Having conducted exclusive research into the use of Cloud based Field Service Management Systems in 2015, Field Service News and ClickSoftware have once again teamed up and returned to the topic one year on to see just how their predictions based on last year's findings have borne out.
In part one of this series we looked at exactly what those predictions last year were as well as some of the headline findings of this year's research. In part two of the series we explored the trends have emerged year on year plus Marina Stedman, Global Field Marketing Director, ClickSoftware offered her expert view as to what these trends mean for field service organisations.
In the third part of the series we looked at whether security remains the biggest barrier to adoption for those reluctant to move to a Cloud based FSM solution and Paul Whitelam, VP of Product Marketing, ClickSoftware, offers his expert view on the survey as a whole also...
Now in the concluding part of this feature we look at the benefits being felt by those who have moved to the Cloud, the remaining barriers to adoption and draw some overall conclusions
The benefits of moving to the Cloud:
The benefits of Cloud based solutions, whether it be a FSM solution or another business tool, are by now very well documented.
Key benefits of the Cloud include: less reliance and strain on internal IT departments, more manageable costs, built in disaster recovery, scalability, and easier implementation both of the system initially and also of upgrades and updates.
But what are the key benefits that companies that have actually moved to a Cloud based FSM solution are experiencing, having made the switch away from on-premise software?
We asked our respondents to identify both the key drivers for them moving to the Cloud and the biggest benefit they have experienced since having made the switch.
Interestingly, our results showed there is some variance between the two, indicating that after making the move, companies are discovering different benefits to those that they originally expected.
Firstly, let’s look at the drivers for selecting a Cloud based FSM system.
The most commonly cited driver for moving to the Cloud was that Cloud solutions offer greater flexibility and scalability, which 86% of companies using Cloud based FSM systems cited
Other commonly cited factors in driving companies to the Cloud were ‘easy remote access’ and ‘less reliance on IT’ both of which were cited by 63% of companies.
Meanwhile, improved functionality was also widely acknowledged to be another important consideration with exactly half of respondents citing this as a benefit that drove their decision to move to the Cloud.
However, when we turn our attention to the actual benefits that companies have experienced after moving to a Cloud based FSM system - we see that improved functionality is in fact the most commonly cited benefit with over
two thirds of companies (71%) identifying this as the biggest single benefit realised.
Alongside this, improved productivity is equally common at 68% and more manageable costs were also widely cited, with over half (57%) of our respondents stating they saw this as a major benefit.
Given our assertion that the move to the Cloud is heavily tied to the replacement-cycle of FSM systems, and because improved functionality and productivity are the most commonly cited benefits, we think it reasonable to assume that many companies who have yet to update their systems are now facing a competitive disadvantage by not doing so.
Over two thirds (70%) of companies using on-premise FSM systems have had their systems for more than 3 years.
The results undeniably prove that older systems are more likely to be on-premise, whilst more recently implemented systems will be Cloud based.
One of the widely cited benefits of Cloud based systems is the ease of installing system updates and the introduction of new features and functionality - and this is corroborated by the research findings as directly stated by those companies that have adopted Cloud based FSM systems.
In fact, this is highlighted perfectly by the fact that of those companies have made the move to a Cloud based FSM system 100% stated they would recommend the Cloud over an on-premise equivalent - the second time running that Cloud based systems were given such an overwhelming endorsement.
Remaining barriers to adoption:
As we touched on above, our two previous studies into the use and appetite for Cloud computing as a platform for FSM systems found security to be the ever present elephant in the room.
However, this year, for the first time ever, concerns amongst those yet to move away from on-premise software to Cloud based equivalents have been as much about connectivity issues as they have around security.
Of course, the ability to access the internet is a fundamental tenant of Cloud computing, so it is of little wonder that as concerns around security lessen to then connectivity will become the most pressing concern for those debating a move to the Cloud.
Security fears then came in as the second biggest concern cited by a fifth (20%) of companies
Whilst within the UK at least, 3G data signals have now reached a projected 97% coverage, not every country has such a widespread service. This may be why connectivity issues were the most commonly cited reason why companies do not feel confident in making a move to the Cloud with over a third (35%) of companies stating this is the single biggest concern around moving their FSM system to a Cloud based platform.
Security fears then came in as the second biggest concern cited by a fifth (20%) of companies - whilst issues with legacy systems were cited by 15% of organisations.
However, despite these concerns once again we have seen a year on year increase in the number of companies still using an on-premise solution considering a move to the Cloud for their next upgrade or iteration of a FSM system.
In fact the number of companies using on-premise FSM software stating that they will consider moving to the Cloud is now approaching almost three quarters (71%).
Cloud in other parts of the business:
As we move more firmly into a world of Big Data and real-time analytics the easy-flow of both customer and asset data between differing systems is absolutely vital, as is the ability for such systems to be able to communicate with each other.
Alongside the ongoing willingness for organisations to develop APIs, the advent of Cloud computing has been the major factor in enabling such a seamless flow of data.
But what other areas within a business are predominantly becoming Cloud based and how they complement any given FSM system?
75% of companies with a Cloud based FSM solution also using Cloud based CRM
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those companies that were using Cloud based FSM systems showed a greater tendency to use Cloud in other areas of their business than those using on-premise FSM solutions.
However, amongst both sets of respondents, the business tool most commonly running in the Cloud was CRM with 75% of companies with a Cloud based FSM solution also using Cloud based CRM and only 20% of those companies using on-premise FSM software having their CRM system based in the Cloud.
While we don’t know the background, we can speculate that this may be largely due to the dominance of Cloud based CRM solutions driven in part by Cloud only provider Salesforce. Their success has seen other key players within the CRM sector (such as Microsoft) focus heavily on delivering a Cloud solution as well as driving a number of smaller providers to offer similar Cloud only CRM models.
Another factor for consideration is the importance of moving data between service and sales focused systems.
It has long been a major focus for a number of field service organisations to better leverage the insight of their service teams to greater effect in terms of revenue generation and the Cloud can be a key enabler to help organisations achieve this more effectively.
The results of this trends-based research certainly support the assertions made twelve months ago.
Not only have we seen a continued increase in the number of companies using Cloud based FSM systems and replacing on-premise systems with Cloud-based solutions, we have also seen the rate at which this number is growing increase significantly at the same time In addition to this, we have seen an increase in the number of companies still using on premise FSM software who are actively looking to make a move to the Cloud when they next upgrade their FSM solution.
Meanwhile, fears around the security of the Cloud are beginning to reduce, particularly as understanding of the higher levels of security embedded within enterprise focused Cloud platforms improve.
Of those who have made the move to the Cloud, real life benefits of improved system functionality and enhanced productivity are widely felt
Of those who have made the move to the Cloud, real life benefits of improved system functionality and enhanced productivity are widely felt, as is the positive impact of the more manageable cost base of Cloud based FSM systems, usually offered on a Software as a Service basis.
While at the current time, there may still be more companies using on-premise FSM software than using Cloud based FSM systems, the shift towards the adoption of the Cloud that we identified within our previous research is indeed gaining further momentum and at a faster pace than ever before.
The research has also proven our previous assertion that the move to Cloud based FSM solutions is tied directly to the replacement cycle of FSM at large and the evidence would certainly suggest that as more companies continue to move onto next-generation FSM, the adoption of Cloud as the primary platform will become ever more prevalent.
It seems our prediction of a Cloud based future for most FSM system implementations looks set