Having become a regular member of the Deloitte Fast Track 500 Telogis have become a firmly established leading provider in the US. Field Service News caught up with Sergio Barata, the man tasked with leading the charge into the United Kingdom.
FSN: You have been involved with Telogis since they launched in the UK. Firstly could you tell us a bit about your own background and also the approach you took when introducing what was a successful US product to the UK market?
SB: I moved to the UK just over ten years ago when first working for a mobile start-up and have worked in the LBS (location based services) space ever since.
Initially starting in pure Geo Spatial technology, I find myself now immersed in the sector. I joined Telogis back in 2008, having just come from another US based software company where I had spent time localising and refocusing their key capabilities for the UK. On joining Telogis, I had some specific views on how we should launch the company here – the leadership team understood and bought into the fact that we would have to localise correctly if we were to launch in such a competitive environment.
We initially started with our GeoBase product, thinking that if we could correctly localise and licence this within the UK as we have done in the US, we would have a strong platform to build upon. Once the underlying technology was in place, we could introduce the rest of our SaaS solution which is all built around this.
Since the early days Telogis has grown rapidly both in the UK and wider. When I started at Telogis we had around 120 people in the whole organisation, now we have nearly 500. In the UK we have just moved into our new facility, which will allow us to continue to grow substantially.
FSN: With Telogis only being founded in 2001, you are in relative terms still a young company within the field service industry. Do you think this gives you an advantage in being able to build a cloud based solution from the ground up rather than having to adapt a legacy solution?
SB: We launched as a SaaS company, which in 2001 was quite a brave thing to do. Browser adoption, both as a way of working and technologically still wasn’t quite there - but that quickly shifted. The vision our founders had clearly worked. Around 2005/6 all our competitors had essentially become organisations supporting their customers in the field - not black boxes but servers with their software running on them, so their ability to innovate was hampered. Being cloud-based has meant we didn’t have these issues.
The other critical decision we made was not to develop our own hardware and to remain hardware agnostic. This has meant that our R&D budgets have been focused on the data, the software and our platform, which we are now selling as a strategic approach.
I think not having an incumbent legacy, adopting the hardware agnostic approach and choosing to be SaaS from day one has allowed us to remain innovative and scalable, which has been a key part of our success to date.
FSN: You recently wrote an article for Field Service News in which you talked about the platform approach, something we are hearing more and more of within the industry. Do you think this model, i.e. working with one provider for multiple solutions is likely to be the future for field service software?
SB: We certainly see the benefits of it!
When we meet customers we find many burdened with costly overheads and challenges of integration, even to the extent that they are not meeting the ROIs and initial business case. The costs that it takes to get systems to talk to each other can be significant.
There are also other elements: different companies have different commercial models - our telematics is a subscription model, making it straightforward to cost and manage. Other systems often have capital expenditure costs upfront and deploying different systems and suppliers efficiently can be very challenging.
We think starting with one part of a solution and then integrating other elements is the right approach. We never advocate the ‘big bang’ approach to implementing a complete solution - it’s not commercially or even technically feasible to embrace a whole system at once. Our strategy is based around ‘lets put one piece of the solution in and then work with you on building a longer term strategy and at the end you will come out with a holistic approach.’
The other question we address is the integration of our systems - the telematics, the routing and scheduling - with the customers’ systems that they have already deployed. We have some interesting platform tools, middleware/application programme interfaces that are essentially self-help modules that we can offer our customers to help this integration.
These may be scripted alerting, customised reporting on driver stats or just workflow management that actually allows them to translate data between our solutions and their other systems. Integration can become seamless – there are even situations where they don’t even need to log into our system, they are just communicating with the cloud and getting the data straight out of it.
Look out for the next part of this exclusive interview coming soon...