IFS Wins in Field Service Management

While it may not be surprising that IFS has lately had a streak of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise asset management (EAM) wins in its traditional asset-intensive industries, it is interesting to note that some recent wins and expanded project footprints are in the realm of field service management (FSM). IFS has tackled this attractive software category via the recent acquisitions of Metrix and 360 Scheduling (see the related article for more details).

In late 2012, IFS won an Asian telecom company. In January 2013, IFS announced that the seventh largest Pepsi-Cola franchise company in the US is expanding its footprint with the IFS Metrix Service Management Mobile solution. WP Beverages, a subsidiary of Wis-Pak Inc., is a distributor of Pepsi-Cola and other leading soft drinks, serving markets in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and South Dakota. WP Beverages has been using IFS Metrix Service Management software to automate business processes for streamlined operational efficiency, which has resulted in improved service delivery for clients. The company uses IFS Metrix Service Management to automate scheduling, dispatch of repair service calls, completion of service calls, and other operational processes.

The distributor’s FSM footprint is being expanded through the of IFS mobile technology on handheld devices to further reduce cost and improve customer service. And WP Beverages now has inventory analytics so the company can, over time, redefine what those mobile stock levels ought to be. Last but not least, IFS has automated integration to Pepsi Cola North America for supporting national accounts, and also has automated the product configuration and site preparation process.

Ericsson Ditches SAP for IFS

More recently, IFS announced that Ericsson, a leading provider of communications technology and services, has chosen IFS Metrix Service Management to support business-critical processes in its Hardware Services business unit. The contract includes services, software licenses, and maintenance, valued at approximately $2 million. The IFS solution will support the organization’s global hardware-related services, including both forward and reverse logistics. The contract, which pertains to the first part of the implementation project, also includes the deployment of IFS Metrix Service Management Mobile for Android (MMA).

Metrix and SAP were both incumbent enterprise systems at Ericsson, yet the company chose IFS over SAP to standardize in this area. This move demonstrates that IFS’ acquisition of Metrix is already showing great acceptance, as I suspect Ericsson might not have made such a major investment in Metrix if it didn't have the full backing of IFS' global infrastructure. The WP Beverages and Ericsson wins might also demonstrate IFS’ ability to support multiple industries of varying sizes.

Vibrant FSM Space

In this service economy the FSM space is abuzz with competing solutions. Very bullish of late has been TOA Technologies, a pure cloud FSM platform that includes appointment scheduling and dispatch, call status, and some real-time optimization. The solution is seemingly great for high-volume, low task complexity field service applications, with its current focus on services for utilities. But, TOA is much narrower in its service lifecycle management (SLM) footprint, i.e., offering hardly anything in the areas of parts planning and inventory management. Along similar lines is ClickSoftware, although the vendor has some hooks into SAP and Infor inventory management via ngoing partnerships. Neither solution has much in the areas of product lifecycle, contract management, and warranty administration.

On the other hand, ServiceMax, also a pure cloud offering on Salesforce Platform, does have capabilities in these areas but not yet at IFS’ depth. Its return management/reverse logistics isn't as deep at this stage as, say, Oracle Siebel, IFS, or PTC Servigistics. ServiceMax’ recently developed optimization engine, OptiMax, is rudimentary compared with the dynamic scheduling capabilities in the aforementioned more seasoned FSM products (but the upbeat cloud vendor is continually enhancing its offering).

In any case, all of these vendors are doing quite well of late and it will be interesting to watch their moves down the track. ServicePower, Astea International, and Viryanet are some other vendors in the space, to name but a few. Due to the market interest, look for an FSM Evaluation Center at TEC, coming soon.
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