Service models are evolving fast. Disrupt or be disrupted says Martin Summerhayes.

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.” ― Tom Peters

Are you a service leader or a service follower? Do you design service solutions or adapt what you have to the markets you are working in? How you approach these questions and honestly answer them is critical in today’s service world. Over the past few years, the world has seen faster advances in key markets than ever before. Having worked in the IT landscape for a number of decades, I too have seen more rapid advances in the past five years, than I have in the past ten or even fifteen.

The “as-a-Service” model is changing dramatically the IT service landscape and it is also having profound effects in other services industries.  Let me give you an IT Service example. In the past, companies would purchase their IT equipment as a capital expense, writing it off over a number of years. For Retailers and consumer-related markets, this could be a very long time, up to ten or even fifteen years after the product was launched. As such, from a service perspective, you had to have a workforce that was skilled on legacy products, as well as the newer products that were coming to market. You also had to have a supply chain and repair service model to be able to service, support and repair products that were well past their “service life”. In effect a very long tail of services, that you could continue to charge a premium for.

Enter the “as-a-Service” model. This started with “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS) model. was the first SaaS company built from scratch to achieve record growth. The company was founded in March 1999 by three entrepreneurs. Unlike other SaaS companies at the time, the company was founded specifically to provide SaaS services. It has taken approximately fifteen years for the concept of “as-aService” to spread across nearly all aspects of IT. Networks-as-a-Service; Storage-as-a-Service; Infrastructure-as-a-Service, etc. You can literally build a business model today, without “owning” any of the IT provision – hardware of software.

This change is accelerating as more companies move into this model. And it isn’t just IT companies and providers.

Take AirBnB or Uber for example. Both are disruptors in their spaces – one focused on renting rooms out by the night; the other providing a click and go taxi service through a network of licensed drivers. In both cases, they do not own the physical assets that are being used. They are creating a marketplace whereby the providers and consumers of the services can come together.

This type of service model is going to spread more and more across more industry sectors. This means that whatever service industry you are in. Whatever, service you are providing, you need to be thinking about how you can disrupt the industry you are in today. Why? Because, there are other competitors that maybe already thinking about how to disrupt the services you are providing.

Whether you use a rapid problem solving workshop; a blue sky thinking event; or even look outside your industry sector; I’d recommend you taking some time out from the reactive, event service driven world many of us work in; to think, plan and act on where you want your service model to be in the next few years.

I leave you with the following quote that made me reflect.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

Martin Summerhayes has worked in the Customer Services industry for  more than 30 years. Starting with Data Logic Ltd as a banking engineer, he joined Hewlett-Packard as the first multivendor field service engineer in the UK.  Progressed through multiple roles both in country and internationally, moving from deeply technical into management as the Global Business Intelligence Programme Director. He spent 2 years as a management consultant at the Metropolitan Police Service before joining Fujitsu in 2008. In his  last role at Fujitsu, he was a member of the senior leadership team for the End-User Services business; responsible for new business take-on; remote support and continual service improvement.