The Impact of a Changing FSM Competitive Landscape Is Revealed from SFG℠’s 2016 Field Service Management Tracking Survey

[If you haven’t already taken SFG℠’s 2016 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Tracking Survey, simply click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFG-PollockOnService.]

We’ve all heard the expressions, “Everything old is new again”, and “Back to the basics”. However, while these expressions may still be somewhat reflective of the global services community, we have finally begun to see an uptick in the degree of market consolidation, as well as the impact of the many mergers, acquisitions and partnerships that seem to be re-defining the competitive landscape on a virtual daily basis.

For example, just a couple or few years ago, there was no real (i.e., dedicated) presence in the global services community by companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, PTC and Salesforce (although many services organizations, mainly among the smaller-sized companies, had already started using Microsoft Dynamics and/or Salesforce to, at least, piggy-back their Field Service Management (FSM) operations onto their existing CRM, ERP or Business Management platforms).

Other vendors, such as IFS, Oracle and SAP had, years earlier, embedded some form of FSM into their general offerings, but not everyone was necessarily buying. Of course, there was always ClickSoftware and ServiceMax generally breaking out of the pack to gain some robust market share, leaving most of the tried-and-true traditional vendors as proud purveyors of their respective Best-of-Breed FSM solutions (e.g., Astea, Metrix, ServicePower, ViryaNet, Wennsoft and many others).

However, fast forward to today: Where are all of these vendors now? PTC acquired Servigistics (including MCA Solutions), ThingWorx, Axeda Systems and other technology firms; Oracle acquired TOA Technologies; IFS acquired Metrix; and Microsoft acquired FieldOne, all major software players “buying” their way into the FSM market through a series of blockbuster deals.

Salesforce, which had historically either been used (and/or mis-used) in its ability to manage field service operations, decided earlier this year to build its own Field Service Lightning module – but, built primarily on ClickSoftware’s Field Service Expert platform. ClickSoftware went private (i.e., after years of speculation that it would, one day, be acquired by SAP) and may have lost some of its historical luster in the marketplace (i.e., in terms of “Who are they now – really!). Another long-time vendor, ViryaNet, was acquired, first, by Verisae (i.e., taking its name), and now, by Accruent; and Wennsoft is now known as Key2Act.

In other words, the FSM competitive landscape has probably changed more in the past two years than in the dozen years before, in terms of structure, presence, influence and use. However, we would be burying our collective heads in the sand if we thought that this recent spate of market consolidation is now over – it’s not – and there are likely to be further surprises in the short term, rather than in the longer-term future.

So, … what does the future hold for the global FSM marketplace? Much will depend on how the market itself (i.e., the current and prospective FSM solution users) believes it should evolve.

That’s why Strategies For Growth has launched its 2016 Field Service Management Benchmark Tracking Survey after an approximate two-year hiatus. The times have changed; the competitive landscape has changed; and user needs and requirements, perceptions, expectations and preferences for FSM solutions have changed.

In fact, it may be because of the latter that many of these mergers/acquisitions were “forced” to take place. In many cases (i.e., too many cases) the existing FSM solution providers did not, or could not, evolve as quickly as the market’s needs and, as a result, either lost their traction, their “mojo”, their market preference, or any combination thereof.

It is frustrating to not be able to present some of the key preliminary findings from our current (i.e., 2016) FSM Survey – but that could likely influence the responses of some of the individuals who have not yet taken the survey.

So, … here’s our suggestion: First, take the survey, and we guarantee that you will, at the very least, learn something more about the global services community merely by reviewing the questions and answer sets, and thinking about what your top-of-head responses should be.

Second, after taking the survey, be sure to continue to watch our Blogsite, www.PollockOnService.com, for frequent updates and posts on key survey findings; Third, watch for our various published articles in Field Service DigitalField Service News and Field Technologies Online, and any of the other client-sponsored White Papers and Webcasts; and, Fourth, we will be happy to e-mail you a special, not otherwise published, Executive Summary, following the close of the survey later in the mid-to-late November timeframe.

In any case, we’ve got you covered – with the market data and information that you can use to compare the challenges, drivers, technology adoption and strategic actions taken by your organization compared against all others. All it takes is about 15 minutes of your time, for timeless information about your field – Field Services.

To take SFG’s 2016 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Tracking Survey, simply click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFG-PollockOnService.

UK & EMEA Services Organisations Clearly Understand the Value of “Minding the Metrics”

The services sector has traditionally been guided by a succession of rules, regulations and policies that, hopefully, make us all better at supporting our customers and the global business economy, as a whole. Many of these guidelines mirror other aspects of our lives as well, such as “Mind your Manners”, “Mind your Own Business” and – of course, “Mind the Gap!” However, no guideline may be as important to the services community as “Mind the Metrics” – and this is particularly well evidenced in the UK & EMEA geographies.

In fact, a special cut of the results from Strategies For Growth’s (SFG) 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey reveal that, for the UK/EMEA services community, “developing/improving the metrics, or KPIs, used to measure Field Service Performance” is the number one strategic action currently being taken, as cited by nearly two-thirds (i.e., 64%) of survey respondents.

No other strategic actions are cited by as many as half of respondents, although “investing in mobile tools to support field technicians” rates fairly high at 49%, followed by “improving planning and forecasting with respect to field service operations” at just over one-third (i.e., 34%).

This is no surprise to Steve Alderson, Managing Director at Cognito, a leading, UK-based provider of mobile workforce management solutions to field service organisations, who corroborates that “This exactly reflects what we are hearing from the industry with service organisations facing intense pressure from competitors and rising customer expectations. These survey results confirm the strong sense in the market that getting a better understanding of field service metrics is critical to improving overall performance.”

The primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, currently being used by a majority of UK/EMEA Field Services Organisations (FSOs) include:

  • 78% Customer Satisfaction
  • 75% Total Service Revenue/Turnover
  • 68% Total Service Cost
  • 53% Field Technician Utilisation (i.e., time spent performing repairs ÷ total hours)
  • 53% Percent of Total Service Revenue under Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • 51% Service Revenue, as a Percent of Total Company Revenues
  • 51% Service Revenue, per Field Technician

It is interesting to note, however, that most of the primary KPIs that were being used when many of us were just breaking into the business, while still important, are typically only used today by a minority of services organisations (i.e., on-site response time and first-time-fix-rate, each cited by 49%; SLA compliance and mean-time-to-repair/MTTR, each cited by 47%; and several others). However, what the data do not show is a diminution of importance among the old ‘tried and true’ KPIs, but, rather, an increased emphasis among those factors that are most influential today with respect to customer satisfaction, field tech utilisation and – oh, yes – the bottom line!

Most services industry analysts would also agree that you cannot – and should not – merely collect and tabulate the data – that is basically what a market research analyst firm does. Running a services organisation, however, is quite different, according to Alderson who suggests that, “Information without action is useless”. He continues, “As service organisations mature, and implement the next generation of mobile workforce management systems, sophisticated data gathering and analytical capabilities will be mandatory. However, the ability to act on the insights and knowledge gained, to improve field service performance, will be the key to thriving, not just surviving.”

But, why are KPIs so important to the overall well-being of the organisation? Because, for many, their service performance goals are simply not being met! For example, in the UK/EMEA services community:

  • 32% of FSOs are not attaining at least 80% Customer Satisfaction; (UK/EMEA average is 82% Customer Satisfaction)
  • 28% of FSOs are not attaining at least 80% SLA Compliance;         (UK/EMEA average is 81% SLA Compliance)
  • 26% of FSOs are not achieving at least 20% services profitability; (UK/EMEA average is 35% Services Profitability)

For these reasons alone, between a quarter and a third (or more) of the UK/EMEA FSOs probably find themselves in the need for new and/or upgraded mobile workforce management technologies to run their organisations. Then, of course, they’ll still need to measure their performance along the way. It’s definitely time to “Mind the Metrics!”

Complimentary Distribution of this Article has been made possible through Cognito:

Cognito is a leading provider of mobile workforce management solutions to field service organisations. For more than 20 years, we’ve been at the leading edge of innovation and best practice when it comes to helping our clients drive field force performance, exceed customer expectations and deliver consistently excellent service. Recently, Cognito has embraced a series of key innovations in mobile workforce management software, culminating in our flagship Fieldforce iQ solution. Cognito operates throughout Europe and North America. Our customers typically have mid-size to large mobile work forces ranging from 50-plus field workers to many thousands. For more information, please visit our Website at www.cognitoiQ.com, email us at info@cognitoiQ.com, or call +44 (0)1635 508200.

An Improving Services Market Is Investing in New Mobile Tools and Technologies

Now that the economy is (apparently) improving, many services and supply chain organizations find themselves in situations where they are trying to support a growing customer/market base with antiquated (legacy is more politically correct) service management systems that are no longer up to the job.

As a result, many are investing in new technologies and mobile apps to support their service and supply chain operations. This has, in turn, caused the Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution providers to expand their offerings to now include Reverse Logistics and other new-to-them functionalities.

Pricing models for new technologies are also in a mode of change – largely stimulated by the proliferation of Cloud-based solutions. For example, a $1 million SLM solution, paid for on a perpetual license basis, requires a large lump sum capital expenditure upfront – plus an annual maintenance contract for the duration.

However, the Cloud has allowed organizations of all sizes to implement their SLM solutions on a either a perpetual license basis or – as an alternative – a subscription model basis that requires only a fraction of the total cost to be paid on a monthly basis. Many services executives are finding that it is easier to acquire their SLM solution on a monthly payment plan (i.e., that they can charge on their company credit card) than having to go through all the red tape and paperwork to come to terms on a perpetual license contract.

Finally, more and more service and supply chain organizations now recognize that even the best systems and solutions, by themselves, won’t get the job done. A majority (for the first time in our surveys) are now citing the ability to implement and/or improve their KPI (i.e., Key Performance Indicator) measurement and tracking as the top strategic action they will be taking to bolster their service and supply chain operations performance.

The net net is that the market recognizes that now is the time to stake their claim to a larger share of the pie – however, they also recognize that they will need the proper solutions, tools, technologies and resources to actually make it happen. The opportunity for growth is here – but there’s no way to accurately forecast how long the window will remain open.