Company: TOA Technologies
Located: Cleveland, Ohio
Market: Field Service Management
Key Customers: DISH Network, Arhaus Furniture, Cox Communications, Racktime Sales & Marketing, Morrison Utility Services, Cablemás
Website: TOA Technologies
I asked Yuval Brisker, co-founder and CEO of TOA Technologies, a few questions about his business and view of the SaaS market in 2013 and beyond.
Did you start out as a Software-as-a-Service company?
Yes. SaaS was an absolute must for us and part of our founding vision. We believed very strongly that software of all kinds, both consumer and enterprise, would migrate to the Web over time, because of both the cost savings from outsourcing the IT infrastructure and from the ever-increasing computing power that is available. In our market, field service management, the computing power aspect of Cloud gives us a major advantage. From the beginning, we knew that our customers would use the system in a way that challenges on-premise systems, a lot of data needing to be retrieved and processed, and then executed into decisions, all in a very short amount of time. I’m talking specifically about routing and scheduling a batch of jobs all at once, something that on-premise systems oftentimes need to do overnight because it’s the only time that there’s enough computing power available. But because the Cloud treats computing as a utility, this problem goes away, and we’re able to process more than 10,000 jobs in less than four minutes.
Even with this clear advantage, we knew that being a SaaS business in the early 2000’s wasn’t going to be easy to sell to enterprises. Sure, there were companies like Salesforce.com that were paving the way for us and other enterprise SaaS companies. But I would argue that we had an even tougher challenge in front of us because the businesses our software supports s the last mile of their revenue generation – the field service person delivering goods and services. Therefore, we’re in a unique position of both privilege and enormous responsibility to make sure our now tens of thousands of users in the field have availability all of the time. There is absolutely no room for error, which is why we’ve built an amazing service assurance team that now delivers an almost unmatchable uptime of 99.996 percent. I’m particularly proud of this part of TOA, because we truly brought SaaS to a mission-critical process to these businesses on a global scale.
Why do your customers buy from TOA Technologies?
TOA’s customers all have one thing in common a majority of their revenues comes from a product or service being delivered in the field. When you have that much riding on a single area of your business, you’re always going to want it to be better connected, more engaged, and more transparent.
At first, TOA’s customers typically want to buy our field service management solution for efficiency and productivity so that they can get more out of the people that they have. After using our product they quickly realize the other ways to generate value. For example, TOA’s system actually measures how long it takes people to do work and uses that data to create individual profiles of each person, it’s able to predict ahead of time exactly when a job will happen and how long it will take. Not only does this reduce the wasted time in a schedule, but also now the business can communicate with customers before their appointment, keeping them in the loop and actually making them more engaged in the process.
With this combination of cost savings and improved customer experience, our value proposition has never been more relevant for any company that does scheduled and structured work in the field, all the way from a lawn care service to a field marketing company or even a cable operator.
What do you see as the key trends emerging in the SaaS industry?
Traditional on-premise enterprise software will continue to be upended by SaaS vendors, very much like what TOA has done in the field service management software space. Therefore, we’ll continue to see the Cloud question disappear. What once was, “Why aren’t you on-premise?” is now “Why don’t you have a Cloud option?” It’s certainly a good thing that this conversation is shifting, but SaaS vendors need to continue evangelizing the proven benefits of their delivery model.
In the lifecycle of this Cloud versus on-premise debate in enterprise software, we’re in the midst of the on-premise vendors fighting back. Specifically, we’re seeing vendors either buying their way into the market, or they’re using a public Cloud like Amazon AWS to replicate the functionality of the on-premise solution in the Cloud. What’s most interesting is the reactions from our prospective customers, especially those that were previously hesitant about Cloud. They’re viewing all of these vendors’ moves into the Cloud as evidence that Cloud is the place to be for enterprise applications. So for us, in a way, this dynamic is making our conversations easier and sometimes I think it’s even driving new demand as well.
This also means that SaaS vendors absolutely need to continue to drive the Cloud conversation. In other words, SaaS vendors need to go beyond the early cries of “no more software” and truly educate the market on what the Cloud really is and isn’t, especially in the enterprise software space. These buyers are really concerned about with reliability, scalability, durability and data ownership. Here are a few questions that we at TOA think help best identify if a vendor is providing a solution that’s enterprise SaaS-worthy:
- What is your plan to invest in the Cloud including security, reliability and durability measures?
- If we use a Cloud solution, who actually owns my data?
- Do you guarantee a certain level of uptime? If yes, what is it?
What is your market outlook for 2013?
2012 was the year that it became evident that mobile, social and Cloud technologies were converging in a way that would forever change the face of the enterprise. We see this convergence as an opportunity for businesses to fundamentally change how they operate, propelling them into new levels of collaboration and empowerment. And for TOA, this opportunity couldn’t be any clearer than it is with the field service ecosystem.
Think about it: Field service sits between a product or service and the profit from that product or service. Where field service used to be a necessary evil and considered a cost center with very little visibility or accountability. Now field service can now be a value driver, saving businesses money and improving customer satisfaction ratings. Because of mobile, managers can look at an aggregate view of what’s happening across their business in just a moment for any given field service process, for any field employee. And by connecting it with the Cloud, the data is always up to date. The benefit is that feeding our field service management application over the Internet, outbound predictions of when the next appointment will happen and if it’s in jeopardy, are as close to real-time as it gets. Ultimately, what this creates is a new kind of empowered field employee, one who is enabled to be on-time because realistic expectations were set, and one who is can get answers to questions on his own using peer groups as a knowledgebase.
With these amazing opportunities, this is the moment for field service management to flourish. Mobile, social and Cloud are actually driving companies to look more seriously at how they can evolve their field service lifecycle, not only to be more productive, but also to create more satisfied employees who also care more about customer satisfaction. These are long-term changes that go far beyond automating fieldwork. Field service management, powered by mobile, social and Cloud, actually evolves the job roles and the processes altogether. It’s really becoming a revolution and we’re right in the middle of it, and we can’t wait to see where it takes our customers and us.