According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026 about 90% of job growth will be in service producing industries. Sears is embarking on what might be a crazy idea that they can revive their retail model by making the stores smaller and what looks like increasing the level of service or service offerings related to what they sell. Is this where the new jobs will come from, purchasers getting more service?
The U.S. BOL stats indicate that the number two jobs creator will be in Professional and Business Services and number 12 will be Information, including data processing and hosting. Business software providers must fit into one of those two categories. However, software providers, like Retailers, can suffer from a purchase decision based primarily on cost and functionality. Should software firms follow Sears formula and not only provide technology but provide service?
There are software solutions in abundance for virtually all business needs. After price and functionality comparisons there will still be many viable solutions available. Will service become a more important contributor to the decision? It’s important to evaluate and value the service that’s needed to ensure your software meets company needs for a given time period. But service is not an easy component of the purchase decision to put a value on.
Service value may be a function of the several factors. How critical is the up time for a particular software to the functioning of the company and its daily operations? Does the software have many users or is it a middleware? Does the software rely on data input from users or data feeds from other applications? What should be the expectation for ongoing service given your company’s situation, ie. growth mode, changing industry, in-house IT or outsourced?
The type of software will certainly help frame the computation of service value. Software providers and their business partners absolutely should focus on providing good, friendly tech support. That is a no brainer. Companies should look beyond just help desk and technical service though. Is there a closely correlated service that is ancillary that can benefit the company. For instance, a document management software provider also providing data migration or data capture services.
Software providers need to work with their customers to find solutions to business problems. Those solutions may be functional tweaks to the software, but they can also be value added services that directly compliment the product. Sears may have a good idea. It does seem to make sense that the refrigerator eventually is going to need a repair or new video doorbell might need installation.