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Digitized maintenance

Many companies are currently digitizing their service and maintenance processes. This gives rise to personnel, organizational and technical issues. Hannes Heckner, CEO of MobileX, knows how companies can best overcome these challenges.
E-3 Magazine
November 8, 2018
Interview: Inconsistent data simply costs money
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

What challenges do existing SAP customers face when it comes to the digitization of maintenance and service?

Hannes Heckner: The digitization of business processes, especially for existing SAP customers, could become a challenge especially if this means that the need to switch to S/4 Hana has to occur even earlier than originally planned. Namely, if necessary technologies or functions are provided better or earlier only for S/4 Hana by SAP.

Whether and to what extent this could happen, however, is not yet foreseeable at the moment. For the areas of service and maintenance, the digital transformation does not really mean much more that is new than was already being strived for. What may be "new" is the impact on business models in service due to the platform economy and thus represents a challenge.

How do you assess the importance of SAP Leonardo for predictive maintenance?

Heckner: The services in the Leonardo portfolio will play a central role in this. SAP, but above all the market and our customers, are still in the early stages of development. The prerequisite for predictive maintenance is that the assets must be able to communicate with the Internet so that they can communicate with the Leonardo services in the SAP cloud platform.

Digitized maintenance

What impact does digitalization have on field service management?

Heckner: Digital transformation is accelerating and intensifying the competition for the most efficient service process and thus the most competitive service. Companies are now forced to address the issue. Differences are thus becoming apparent earlier and more clearly.

Which concerns are most often expressed by the workforce in the course of digital transformation?

Heckner: In Germany, this mostly involves aspects relevant to works councils and data protection law. For example, when a suitable employee needs to be selected for a service order, the dispatchers access the profiles of the field service technicians stored in the HR system along with their respective qualifications.

Since this involves personal data, there must be an agreement with the works council for this process. The field service employees themselves may also feel that their freedom to work is restricted and monitored by the central deployment planning and their status feedback on orders while on the road.

It is important to get all those involved on board in good time and to explain to them why it makes sense to use this data. The required functionality must be anchored in a works agreement with the works council.

What questions arise with regard to compliance and data protection?

Heckner: In addition to access to personal data, companies should ensure the protection of their own data and customer data by providing secure data transmission and encryption between the ERP system and the mobile device.

To increase adoption of a mobile solution among field technicians, companies should have a strategy in place around BYOD and private device use. In addition, mobile device management helps ensure secure configuration, rollout of security updates, and device lockdown in the event of loss.

What planning steps should companies take in digitization projects in service and maintenance?

Heckner: To begin, they should analyze existing processes. The following three aspects should be considered: Savings potential, quality potential and time-to-market. Savings potentials include the "supply effort" for the field service, paper processes, utilization of technicians, material logistics, central disposition and travel times.

Process changes through consolidation of workflows play a major role in quality potential. Media discontinuities can be avoided by introducing a field service management solution. Another factor is the increase in planning transparency.

In time-to-market, the competition in the market, the customers and the products or services play an important role. The project target figures result from the analysis.

External service providers can help companies maintain a neutral view during this analysis and contribute their process and industry expertise.

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