Marne Martin, CEO of ServicePower, takes a lens to the recent spate of merger and acquisition activity amongst field service management solution providers and explores why it seems everyone is moving towards a fully integrated platform approach...
With a high velocity of M & A activity recently in the field service sector, many solution providers claim to be moving towards a “fully integrated platform” solution...
But just what does that mean and why would that be preferable to traditional best of breed solutions that tend to focus on specific functionality within field service management?
There’s a simple answer really.
It’s the customer. The customer is number one.
Customer satisfaction is the key to increasing profitability for organisations offering field based services.
To simplify service delivery and maximise profit, field service organisations must now consider customer satisfaction and the customer experience to be as or more important as the goal than the traditionally expected outputs from a mobile workforce management or field service management deployment.
To that end, field service organisations are looking to solution providers to offer truly end-to-end service and mobile workforce management functionality in a single cloud based platform, which addresses more than simply scheduling and mobility.
Service providers are looking for integrated self-entitlement and real time consumer communications, contract management, hybrid workforce management inclusive of optimisation and contract dispatching, warranty claim management, mobile dispatching for both employed and contracted labour, and integrated business intelligence, which increase productivity and reduce costs, while improving the customer experience and creating new ways to grow revenue from each customer.
Within the industry, solution providers have traditionally fallen into two categories. They were either a mile high and an inch deep, or a mile deep and an inch wide.
Mile wide solutions tend to offer more functionality to cover the spectrum from entitlement to scheduling, but failed to develop real expertise in must-have features like real time optimisation or hybrid workforce management.
So, though they offered more, they offered less, in terms of quality schedules, productivity and intelligent hybrid workforce dispatching.
Mile deep solutions tend to specialise, becoming expert in one or more functionalities, like enterprise mobility or schedule optimisation, but don’t offer end-to-end process support, like intelligent consumer portals, entitlement or warranty claims management.
As service providers realise that to grow, they need to simplify service delivery and offer more valuable services to customer to build loyalty, NPS and ultimately, more revenues long term, a single vendor solution which supports end-to-end process becomes very important.
Customers have driven service providers to offer more, and the service providers are driving solution providers, like ServicePower, to offer more, and offer best in breed functionality for the entire service process.
ServicePower realised this back in 2004.
Working with long term client, GE Appliances, we realised that offering mobile workforce software which only provided schedule and route optimisation, albeit the best optimisation on the market, wasn’t enough.
We began to develop additional functionality to provide mobile dispatching, asset tracking and most importantly SaaS hybrid workforce management. The industry realised that the best way to control service costs, while maintaining customer satisfaction was to integrate contractors within their labor models.
We also realised that managing contractors was very different than managing employees, so added functionality to intelligently select employees or contractors, dynamically selecting the best contractor based on ranking and rules logic.
Best of breed means something different now than it did just two years ago.
So, we’ve added that functionality, as well asset and inventory management.
Even more recently, we added an intelligent consumer portal which allows consumers to schedule jobs with our client’s hybrid workforces, increasing the number of digital touch points, creating a seamless, satisfying self-service experience, which increases the lifetime value of each customer by as much as 6 times.
So, are best of breed dead mobile workforce management providers dead? No. Best of breed means something different now than it did just two years ago.
To be best of breed, providers must offer end-to-end field service management capability that’s a mile high and a mile deep, to ensure every single part of the process is digital, optimised, and fast and offers more than the customer expected.