Pressures impacting the Australian service industry

IFS Australia

By Warren Zietsman, Managing Director of IFS Australia and New Zealand
Wednesday, 03 May, 2023

Pressures impacting the Australian service industry

The service industry is the backbone of many major economies, with countries shaping their trade and operations on the success the industry provides. It currently makes up 79% of Australia’s and 65% of New Zealand’s economic activity and also holds the strongest link between business and consumer.

Given the industry’s importance, service industry leaders are under constant pressure to develop superior offerings to stand out against competitors, increase profit margins and secure customer loyalty, while driving circular economy initiatives and demonstrating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) progress.

Combined with a litany of external economic forces influencing the operation of businesses, the service industry has gone through major changes in the past three years.

It’s something we see every day. As service industry professionals look to recover from the effects of the pandemic, businesses must ensure they are prioritising innovation that will maximise efficiency and reduce costs.

We know these businesses are under increasing pressure. To this end, we recently published the IFS State of Service research, a global study that explores the biggest challenges and key priorities for field service providers (FSPs) in the next 12 months.

The research found that the skilled worker crisis, outdated and insufficient Field Service Management (FSM) technologies, and increased regulatory requirements are having the greatest impacts on the Australian service industry.

But what does this mean for businesses, and how do they ensure they remain ahead of competitors in an increasingly competitive market?

Cutting out inefficiencies in your business

The talent war in Australia and New Zealand does not look to be easing anytime soon. According to the research, 60% of New Zealand and 47% of Australian companies cited the lack of skilled labour as their number one challenge.

Interactivity between senior leadership in a business can often be difficult. Leaders often become siloed in their domain and cannot see what others in their organisations are doing. For example, while HR managers must focus on talent acquisition and retention, IT leaders prioritise forward-thinking digital infrastructure to alleviate the stresses of a shortened workforce.

Building innovative solutions is about having an integrated and holistic approach where IT leaders and HR managers are working hand-in-glove to ensure operations remain efficient while retaining the right talent at the right time. If businesses have absolute clarity over their operations, then they may realise that they are not so short on skilled workers after all. These leaders must collaborate to invest in intelligent, integrated systems that help organisations prioritise what components of their operations require more or fewer staff to deliver on their Moment of Service. These systems assist organisations to allocate their resources and reduce the need for manual intervention.

Ensuring that your business has the best tools for the job at hand

Nearly half of service providers are lagging with production output due to outdated technology. In an ultra-competitive environment, you need every little advantage and having the right technology holds you in good stead with customers.

Our research found that 46% of Australian and 42% of New Zealand companies cited that their organisation utilised outdated or insufficient FSM technologies — among the highest of all global markets surveyed. This is a significant challenge because it hampers productivity and efficiency, leading to delays and customer dissatisfaction.

Outdated and insufficient technologies not only impact productivity but also affect worker morale, as employees know that their time is often wasted on tasks that could be streamlined or completed more efficiently.

When businesses adopt modern, cloud-based FSM systems, service industry professionals are provided with full visibility on all operations. These systems help organisations streamline their operations, reduce costs and improve employee and customer satisfaction. Real-time data on the status of jobs, equipment and personnel helps organisations make informed decisions and respond quickly to changing conditions.

How to make the most of strict government regulations

The advent of social media has seen immense pressure placed on governments to ensure that corporations do right by both consumers and the environment, in turn leading to the birth of mandates that greatly impact operations for businesses in the service industry.

The IFS State of Service research found that 39% of Australian and 50% of New Zealand organisations agreed that increased regulatory requirements were a significant challenge to operations. Data privacy and digital security have become a main priority for consumers in the wake of increased data breaches, as well as the need to comply with new environmental and safety regulations.

These regulatory requirements aren’t the worst things for businesses, as they can be utilised to redirect an organisation’s purpose and align itself with its local market’s consumer expectations. By adopting cloud-based, unified data systems, organisations are afforded greater peace of mind knowing that they do not need to constantly monitor to ensure they are meeting regulatory pressures. Real-time data on compliance issues allows organisations to quickly identify areas of non-compliance and take corrective action before they become issues.

What next for the Australian and New Zealand service industry?

Service industry leaders need to take a proactive approach to these challenges and embrace the future. Our research demonstrates that the Australian and New Zealand service industry is facing significant pressures around skilled worker shortages, insufficient and outdated technologies, and stronger regulatory requirements, all of which negatively impact efficiency and final product delivery.

Senior decision-makers and business leaders are now moving away from products designed to address a specific function or issue. Instead, they are searching for a precise solution to their problems that can give them the capability they require at the point of need, rather than months down the line.

What works in such an environment is not a traditional technology software implementation. It is a composable approach that allows the customer to rapidly configure the solution in a way that meets its precise needs across those traditional software categories.

By prioritising forward-thinking digital infrastructure, adopting intelligent, integrated systems, and using cloud-based, unified data systems, organisations can overcome these challenges and thrive in a competitive market. Organisations can not only overcome these challenges but also increase their operational efficiency, improve customer satisfaction rates and drive revenue growth.

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