Our Industry Leaders interviews series continues with an exclusive interview by Field Service NEws Editor-in-Chief, Kris Oldland with ServicePower CEO Marne Martin. In Part 1 they talk about the thinking behind the development of the new NEXUS FSTM software, and the importance of user-friendly interfaces and deep functionality…
It’s been a busy time for the team at ServicePower, a company heavily focused on the constant evolution of their own suite of products, with a clear strategy of exploring and harnessing the latest emerging technologies and implementing them within their own solutions aimed solely at the field service management sector.
The recent release of NEXUS FSTM an enterprise-class, cloud-based field service management solution designed to be suitable for any sized service business is the latest addition to the Service Power line. It incorporates comprehensive mobile dispatch functionality that sits well with the dynamic scheduling engine that ServicePower is perhaps best known for.
In Marne Martin, ServicePower have a focused and savvy CEO, with a strong background in highly senior roles, with both a passion for innovation and an understanding of what it takes to drive business forward. It is clear that Martin has a clear vision of the road map ServicePower needs to be taking both in the short to medium term as well and way beyond.
“We’ve really taken what we have – a twenty year deep and rich experience in field service – and have accelerated it into new product development and innovation of our existing applications, to find new ways of approaching the pain points and needs of the field service industry,” Martin begins as we discuss where exactly ServicePower are in their development right now.
“Especially, the last twelve to eighteen months we’ve really accelerated,” she continues. “We acquired the source code for mobility in January 2013 and we’ve actually built out a leading mobility product, so we’ve been able to leapfrog our competition in many regards.”
Our conversation is taking place just after the announcement of NEXUS FSTM which has a definitively fresh and modern feel with a lot of focus on the user experience. This is something that will sit across the suite of ServicePower products in the not too distant future and is clearly a consideration for the development of their product line.
The importance of the User Interface
“With the existing applications we’re about half way through migrating the User Interfaces to the really great new look and feel of NEXUS FSTM . We’re using angular JS and Bootstrap but we’re looking at new technologies all the time and it’s a really beautiful UI,” Martin comments. “Even when you think about what Salesforce and some of the really big players are doing, I feel we are really at the cutting edge now.”
UI has become an integral element of what makes a successful business application in today’s modern environment and this is something Martin is acutely aware of.
“You can’t underestimate how radically Apple has changed everything. With what they put out with the iPhone and how it looks and feels. You certainly have leaders in software that really care about user experience and UI like Salesforce, but I think Apple with the penetration they had really took it to the next level”
So how does this Martin filter this approach into her own organisation?
“The key is taking what we’ve done with some of the new technology, and then making sure we have integrated a great user experience throughout the other applications, modernising the UI, but not losing all the functionality that we have built over the last twenty years. It’s a really exciting time”
“I think ten years ago there were certainly some competitors that were more proactive in terms of UI than ServicePower were but we’ve actually worked to leapfrog them and even go beyond Salesforce is at the moment using them and Apple as a benchmark”
“Even if you look back at TOA at the time, they had a great UI and ClickSoftware were doing some UI development maybe ten years ago but I think we’ve actually moved beyond that.”
“At this point we are benchmarking off ourselves in a way; we have a great team led by Steve Higgins who joined with us in late January, and then he has integrated with all the various product teams with the existing applications. The product guys were just at Dreamforce the other week and they walked away saying wow we are actually ahead in certain areas now. I’m really proud of that.”
However, Martin is also keenly aware that mission critical software, especially at enterprise level, cannot be all style and no substance.
“When we look at SMB solutions on the Internet you know they want to see a UI like that but when ultimately when it comes to the enterprise deals, when you get to a certain scale it is still all about the functionality,” she explains.
“The UI is nice but in the end what enterprise level field service organisations care about is things like our ability to do real-time optimisation, heavy duty management of third party contractors, the warranty claims, analytics – all these things.”
“A great UI is necessary now, but it’s not enough – you’ve got to have depth of functionality because that’s what gives a barrier to entry,” Martin states before adding, “With a hundred grand I might be able to spin up a little UI and an app, but I’m never going to be able to get a robust solution that will satisfy the leading enterprises as well as having the depth of functionality.”
And with a product development road map starting to come to fruition, the next stage for ServicePower is an aggressive growth period as they seek to capitalise on the attention a raft of awards and recognition their technology has gathered as they’ve continually sought to improve their own suite of solutions.
Martin admits the next phase of their strategy is to really focus on sales execution now. “I think we have a very good position now in terms of growing our brand awareness, recognition of the technology in the product suite that now we can really start scaling on sales execution. That’ll be the big push the year forward.”