by Keith Collins

Service economy ushers in Results-as-a-Service

May 30, 2017
Software Development

Ownership may be overrated. Think ‘service’ instead.

The Agricultural Age moved humans from nomads to farmers. The Industrial Age transitioned society from hammers and chisels to steam engines and cotton gins. The Information Age put the focus on data and computers. Today that reliance on technology has given us options to buy valuable services as an alternative to owning tangible goods. We have entered into a new Service Age.

If you don’t have a vehicle and need to get from point A to point B, you can use UBER. If you’re visiting family and need a little more elbow room than a hotel provides, tap into AirBnB. If your car is dirty and you don’t have the time or supplies to do it yourself, call a service like North Carolina-based Spiffy. You don’t need a bucket, a sponge or elbow grease to make your car shine. The Spiffy app summons a fully equipped skilled technician, and your vehicle gets cleaned with environmentally friendly products and techniques.  

“We wanted to disrupt the car wash industry by providing a solution that starts with the customer experience output first and works backward,” Spiffy CEO Scot Wingo said. “Busy lives mean a large percentage of consumers are convenience oriented. Just look at the rise of Amazon Prime — it’s now in more than 60 million U.S. households. If they can have someone ‘do it for them’ rather than DIY, they will. We believe other services will go digital, too, because consumers prefer that UBER-like transparency, convenience, immediacy and mobility for services.”

With service businesses, society taps into a modern network of trained professionals who solve problems. And when you get right down to it, don’t we all ultimately want answers to our problems without a fuss?

Service applies to CIOs, too

If you’re a CIO tasked with delivering data-driven answers that will keep your business sharp, but you’re thwarted by data challenges coupled with staff, infrastructure and experience limitations, remember that you live in the Service Age. My car was dirty: Spiffy solved my problem. The same service-driven business model can apply to IT and analytics, too. I think of it as “Results-as-a-Service.”

We’re all familiar with the “-as-a-Service” family in IT: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In my mind, these more senior members of the “-as-a-Service” family represent the technology plumbing of an enterprise. Results-as-a-Service is the water.

A Results-as-a-Service team should offer you the opportunity to leverage analytics in a new way. The team collaborates with you, and comes back with the answers you need. It’s a refreshing drink of water when you need it the most. No delay in deploying infrastructure, software or expertise.  

Couldn’t we just call a consultant?

In years past, you may have been able to call on a lone consultant riding in on her trusty laptop to help solve your data challenges and find answers … eventually. But data is too unwieldy today. Even the best laptops don’t offer enough computing power to chew through data fast enough, accurately enough or securely enough to meet your needs in an always-connected world.

The sheer scale and complexity of data now requires more than a lone ranger. You need a global network of skilled data scientists with diverse expertise backed by a secure, modern computing infrastructure. They are there when you need them, do the job, and leave you with answers to improve your business.   

Become nimble in the data stream

For most people, data management, business intelligence and predictive analytics don’t fit neatly into the SaaS bucket or the PaaS bucket. Think of SaaS, and you probably envision well-defined business transaction systems. But we don’t operate in a defined, static environment anymore. Data comes from dissimilar sources — sensors, beacons, RFID tags, cell phones, to name a few — so analytics must be nimble enough to meet the challenge of finding answers in ever-flowing data streams.

Is the latest software package going to deliver the answers you need to make your business more competitive if you don’t have the in-house expertise to pull it off? Will the fastest microprocessor help you arrive at your destination on time?

Expect a new entry in the “-as-a-Service” group. Results-as-a-Service will grow to support that flexible state of being I refer to as “The Possible.” It’s innovative. And, as with most new things, some people may perceive it as messy and unsettling. Others — myself included — view it as an exciting new chapter in the analytics business.

Is it time to step back and consider what you really need to reach your organization’s goals? Ownership has limitations and comes with additional costs. Expand your horizons and explore your new Possible with Results-as-a-Service.