As the field service management software market evolves, the channel must take advantage of the opportunities this new world offers

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By Chris Proctor, Head of Marketing & Sales, Oneserve.

Based on the way that they have been acting over the past five years, one would be forgiven for thinking that the old saying 'make hay whilst the sun shines', was original coined by one of the many so called 'market leaders' of the field service management sector. Based on the appalling levels of client satisfaction and the concerning financials of these 'market leaders', the sector is in a real state of flux. Such change can lead to real opportunities for those who are able to take advantage.

The reason for this flux, is as often the case, appalling simple; a rise in client expectation and a decline of their appetite for excuses, mediocrity and unnecessary costs. Large players in this market have been frankly lazy over the past few years. As other technology based industries embrace the way 'as a Service' solutions are able to provide a flexible and self-service approach, the field service management software market has been sitting on its hands.

The 'lumbering dinosaurs' that make up the larger companies in this sector are so far behind the ball, it's difficult to see them even on the same field as other industry leaders. Now, after so many years of enduring outdated and extortionate business models, customers are saying enough is enough. The lackadaisical sales strategies, focussed on penetrative acquisition pricing policies backed by hugely expensive additional professional services, will only last so long before customer began to look around for alternatives offering more empowerment and a more visible true cost of ownership.

All of this adds up to a real opportunity for the channel. In a market that is seeing such fundamental change and with many of the big players unwilling or unable to change their business models, aligning with the right type of vendor to ensure longevity within the market, but also the best opportunities for sales, is crucial.

Lumbering dinosaurs and extinction

Much of what is wrong with the field service management software market could be construed as additional incomes for the channel. However, these income channels have been coming at the expense of customer satisfaction levels and dragging the industry to its knees as the major players attempt to stifle innovation which could give the customer exactly what they have been crying out for; a flexible, self-service solution. This is where the opportunity lies for the channel.

The lumbering dinosaurs are in fact, falling so far behind the ball in terms of where the market should, and will, be heading over the next few years that their extinction seems inevitable. For too long people have been tricking themselves into the perceived complexity of the market. It is remarkably simple, look at how we've done it in other sectors; give people what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

It has to be about a true SaaS offering, a flexible approach that allows technology of different types to talk to each other and give customers what they really want; a self-service model that allows them the freedom to utilise the solution as they see fit, without having to call in the technical people, waiting for weeks or months for them arrive and paying extortionate charges for the pleasure.

'As a service' solutions have undoubtedly forced many channel players to re-look at their own business models and adjust them to changes in the way that IT services are bought, delivered and managed. Those that have adjusted will see the opportunities that changes in a market like field service management software offers. Giving customers what they want, rather than what they're told they want gives the channel a huge opportunity to grab market share before competitors catch up.

Choosing the right partner is also key for the channel if they are to take advantage of the forthcoming opportunity in the field service management market. Many of the major players, as well as being so far behind the ball in terms of where the market is heading, have other major headaches, which are adding to the momentum of the meteorite heading towards them. The sheer size of some of the companies means they have what appears on paper to have very healthy turnovers. However, by taking a more detailed look at their financial reports points to a more worrying trend of often huge losses and no sign of profitability. For many partners, already concerned about the direction in which these businesses are heading, seeing such worrying financials is reason enough to start to look for different types of companies in the industry to partner with.

The world has changed and a new breed of faster, more agile and innovative companies are taking the places of the out-of-date lumbering dinosaurs that have dominated the sector for so many years. Aligning your business to these agile companies will be the key to the success of channel partners in this sector. Coming out of the substantial shadows cast by these dinosaurs will seem daunting to many, but even smoke casts a shadow, it's time to face the sun and let these shadows fall behind us. This new world has the potential to offer huge reward for those that are ready to embrace it; now; tomorrow; and long into the future.

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