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These days, it’s very common to find yourself using an application or piece of software on your phone for most daily tasks, such as adjusting the temperature in your home or even turning on the lights. But this convenience can, in fact, be a hindrance — and in the context of providing service to an end customer — takes on a slightly different precedence.
Service provision is complex and fluid
Inflexible software can pose a threat even to the best laid plans of service providers. Service firms are often complex in nature, and through acquisitions or organizations working alongside original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), distributors, aftermarket part manufacturers or contingent employees, they are frequently threatened by a mismatch of cultures. On top of this, service delivery itself doesn’t fit into a neat box; instead, it spans many industries that provide home or mobile services to end customers.
The goal for service software is to enhance the service process, helping complete the action — not to disrupt it in any way. But this level of complexity means that many service providers struggle to get their teams coordinated to use the technologies at their disposal.
For example, if an HVAC installation provider can only build technician job schedules based on availability loadouts three weeks in advance and can’t update them the day of, they cannot efficiently utilize their time. Changes due to illness, a sudden high-priority outage, or any other day-to-day issues can arise. If software cannot be adaptable, then it is worse than pen and paper. It’s an impediment.
Get to grips with containerization to cut through complexity
This is why service providers need to look at containerized applications. Gartner has predicted that by 2023, 70% of global organizations will be running more than two containerized applications — up from just 20% in 2019. The concept of containerization, in its simplest terms, is that software is packaged, with all ancillary processes, enabling it to be deployed at the discretion of the end user.
With containerization, service organizations can begin to introduce huge levels of flexibility further down the value chain, whether this is reverse or last mile logistics, virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). The options are vast.
Way up in the cloud or down on the ground: Deployment flexibility at the core of containerization
Cloud-based solutions and containerization are intrinsically linked. A cloud-first software product allows service organizations to wholly pass on the IT burden of managing upkeep, upgrades, licenses, and operations.
But a containerized product, one that lives natively lives in the cloud, can be just as easily packaged and deployed on a home server with the same internal structure, same APIs, and to the same effect. If your infrastructure requires that, cloud solutions can meet those needs, not dictate the terms of how you interact with the product.
Depending on the user, even the deployment of service software requires flexibility. Some service companies simply require, perhaps for regulatory reasons, their solutions to be managed on-premises. Others have a managed cloud space of their own that they want to employ.
Others are in a position to move to the cloud. None of these (or any other adoption permutation) is wrong, and software that supports that flexibility will be key.
Containerization opens the door to increased agility and new tech — enter Kubernetes
Once a service organization has a containerized software architecture deployed in a manner that works for its business, it can begin to introduce huge levels of flexibility further down the value chain. This could be introducing a new business model, such as reverse logistics, or new technician technologies, such as AR and VR and for expert-to-expert or expert-to-customer collaboration.
Kubernetes is the open-source technology that helps facilitate containerization. It’s a ‘must have’ for cloud computing, as it makes it easier to configure systems, increases reliability, allows for quicker software deployment, and improves the efficient use of compute resources. According to a study from VMware, 95% of participants realized benefits from Kubernetes, including 56% who said that they saw improved resource utilization.
Kubernetes-enabled software can quicken the pace for service companies to bring new features and capabilities to market and into the hands of customers. In turn, businesses themselves can quickly adapt to changes in the market and regulatory environment, and even turn that agility into a competitive advantage, which from a service perspective, only benefits the end-user tenfold.
Peak demand or lulls in business, your services will always be there
Containerization benefits are clear — it’s a multi-functional, multi-beneficial software approach that will only enhance service delivery. Kubernetes and containers are built to be highly scalable and can even be set up to scale services up and down in real time. When traffic to those servers increases or decreases, it offers a peace of mind that your services will always be readily available for employees and customers — not limited to the surge of demand dependent on market forces.
Raymond Jones is SVP of cloud operations at IFS.