IFS’ new ownership private equity firm EQT are standing true to their promise to accelerate the growth of the Swedish firm as they make to key UK acquisitions...
ERP provider IFS have further enhanced their offering into the field service management sector this month with two key UK acquisitions.
Both announced on the same day the Swedish organisation took ownership of both field service management system provider mplsystems and also implementation specialists Field Service Management (FSM).
Whilst the latter acquisition perhaps had an air of inevitability about it as FSM have been working as resellers and system integrators for IFS for some time now, it was the acquisition of mplsystems that will have raised eyebrows within the industry perhaps the most.
However, the acquisition also makes perfect sense from a technology point of view as mplsystems, who have only just launched a new genetic algorithm based scheduling engine themselves, (see page 8), are more widely acknowledged for their omni-channel contact centre technology which has earned them recognition from Gartner as a visionary within the CRM Customer Engagement Magic Quadrant.
It is very directly a recognition on IFS’ part that we have a gap in our end-to-end offering in the customer engagement area.
“It’s quite specific why we’ve acquired mplsystems” Mark Brewer, Global Industry Director, Service Management told Field Service News as the announcement went to press. “It is very directly a recognition on IFS’ part that we have a gap in our end-to-end offering in the customer engagement area.”
“We were looking to acquire some IP, and in the case of mplsystems, some very strong IP, to plug that gap in the customer engagement piece, at the centre of which is their omni-channel contact centre capabilities.”
In fact, the acquisition of mplsystems and the integration of their contact centre technology within the IFS solution, is in perfect line with the roadmap that IFS appear to be continuing down, and sits perfectly alongside the introduction of the embedded CRM within their ERP solution that was introduced at their last significant roll out (IFS Applications 9).
“There has been a lot of conversation recently around the convergence of CRM and FSM and when speaking at Field Service Management Expo a couple of months back I alluded to this then also.” Brewer commented.
We see now both technologies sitting under the customer experience space, and there will be three prongs to our offering in this area moving forward.
“Firstly, we will continue doing what mplsystems have done very successfully across the last few years which is to offer a Contact Centre as a Service (CCaS) capability to many organisations with large contacts centres - people like Aviva and ALDI. The two other prongs to the offering then are that it will integrate with our IFS FSM solution so it will form the customer engagement capability of that offering. It will then also form the customer engagement capability of IFS Apps.”
“So whether you are taking down a service request, whether you are taking a return material authorisation, whether your taking a feed from an IoT connected device or even if you are utilising social or chat-bot technology, whatever the medium of engagement you choose we will go through the mplsystems customer engagement solution.”
So how do IFS see this new ability to manage the entire customer experience lifecycle? Is this something they feel gives them an advantage over competitors or are they getting themselves back on a level playing field? Is the inclusion of this technology a USP that they can push as vendors, or is it something their customers have been demanding for some time now?
“I think there are two points to that question,” Brewer replies.
I think there is definitely a customer pull because we are seeing the focus that is evolving from productivity improvement and operational excellence to a model that is more focussed on revenue enhancement
“However, we do also see this as a USP as we believe we have best-of-breed capabilities in a number of our separate offerings and in our standalone FSM solution now we have the capability to run a world class contact centre, we have the capability to do world class optimisation and scheduling. We have the capabilities to deliver a full return material/reverse logistics operation and we have the capability to do very strong contract and warranty claims management as well.”
“All of those elements are what we perceive to be best-in-class, and by filling in the gap with the customer engagement capability, via the acquisition of mplsystems, we now genuinely have a unique offering as it is not just a broad set of capabilities, it is a number of complimentary best-in-class solutions that can feed into and off of each other.”
Finally, with the acquisition of FSM Ltd it appears to essentially be a case of bringing a very successful outsourced operation into the IFS fold.
“FSM has been a very successful in the UK and Ireland in securing some very big customers for us, they’ve got a great track record and ultimately with the new ownership of EQT we now have a much more aggressive growth strategy and in key geographies including Europe West (which includes UK) the investment is there to bring companies like FSM on board to support our capability to grow our market-share further."