Microsoft Bolsters Dynamics CRM with FieldOne Acquisition

Microsoft on Thursday announced it has acquired FieldOne Systems, a Microsoft Strategic Global ISV partner based in New Jersey, for an undisclosed amount.

FieldOne provides cloud-based field-service solutions for organizations, including those in the health care, facilities management, utilities and manufacturing industries. Its flagship product, FieldOne Sky, integrates with Microsoft's Dynamics CRM product and includes capabilities for personnel scheduling, dispatch management, resource routing, inventory management, knowledge base and more.

As part of the acquisition's terms, the FieldOne team will continue to work out of the company's New Jersey headquarters but will be folded into Microsoft's Dynamics CRM group. Current FieldOne customers will continue to be supported, the two companies said.

According to Param Kahlon, Dynamics CRM program manager at Microsoft, this acquisition complements Microsoft's early 2014 acquisition of Parature, a provider of cloud-based customer service solutions such as ticketing and auditing. Parature eventually became a major component of Dynamics CRM. Acquiring FieldOne's field-service management capabilities "expands our footprint in the customer service market," Kahlon said in an interview.

With its reporting and data visualization capabilities, FieldOne Sky also fits logically alongside Microsoft's growing lineup of analytics and business intelligence (BI) products, according to Kahlon. He noted that the field-service market is steadily moving away from the old "break-fix" model to one that leverages predictive analytics technologies to help customers before problems become critical.

"Nobody wants their equipment to ever be down. They want it to be up and running whenever they need it," Kahlon said. "With our investments in Internet of Things, we're able to to get a lot of sensor data to be able to analyze that and find patterns [to predict when] breakages or fails are likely to occur and automatically ship a person or part on-site even before the customer realizes that they're potentially going to have an issue or a fault."

Microsoft on Monday unveiled the Cortana Analytics Suite, which bundles several of Microsoft's analytics, machine learning and BI solutions. Regarding whether FieldOne's technology will eventually become part of the bundle, Kahlon said, "We're working with the Cortana and the IT team on [that]. We expect that we will, in the future, deliver some out-of-the-box predictive models."

Microsoft has not yet detailed how and when FieldOne's technology will be integrated into Dynamics CRM, but Kahlon indicated that Dynamics CRM users can expect to see these capabilities fairly soon.

"We haven't quite finalized the pricing and packaging," Kahlon said. "Our intent is to make this part and parcel of the Dynamics product. Because this is pretty much built on our stack, we think the time required for us to integrate and make it available as a Microsoft service, especially for the [Dynamics CRM] Online customers, is going to be fairly short."

Dynamics CRM is on a six-month update cycle. A spring update was released this past May, and a second one is expected to roll out sometime in the fourth quarter.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.