When my co-founder, Yuval Brisker, and I decided, back in 2003, to tackle the problems plaguing organizations with field service teams, we were excited by the opportunity to solve a very human problem – customers waiting without knowing when a service employee would show up. Our mission was to do this by creating technology that made it possible to get the right service employee to the right place on-time, while keeping the customer in the information loop, resulting in happier, more loyal customers.
We were driven and motivated by our passion for just-emerging technology which, while it was considered a risky bet for enterprise technology at the time, became a big part of TOA Technologies’ success – mobile and cloud.
With the release of the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, it’s amazing to see that this very mobile and cloud technology – considered crazy and impossible just a few years ago – is now a requirement for solutions in this technology market.
In 2003, the power of the Internet as a powerful computing platform was just beginning to emerge. It wasn’t a mere collection of sites anymore. It was searchable, and glimmers of its computing power were starting to shine through in the consumer market, like Amazon’s massive database of literature in which customers could instantly search and buy.
Today, in business technology, from Google to Workday to TOA Technologies – the cloud is the platform of choice. And it’s having massive effects on several technology markets, including field service management. As Gartner states in this year’s report, “Without cloud computing, social interactions would have no place to happen at scale, mobile access would fail to be able to connect to a wide variety of data and functions, and information would still be stuck inside internal systems.” In an area such as field service, where endless amounts of data are processed constantly, with complex integrations with sometimes dozens of back-end systems and thousands of workers scattered across multiple geographies, cloud is what enables scale.
And if cloud means scale, it is mobile that enables people to get the data they need to work – anywhere. Early on, when TOA was evaluating how it was going to deliver its service to any person working in the field, we bet that smart devices would soon be ubiquitous, in the hands of consumers and in the enterprise, and decided to build our software application in the mobile browser.
Why? We knew that soon every person would be carrying a tiny and extremely powerful mobile computer in their pocket. We knew that these mobile computing devices would be permanently connected to the Internet. We knew that installing applications on mobile devices had failed miserably in the business world. With dozens of devices back then, and thousands today, compatibility with all hardware platforms is unachievable. IT can no longer control which device employees will be using, and many of our customers use third party labor, where the company has no say when it comes to mobile device choices.
Above all - for businesses to remain competitive they must change, adapt and optimize continuously. Pushing updates to installed mobile applications is error-prone and slow. Making changes to browser-based mobile apps is instantaneous and reliable. Sure, this browser-based mobile approach took some time for people to get used to, but I was confident it was the right decision then, and we’ve been proven correct. Not only is the mobile computing revolution the present, it is driving the future direction of this market and other enterprise software industries, too.
And now, TOA Technologies is being recognized as a leader in the field service management market. Clearly, there are many factors taken into consideration – our ability to maintain rapid global growth, expand into new industries and build new partnerships with companies like salesforce.com and Accenture. But for me, I am most proud of this recognition because it validates our innovation and leadership in cloud and mobile technology. We took a technological approach different than anyone else in the market because we knew it was the right thing to do for our customers, and we remain committed to continue to deliver new innovations to further improve our customers’ businesses.
*Irad Carmi is co-founder and CTO for TOA Technologies.
NOTE: The above is my personal view of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management, 2012, focusing on what it means to me as a founder and CTO of a company in this market. While my commentary is well informed, it is solely my opinion and though it based on an ongoing dialogue with Gartner’s analysts and my understanding of the market, the only definitive opinions on the report are those of the authors of the report, who researched and published it. My opinion is not a substitute for speaking to Gartner’s analysts directly.