A few months back, I wrote a blog post about the Tesla lesson for service contractors. Tesla has a direct-to-customer model for sales and service, and they support this model with a high tech connection to the car that allows them to deliver certain over-the-air updates while also monitoring the vehicle for proper performance. Every manufacturer in the world today envies Tesla’s sky high stock value, and they are all seeking ways to mimic their success and business model. This means that they are trying to use data and Internet connections to become more valuable to customers.
Last week, I was visiting with a ServiceTrade customer in the fire protection service trade. They informed me that they had found a good solution for collecting alarm inspection data to create the annual compliance inspection report for the fire marshal. I asked them who provided the solution, and they responded that it was offered to them by a manufacturer of alarm equipment for which they are a distributor. I asked further if they had checked into the ownership of the inspection data they collect with that equipment because it has been my experience that manufacturers are trying to displace the distribution channel wherever possible to get closer to the customer.
Sure enough, when my customer dug into the terms and conditions of the license that he signed for the inspection technology, he discovered that the manufacturer licensed the data collected to the owner of the alarm equipment, not the service company collecting the data. The license terms further stated that the alarm manufacturer also had a license to the data to assist the equipment owner in migrating the inspection and service work to a different service contractor than the one that had licensed the system in the first place.
WOW! As a service contractor, you have to be very diligent in protecting your direct connection to your customer. Your relationship in the future is going to be defined by data, Internet connections, and technology enabled services. You need to find applications that allow you to collect and own data that you put to work for the benefit of the customer and your business. Beware the rise of the machines. It can be a blessing, or it can be judgement day.