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CIOs count on strategic technology partners to provide IT services to end-users across their global organizations. But what key elements need to come together to ensure outstanding global service delivery?
In recent years, some of world’s largest IT companies have made the decision to back out of the market for end-user IT, selling off their interests in areas such as desktop computing, laptops, printers and low-end servers. Whatever the wisdom of such moves, they have effectively distanced themselves from the core systems that employees rely on every day. For Alex Curias, a VP in Fujitsu’s Global Delivery team and head of its Global Program Management Office, that means they have lost touch with “oldest profession in IT”: fixing technology when it breaks and helping users get the most out of their IT.
From the updating of desktop software from a central helpdesk to the repairing of IT equipment in the field, organizations and their end-users count on such services to ensure smooth operations, and ultimately to provide products and service for their customers.
Some IT vendors, he says, have simply passed control of such activities to a set of uncoordinated third parties in different countries and regions. Not Fujitsu, though: it sees a clear differentiator in being able to offer not just the full line-up of end-user services, but one that is consistent and integrated across the globe.
Curias’s colleague Andy Payne, VP and head of technical maintenance services for Global Delivery, shares a similar perspective. “We are unique in this space in that we have a large dedicated workforce of our own, a strong integrated partnership model and globally managed on-site service delivery.”
That services line-up includes 15,000 Fujitsu engineers operating in 60 of the world’s largest economies, plus a trusted partner network of 1,550 extending services to another 120 countries worldwide — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Services are delivered remotely through eight Global Delivery Centers (GDCs) staffed by more than 8,000 customer-facing staff, and through field service engineers coordinated by the Global Program Management Office (GPMO) — a ‘mission control’ for on-site service with ‘follow-the-sun’ hubs in Belgium, Costa Rica and the Philippines.
Interlocking with the customer
Analysts at Gartner last year recognized that commitment by naming Fujitsu as number one in terms of ‘ability to execute’ end-user outsourcing services in Europe, where 75% of its revenues for this market are derived.
But while reach and consistency are essential for delivering to a customer base of multinational companies, the fundamental of being able to provide outstanding global services begins elsewhere — with the customer, emphasizes Payne.
“The starting point we look at is understanding the customer’s needs and what they are seeking to drive,” he says. Armed with that knowledge, Fujitsu’s team “constructs services that interlock with the customer’s desired outcomes to deliver on a global scale. That might involve enabling the customer’s business functions to operate more efficiently, to help them execute greater numbers of transactions, to ensure their staff can get more done, and so on.”
“In essence, we are now looking beyond our client to our client’s customer. How do we enable a fundamentally different experience for those customers by understanding the business impact different services have,” says Payne.
The company recognizes that the service mix has to match the nature of the customer’s business, he argues. “We can’t just have a one size fits all outlook. Although it’s important to offer standardized services, that simply establishes a base line from which we can provide tailored outcomes based on the nature, geography and culture of the business, and the way its business model varies around the world,” says Payne.
Fujitsu views this ability to create a service offering that maps onto — and responds to — customers’ fluid demands as a clear differentiator. It can mean flexing the service for a government tax office to meet annual transaction peaks during the tax return season, or increasing the service levels when a retailer goes into a holiday period. “During much of the year, for example, retailers will have checkout lanes that are unused. But a few times a year they need all lanes operational — and all the supporting IT running flawlessly. That’s when they need a different service level.”
Coordinating global call-outs
Such services — from desktop support and patch management to print management and server configuration — can be provided effectively by centralized teams working remotely from Global Delivery Centers. But when a local on-site service is needed Fujitsu coordinates its network of in-house and third-party field service partners using another key differentiator, its GPMO — essentially a mission control designed to handle the execution of engineers in the field — no matter where they are in the world.
As Alex Curias, head of the GPMO, outlines: “The GDCs provide all the services that can be delivered remotely from centralized teams: service desk, infrastructure management, network operations, etc. The GPMO sits alongside those, providing a coordinating role when a physical intervention by a local field engineer is required.” The GPMO teams have a real-time view of all incidents worldwide, the service-level agreement associated with each, the time engineers have worked on a task, the spare parts available in local warehouses and other related data.
The footprint of such an operation is as impressive as the customers are demanding. “When you build up these services with global customers, they expect you to deliver the services wherever their operations are,” says Curias. From swapping out a printer in a fast food store in Kazakhstan to fixing a PC in a factory in northern Brazil — the coverage has to be universally controlled and consistent.
Controlling the distributed field service activity for a global account extends well beyond classic break-fix issues. It might involve a global transformation in which all end-user devices are replaced. For example, Fujitsu recently carried out a project for a major airline in which all 35,000 devices were changed during an eight-month roll out.
That art of remote people management is to get four essentials right, says Curias:
• Clarity about governance Whether the teams are from Fujitsu or from its partner network, the scope of what needs to be undertaken — and in what timescale — needs to be clearly understood
• Uniform processes Customers expect the same service and control around the world, so processes need to be formalized and consistent
• Rock-solid management platform By design, the GPMO means customers should not see any difference between a ticket serviced by Fujitsu or a third party
• Genuine partner network While Curias points out that some vendors tend to offload the risk of execution to sub-contractors — ensuring they carry the penalties and liabilities — Fujitsu maintains responsible for the quality of field service interventions and takes the hit if that falls short. So the platform needs to be able to monitor quality closely, highlighting a partner’s ability to execute over time.
As that suggests, data analytics has become key to making services both more effective and more closely tailored to customer needs. And going forward, the combination of big data technologies and the data flowing from sensors in the field will enhance services dramatically while also introducing a new layer of complexity to activities.
“The next big challenge is the Internet of Things, when the scale of new intelligent devices that need managing will explode,” says Payne. “Installing, maintaining, monitoring sensor data in real-time: it’s a whole new business opportunity for services.”
Part of that opportunity is to exploit the vast amounts of data being gathered from the systems to engage in predictive maintenance. According to Andrew Mears, head of business development for Fujitsu’s Technical Maintenance Service, Global Delivery, “the amount of data that is becoming available through the growing number of customer touch points is vast and with each interaction more data flows through.”
“We are automating the analysis of all that data so we can come up with much sharper real-time decisions that enable us to provide predictive maintenance services,” he says. “We already have a lot of historical data that tells us about when issues arise due to environmental factors,” says Mears. “So we want to provide a proactive service that see issues about to occur and fixes them before they become a problem.”
But the really exciting bit has yet to come, says Mears. “As more and more things are connected to the network, we can gather much more data from devices, with sensors telling us about the temperature and humidity at an individual machine’s environment or the growth in footfall at a retail customer’s retail stores. We now have the ability to capture this data at the speed at which it is arriving and take action.”
For a company that sees a virtue in offering everything from tablets to supercomputers, that points to even greater levels of differentiation in the IT services segment.
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