Written by 6:00 am Feature, FSM Technology

Research Report: Field Service, Mobility & The Cloud (Part One)

Having undertaken a recent research project exploring trends amongst field service companies involving use of the Cloud for Field Service Management Systems as well as the ongoing development of mobile solutions for field service, Field Service News, sponsored by ClickSoftware are pleased to bring you this four-part report exploring the research findings written by Field Service News Editor-in-Chief, Kris Oldland…


Cloud computing has been a key topic in field service circles for some time now. In fact it seems every time we read about a company implementing a new service management system it is mentioned that they opted for a Cloud based solution. Indeed the benefits of the Cloud are well documented.

Less reliance on IT, built in disaster recovery, regular and free updates, lower overheads, and so on and so forth. And the Cloud is no longer a particularly new technology. It’s not emerging anymore, it’s emerged. In fact it is now almost twenty years ago that Salesforce, a company born in the Cloud when it was just not more than a whisp of cirrus in the stratosphere, first began evangelising Cloud computing as the way of the future.

Fast forward to today and Salesforce is the leading player in the CRM sector and despite not having a direct presence within the field service sector, is arguably one of the key driving forces for the adoption of the Cloud in our industry. How often do we hear companies stating that ‘integration with Salesforce’ was a big factor for them when deciding to opt for whichever of the numerous modern service management suites are available.

Certainly those service management software providers that were savvy enough to develop field service apps for the Salesforce App exchange such as ClickSoftware’s ‘ClickWorkforce’ have gained something of a competitive edge in recent years by doing so.

Yet despite these seemingly all conquering headlines the reality highlighted by various research appears to be very different at least for the adoption of the Cloud as a platform for field service management solutions. Indeed our own 2014 research project showed that only 23% of companies were running there field service management software in the Cloud. So why this discrepancy?

Is it a case that we in the trade media are over egging the pudding and putting to much hyperbole around the use of Cloud in field service?Or is it a case that Cloud looks like a more attractive prospect from distance, but when companies begin to explore their options when upgrading to a new solution, in reality staying on premise is the easier and safer option? There is of course the argument that it will take time to see a full migration across to the Cloud.

This is of course valid and many companies will eke out every last drop of functionality they can from their existing legacy systems rather than face the turmoil of moving a business critical operational tool from one system to another. But if this is the case surely we should start seeing a growing momentum towards the Cloud year on year? With this in mind Field Service News in partnership with ClickSoftware has decided to the revisit this area of research some 18 months on.

When writing the report for last years research I concluded that the Cloud is set to become an established platform for field service technology, and even ultimately become the most commonplace method of distributing field service software. Is it time I reassessed that statement, or is the momentum of the Cloud slowly gathering pace?


The research was conducted online across July and August this year. The respondents were a mix of Operations, IT and Business Leaders working within organisations that had a field service operation.

Company sizes range from SMB’s with under 10 field workers to the enterprise level companies with over 800 field workers. In total, 150 respondents answered the survey, with respondents coming from a number of different verticals, including Manufacturing, Engineering, IT solutions, construction, fire and security, healthcare, and more. As with our 2014 survey after the question ‘Is your current field service solution on premise or in the Cloud?’

The survey split into two in order to give us insight from those currently using the Cloud and those that are still on premise. This enables us to ascertain better the benefits being seen by those using the Cloud alongside the reservations of those who are not.


The headline statistic from the research is that there has been a slight shift towards more companies using the Cloud than before. In fact, there has been a swing of 3% in favour of those using the cloud, with 26% of companies now having their field service management solution in the Cloud versus 74% who are using on-premise.

Whilst a small movement, given the timeframe this increase could indeed help support the argument that the Cloud is slowly becoming more prevalent and that the move to Cloud is very much tied to companies moving from their legacy systems to more modern next-gen equivalents.

However, a logical continuation of that thinking is that we would find those companies with larger field worker numbers more likely to remain on premise than those smaller companies for the simple reason that they are more likely to have invested in the expensive infrastructure to run an on premise solution and would therefore potentially be more tied to their existing system – making a switch to a new solution harder work.

Yet when we drill down into the data and separate the companies out into three groups – those with less than 50 engineers, those with between 50 and 500 engineers and those with more than 500 engineers we find that in fact this doesn’t hold true. Actually whilst the trends amongst the largest companies very closely mirror the respondents as a whole (25% Cloud vs. 75% On premise) it is amongst the smaller and mid sized companies that we see the biggest variance. Interestingly, smaller companies, who are generally viewed as being the most likely to be attracted to the Cloud due to the more affordable Software as-a-service subscription model that most Cloud vendors offer, were the group that were most reluctant to have their field service operations on the Cloud – with just 17% doing so.

Meanwhile, the mid-tier companies (i.e., those with between 50 and 500 engineers) were the group that had the most Cloud-based systems, with 37% of these companies using the Cloud.

When we look at the same demographic in our previous research this is an increase of 21% of companies, so whilst on premise still remains the way the majority of run their field service management systems, a shift to the Cloud, amongst this demographic at least, is clear. Still the question remains why are we seeing more acceptance towards the Cloud within these mid sized companies than amongst their smaller counterparts? (If we accept the earlier premise that those larger companies may take longer to adapt due to greater change management challenges.)

One possible answer could be found in the make up of the decision-making units of those smaller companies. Of those companies with less than 50 engineers that are not using the Cloud, only 15% of companies had input from their IT director or equivalent whilst of those mid sized companies that have adopted the Cloud 71% involved their IT Director or equivalent in the selection of a field service solution.

Could it be that amongst smaller companies it is a case that without the input of a technology specialist, some of the headline fears around the usage of Cloud persist. Whereas amongst those larger companies, who have a more developed IT department adding their insight, perhaps there is more understanding of both the true benefits and dangers of the Cloud?

One question within the survey that could certainly give us further insight into this assertion was ‘Which of the following sums up your perception of the Cloud in business’ which had the following four options

  • I believe it is the future of enterprise computing
  • I see it’s benefits but still have some concerns
  • I wouldn’t trust placing sensitive data in the Cloud but would use for general applications
  • I think we should keep everything on premise; there is too much risk in the Cloud.Given the fairly even balance between the two groups of company sizes, the varying responses certainly indicated a more cautious outlook towards the Cloud from the smaller companies than their mid-sized counterparts.

Within the group of companies with between 50 and 500 field service engineers 58% felt that Cloud was” the future of enterprise computing”, with a further 32% stating that they “saw benefits of the Cloud whilst having some concerns.” Interestingly not a single respondent from this group stated “we should be keeping everything on premise, there is too much risk in the Cloud.”

When we compare this to the responses of those companies with less than 50 engineers we see the confidence in the Cloud significantly reduce, with only 38% stating they “believe the Cloud is the future of enterprise computing” whilst 20% “wouldn’t trust placing sensitive data in the Cloud but would use it for general applications” and “5% stating they think “we should be keeping everything on-premise, there is too much risk in the Cloud.”