Magazine

Smart machinery - the backlash

There’s a lot of promise in smart tech. The potential for greater efficiency is clear, but there’s also a business driver behind these trends to move from a sales to a service model. They unlock new revenue for manufacturers to provide ongoing support, connectivity or maintenance. Yet companies need to better understand customers when delivering smart, data-driven service models.

Whose tractor is it anyway? A discussion about customers’ rights

At Livework, we like to share things we’ve read. This frequently leads to interesting discussions – with a focus on how our service design approach could offer solutions to complex modern challenges. The following was sparked by a great film and article from Vice about a battle between John Deere and the farmers who use their tractors and machinery over the right to repair.

Beware of servitisation models that lock customers in…

Ben Reason

John Deere is trying to add value by offering smart maintenance and all sorts of data services to support farmers in what they’re calling ‘precision agriculture’. Farmers, used to fixing their own machines, are not happy.

Why shouldn’t companies control repairs?

Wim Rampen

Machines have to be repairable – but why by the public?  With complex digital equipment, manufacturers usually control maintenance and repairs. John Deere seems to have embarked on a servitization journey, shifting from selling products to providing a service. When done right, this could create tremendous value for them and even more for their customers. However, this strategy seems to have been pushed by new technological capabilities rather than in response to the needs of the customers.

In this short movie Livework describes the phenomenon servitization and explains its involvement in this field. Watch video
In this short movie Livework describes the phenomenon servitization and explains its involvement in this field.

Letting people repair their own equipment is a win for both companies and their customers

Jan Koenders

Farmers could be informed by connected tech on where the problem is and be allowed to make their own repairs if they want. Insisting that technicians come in to do every little repair is a huge operation to run and takes away the autonomy and sense of ownership of their world that’s part of most farmers’ culture.

Is John Deere creating good relationships with their customers?

Ben Reason

No! They’re alienating them. The better strategy would be to enable their customers to do repairs. Perhaps to offer training and support to do this. In the film, a farmer talks about the $1000s it’d cost to take his tractor to the repair shop. This is a clear example of John Deere not seeing the total picture of what it means to run a farm and all the factors that matter to their customers.

Service design is about designing relations between organisations and customers

Sanne Pelgrom

In a post-ownership world, that’s solely about helping customers reach their outcome,  repair and upcycling would lie with the actor best connected to resources and material flows, John Deere in this case, right?

The problem is that they’ve focused solely on internal goals, not consulting customers about what’s important to them. Even if they were able to provide a fully responsive repair service, the farmers’ ability to solve their own problems is part of their culture and contributes to their sense of control and self-worth.

If we want to prolong the lifespan of products they have to repairable by the public

Erik Roscam Abbing

In the film, a farmer proudly shows us the first tractor he drove as a boy, that still works because it’s a simple, mechanical device that’s easy to repair. Are these new machines less durable? Certainly having more features and functions means there are more things that can go wrong. But the suspicion that they are designed to become obsolete to drive profits and the reality that manufacturers can decide to stop ‘supporting’ certain features so forcing people to upgrade erodes customer trust further.

I’d like to see what’d happen if John Deere worked more closely with farmers in developing service models and technologies

Ben Reason

Hopefully, they’d design something that delivers both a long-term return on investment and overall management of costs for farmers. This would lead to an improvement in customer relationships for John Deere and create alternative revenue streams based on mutual value and respect.

In this edition

Servitization: Shifting from products, to product service bundles in B2B Whitepaper
Marzia Aricò

Servitization: Shifting from products, to product service bundles in B2B

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Services add value to products Article
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