A new era for IFS...

Jun 18, 2018 • EQTERPFeaturesfield service managementFSMIFSIFS APPS 10IFS FSM 6Mark BrewermplsystemsSAPService ManagementSoftware and AppsStephen Jeff WattsWork Wave

With a new CEO taking the helm Swedish FSM and ERP providers, IFS enter a new era of their ongoing development. Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief was on hand at the IFS World Conference in Atlanta to see the developments first hand and caught up with FSN associate columnist Mark Brewer, Global Director of Field Service, to get the inside scoop...

The IFS World Conference is an event that never really fails to deliver at least one key highlight of interest. Memories of CTO, Dan Matthews bouncing around madly to Bruce Springsteen on the stage last time out in Gothenburg- he was demonstrating how IoT sensors work just in case you were wondering, is one such example of the unique way the Swedish company approach things.

Similarly, Ulf Stern, one of the companies original founders keeping customers, prospects and the press alike entertained playing some (pretty darned good) rock and roll with his band in a ‘Fish Cathedral’ later that evening is just another example of how the same core ethos remains in the company today as it did when they first started out some 35 years ago. Despite significant growth and development across the years, there all often overlooked secret-sauce that can allow a company to flourish, the uniqueness within their DNA - has always remained the same.

Who IFS are today is very much a different company to who they were then, just 18 months ago.Yet, who IFS are today is very much a different company to who they were then, just 18 months ago.

Firstly, there is the acquisition by - investment firm EQT. Which was in fact announced just days before the Gothenburg World Conference.

At the time the discussion had been highly positive - especially from a field service point of view as the message from EQT was clear - we are giving you the funds to go and do what you do better and faster - with field service being one of the top three areas IFS would be targeting for significant growth.

Given their stature in the market at the time as an already established major player within the field service industry, this was certainly an exciting announcement for those close to our sector.

Indeed, there have already been some significant acquisitions that Field Service News readers, especially those from the UK will be aware of which have followed after the acquisition.

The first of these was to bring IFS UK and Eire reseller Field Service Management in-house, which was a sensible and largely expected move.

The second, which saw mplsystems become part of the IFS family, however, was far more strategic.

mplsystems core strength lies is there omnichannel contact centre technology, essentially plugging a major gap in the IFS solutionAlthough, an FSM solution provider themselves, mplsystems core strength lies is there omnichannel contact centre technology, essentially plugging a major gap in the IFS solution and giving them a genuinely robust end to end service solution.

This is not to mention the US acquisition of WorkWave, an FSM solution that is dedicated to the SMB market - which instantly gave IFS access to a huge market, which many of the larger FSM solution providers struggle to penetrate.

So in fairness the record of EQT in terms of delivering on their promise has been mightily impressive and IFS have continued to grow in stature within the FSM sector as one of the true key players - an achievement all the more impressive given the attention our sector has had within the last few years with the lieks of GE, SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce all investing significantly in building a global presence.

My anticipation was therefore high when I spotted that the launch of FSM6 was to be given a major spotlight, being presented on the main stage as a key announcement on day 1.

Mark Brewer, Gloabl Director, Field Service, alongside Steve Jeff-Watts, Senior Advisor, IFS were the men tasked with giving that presentation.

“If you go back to the origins of IFS, we are an ERP company, but that can be something of an ambiguous term,” opened Brewer when I caught up with him.

We built a product that managed service, maintenance and projects. This means the intrinsic DNA of the business is actually service not manufacturing“ERP for most people is a product built for managing a manufacturing business. IFS did not ever take that approach. We built a product that managed service, maintennance and projects. This means the intrinsic DNA of the business is actually service not manufacturing.”

“Fast forward to today with the IFS FSM platform you’ve got a best in class service offering, there is an almost equivalent best-in-class service functionality in an ERP in Apps 10.”

“This means you can already have an existing ERP such as SAP or somethign similar which you are unable to swap out, we can layer that with best-in-class field service. However, if you also need solutions for your manufacturing, supply chain, financials etc then we can also give you all of this whilst encapsulating a best-in-class service solution within it.”

Customer experience is a huge part of the equation in service organisations now and we are moving into the experience economy “It is a unique position, where we can not only offer the stand alone FSM solution but the wider ESM (Enterprise Service Management) solution as well.”

“I also thought it was very telling that the announcement of our acquisition and mplsystems and our integration of their technology into IFS FSM was front and centre on the main stage during the opening key note sessions.”

“We call our solution IFS FSM but the truth is now that it is a full end-to-end lifecycle management solution. It is far more than just field service, it includes depot repair operations, reverse logistics, customer specific billing, deep contract and warranty capability.”

“Given that it goes all the way to the end, we were missing a piece at the front,  and mplsystems omni channel solution completes the picture. Customer experience is a huge part of the equation in service organisations now and we are moving into the experience economy so that customer journey needs to be consistent across the whole lifecycle.”

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