Service 4.0 paves the way for technology support transformation

By: Jens Rathgeber

While many companies look at digitization from a product perspective — Industry 4.0 or industrial IoT — it has a significant impact on the services business. Digitization enables technology to support automation for industries and tasks, augments knowledge workers’ jobs, and drives the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Similar to Industry 4.0, applying digitization to services results in a Service 4.0 approach with value chain advantages.

Why Service 4.0?

Service 4.0 focuses on higher productivity and innovation in the services sector through digital technology in the enterprise. There are five key elements, with underlying technologies actionable for technology support, outlined here. In future blogs, I’ll dive deeper into each one.

5 Building blocks for technology support digitization

Optimized logistics
A lot is going on in the logistics area. Hot topics are around parts planning, distribution and traceability, service personnel organization and providing status transparency across the entire supply chain. The goals: optimize parts usage and ensure availability while balancing stocking costs. Some cases (e.g. fraud detection) involve tracing parts from manufacturing to usage. Typical technologies used in this area are analytics, blockchain and visualization techniques.

Predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance helps to avoid disruptions and outages. While the concept isn’t new, recent technologies like edge computing, multivariate statistical models and machine learning play a role and enable broader adoption.

Superior expertise
Knowledge management, including ways to create, harvest and share knowledge is critical to the Service 4.0 framework. This includes extracting insights out of unstructured data from failure situations such as videos and images or available technical documentation. And there are sophisticated methods for interacting and communicating with service partners. AI and chatbots with natural language understanding/processing, machine learning, and virtual reality (VR) augmented reality (AR) are applied.

Communication and control
Technology services go beyond supporting a product and as many of us know, the service is the product. Transparent access to services is paramount. To achieve this, service companies often use analytics and visualization technologies to provide reports and dashboards and may add simulations to offer recommendations for next best actions.

Remote service delivery
Digitization allows for product instrumentation so actions can be performed remotely. Actions may be divided into diagnosis and repair tasks. From a technology standpoint, multiple items are needed, including sensors and edge computing devices, analytics capabilities, 5G networks and cloud, and IoT platforms.

I often see these five elements in my engagements with IBM clients as well as within my own organization. Interested in more strategies for Service 4.0 and digitization? Look for my next blog discussing Optimized Logistics. And follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn to hear more about technology support trends and continue the conversation.

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About The Author

Jens Rathgeber

IBM Distinguished Engineer & CTO, IBM Multi-Vendor Support Services

Jens drives innovation initiatives for the IBM Multi-Vendor Services portfolio and leads the IBM global community of technology support experts. As a recognized technical leader, he works with clients to streamline their IT support and transform after-sales-service organizations. In addition he leads the Editorial Board of the Zero Outage Industry Standard Association. With 20 years... Read more

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