Microsoft Bolsters Dynamics CRM With FieldOne Buy

Microsoft on Thursday announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire FieldOne, developer of a cloud-based field service management solution. FieldOne’s technology will add a new dimension to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

FieldOne provides field service management tools for work order management, automated scheduling, asset management, contract management, inventory and procurement management, workflow capabilities and mobile collaboration, said Microsoft spokesperson Stacey Andrews.

“These capabilities allow people in enterprises and mid-market companies to better manage and deliver service to their customers in the field,” she told CRM Buyer.

“This announcement is further evidence of our commitment to providing the most comprehensive customer service offering available,” Andrews added. “We will continue to support existing FieldOne customers, and for new customers, the FieldOne capability will be available with Dynamics CRM in the near future.”

Pricing and licensing details will be announced later this summer.

Dynamics Updates

Microsoft earlier this week announced some licensing and pricing updates for Dynamics CRM Online.

Under the new terms, Microsoft will bundle Dynamics CRM Online Professional, Office 365 Plan E3, and PowerBI for US$65 per user, per month. Existing Office 365 Plan E3 and E4 customers can add CRM Online Professional and PowerBI for $45 per user, per month, according to Denis Ford, who oversees pricing and licensing strategy for the Microsoft suite of products.

Microsoft will include Office 365, Azure and Enterprise Mobility Suite in the Cloud Solution Provider program, which allows partners to sell Microsoft cloud services as part of a unified solution of offerings and services, Ford noted.

The company further announced that CRM is now certified for deployment on Azure, with tools provided through its Dynamics Lifecycle Services.

Greater Integration

Microsoft and FieldOne earlier this year entered a global strategic agreement allowing for greater integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and FieldOne’s Sky Platform.

“The FieldOne acquisition will strengthen Microsoft’s Dynamics capabilities by adding an important new element to their CRM solution — field service management,” said Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies.

“The combination of CRM and FSM functionality is becoming increasingly important, because delivering timely and cost-effective field service is essential to generate customer satisfaction and loyalty,” he told CRM Buyer. “At the same time, inputting field service information into a CRM system can also enable organizations to better support their customers and identify new sales opportunities.”

Service-Focused Strategy

The acquisition of FieldOne is part of a larger effort on Microsoft’s part to increase its service focus as it expands in the CRM market.

“This is a great acquisition to bolster Microsoft’s service-focused CRM capabilities,” added Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research for enterprise applications at Nucleus Research.

“Microsoft has continued to make investments in the area with the acquisition of Parature, which gave it a strong knowledge base and processes for driving both agent service through multiple channels and Web self-service to engage customers,” she told CRM Buyer.

“Field service, often the last mile of service, enables agents in the field to have access to both the information and tools they need to be more productive,” added Wettemann.

Microsoft could in fact follow a similar road map as it did with Parature, integrating the field service capabilities into its Dynamics CRM service offering, suggested Wettemann.

Key benefits for customers will be in field service productivity and reduced logistics costs. Vendors also could gain the ability to be more proactive and predictive in the way they engage with their customers.

“Because it’s already built on Microsoft technologies and integrates with Office 365, integration shouldn’t be a significant effort,” Wettemann noted.

“This acquisition also ups Microsoft’s game in the predictive service arena,” she pointed out, “leveraging Microsoft’s existing investments in Azure IoT and Cortana Analytics to help customers be more proactive in the way they use device-generated data and analytics to identify service opportunities — in some cases, before their end customers know they have a problem.”

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and fitness-related trends for more than a decade. His work has appeared in more than three dozen publications, and he is the co-author of Careers in the Computer Game Industry (Career in the New Economy series), a career guide aimed at high school students from Rosen Publishing. You can connect with Peter on Google+.

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