Veronica Martin spoke to Michael Ouissi, Group COO at IFS, during IFS Connect Middle East to discuss the functionalities and enhancements the latest IFS Cloud release brings, how it supports organisations and enables customers to better understand key operational challenges.
What specific functionalities and enhancements does the latest IFS Cloud release bring to industries such as service management to accelerate digitalisation across business operations?
There’s a long list of things that have been added to the latest release. I want to pick a few just because they make a huge difference in terms of both customer productivity, but also how we help customers to be more compliant and reduce their carbon footprint. One is our maintenance shadowing optimisation where, with AI and machine learning technology that we embed into our scheduling optimisation, we are helping clients to predict and reduce the number of failures in production and maintenance, so that they can have more efficient maintenance, procedures, operations, and actually reduce their carbon footprint by being just a much more efficient organisation.
The second piece is in terms of Field Service Management. For example, embedding our remote assistance technology into the Field Service management will help customers to increase first time fixed rates because you can actually go through it with an end customer now and have a look at what’s wrong. For instance, when the washing machine has got a failure, you can actually get onto a call with your mobile phone as a customer. You’ll have a service technician in the background, somewhere remotely that can actually read out error codes and can tell you what the problem is.
He can actually also tell you, can you lift that lid? So, when the service technician then goes out and helps a customer, he has the right spare parts on the van and knows how to repair them. All of this has come as an additional functionality into the platform, making sure the skill the technician has are also the skills that the customer requires.
Can you provide an overview of the company’s growth in the region?
We are growing fast and a lot. If you look at the partner, good indicators will be the partner ecosystem, how that’s growing and our employee growth. We are definitely growing faster than the average company in this region.
In a world of constant change, how does the latest IFS Cloud release support organizations in enhancing business agility, building resilience and mitigating risk?
Whatever we do is industry focused. In terms of supply chain resilience, we have added a lot of functionality over the past 12 months and also in this release that will actually help you create more visibility of your exposure in your supply chain and then act proactively on that in terms of agility, the adoption of new technology.
If you are a customer on IFS cloud, you can now switch that on and actually disrupt the service in your industry, so you can be agile and respond to customer responses where you get feedback that your service isn’t great. Now you can actually very easily switch on that functionality and say, look, dear customer, just help me a little bit understanding what we’re doing and what we’re facing, and then I can go and make sure I’ve got the right person to fix this.
When you’re calling a call centre agent and that person could then actually say, let me hook you up with somebody who actually will just go through the errors with you. You’ll get a call in five minutes. That is the kind of agility that customers expect and is one example of how we help customers to disrupt service, be more agile and respond to customer requirements.
How does IFS Cloud enable customers to better understand key operational challenges, work more efficiently, and increase productivity through automation and business intelligence?
First of all, we’ve just introduced capabilities to make sure that, for example, in terms of your assets, what is the health of your assets, what’s the performance of your assets? Then go in there and say: this is how we are and what you need to do. This is how you need to maintain the asset. These are the spare parts you need. Do you have best spare parts in stock?
If you don’t have them in stock, you will actually want to extend the life of that one part as much as you can. You will have a view of the 3D model of the asset, and then send somebody to do whatever they can to maintain the asset until you’ve got a spare part. Operational productivity is not just visibility, but also action. How can I drive the right understanding of what’s going wrong? I can see something is going wrong, but I need to understand it and figure, do I actually have in stock what I need in terms of skills and spare parts to fix the problem? If I don’t, what other route do I have to extend the life of the asset, so my operational performance doesn’t drop?
In terms of ESG goals, how does the latest update of IFS Cloud help organizations measure emissions, achieve objectives profitably, and support sustainable and circular manufacturing operations?
We have increased the scope of our ESG reporting capabilities regarding carbon footprint. We are also now complying with regulations that have been set out in the EU for further reporting requirements. In terms of circular manufacturing, we have added capabilities into our manufacturing platform that actually support the reporting, and the documentation of what material has gone into where. We are doing a lot in all those areas.
Can you share examples of how IFS Pioneer customers have leveraged IFS Cloud to develop business resiliency, drive innovation, differentiation and future growth?
We have been focused on different things we wanted to achieve with pioneer customers. When we are talking business resilience, we have made supply chains much more resilient to external shocks. The connectivity between a factory, spare and production parts and supply chain, making sure that’s a full circle and we can help the customer get superior visibility, but also then take action in terms of, where do I need to change my levels of inventory? Where can I predict I am going to be running out of production and spare parts or anything I require? Our focus is to improve supply chain resilience and become more agile every day.