The Field Service News editorial team offer analysis on some of the larger stories in the service sector...
Deputy Editor Mark Glover ponders the latest relationship on the service scene: IFS and Astea.
There’s only one story for me at the moment and that’s IFS’s acquistion of Astea International.
The deal is currently going through and while I type is probably having a final few readings before pen signs paper and the definitive agreement becomes official.
A joint press release published said: “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”.
According to Industry Analyst Bill Pollock, “Astea has been on the list of potential acquires for as long as many of the market analysts can remember. It is not a surprise that it has finally been acquired – the real surprise is that it took so long.”
The company’s recent financial situation may have been off-putting for potential investors. Indeed, until 2015 the firm has been traded OTC and been removed from NASDAQ many times.
However, Pollock believes IFS’ deal will negate those financial issues. “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,” he said.
Following on from Salesforce’s acquisition of Click Software are we entering a period where more consolodations are on the horizon? Ultimately, time will tell and for IFS and Astea, the proof in the pudding will come from customer reaction.
After all, as long as the software performs then the customer doesn’t care who made it.
Field Service News’ Editor-in-Chief, Kris Oldland, also reflects on what the big stories in the news are for him:
I have to agree with Mark this time around the story that sticks out is IFS’ acquisition of Astea.
The second major acquisition of recent months amongst the software vendors following Salesforce’s acquisition of ClickSoftware it perhaps shows signs of some major consolidation within the sector - something that seems to come and go in cycles.
However, if we look at the market now the space really is becoming a battleground of the giants with IFS taking a very sizeable piece of marketshare with this acquisition. As mentioned earlier Salesforce are further cementing their position as a major player as well whilst SAP, Oracle and Microsoft also all have significant stakes at the table.
The question is - other than a resurgent ServiceMax free of their GE shackles and backed by Silverlake is their anyone else from the ‘independent’ side of the sector ready to break into the space or have we now finally seen the shift away from best-of-breed FSM to major platforms.
Perhaps Asolvi could bring something to the mix - particularly for smaller field service organisations but after their acquisition of Tesseract seemed to be setting them on a course beyond their print/copy roots subsequent acquisitions seem to have positioned them firmly back within that specific vertical niche.
The worry is that as happened in the past with Maximo, SAP and Oracle dominating the sector, things can get staid fairly quickly and innovation can get stifled. Coresystems, TOA, 360 Scheduling, FieldOne, mplSystems, Tesseract, Metrics... the list goes on and on of innovative and entrepreneurial start ups that were acquired for just that innovation. Sometimes it provides these smaller companies an opportunity to flourish in a bigger pond with more sizeable backing. Sometimes they get swallowed up in the belly of the corporate beast never to be seen again.
However, it does seem that the future of FSM is with the big platforms moving forwards, yet the innovation will come from companies that can seamlessly sit on top of those and be platform agnostic and add further depth to such platforms.
Indeed, innovation is far from dead in our industry - just check out my pick of the four hot companies to watch in 2020.