Our industry partners are leading organisations in non-competing sectors who are able to benefit from each other’s experiences as well as from Alliance research. Their involvement is essential to our work, in ensuring its relevance and in helping us turn theory into practical tools and techniques.
Some examples of collaborative work with our partners are shown below:
Customer Service at CAT-Finning
Alliance researchers, Dr Florian Urmetzer and Mohamed Zaki and Alliance visitor, Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy, have recently been working with CAT-Finning to study the customer experience. A holistic approach was used, involving the customers’ cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm, including all customer touch points. The aim was to undertake a full range of interactions with the firm, viewing the customer experience as a process rather than an outcome. This involved investigating both the customer and employee perspectives. The initial research involved observations at Cannock and Winsford, as well as interviews with twenty employees. The touch points studied included the workshop service, spare parts, scheduling field service visits, field service engineers as well as sales (new and used). In the second phase the two researchers were invited by Finning to join a customer event to interview customers directly. Twenty in-depth customer interviews were conducted, including customers from construction, plant hire, quarry, and landfill. The next steps are to conduct more focused interviews with customers and staff, and to analyse the material gathered. It is envisaged that the study will be replicated within another Cambridge Service Alliance partner.
Research visit to Caterpillar Headquarters in Peoria, Illinois
Tom Bucklar from Technology and Solutions and Craig Olmstead from Global Services hosted a research visit at Caterpillar Headquarters. The Cambridge Service Alliance research team represented by Dr Florian Urmetzer, Dr Stefano Miraglia and Dr. Veronica Martinez explored a diversity of service issues including the customer service experience, the service ecosystems and the shift to services in Caterpillar.
Product safety in a world of services: through-life accountability at BAE Systems
Recent years have seen changes in the way that companies in a number of industries have responded to a changing market environment where the demand for intelligent service contracts and the requirements of corporate social responsibility continue to rise. Central to these changes is a modified approach to the theme of increasing services provision. Reductions in the delivery of new products and the extensions to life of existing products have forced companies to reconsider their existing product portfolios and how they can generate new business from the maintenance, through-life upgrade and support of the products they previously supplied. BAE Systems like others in the defence arena has done this and, in doing so, has considered what changes it has had to make, and continues to make, to the way in which it now looks at and ensures the safety and performance integrity of its products in all aspects of its operations.
A research paper prepared by the Alliance, in collaboration with BAE Systems, draws together the path that BAE Systems has taken (and continues to take) as it moves to delivery of a more service-oriented portfolio of products, and the research that the University of Cambridge has been pursuing to better understand how accountabilities are managed for service through-life. The paper represents initial thoughts and analysis on through-life accountability and recognises the need to pursue further research and analysis before the company has a more fully informed understanding of how it can best use this information to improve its service provision. [full report]
An education revolution: how Pearson is changing the way we learn
Big data is underpinning a new way of working, known as ‘competency-based education’, currently being developed in the US education system. A group of universities and colleges is already making huge steps in transforming the way they teach their students. They are using data to personalise the delivery of their courses so that each student progresses at the pace that suits them, whenever and wherever they like. In the old model, thousands of students arrive on campus at the start of the academic year and, regardless of their individual levels of attainment, work their way through their course until the moment of graduation. In the new data-driven model, universities will be able to monitor and measure a student’s performance, see how long it takes them to complete particular assignments and with what degree of success. Their curriculum is then tailored to take account of their preferences, their achievements and any difficulties they may have. For the students, this means a much more flexible way of working which really suits their needs and the opportunity to graduate more quickly. For the institutions, it means delivering better quality education which will result in better student outcomes, and being able to deploy their staff more efficiently and also more in line with teachers’ skills and interests. Both students and teachers will benefit from lower-cost, higher quality education.