The News Spotlight: February 2020

Feb 04, 2020 • FeaturesAsteafuture of field serviceNokiaWEBFLEETbyboxIFS

The Field Service News editorial team offer analysis on the stories circling in the service sector...


As IFS finally completed its full acquisition of Astea, Mark Glover ponders the challenges ahead for Marne Martin, who is tasked with overseeing the transition...


It’s not new news, but IFS finally completing its acquisition of Astea, following the announcement the pair had signed a definitive agreement in October, meant a fresh press release pinging into Field Service News’ inbox confirming a deal that many had been predicting for a while. 

As is the form for acquisition announcements the release took a postive angle, explaining what benefits the merger will bring to IFS and its customer base. “With the acquisition of Astea, IFS has strengthened and deepened its ability to help customers innovate in field service and service management,” affirmed Nicole French, VP and Analyst at Constellation Research in a quote taken from the release. Delivering innovation to its customer base falls sqaurely on the shoulders of IFS’ Marne Martin, who is set to assume leadership of Astea, taking the reins from Zack Bergreen, who founded the company in 1979. 

In an interview with Martin, just after the confirmation announcement in December, I asked how the dynamic between the pair will operate through the transitionary period. However, in response she reveals the pair could have been working together seven years ago. “I’ve known him since 2013, when I tried to convince him to merge with ServicePower,” she recalls.

“Customers reach out to him [Bergreen] and that’s a great conduit because he and I can compare notes around customers.Hopefully they’re hearing hearing the messages that we’re trying to speak to them about.”

Martin is no stranger to acquisitions, being at the helm of ServicePower when it merged with IFS in 2017, but three years on and this time absorbing a company that has a dedicated, loyal and expectant customer-base, the task ahead could be one of her biggest challenges to-date.

The full interview with Marne Martin will be published Thursday 5 February.


... and Field Service News’ Editor-in-Chief, Kris Oldland, also reflects on what the big stories in the news are for him...


For me the most exciting story that leaps out of our news round-up this month is that Nokia are entering the race to solve the headaches of last mile delivery.

This story albeit just a tempting snippet and a glimpse of a potential solution will come as very welcome news to all field service providers as the challenges of inner-city congestion are just set to worsen as we enter the third decade of the twentieth century.

Not only does the introduction of a company with a history of pioneering innovation entering this arena to solve what I fear may be the biggest challenge of the coming years for field service companies bode well for overcoming this challenge. They are also looking to fix it with cute little delivery robots.

Finally, the year 2020 is living up to its billing of being ‘the future’. I might even get the personal jet pack I’ve been dreaming of since I was 11 at some point in the next few years as well!

In terms, of industry trends I think that the move by WebFleet to introduce a sustainability initiative is not only smart but also a likely sign of things to come. Indeed, I was discussing this exact topic with Rich Agostinelli’s the new CEO of ByBox recently (look out for that discussion in an upcoming edition of the Field Service Podcast) and I think we will see plenty of companies across the next year tapping into the ‘green dollar.’

As I mentioned to Rich, it may be that I am just a bit of a cynical old man, but I think the true driver behind much of the moves towards more sustainable operations will still inevitably be economic rather than some sudden shift in the corporate mindset to save the world.

However, given the current high focus on the well intentioned, but somewhat naive actions of the likes of Extinction Rebellion and their teen messiah Greta Thunberg, the societal pressure for businesses to at least be seen to be focussing on green issues are moving from huge to enormous. However, the fact is that solutions like ByBox’s overnight delivery services ultimately reduce costs and increase efficiency within a field service operation, whilst simultaneously reducing carbon emissions due to less idling.

So we get to improve our bottom line and save the planet from impending doom at the same time. Now that’s got to be classed as a win-win in anyone’s book?

The only question that remains is ‘will we be able to play snake on those cute little Nokia robots?