Microsoft and FieldOne have been partners for several years, but on Thursday, Microsoft took the relationship a step further and acquired the New Jersey-based provider of field-service software.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but it comes just four months after the two companies signed a global strategic agreement to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM and FieldOne's Sky platform, which offers features such as automated routing, scheduling and dispatch, work-order management, mobile collaboration and more.
Field-service management software is used by companies that need to send workers to customers' locations to provide on-site support. Typically, it relies heavily upon cloud and mobile technologies, with an increasing use of data science and predictive analytics.
"Field-service management is a specific but critically important area of customer service, providing companies with the ability to deliver end-to-end field service," wrote Bob Stutz, corporate vice president for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in a blog post announcing the news.
FieldOne's cloud service was built on Dynamics CRM and works across hardware platforms. With the acquisition, Microsoft aims to help companies take a more proactive approach to field service through the combination of FieldOne, Azure IoT and Cortana Analytics, Stutz said.
Last year, Oracle made a similar move by buying TOA Technologies, another player in the field-service arena.
"This is a natural form of vertical consolidation that often happens in a strengthening market," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group.
Using multiple, separate field-service companies can reduce both profitability and customer satisfaction because "they form an information and revenue barrier between the tech company and the customer it serves," Enderle noted.
So, "in a market like this, a move to acquire a service organization that's already successful and focused on the vendor's products would be considered a no-brainer," Enderle said.