Bill Pollock presents an analyst's take on IFS' recent acquisition of Astea International.
IFS, the Sweden-based global enterprise applications company, announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to purchase global software company, Astea International. According to the joint press release published that day, “The transaction will enable the combined company to serve more customers in more markets, through a broader network of the best talent and partners in the industry”.
The primary rationale for IFS leading up to the acquisition was “to strengthen [the company’s] global leadership in [the] Field Service Management business.” It also believed that the “Combined company will have strengthened leadership position in Field Service Management (FSM) by integrating two of the most established and well recognized players in the market".
Why Astea? Why Now?
SFG℠’s “take” on the acquisition of Astea by IFS is as follows:
2. From an overall market standpoint, the acquisition bodes well for both companies, as each has built its own strong global market base, steadily over the course of many years.
3. This acquisition should firmly propel IFS further as one of the acknowledged leaders in FSM, based on an extrapolation from SFG℠’s 2017 Field Service Management Tracking Survey, as follows:
- 4. In 2017, prior to the Astea acquisition, IFS (including Metrix) had already been cited by 13% of survey respondents as being “currently familiar with IFS/Metrix in terms of its Field Service Management application”; in the same survey, Astea was cited eighth at 23% FSM application familiarity.
- 5. The combination of the two companies, at 36% familiarity in 2017, has served as a foundation upon which each is acknowledged to have increased its respective market awareness over the past two years.
6. This is particularly true with respect to IFS through its heightened marketing and promotional efforts, plus its recent acquisitions of mplsystems (UK) and WorkWave, among others.
7. In fact, SFG℠ estimates that the market familiarity of the soon-to-be combined company is likely to approach the 45% to 50% range within the next two years.
8. The acquisition is also good news for existing Astea customers that have been historically pleased with the solution’s product capabilities and functionality, but not so much with the company’s reputation with respect to implementation and professional services performance. These last two areas are situations where IFS (along with the help of its extensive global partner base) excels.
9. Both companies have a strong international presence in the global FSM marketplace, although IFS, being a much larger company, has a much greater global outreach. Nonetheless, Astea has historically reflected its own global outreach, landing major players as customers from throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and other key geographic regions.
10. Over the years, Astea has been plagued with financial instability and volatility that, in many cases, has been off-putting to many prospects and industry analysts alike. The company had been de-listed from NASDAQ multiple times, most recently on February 19, 2015, and has since been traded OTC. However, all of the company’s past financial concerns should now be assuaged through its acquisition by a company with a much strong financial picture – both presently, and forecasted for the future.
11. As a result of the acquisition by IFS, the perennially open questions of “What’s going on with Astea?”, “How financially stable is the company?”, “What happens to our ongoing support if it goes under?”, “Will it ever be acquired – and by whom?” will officially end! This has also been somewhat off-putting for many of the company’s potential prospects and customers in the past; however, as of the close of this deal, we will all know that Astea is being taken care of – and in a good way!
12. IFS has historically been eminently successful in its ability to acquire – and assimilate – targeted companies into its “world” (i.e., “IFSWorld”). Other ERP/CRM/FSM companies have not been anywhere near as successful (i.e., at least in the minds of the marketplace) with Oracle’s acquisition of TOA Technologies serving as one of the more prominent examples. In fact, many industry analysts (and customers) believe that since TOA’s acquisition by Oracle, it has never been the same.
13. However, most analysts (including this one) believe that IFS’s acquisition of Astea, while a sound move in and of itself, should also serve as a pre-emptive measure to prevent another major ERP/CRM/FSM player from making the first move. Among the remaining “best-of-breed” FSM solution vendors in the current competitive landscape, Astea probably represents the most attractive acquisition in terms of global market reach, product reputation, and caché customer base – and, even more importantly, overall value-per-cost of acquisition.
14. Looking further down the road, there is a fair-to-strong likelihood that the Astea acquisition will prompt (or tempt) some of the big Internet/IoT guns to acquire their own Field Service Management (FSM) capabilities; however, IFS’s acquisition of Astea effectively removes one of the FSM market’s key players from future considerations. Still, it will be interesting to see if this latest move by IFS serves to stimulate further (i.e., or more timely) interest among industry giants like Amazon, Apple or Google, etc.
15. While other large Software/IoT companies, many with fairly deep pockets, have either tried to buy their way into FSM (e.g., Microsoft), grow an FSM capability organically (e.g., Salesforce), or some combination of the two (e.g., Salesforce, once again), not all have had either the resolve – or inclination – to strive to dominate the FSM market in the same manner as IFS has. Unlike most other key industry players, IFS has stated its intention to become the dominant FSM industry leader and, apparently it is continuing to make all of the right moves in order to do so.
For a complimentary copy of the full Analysts Take report, including a summary of the FSM market’s initial reviews and comments, please click here.