Success Science: It’s Going to Be Monumental in the Brave, New World of Outcome Services

Posted by on

“The idea is not to ‘own’ the customer, but to create a road map that sales, service, and other supporting functions can follow to ensure optimal customer outcomes.”

Success Science: Science—the study of the science behind customer success.In just a few weeks at the Technology Services World (TSW) Service Transformations conference in Las Vegas, our much-anticipated book,B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship, officially hits the streets. In B4B, my coauthors Todd Hewlin, Thomas Lah, and I frame what is possible in an age where suppliers are connected to their customers in real time.

There’s already tremendous buzz about B4B, as many have downloaded and read chapter one (accessible here). One of the key new ideas we discuss in the book is Success Science, and it’s such a monumental concept, that I wanted to share a bit on the topic with you before the official book launch, including the way we stumbled upon this big idea.

Success ScienceHow It Began

Success Science was first discussed at the fall 2012 Technology Services World conference, by an invitation-only specializedroundtable of leading executives in the tech services space.We—including myself, Todd, and Thomas, as well as the rest of thegroup—were talking about the changing nature of service employee skills needed by tech suppliers as we move to the era of consumption economics.

It was a difficult discussion to have. We were talking about many great employees with years of dedication and service to our companies, but who may be lacking the needed skill sets for the future. It boiled down to the fact that tech suppliers need employees who could find out what “right” looked like for the customer—and not those who could troubleshoot what “wrong” looked like with the product. As we delved deeper into this discussion, an epiphany occurred to each person in that room. This excerpt from the book describes it best:

At one point, one of the [B4B] authors asked a simple question of the attendees: “As suppliers, how many of you have a permanent function at your company—a team of people who study how your most successful customers became your most successful customers?” Guess what the answer was? None. We all—every one of us in the room at that moment—knew immediately that this was not good. “How can that be?” we asked rhetorically. Then, as if out of the mouths of babes, we said it: “Don’t we need to be studying that? Don’t we need some kind of . . . ah . . . er . . . Success Science?”

And there it was: Success Science—the study of the science behind customer success. There were a lot of shaking heads in the room. Only one company out of the 40 present said it had a capability within its company that was even remotely close. Sure everyone had product developers or product marketing managers who were trying to figure out which features customers wanted so the company could make its products sell better, but no one was really trying formally to sort out all of the best practices of customers who took that functionality and escorted it all the way through to optimized business outcomes. That sounded like a worthy goal, like a business capability that most suppliers were going to need in the new world of consumption economics.

More on Success Science from B4B:

Success Science is best defined as a constant process—not a one-time project—that synthesizes multiple data and information inputs in a structured manner to articulate a solution’s key success factors and the best practices to achieve them. Once understood, a supplier can use it to reproduce those conditions in as many customer sites as possible.

With the shift to XaaS (even without it!), suppliers need to start with a better understanding of who their most successful customers are. Even that turns out to be a more hotly debated topic than you might think. Only by doing so can they then begin to study them and design a clear path to creating multiple high-value, high-consuming customers. [Further ahead in the book], we will talk about the new, more risky break even profile that suppliers take on in XaaS deals. Their profits will no longer be locked in once the up-front contract is signed. They will only make money if the customer is a high-consuming one. For that reason alone, Success Science is going to be huge. That is why we are working closely with our friends on the consulting side of PwC not only to define its key attributes, but also to understand exactly what science should be brought to bear.

What Success Science Might Look Like in Your Business

Success Science doesn’t have to be a new organizational department all on its own, but that certainly is a viable option. Or it could be a new function performed by an existing department within the supplier. The idea is not to “own” the customer, but to create a road map that sales, service, and other supporting functions can follow to ensure optimal customer outcomes.

Without running the risk of giving out too much of the Success Science concept that’s fully revealed in detail in the book, take a look at this partial graphic that includes a portion of the Success Science concept in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Success Science—Sample Capabilities

Success Science Sample Capabilities
Many new capabilities are required if a supplier is to be successful. This is just a partial illustration. Want us to fill in the blanks for you on the full Success Science concept? Be at TSW Service Transformations on October 21 to grab your complimentary copy of the book, meet all three of authors in person, and hear our keynote sessions focused on concepts inside the book. B4B. It’s a bona fide game changer. Are you ready for a whole new (successful!) ballgame? We know we are, and at TSIA, we’re always here for you should you have any questions along the way. It’s going to be a great and successful ride into the future!

 B4B will also be available on Amazon post-TSW. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you at TSW! 

— J.B. Wood
President and CEO
Technology Services Industry Association


Download Chapter 1 of B4B! 

Download Chapter 1 of B4B here!

B4B Book Cover




About the Authors of B4B

J.B. Wood is president and CEO of the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). He is a frequent industry speaker, author of the popular books Complexity Avalanche: Overcoming the Threat to Technology Adoption (2009) and Consumption Economics: The New Rules of Tech (2011), and has appeared in Fortune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications. Through TSIA, Wood works with the world’s largest tech companies on strategies to extend their innovation platform beyond the lab and into the customer experience. He was formerly the CEO of Prognostics and Executive Vice President of InsightExpress. Wood’s opening keynote at TSW is where the book will officially launch. Register today, and don’t miss his opening TSW keynote address: “B4B: The Next Generation of Technology-Fueled, Data-Driven Operating Models.” 

Todd Hewlin is managing director at TCG Advisors. He draws on his background as a strategist, investor, and operator to help companies achieve breakout growth. He is a noted author and speaker on growth strategy with articles published in Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterly. Hewlin’s past clients are market leaders in hardware, software, services, and cloud, including Cisco, NetApp, GE,, Rackspace, Sybase, and McAfee. He has also served on the boards of private and public companies and is currently a director of tech services innovator TSIA. Prior to TCG Advisors, he ran the $1.5 billion product business at enterprise mobility leader Symbol Technologies. Earlier in his career, he was a managing director at Internet Capital Group and a partner at McKinsey & Company. Hewlin is also co-author of Consumption Economics: The New Rules of Tech (2011).Don’t miss Hewlin’s TSW keynote, “Navigating B4B.”

Thomas Lah is executive director of TSIA. Since 1996, he has helped a broad range of companies establish or improve their professional services organizations and is known worldwide for his incisive analysis, strategic thinking, and creative solutions. He is a sought-after industry speaker and has authored several books, including Building Professional Services: The Sirens’ Song (2002), Mastering Professional Services (2005), and Bridging the Services Chasm (2009). Lah is also co-author of Consumption Economics: The New Rules of Tech (2011). Don’t miss Lah’s closing TSW keynote, “Consequences of B4B.”


Authors of B4B
Pictured L-R: Thomas Lah, J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to the Inside Technology Services blog so you don't miss an article! You can subscribe by email or RSS feed at the top of this page!

Topics: outcome-based services, customer success, B4B, customer outcomes


Subscribe to the Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all

Follow TSIA