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A little data goes a long way

How businesses are transforming from selling things to selling services


Recently David Sherburne blogged about Digital Transformation as a shift from selling things to selling services, which inspired me to bring him on the Minerva PLM TV show.

David and I used to work together years ago in an IT project at Carestream Health where he served as IT director and was responsible for the IT systems supporting the engineering processes.

Having spent 20+ years in Medical Device product development, David Sherburne is taking his experience from the engineering and IT sides to help companies formulate a strategy around connected products. In his blog, he focuses on the future of engineering software and where connectivity is going.

This includes steps such as getting charters together, understanding requirements, and more. His point about Digital Transformation as a shift from selling things to selling services?

Companies sell a thing - a widget, software, products. What Dave saw happening in working with connectivity - is that you get information that changes the way you sell. He realized early on with Carestream's advanced connectivity how the shift from selling things to selling services was naturally happening.

David shares logical steps to go beyond gathering data. Look first internally and become aware. Then use the data to provide better service. Become more proactive. And ultimately provide matrix offerings that vastly improve customer experience and provider portfolio.

In this blog, I’ve captured a few pointers from our conversation.

You can also watch the complete episode on YouTube: Digital Transformation as a Shift from Selling Things to Selling Services

Selling services – not Products

Back in 2014 when David was at Carestream Health working on connected devices, he noticed one thing. When you connect a device, it enables you to receive critical information from that device, like how it is performing in the field, maintenance, and service, and so on.

Before, companies used to sell a product, like a car, hand it over to the customer who had to deal with service and maintenance, call the mechanic if the car broke down, etc.

With this information at hand, businesses are able to change the way they sell and service a device and how they respond to their customers. Connected products deliver an advanced experience, so you are now able to proactively communicate to the customer and offer service and maintenance to avoid the broken car scenario.

Data are opening the field performance and service game to companies so they can go that step beyond just selling a product to actually sell a service or experience to the customer.

To enable this shift, companies usually go through a couple of transformative stages. David sees these 3 stages

3 stages of shift:

  • 1. Data aware:

When companies begin with connected products, they gather data and try to sort through what the incoming data means to the business. So, when companies are becoming data aware and realizing what they can do with their data, they typically begin to look internally, trying to optimize their service organization and use that data at first to really try to become better at service and maintenance. The next level is to be able to go fix something before it actually breaks. For the customer, it might mean a lot of time saved if the data-aware company reacts to a problem before it becomes a problem.

  • 2. Customer aware:

Speaking of using data to improve service performance. You can make a dent in your customer loyalty by being more proactive. And that is something customers notice.

A good example from David’s own life is this one: Back in the day when cell phones came on the market, there were data limits, text limits, and so on. David had teenage kids at that time and he sometimes got a bill, it'd be like 350 or 400 bucks or something because he was not warned beforehand when the included texts were used, and the kids were going crazy, sending like 3 000 texts a month and you get this huge bill and then you have to call up and do an argument with the service provider. Then one day, they got more proactive and warned David when the text limits and data limits were close to being reached. That was very helpful because it saved David a lot of time and effort, not having to be surprised by some huge bill at the end of the month.

A little bit of data and data awareness goes a long way to helping your customers and helping your own business.

  • 3. Market aware:

Data enables you to see trends in industries, and it enables companies to move into the customer space and help customers with their operations. David mentions an example from the medical marketplace, where Carestream Health had some sensitive detectors, and they got dropped in the marketplace, so they were able to be able to tell customers this thing got dropped at this time by this technician so you know we need to kind of take a look at so they were able to help customers with their own operations

So, once data-enabled & data-driven companies are ready to move to this more advanced step, you can begin to actually look at the marketplace, understand how the marketplace can affect you AND your customers by the information coming from your piece of equipment or your service, phone app, etc. Companies are then able to offer valuable insights into where competitors are going in the marketplace. That could open up for partnerships and new revenue opportunities. As companies get into partnerships and get into expanding the marketplace in the future, they potentially will become a strategic partner with customers and open up large revenue opportunities to be able to share and drive efficiencies across the marketplace and the supply chains.


Additional Points of Consideration

David believes that companies will increasingly move from being very internally focused to being very customer focused. With these new opportunities, companies really have to understand their customers in a different way than in the past. Now, companies need to sell a piece of equipment AND know how their customers are using that equipment in their operation. They also need to understand how the marketplace uses this device and what it can do and what data from that device can impact customers and their operation and, in the marketplace, overall.


Keep the Conversation Going

What are your takeaways? What questions do you have? Share them with the community and keep the conversation going.

Want to share your story? Drop me a line or send me an email at I’d love to hear from you.

About the author

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore has more than 15 years of experience in Business Transformation across different industries. Her extensive experience includes helping companies navigate complex regulatory requirements through software solutions. She has been developing and deploying large, multi-faceted enterprise software project, driving revenues as well as market adoption.

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