Interview with Jean de Broissia – Praxedo
My name is Jean de Broissia, and I am the chief executive and co-founder of Praxedo, a software publisher that manages an SaaS maintenance management platform. Our target market involves businesses with field service technicians, and we offer a complete software suite for them that ranges from a mobile app used by technicians through to a web planning and route optimisation platform, aimed at dispatchers and activity management.
SSC: Does mobility generate new business for you?
JdB: Mobility, but also real-time solutions that make it possible to link workers in the field and dispatchers, and consequently to create a new way of organising the business. In the world as it was before, field technicians would head out in the morning with paper-based job sheets and would complete their day’s work and their jobs before returning in the evening or even at the end of the week with their timesheets. Now, however, thanks to real-time solutions and mobility, we know exactly where technicians are along their routes, and you can therefore revise the route during the course of the day, for example, which can lead to fairly significant productivity gains. This completely changes the way that these maintenance businesses with technicians in the field work.
SSC: Will Artificial Intelligence be integrated into mobility solutions? If so, how?
JdB: To a certain extent, there are already use cases where this is possible, but we anticipate that it will extend much further than that. For example, we activity management for dispatchers using past data to make it easier to diagnose an issue and understand which parts are required to complete a repair, so that the technician will show up in a van with the right part or parts to achieve a “first time fix,” i.e., that the incident can be repaired on the first occasion with no need to return later. Artificial intelligence could also be used to predict the time taken for each engagement. For example, a provisional schedule, for tomorrow or next week, could take into account the fact that it’s a Thursday afternoon or use weather forecast to predict how long it will take to complete the visit. In addition, there are also use cases relating to the quality of information transmitted by technicians. Often, technicians provide timesheets or records where there are mistakes, and artificial intelligence could be used to identify these mistakes to improve the quality of the data that is fed back into the information system.
SSC: How exactly can hyper-mobility be reconciled with the need for safety and security?
JdB: Firstly, let’s remember that personal safety is an important aspect, and we have a lot of faith in new tools that technicians will be using in the future, and which will ensure their own personal safety. For example, I’m thinking of tools such as the Apple Watch, which can measure a sudden drop or use an accelerometer or a heart rate sensor to generate alerts and possibly trigger a notification or an emergency response. The second aspect of safety and security, in relation to our role as an SaaS provider, because we host our customers’ data, is platform security, which is essential and something that both our customers and our users expect. Consequently, even though this is something that we were doing before GDPR, we are taking things even further in this direction, attacking the issue from a number of sides, in terms of seeking out potential weak spots on the Praxedo platform and fixing them, working with external companies who are helping us to identify those issues. We’re also doing the same thing to ensure that the data on the platform is protected effectively, so that it is not exposed, or at least minimising it so that it is only exposed when absolutely necessary. A typical example is our use case for the new version that’s coming out today, to ensure that phone numbers are kept hidden, so that when techs call the end user, they can do so without knowing the customer’s phone number, and conversely, when the end customer calls the technician. We can therefore come up with other solutions to secure access to personal data.
SSC: You’re a French firm. Do you think that Europe has a chance against giant American and Chinese companies?
JdB: Of course; otherwise, I’d just give up. We’re firmly convinced of the value in what we create. We’ve already tested our products in international markets, even though we are a French company and based in Paris. At Praxedo, we started to export three or four years ago. We’ve now opened three zones outside France: Germany, Austria and Switzerland, followed by Canada and now Spain. Each time we enter an international market, we consider the value that we add to this specific market in terms of managing field service operations. By that, I mean that we have nothing to be ashamed of in terms of French innovation, because systematically we are finding new markets, where there is a strong demand and there is nothing obviously comparable that is in advance of what we are offering, either in terms of the solution or the company itself. Yes, we are ambitious – and there are good reasons for that.
SSC: What is your dream and vision for the next three years?
JdB: Clearly, we are a niche player, i.e., our aim is to be positioned as an expert in the “field service management” market, and our aim is to innovate to deliver these new features for our existing customers as well as expanding our customer base. Our aims for the future are both for R&D into the product and to develop the business, particularly internationally, so that we at Praxedo can support our customers, who are often large corporations that span multiple continents.
Thank you Jean!
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