in exactly the context he is currently in. The user can display a list of search hits or vary the search. If the results match, the user can bookmark them for later, similar service cases.
Michael Braun: And as a service technician, can I use this on the road, or do I have to rely on the cooperation of the office staff?
Rainer Goos: Of course, the resource planning department has access to the system, but so do the service technicians themselves when they are on the road. For this purpose, the mobile solution is also available in Innosoft on the smartphone and tablet. SmartSearch can then be carried out online there. Thus the service technician can approach to the solution to his challenge in the field via an iterative search.