On July 16, 2015, Microsoft announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire FieldOne Systems, LLC, “a world-class provider of field service management solutions that allow organizations to better manage and deliver service to their customers in the field.”
For many who have served in – or covered – the field services industry over the past several years, this was a long overdue move on the part of a large, global enterprise to make its way into the field services domain. While Microsoft may not have been the first name expected by some to make the first move, it is not surprising, in retrospect, that they were, in fact, the one.
Even less surprising is the fact that they went after FieldOne – a relatively young, Cloud-based company, but with a progressive outlook and the prospects of a strong and growing future.
Most industry analysts, like myself, had long series of questions to ask both parties about the forthcoming acquisition. I would suspect, just from the many initial inquiries that I have fielded in the past week, that the marketplace has even more questions they would like answered!
As a result, I have been granted the opportunity to have asked a number of questions about what the future holds for the “newest” Field Service Management (FSM) solution provider, and am pleased to share the exclusive Q&A results with you through my Blog.
Undoubtedly, there will be more questions to ask, and answers to provide. But, for now, I believe that Ilan Slasky, CEO of FieldOne, has gotten us off to a good start with his initial responses. The following responses are current as of July 28, 2015.
[The following are verbatim questions and answers conducted by Bill Pollock, president and principal consulting analyst at Strategies For Growth℠, and Ilan Slasky, CEO of FieldOne Systems, acquired by Microsoft on July 16, 2015.]
Q – Pollock: The market expectations resulting from the acquisition of FieldOne by Microsoft are generally quite high; however, there is still some skepticism as to exactly how “all in” Microsoft really is to providing a true Field Service Management (FSM) or Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution. How would you describe Microsoft’s intent to become a major player in the Field Services marketplace?
A – Slasky: A very good question indeed. The team at Microsoft, in the Dynamics group, has been following the FSM or SLM space for many years. They know all the players in the space and have contemplated whether to build or buy a solution that addresses this very large and rapidly growing market.
In their many discussions with their enterprise customers, Microsoft has come to fully appreciate how significant a need there is for a Field Service solution, and how underserved this market really is. The customer feedback has validated much of their internal thinking, and their intention to go after this market was truly the impetus for the acquisition of FieldOne.
We have been working with them over the past couple of years, with increasing frequency, on ever-larger opportunities. The acquisition of FieldOne is a natural extension of that working relationship which will allow Microsoft to realize their aspirations of becoming a dominant force in the Field Service Management market.
Q – Pollock: How would existing Microsoft Dynamics for CRM customers expect to benefit as a result of the acquisition in terms of changes/improvements to their historical customer relationships? What about existing FieldOne customers? What could they expect?
A – Slasky: Microsoft has repeatedly commented that their customers and ours are the biggest beneficiaries of this transaction. Customers will benefit from an even tighter integration of FieldOne Sky and Microsoft Dynamics CRM that leverages powerful predictive analytics and weaves intelligent Field Service functionality into the increasingly innovative Microsoft Dynamics offering.
By pairing FieldOne Sky with the capabilities of Cortana Analytics, Parature and Power BI, to name a few, both Microsoft and FieldOne customers will have predictive maintenance and Internet of Things capabilities at their fingertips.
Q – Pollock: What are the principal benefits that customers/users can get from the “new” Microsoft Dynamics for CRM as a result of the FieldOne acquisition and integration (i.e., that they might not be able to get from another Microsoft partner)?
A – Slasky: Microsoft and FieldOne product teams have been working together for some time now, but the real benefit will come when they can truly share their respective product roadmaps and fully leverage solutions for the good of the customer. There are things that FieldOne does exceptionally well that will allow Microsoft to leverage in the core Dynamics CRM product.
In the same way, the product roadmap for Microsoft Dynamics CRM will allow FieldOne to better leverage the core platform for key features that customers are asking for. This will become all too evident for customers on product releases later this year.
Q – Pollock: How do you believe this acquisition has changed the dynamics of the FSM/SLM market landscape? What would you say are the top impacts that this acquisition will have?
A – Slasky: Clearly, the acquisition of FieldOne by Microsoft is a game changer. More and more enterprise customers want to benefit from the breadth and scale of their software vendors who have integrated solutions to offer them. Customers have repeatedly told Microsoft and FieldOne they prefer to have the large software companies provide the solutions that are so instrumental to their daily operations – solutions like FSM and SLM.
Customer response to the announcement has been nothing short of ecstatic as the market realizes how much will come from further product development that reaches more broadly across FSM/SLM. For customers to now have a single source where they can purchase end-to-end solutions – CRM for their sales efforts, Parature for their customer support needs, and FieldOne for their field service needs – meets the needs of so many enterprise accounts looking for these very solutions as part of their customer engagement strategy.
Q – Pollock: What are the ultimate aspirations of Microsoft/FieldOne with respect to establishing its place in the global Field Services marketplace? To be one of the top players? The leading CRM-SLM player? Or other? In other words, where does the company want to be in 5 years or so?
A – Slasky: It is precisely because we, FieldOne, wanted to be a remarkably significant player in the FSM space that we decided to join forces and offer our solution through Microsoft. Our primary goal at FieldOne has been to bring our solution to the enterprise, empowering them to meet the twin objectives of delivering a superior, differentiated customer experience and doing so in the most efficient and productive manner possible.
We recognize that the quickest way for us to reach the largest of enterprise customers globally is to do so with Microsoft, whose sales teams are calling on these very same accounts looking for ways to help them meet their objectives. I would all but guarantee that over the next 5 years, Microsoft & FieldOne will be the dominant player in the market for FSM software, and will be recognized for its innovative, client driven solutions for this evolving and rapidly growing market.
Q – Pollock: Finally, there has been a lot of speculation on the financial terms of the acquisition. Can you comment on the figures that are currently circulating?
A – Slasky: We have had press and analysts asking for confirmation of acquisition terms and price since we jointly announced the transaction. Specifically, they are asking for confirmation on whether the deal was for $153 million, $120 million or $105 million.
All I can say is none of them are correct, and we will not be disclosing the deal terms publicly. However, what should be very clear is that Microsoft is making a very serious investment in pursuing the Field Services market, and the acquisition of FieldOne is the platform for them to do so. It’s a very significant deal, not just for FieldOne, but for Microsoft as well.
[Be sure to continue watching our Blogsite for more information about this, and other services-related topics, as more news breaks.]