ServiceMax's SaaS platform could make training technicians and replacing software a thing of the past

By Michael Carney , written on May 21, 2013

From The News Desk

America has more than 5 million field service workers that maintain, repair, and replace the equipment we count on each and every day. The vast majority of these employees rely on paper, carbon copies, and clipboards to manage their field operations. ServiceMax is changing this with its mobile field service management platform that has helped its more than 200 enterprise and SMB clients reduce costs by 16 percent on average, increase productivity by 31 percent, and grow revenue by 14 percent.

Today, the six year old company is introducing a new dynamic software framework called ServiceMax Infinity. The idea is to create an adaptive and evolving platform that reduces the need for replacing software and training end-users as processes evolve.

“The future of SaaS is to take data-driven insights to the next level by providing a sort of ‘perpetual software’ that suggests and empowers better business overall,” ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold says.

ServiceMax breaks the new platform down into three components, each of which is available independently or as part of a product suite.

The first, Service Flow Manager, is a drag-and-drop process manager allows companies to create dynamic guides for their field technicians based on corporate best practices. Such processes can include the scheduling, customer profile and service history data, inventory management, diagnostic checklists and questionnaires  manuals and diagrams, warranty guidelines, invoicing and feedback paperwork, and a variety of other elements. More importantly, once a new process is created, or an existing process modified, it can instantly be rolled out to a company’s entire staff, or select staff members, for access via their iOS, Android, or HTML5-enabled mobile device.

The newly created Service Quality Index (SQI) is an automated reporting and service benchmark product that allows companies to compare their performance against internal objectives, historical performance, and industry standards. Tying each of the above products together is the ServiceMax Insights Engine, which constantly monitors activity within the software platform to deliver actionable insights for better achieving SQI goals. The Insights Engine also allows companies to model the likely effects of possible process changes before actually implementing them in the field. Completing the loop, once validated, these changes can be quickly implemented by changing the relevant workflow in the Service Flow manager.

"Many of our members come to us for benchmarking assistance, struggling to understand how their own service metrics compare to their peers,” Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) VP Technology Research John Ragsdale. “[The] Service Quality Index is the first attempt I've seen to have the application itself prescribe which metrics need a stronger focus based on the goals of the client – brilliant!"

ServiceMax is built on Salesforce’s platform offering a deep CRM integration and access to ServicePulse social tools. The new Infinity platform is available today with SaaS subscriptions running approximately $1,000 per user per year. The SQI product and Insights Engine products will be introduced at the company’s “Maximize 2013” user conference in October, and will be available on an opt-in basis.

Since naming former SuccessFactors head of global sales David Yarnold as its CEO in May 2009, ServiceMax has raised $52 million in outside funding over four financing rounds with investors including Crosslink Capital, Emergence Capital Partners, Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures, and Salesforce.

The company, which has 200 employees across its offices in Pleasanton, California, the UK, and India has achieved five consecutive years with greater than 100 percent revenue growth, according to its CEO. Its notable customers include Electrolux, P&G, Tyco, Schneider Electric, Pitney Bowes, Toyoda Machines, Varian Medical Systems, and Coca-Cola Enterprises (an independent bottler), among others.

ServiceMax is competing more against the homegrown culture of the service industry in which companies with less than 1,000 employees typically lack any significant automation or technology, and against competitors’ products. Occasionally, companies will cobble together a custom solution from individual scheduling and order management products, but nothing that offers anywhere near the functionality and the efficiency of ServiceMax’s offering. At the enterprise end of the market, the company is transitioning new clients off of legacy ERP solutions from SAP, Oracle, and others, but again, has no real equal in today’s modern technology landscape.

Yet, while this is undoubtedly true, it doesn't mean that ServiceMax can't be challenged int he market. Its far too common for emerging enterprise SaaS companies to dismiss the legacy giants as outdated unable to innovate, yet year-after-year, they continue to retain customers and build or buy new solutions to sell through their existing channels. With a massive $27 million Series D round raised in November, many people are betting that ServiceMax can continue to dominate this market. And while it may, it's certainly not a foregone conclusion.

The service industry may not be sexy, but it's a compelling opportunity. We all rely daily on machines and equipment that require service, including those in our homes, at our offices, in hospitals, and in countless other settings. Despite the industry’s lack of innovation, more than 40 percent of all US manufacturing sector revenue currently comes from service, a figure that has grown four times over the last three decades. Growth in service jobs made 17.6 percent of all US job growth last year, with the category adding jobs at a rate of 6.4 percent per year.

ServiceMax already has a dominant market share in this multi-billion dollar industry and today it dramatically improved its offering with a dynamic, self-tuning software framework that saves both time and money. For companies looking to maximize efficiency and satisfaction among customers and employees, this is a pretty compelling value proposition.