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Manage Field Service in the Cloud for Simpler Software Integrations

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Today’s business leaders are faced with a decade’s old question when it comes to purchasing enterprise software: Invest in one broad enterprise management suite or integrate several deep best-of-breed solutions to meet a variety business needs?

Unlike years ago when it may have made sense to invest in a broad system that did a little of everything, cloud deployment has enabled companies to invest in several best-of-breed solutions by making it easier to integrate a variety of specialized systems.  

Equipment manufacturers, for example, may be using legacy ERP and CRM systems that took years to implement, but now, with renewed emphasis on field service and parts sales, they want to add field service management and dealer management systems to the mix. Rather than trying to customize their ERP system to do something it’s not made for, like manage remote fleets, manufacturers and dealers can look for best-of-breed field service management solutions that integrate with their existing legacy systems.

The Case for Best-of-Breed Software Investments  

Most businesses’ back-office software (ERP/distribution/accounting) investment was months or years in the making. IT professionals and company executives aren’t eager to go down that road again, especially if they’re happy with the system they’re using. As new needs arise, it might be tempting to try to customize the existing system to meet emerging industry demands. 

A back-office system, however, no matter how much it’s customized, can’t produce the efficiencies of a best-of-breed, integrated solution. Rather than forcing a back-office system to, say, manage field service scheduling, business leaders are turning to software partners that specialize in the areas they need to improve. Then, once they choose a software partner, field service organizations work with them to connect the new cloud solution to their existing legacy system.

Businesses, equipment, and software systems will only become more connected over time. With the emergence of the internet of things, a heavier dependence on mobile, and growing customer expectations, field service business leaders need to find solutions that will make their organization more efficient, not simply go with whatever’s most convenient.

Companies may need to juggle dozens if not hundreds of enterprise software solutions. If each system is the best in its space, and they are integrated and able to speak to the others, organizations will achieve strong results in every area of their business and eliminate data silos without having to start their software search from scratch.

How Cloud Eases Integration

Because of cloud’s growing popularity, some software providers claim to offer cloud solutions without all the qualifications of a true cloud offering. As John Hoebler points out in his recent CIO article, in order to meet the criteria of cloud deployment, the solution must be multi-tenant.

In a multi-tenant model, every customer is on the same version, the software is hosted in data centers and maintained by the vendor, and systems are scalable meaning it’s easier to add users and integrate between software platforms.

With those qualifications in mind, SaaS vendors are in charge of maintaining and servicing the software they develop. This means end-users don’t waste time and resources setting up, maintaining, or integrating their enterprise solutions.

And, because of its flexible API economy, cloud-based infrastructure enables simpler integration between, say, field service apps and enterprise software like ERP and CRM systems, so the solutions you choose are up and running faster than on-premises solutions.

Extend the Life of Enterprise Software

The main benefit of investing in best-of-breed software is the ability to create a customized business solution that consists of various specialized and integrated systems.

For example, five years may have passed since a company selected their ERP solution. But, in that time, they may have added salesforce.com to manage sales, Hubspot for marketing automation, Workday for HR/finance, and Trimble for fleet management and telematics. Each of these add-ons is a cloud-based, best-of-breed solution that the company didn’t even consider when they invested in the original ERP system. But, because of the cloud infrastructure and ease of integration, the business now has a system built on configurable components; the cloud suppliers they’ve invested in are “built for integration.”

Field Service Leaders Look to Technology to Keep Up with Growing Customer Demands

For field service organizations, it’s no longer an option to rely on legacy systems to do all the leg work in order to compete. A 2015 Aberdeen study reported that today’s field service customers expect more from manufacturers and service organizations as they are no longer silent bystanders in the service process. The report also stated that customer satisfaction is by far the top metric used to measure the success of the service organization, above profitability or operational goals.

With a renewed focus on customer satisfaction, field service businesses are looking to best-of-breed solutions to extend their software investments and promote strong customer service without having to invest in extra resources to manage software configurations, upkeep, and integrations. 

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