"If you can build a demo in Force.com, you are 80% of the way there. The turnaround from concept to actual product is extremely fast."
ServiceMax Builds Award-Winning Field Service Solution on Force.com
It feels good to have your hard work recognized. Just ask Sam Mukherjee, founder, president, and CEO of ServiceMax. His company recently won the Force.com Million Dollar Challenge for ServiceMax, its service chain management and field service solution built on the Force.com platform.
Although cloud computing is relatively new to ServiceMax, the San Jose, CA-based company has been helping clients deploy on-premise CRM and field service solutions for more than a decade. When asked by a customer to help deploy Salesforce CRM, Mukherjee quickly became a fan of salesforce.com and its cloud-computing solutions. He and the rest of the management team liked the ease of deployment and maintenance that the delivery model offers. They also appreciated Salesforce CRM’s point-and-click customization and the wide range of additional applications available on AppExchange.
When Mukherjee and his colleagues couldn’t find a field service solution on the AppExchange, they immediately saw an opportunity. “Here we had a fully mature development platform that could be used by an ISV with the right knowledge to build a great field service application,” says Mukherjee. “We got our developers together and started working on a solution right away.”
It took just one year for ServiceMax to bring ServiceMax to market. Launched at salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference, the application extends Salesforce CRM to provide service chain management and field service support for ‘asset-intensive’ industries. These include high-tech and capital equipment manufacturing, telecommunications, utilities, distribution and servicing, equipment leasing and maintenance, and more.
A 100% native Force.com product, ServiceMax can be easily installed from AppExchange and works seamlessly with Salesforce CRM Service. From the beginning, response to the application was enthusiastic. Salesforce.com’s existing customers weren’t the only ones interested; the tool was so compelling that even companies using alternatives decided to take another look at Salesforce CRM and cloud computing. There are more than 17 active ServiceMax customers today, and many more are in the evaluation stage.
“It is so easy to build apps using Force.com,” says Mukherjee. “Salesforce.com has made many things very simple. The platform, technology, and development environment are very elegant. If you can build a demo in Force.com, you are 80% of the way there. The turnaround from concept to actual product is extremely fast.”
With just twenty employees spread between the US and India, ServiceMax couldn’t afford to divert a large number of developers off of its existing operations to focus on a new product. With Force.com, they didn’t have to. Using S-controls and Apex (future modifications will be built with Force.com's pages), the team built a prototype, quickly followed by a finished application. “It would have required five times as much effort – at five times the cost – to build ServiceMax in .NET or Java,” Mukherjee says. “The multitenant environment has many checks and balances to make things easier. And code snippets and mini applications have already been built. There’s a lot you don’t have to think about. You can just focus on the solution.”
The huge Salesforce CRM customer base gave an early boost to ServiceMax’s sales. “We knew that if we built a solution that dovetailed easily onto what salesforce.com was already doing, we’d have a large customer base readily available to us. Everybody wins – salesforce.com has a more attractive product, we sell licenses, and the customer has a more robust solution to help it manage its field service business.”
The Salesforce CRM brand has also been a powerful sales tool for ServiceMax. “We realized up front that it would be difficult for a small company like ours to convince and enterprise company to put their data on our servers,” explains Mukherjee. “But these companies already trust their data to salesforce.com. Or it they don’t, they are familiar with the company’s stability and high standards for service delivery. Salesforce.com is a trusted company; when we use Force.com that trust is transferred to us.”
ServiceMax also benefits form the huge cost savings of outsourcing operations to salesforce.com. “ It’s expensive, not to mention a big operational headache, to maintain the infrastructure for an on-demand service,” says Mukherjee. “We’re happy to leave this to salesforce.com, so we can stay focused on our customers’ needs.”
Just one year after launching ServiceMax, ServiceMax was recognized for its efforts when it was selected as the winner of the Force.com Million Dollar Challenge at Dreamforce. The competition, for entrepreneurs and companies building on the Force.com platform, is sponsored by Emergence Capital Partners, a leading venture capital firm focused on early and growth-stage technology-enabled service companies. In addition to innovative use of the platform technology, winners are selected based on market opportunity and competitive environment, entrepreneurial team passion, demonstrated customer success and adoption, financial plan, and likelihood of long-term company success. ServiceMax’s business was already established; the company viewed the contest primarily as an opportunity to showcase its application and gain feedback as to how it compared with other products. Emergence partners were so impressed by ServiceMax’s business plan and the ServiceMax product, that the firm plans to double the award and invest $2 million in the company. Says Mukherjee, “It is exciting to be recognized financially--particularly in the current economic climate. We’re going to use the money for customer acquisition and are drawing up a plan on how best to do that.”
ServiceMax’s managers are so thrilled with ServiceMax that they’ve refocused the company exclusively on Force.com-based products. “We’re winding down our consulting business,” says Mukherjee. “The next step in our development efforts will be verticialization of ServiceMax. We have a whole road map of exciting things.” Mukherjee is optimistic about the company’s future. “ Obviously today’s economy is extremely conservative,” he cautions. “But we think the low front end cost of Salesforce CRM and ServiceMax will help us continue to be attractive. Field service is also an area where companies typically don’t pare back in a down economy. When companies purchase fewer asset-intensive products, they need to increase the life of the ones they’ve already got. We can help them manage that process.”
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