Oracle recently announced an agreement to acquire TOA Technologies, a leading provider of cloud-based field service management (FSM) solutions for companies of all sizes. TOA’s products help enterprises manage and optimize the last mile of in situ customer service (on the day of service) by coordinating activities between dispatchers, mobile employees in the field, and customers.
TOA’s FSM software as a service (SaaS) offering enables companies to continuously monitor real-time field service requests coming in from contact centers; to schedule the right field service technician to dispatch; and to use smart business analytics to monitor and view current inventories, accurately predict service windows, and optimize field service operations. Founded in 2003, TOA is a true cloud, Java-based FSM product that has lately challenged ClickSoftware's protracted market leadership. The company has a predictive analytics optimization algorithm to recommend a last-minute change recommendation for the field (i.e., what to do now under the circumstances, which team to send from where, how much time they will likely need now, etc.; see figure 1). The flagship product’s name ETAdirect Enterprise accordingly suggests the estimated “Time of Arrival” acronym (read TEC report).
TOA’s solutions manage more than 120 million service events annually in more than 20 countries and include global brands such as DISH Network, E.ON, Home Depot, Ricoh, Telefonica (read TEC article), Virgin Media, and Vodafone. But TOA overleveraged itself with a hefty venture capital investment that saw it gain only about 60 customers focused in a few industries, primarily telecom and cable (read TEC article). It therefore had to develop partnerships with salesforce.com (the ETAworkforce product on the Salesforce1 Platform) and with Oracle CRM OnDemand (within Oracle Service Cloud). It looks like now Oracle might be able to cross-sell TOA to its customers in many more industries and geographies.
Oracle’s Service Cloud, part of Oracle Customer Experience Cloud (see figure 2), is a platform for online customer service, cross-channel contact center, knowledge management, and policy automation. The acquisition of TOA expands Oracle's ability to provide end-to-end personalized customer service solutions with the addition of critical customer-facing field service interactions, enabling visibility into customer history throughout the customer relationship management (CRM) life cycle. The combination of Oracle Service Cloud and TOA is expected to create the most complete Customer Service Cloud, which should help businesses understand and resolve customer issues through connected engagements (see figure 3).
On the other hand, Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions streamline companies’ financial, procurement, and supply chain management (SCM) processes including inventory management and order fulfillment. Oracle already has two other on-premise FSM solutions—Siebel CRM and Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) (read TEC report). Figure 4 describes how TOA could help Oracle ERP cloud solutions better accelerate productivity, allocate resources, and provide on-demand information access.
Oracle will likely not necessarily kill the salesforce.com channel for TOA, but ClickSoftware, ServiceMax, FieldOne, and others will use this event in the salesforce.com ecosystem to scare the prospects. A similar situation is seen with many competitors of BigMachines in the configure, price, quote (CPQ) space after Oracle’s recent acquisition of the erstwhile cloud CPQ leader (and once major salesforce.com partner). For now, Oracle’s own FSM capabilities seem quite superior than those of salesforce.com, SAP, and NetSuite, all of whom leverage partners for those capabilities.