The past two weeks have seen a wave of acquisitions and new investment in the overall service management technology space. Solutions geared for improved customer management are in high demand, and technology providers are looking to shore up their capabilities in order to appeal to wider mass of customers.
First PTC announced (release) that it had closed the acquisition of Enigma to strengthen its Service Information and Service Parts solutions. For PTC, this move is a long time coming as it looks to solidify its position in the Service Management space. The move eliminates a key competitor in the service information space, where Enigma’s solution enabled organizations to take existing technical content and make it available digitally to field and other agents. PTC’s own service information tools are primarily built to enable the authoring, distribution and access of newly developed content while the Enigma tool allows PTC to work with organizations on their existing content. Technical content in most industrial cases ranges from parts catalogs, product schematics, resolution procedures and more and can be extremely vital in helping organizations improve service resolution rates. TSC’s recent research shows that access to resolution information is much sought after in the field with 40% of respondents to our June 2013 research survey on field service indicating that their field agents could become much more effective with access to resolution information. The acquisition of Enigma also provides PTC a better foothold in industries such as automotive, aviation and transportation where Enigma has developed a strong customer base. It also provides PTC with a wealth of technical talent and resources to support and further enhance the capabilities of its Service Parts and Service Information solutions.
In field service, TOA Technologies (TOA) announced that it had raised $66m in funding from Technology Crossover Ventures (release), definitely one of the largest funding rounds seen for a field service automation provider. The investment is intended to fuel TOA’s global expansion beyond North America and Europe as well as expand TOA’s presence across industries beyond cable and utilities. TOA has made its name offering a cloud-based field service and mobile solution aimed at enhancing the experience for field workers and more so the experience for customers when dealing with field service. It does this via a solution that offers field workers the type of work information that they need in the field to reduce administrative tasks and paperwork while also providing a context-aware or social solution to find the parts and information that technicians need in order to complete their tasks. From the customer’s point of view, better resolution is a sure fire way to enhance the service experience, but TOA’s appointment management and scheduling platform also allows for the provision of precise appointment windows addressing the ‘waiting for service’ issue faced by customers. Resolution and parts information is vital to field agents when addressing service needs. As seen earlier, 40% of organizations are looking to offer their agents with better access to resolution information in the field. More so, 62% and 35% are looking to connect their agents with better knowledge and parts information respectively in order to improve their efficacy and boost customer satisfaction.
Finally in a more contact center environment, Aspect Software (Aspect) announced that it had acquired Voxeo Corporation (Voxeo) (release), enhancing its presence as a multi-channel customer engagement player. Aspect has been on a acquisition spree as of the last 18-24 months and the Voxeo acquisition signals its intent to move away from pure back-office workforce optimization towards a pure multi-channel engagement platform. With Voxeo, Aspect gains a key player in the delivery of multi-channel self-service options to complement its contact center optimization platform tied to live agent presence. Voxeo’s self-service options are primarily tied to IVR and mobile and can deliver much needed information to customers seeking self-service options for account management, payment, and information gathering tasks. A large percentage of organizations are evaluating the benefits of self-service options in customer engagement and most of these are looking to establish a fine line between live and self-service options available in order to provide customers with access to information when, where and how they want it. While self-service receives its share of bad press (recent advertisements primarily for financial service firms), it is an extremely vital option in an overall customer engagement strategy, one that Aspect hopes to support via its engagement platform.
Major aspects of service automation have been covered in this latest round of acquisitions. Given the interest in service solutions, we expect further consolidation and investment in the space, primarily in the areas of mobility, knowledge management and analytics. Stay tuned for more research on each of these areas.