CrossCom: Predictive Analytics for Optimal Maintenance

CrossCom: Predictive Analytics for Optimal Maintenance

CIO VendorGreg Miller, President & CEO The retail industry today is more competitive than ever and today’s successful retailers are challenged with providing unique in-store experiences to attract consumers. Traditional brick and mortar retailers are working to seamlessly integrate their online shopping experience. In-store technology must enhance the shopping experience as retailers continue to look for ways to gain market share, drawing customers away from their computers and into their stores. Now, more than ever, customers are interacting directly with in-store systems, and technology failures can disrupt the experience and impact customer loyalty, creating the risk that the consumer will choose a competitive brand where they can get reliable and efficient service.

Fueled by the direct comparison to online shopping, there is constant pressure to deliver a systems experience that is both simple and exceptionally reliable. This presents a unique set of challenges to geographically dispersed organizations. A good team supporting a large corporate campus can take a hands-on approach to root cause analysis, and quickly identify trends. When thousands of assets are spread across the globe, it can be nearly impossible to spot these trends quickly. Too often, the end user pays the price for this complexity.

CrossCom has designed their support program with these challenges in mind. Their goal is to extend the assets’ useful life and to use their proprietary system of analytics and governance to proactively prevent technology failures. “No one else is trying to do maintenance in this way,” says Miller. “Our programs are designed to insure that the in-store customer doesn’t have to deal with the hassle of a technology outage. In addition to the asset up-time, our customers experience overall cost savings that result from preventing repeated hardware failures.”

"The accountability we uphold in customer relationships is a part of our work culture"

CrossCom has created this revolutionary approach to system maintenance by taking advantage of their long standing practice of measuring failure rates and their commitment to technology enabled solutions. Leveraging predictive analytics to foresee the likeliness of component failure, CrossCom designs a support program that quietly delivers transformational change into the retail technology infrastructure. Instead of simply reacting to problems when they occur, CrossCom is able to use trending data to predict asset failure and reduce future technology failures. Getting ahead of future issues significantly reduces the delivery cost and equipment down time for CrossCom’s customers. The new approach—a step away from the fast reactive nature of traditional maintenance—required CrossCom to take into account predictable and random factors that could contribute to maintenance incidents.

We can walk into a store and predict the cost structures for our customers, with a high degree of certainty due to our mature predictive failure models

CrossCom rose above the ‘technician’s intuition’ with empirically-proven statistics and results. The game changed for CrossCom’s retail customers.

To accurately assess why each technology asset failed, the company built a sophisticated system that inherently measures these factors throughout their interaction with the environment–from the help desk, to the field technician, and the bench repair specialist. While many IT shops have aggressively pursued best practices in Incident Management, they often lose visibility into the problem once the help desk agent hangs up the phone. CrossCom has integrated their systems platform with most major Incident Management platforms, effectively closing the loop for root cause analysis. When this comprehensive visibility is paired to an effective IT governance platform, the infrastructure quickly stabilizes to predictable normalized failure rates.

“We can walk into a store and predict the cost structures for our customers with a high degree of certainty due to our mature predictive failure models. Moreover, the cost of maintenance, lead time, and the number of events are considerably reduced, since we design our maintenance plan to reduce these events,” explains Miller.

The design of the algorithms is based on a thorough working knowledge of the lifecycle of technology and its components gained from 35 years of repairing assets in a retail environment. CrossCom categorizes and manages every industry component with unique asset tags. Every touch and repair of a component is tracked against this asset tag. The algorithms provide valuable insight into the retailer’s environment. Using these carefully predicting expected component failure rates as a baseline, CrossCom watches for any deviation from these predicted norms and raises an early alarm. Their technicians delve into these alarms to quickly determine the root cause. In many cases, this can indicate a manufacturing defect or improper installation. More often, these failures are related to poorly vetted system changes. In the latter case, fast diagnosis and direct communication can dramatically limit the impact of changes rolled out in the environment.

The ability to be proactive in the management and maintenance of retail assets yields another important financial advantage to CrossCom’s customers.
With expanded infrastructures, ecommerce initiatives, and expensive security measures competing for scarce budget dollars, CIOs leverage CrossCom’s consultative model to make important decisions and chalk the equipment purchase roadmap for the retail chain.

CrossCom’s ability to identify meaningful trends in the technology infrastructure is enabled by its breadth of service offerings. The company‘s ‘Express Restore’ asset refurbishment service is offered at the depot, digital, and full-board levels. Depot level repairs involve storage and restoration of their customers' full range of equipment from scanner scales and POS lanes to IVRs, security, and paging equipment. Digital repair includes network, communications, mobile, and other asset types that are included in an all-in maintenance contract. CrossCom’s deployment capabilities are outlined by sophistication in logistics and pre-configuration of equipment, helping the company execute high-speed-to-market projects. Field service maintenance is spearheaded by CrossCom’s Tulsa-based onshore Support Desk—that manages the front-end of service calls through incident management. The helpdesk handles incidents at multiple levels of urgency, following which a dispatch is sent to an integrated field service team. Since the entire process is handled in a single-vendor environment, CrossCom eliminates the hassles of back and forth in maintenance service calls.

The value of this approach came to light recently with a retailer recently onboarded who had many types of equipment from multiple vendors at their store. Unsurprisingly, the chain had thousands of services calls every year, and the meantime for each ticket was many days long due to a lengthy process that involved multi-vendor help desks, administrators, vendors, and third-party maintenance technicians hired for the job. Apart from reducing costs by using their predictive mathematical model, CrossCom brought down the service occurrences and reduced the repair by several days. “The accountability we uphold in customer relationships is a part of our work culture. We provide cost reduction purely based on optimization of resources and our customers’ investments,” highlights Miller.

The technological advancements brought about by the company are equally rivaled by its global expansion. CrossCom currently has offices in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and now sees the rising potential for intellectual consulting in Asian and European markets.

“The long-term relationships we forge with our customers are because of a resilient team of bright, experienced leaders.” Having led CrossCom for the past 16 years, Miller credits the company’s success entirely to its leadership team and the culture they have created. “It has never been more complicated to be a leader. As a result of the constantly changing environment, we, like our customers, are continually preparing for a future that’s totally unknown. Disruption popping up everywhere force organizations to innovate rapidly and predict where to invest for future growth. Every business model is being turned on its head. The only sustainable currency any business has right now that competitors can’t steal is its leadership and ability to build out high performing teams. People want something they can believe in. CrossCom’s leadership team brings a transformative approach by way of its culture and processes to retailers seeking world-class technology experience for their in-store customers,” concludes Miller.