The Value of Services

I’ve taken a good college try at the smart home, from August locks to WeMo smart switches to the Nest thermostat.  Everything is a bit clunky.  This is after a good two decades of the technology industry learning how to make printer setup not so hard.  Remember struggling with the old laser printer setup?  Get the drivers, mess around with some settings, maybe get it working late that night.  Twenty years I’ve been fighting setting up machines.  And here I was, fighting to get my thermostat to talk to my lights to talk to my doorknob to take commands from my Alexa and it was just too messy.  And then, after getting it all to work, it was about as unimpressive as the Clapper was, and ten times harder to setup. I later discovered that Noon smart switches – not the ones I have, of course, have partnered with a network of professionals that make it turnkey to have an underwhelming “smart” home.

If this is happening with consumer products, imagine what it is like onboarding enterprise technologies.  Solution providers have great systems and platforms, and these “machines” are made useful by the $250B worldwide consulting industry.  I’m stunned that services is typically an afterthought with most technology brands.  Sure, the industry was built on partner companies that deployed the tech, but it seems a huge opportunity of providing managed install and run from the platform providers directly is here.  Just like in the early days of ecommerce, channel conflict will continue to be an issue.  HP was very afraid to sell a printer directly to the consumer online instead of them buying at a retailer.  We have a new channel conflict, but one that needs to be addressed more efficiently than the one that led the decade long declines of physical retail.

The issue of technology brands not having the native services is due, of course, to their focus on product innovation.  But services have always existed in the form of customer support.  Organizations have an opportunity to better sell their services upfront, with a shift in their marketing approach.  Like McDonalds is a real estate company first and food second (of fifth, given the quality), or Dominos Pizza is a transportation and logistics company first and a pizza company sixth, companies have to determine what business they are really in.  In a few short years, everything will be the Amazon model, even enterprises, where product differentiation is impossible, because AI will have designed everything to a shocking degree of commonality.  Revenue will be in the domain of selling services that drive practical business outcomes.  The details on what powers those outcomes won’t even matter.

If you are in the business of trying to figure out service value for your organization, contact us to research your opportunities and recommend marketing programs to drive revenue.


—James Rice, Digital Experience