• March 10, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

As Clouds Rise, Companies Need to Explore Their Options

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When COVID-19 began its rage across the country a year ago, the exterminator who regularly makes the rounds through my New York apartment building every two weeks scaled back his operations. The pests took notice, and their populations grew. The project to upgrade my building’s laundry room with new washers, dryers, and fire safety systems was put on hold. Plans to have contractors come in and renovate my building’s community room were pretty much scrapped altogether. And I had a hard time finding an electrician to replace the broken ceiling fan in my bedroom, preventing me from enjoying a cool night’s sleep during last summer’s heat wave.

All this field service work didn’t need to come to a grinding halt, though, as this month’s third feature, “Field Service Goes High Tech Amid the Pandemic,” points out. The feature highlights some of the extreme measures repair technicians, installers, and contractors took to keep their businesses and their customer outreach going despite social distancing mandates and larger lockdowns. With the right combination of technology, hygiene best practices, training, and proactive customer communications, global companies like appliance manufacturer Whirlpool and smaller, more localized businesses like SST Communications, AirPros, Louisville Water, and Shafer Heating & Cooling didn’t suffer needlessly for long. They were able to keep their equipment up and running while ensuring that their workers and customers stayed safe and healthy.

For these businesses, digital transformation and cloud deployments of CRM and other business-critical software enabled business continuity and a host of efficiencies without sacrificing the strong service that is central to field work. Many of these businesses not only survived but thrived, even as many other businesses look at the possibility of having to shutter permanently.

“Digital transformation is helping us maximize our scheduling, asset reliability, and uptime, reduce capital and operational expenditures, extend asset life, reduce unplanned downtime, and provide superior customer service, all without increasing operational, safety, or environmental risks,” David Vogel, Louisville Water’s executive vice president, says in the article.

Specialized field service management systems and the larger CRM systems that spawned them have mostly shifted to the cloud, and with good reason: For many businesses, cloud deployments are more cost-efficient and enable greater flexibility, reliability, agility, and security than their on-premises counterparts. But not all clouds are created equal, so in this month’s issue we also highlight the types of clouds available. Our second feature, “CRM in the Cloud: Which Model Is Right for You?”, outlines the pluses and minuses of the different types of cloud deployments (public, private, hybrid, hosted, multitenant, and managed) available.

Field service workers, of course, haven’t been the only ones adopting the software-as-a-service model. According to some estimates, as much as 75 percent to 80 percent of all CRM deployments today have some components stored in the cloud. If you are looking to make that move, you should read this feature to help determine which type of offering might best serve your needs. Though there is some overlap, cloud service providers, technology vendors, and end users all have different responsibilities with each of these deployment models, so weigh your options carefully.

Now that the pandemic is hopefully starting to wind down, software deployments in the cloud will continue to be important for businesses. It will take a while for employees to return to the office and for customers to return to stores, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, bank branches, and other brick-and-mortar locations. My shopping behavior has definitely changed, and I am not alone. Most consumers have gotten accustomed to conducting transactions online, and that is not likely to change anytime soon.

I got an Amazon Alexa device for Christmas, and my online shopping has increased dramatically, much to the delight of my credit card company, and I am not the only one. Now that field service workers are adapting, maybe my building can bring in a cloud-enabled contractor to expand the mailroom so I don’t have to break my neck tripping over all the Amazon boxes just to get the credit card bills out of my mailbox.

Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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