Get 'Smart' and Get into the Money By Kim Phelan
Article Date: 09-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
How soon will your competitor be using this technology to serve your customers?
Riddle: How many equipment dealers does it take to screw in a “Smart Services” light bulb?
Answer: Zero – that bulb has already been replaced, along with 100 others nearby, at precisely the right moment before they burned out and left customers in the dark.“You wanna run that by me again, Ms. Phelan,” you may ask.Alright bear with me, ’cause this illustration just barely holds together with scotch tape. First of all, there is no actual light bulb – the bulb represents an idea, a very big idea that has been transformed into a technology with which you are undoubtedly familiar but perhaps have not fully adopted into your business M.O. What we’re talking about is telematics (also known as machine-to-machine communication) for the construction equipment industry and how distributors have an opportunity to plug into serving their customers on a whole new plane. Permit me to introduce to you a phrase that you might want to not only add to your vocabulary but one which you may do well to evaluate and develop into your value-added equation for your customers. I picked up the term Smart Services at the fourth annual QUALCOMM Leadership Summit in San Diego at the end of July, and I must, in the interest of job security, demonstrate that I didn’t spend all my time loafing poolside. (Just kidding – I swear I don’t even know where that pool was!) So what, pray tell, is “Smart Services?” It’s a term coined by Glen Almendinger, president of Harbor Research, Inc., and what it means, formally speaking by QUALCOMM’s definition, is: “the commercial realization of the Internet of Things for manufacturers.” (But don’t stop reading! Your role as distributor in this is, as always, the crystal holding the jello.) “Smart Services are differentiated post-sales product support capabilities delivered by manufacturers or service providers (aka you) to their channel and/or end customers, enabled by capturing and analyzing real-time product performance information via wireless or wirelines communication networks.”Did someone say product support? Think about the implication of real-time equipment performance and all its accompanying data, and use your imagination to consider how you could insert yourself into a role of priceless value for fleet managers, predicting and scheduling “downtime” before any crisis ever occurs. (Remember the light bulb?)Asset management, knowing each and every unit on a jobsite, controlling change orders, monitoring machine performance relative to emissions and fuel consumption – do you think this kind of data, packaged in a monthly report – seamlessly integrated with the contractor’s back office system and conveniently presented by you – would be of interest to more than just a few customers? And the ramifications for managing your own rental fleet are a whole other discussion. Two contractor executives at the San Diego conference discussed yet another huge application of telematics in their businesses: human monitoring. Oh yes, there’s operator push-back on this, of course, but, bottom line: the machine doesn’t lie. In fact, because idle time can be distinguished from functional operation time, in one instance the discovery was made that an operator was turning on the machine and leaving it idle for two hours every morning while he went for coffee and a bit of morning leisure.One presenter said that many applications are yet unforeseen; he also believes that policy drivers are coming that will accelerate adoption of these remote monitoring technologies. Sadly, another remarked that construction is one of the slowest industry adopters of new technology. Please investigate this area and satisfy yourself that – like the Internet – this is no passing fad, but instead a strategic opportunity to fully woo and bedazzle your customer-base with your unparalleled genius.Thanks for reading.
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