theCUBE is the world’s leading live interview show covering enterprise tech, innovation and the people who imagine, create and implement the technologies that are changing our world. This year, they joined IFS in Miami for IFS Unleashed 2022. Below is the transcription of an interview with Marne Martin, President, Service Management, EAM and Global Industries at IFS. Enjoy!
theCube: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Miami. I feel like I should be singing that song. Lisa Martin here live with theCUBE at IFS Unleashed. We’ve been here all day having great conversations with IFS executives, their customers, their partners, lots a… You can hear probably the buzz behind me at the vibe here. Lot of great folks, 1500 plus here. People are excited to be back and to see what IFS has been up to the last few years. I’m pleased to welcome back one of our alumni who was here with us last time we covered IFS, Marne Martin joins us. The president, Service Management, EAM and Global Industry at IFS. Marne, it’s great to have you back on theCUBE.
Marne Martin: Yeah, I’m so happy to be here, and thanks for joining us in Miami. Last time it was Boston.
theCube: That’s right.
Marne Martin: So definitely much warmer climate this time.
theCube: Much warmer. (Marne laughs) Yes, much warmer. And people here are just smiles on faces. People are excited to be back. There’s… But I shouldn’t elude that IFS slow down at all during the pandemic. You did not. I was looking at the first half, 2022 financials that came out over the summer and AR are up 33%. So much recurring revenue as well. So your… The business is doing incredibly well. You’ve pivoted beautifully during the pandemic. Customers are happy. There’s a lot of customers here. You guys talk a lot about the moment of service. I love that. Talk to the audience about what that is, and how you’re enabling your customers to deliver that to their customers.
Marne Martin: Definitely. So, you know, it’s amazing when you have these inflection points and it’s a good opportunity, world conference to world conference to celebrate that. We’ve grown a lot, and the number of customers we’ve brought in, in tier one global customers as well as in our variety of the various regions around the world and different industry verticals is amazing. And, you know, the participation is what’s making IFS be a better company, a better technology vendor as we focus on these industries. So is understanding moment of service. You know, we talk a lot, and certainly CIOs and IT buyers will talk about technology but putting the technology to work has to be meaningful, not only to the returns that go to shareholders, but what it matters, what matters to the end customers, of our customers.
And when we started thinking about the new branding of IFS, because we also rebranded in this time, we thought, “How does that mission crystallize in what we’re doing for our customers, and how do we really start put bringing technology to life?” And that is where moment of service came. So, it’s very rare in our world that you actually come up with a sort of slogan or an objective as a company that not only mobilizes what we do internally here at IFS, delivering great moments of service to our customers, but also that tells a story of the customers to the end customer. You know, service, an area that I work in a lot, it’s very obvious that you… We all know when we get a great moment of service, or sometimes a bad moment of service.
So, if you talk to service organizations, field service organizations, they understand what a moment of service is. But it’s also thinking about how we enable the people delivering that great moment of service. Not just like doing a survey or what have you, but what are the digital tools that help them to deliver better moments of service proactively.
Marne Martin: One of my pet peeves was always that even like, if you have a voice of the customer program or what have you, that you may get that reactive feedback perhaps to a CMO in an organization, but the insights don’t really get actioned. So here, across the line of business applications that we sell, ERP Service Management, EAM, ITSM, or ESM, we’re really thinking about with that moment of service, the objective of putting the technology to work. How do we facilitate that alongside the business growth of our customers, but also how do we take the insights they get from their end customers into the business models as well as the functional design, what we develop. So, moment of service has become, say the heart of IFS as well as a way of understanding our customers better.
theCube: Really understanding them at much deeper level-
Marne Martin: Correct. Correct.
theCube: And a lot of organizations. Give me some examples of some of the insights that IFS has gleaned from its customers. How you’ve brought them internally to really evolve the technology.
Marne Martin: So, I think what’s important is a lot of times technology vendors may say they know their customers, right? If you think about what technology vendor, we know with the 360 view of the customer. You know, understanding the customer is a lot more than understanding their renewal date as a software vendor.
theCube: Yeah. (laughs)
Marne Martin: So, we have to really think about the moments of service on what matters most at that point of service, right? And it will vary certainly by industry, but there also will be certain things that are very much the same. Like for example, if we, as a customer, can have an asset or a piece of equipment that never breaks, we’re a happier customer. If it does break, we, of course, want it to be fixed the first time someone shows up. So those are the obvious things. But how you then fix or manifest that into a different way of utilizing and implementing the technology. Thinking also about taking the operational insights that you have on driving, what we call preventative or predictive maintenance, or maximizing what’s called a first-time fixed resolution. You know, being able to marry best practices with at times artificial intelligence and machine learning information, with also the operational and personal insights of the people doing the work really enriches the quality of the insights you have around that moment of service and how to recreate a great moment of service or lessen a poor moment of service.
Marne Martin: And it also changes a view of what are often IT-driven projects into what’s the user feedback that also matters most to enable that. You know, with the talent shortage that we’re seeing, you know, customer expectations have only increased.
Marne Martin: So, we all know, and customers want great moments of service, but how do we enable the frontline workers, whether they’re field service workers or others, to deliver against these expectations when they might be harried, and you know, having to do a lot more work because of talent shortage. So, we want to think about what their needs are in a way that’s more focused towards delivering that moment of service, that great customer experience. And of course, that always feeds back into brand loyalty, selling more profits, but really getting into it. And you know, the advantage of IFS is that we understand the domain expertise to do things from a UI UX, a business process, but also thinking about how we’re developing, to answer your question, the artificial intelligence machine learning. Even thinking about how you put IoT to work in ways that really matter, because there’s a lot of money spent on IT projects that actually don’t deliver great moments of service, let alone actual business value.
theCube: Right. I love the vertical specialization that IFS has. I was interviewing Darren Roos, your CEO, a little bit earlier today and I said, “You know, we see so many companies… So many vendors, like some of your competitors in the ERP Space, which whom you’re outgrowing or growing faster than, or horizontally focused. And the vertical specialization that he was kind of describing how long it’s been here really allows IFS to focus on its core competencies. But another thing that I’m hearing throughout the interviews I’m having today, and you just said the same thing, is that you’re not just, “We need to meet the customer where they are.” Everyone talks about that. You’ve actually getting the… You’re developing and fostering the domain expertise.
Marne Martin: Yes.
theCube: So, whether you’re talking with an energy company, aerospace and defense company, manufacturing, there’s that one-to-one knowledge within IFS and its customer, or based in that industry that it can only imagine is maybe part of what’s leading to, you know, that big increase in ARR that I talked about, the recurring revenue being so high. That domain expertise seems to be a differentiator from my lens.
Marne Martin: Well, let’s even talk about how people build relationships, right? You know, we’re having a conversation, so we’re already having a higher value relationship, right? And that comes through with how vendors engage with their customers. You know, when you have seen your executives like Darren and myself, and Michael and Christian, who still care and really focus on what is most impactful. What is that moment of service? I’m sure Darren talked about the great moment of service book that we just released.
Marne Martin: So, understanding at a more visceral and may I say, intimate moment with the customers, what matters most to them. And really working with what are developing, what we call the digital dream team within these customers that understand enough of where they’re going in the objective, enables us to do a better job. And it’s also where then, it’s not only how we’re partnering in the sales process implementation in the conventional ways, but product management. What is the most meaningful? How can we prioritize what makes the most impact? Obviously, there’s cool stuff we want to do too, but you know, we really think about understanding the verticals and understanding where they’re going. And you see that, for example, we’re an absolute leader in mobile workforce management specifically, where we have what’s called real time optimization.
Super hard to do. No one else does it anymore except us. Great. There’s other things where you’d say that “Hey, some of the other vendors talk about this, right?” APM as a performance management or other things, but because they lack the true vertical specialization and the use cases and the ease to put it in, the adoption rate is low.
Marne Martin: So, you know, in that case, APM might not be something we do only, but if we can actually help commercialize this, something that has a great deal of value in a superior way in that focus verticals, that’s what it means to have industry specialization. Because if you spread yourself too thin, you know then, you’ll end up with an AI or machine learning platform or something like that that you know, most companies don’t have five years to try and configure, build out a Watson or something like that. I mean, most companies in this day and age, with the requirements of competitive pressure and supply chain pressures have to be nimble and have to be getting results fast. So, the closest with the customers, the domain expertise, the understanding of what matters most, helps us to be faster to the value outcomes that our customers need.
It helps us to be more focused in what we’re developing and also how we’re developing. And ultimately, that does benefit us that, you know, we want to make sure that we’re not only leading today, but you know, staying ahead of the game in the next 5 to 10 years, which will help us to grow. You know, we’re certainly not a small company anymore. We’re at a billion in revenue looking to be 2 billion and eventually 5 billion in revenue.
Marne Martin: So that already, you know, puts us well beyond unicorn status into one of the very few. But, you know, we want to take a different track even of how a service now or a sales force or SAP or even, you know, to some degree workday grew by making sure that we remain focused on these key verticals and not lose our focus. And they’re plenty big enough verticals for us to achieve our growth goals.
theCube: Well, the growth has been impressive, as I mentioned the ARR app in the first half, and I was chatting with Darren earlier as I said, and I said, “Can you gimme any nuggets for a second half?” I imagine the trajectory is up onto the right. And he alluded to the fact that things are going quite well, but the focus there that you have with customers. Also, you talked about this and I had several customers on the program today. Rolls-Royce was here. Aston Martin was here. And it’s very obvious that there is a… There was a uniqueness about the relationship that I saw-
Marne Martin: Yes.
theCube: Especially with Rolls-Royce that I thought was quite, I mean, you talked about kind of that customer intimacy and that personalization, which people used to tolerate fragmented experiences. We don’t tolerate those anymore.
Marne Martin: No.
theCube: Nobody has the patience for that.
Marne Martin: No. And it’s also, you know, this business isn’t easy for a lot of these customers to stay ahead, right? You know, especially if you think about a tier one customer that’s at the top of their category. How did they continue to innovate? And Rolls Royce and Aston Martin are really cool customers. You know, but we’re also thinking about, you know, what are the up-and-comers? Or you know, we also get customers that have come to us because they’ve started falling behind in their sector because they haven’t been able to digitalize and grow forward. You know, we work a lot with SAP customers. Darren, of course, came from SAP. But in that ecosystem and especially in the areas I work in a lot with service management, SAP customers, you know, that are focusing on ERP, you know, SAP hasn’t been a great enabler of service management for them.
So, the SAP customers have actually fallen behind. And the ability to come to a lot of these new type of digitally based value-based service offerings really make aftermarket service revenues a lifeblood of their company. So even there where, you know, we might have in a different ERP choice, we’re able to provide what’s really the missing link for these tier one companies that they can’t get anywhere else. And we see this also, you know, you’ve obviously Salesforce and CRM. A lot of Salesforce CRM customers. Microsoft with Dynamics also primarily ERP. But the focus and the specialization that we have is rare in the industry, but it’s so impactful.
Marne Martin: And you know, I would even venture to say that there’s not a tier one company that has a lot of aftermarket service revenue, or attention on service revenue, or even that is trying to monetize their connected asset or IoT investment that can ignore IFS.
Marne Martin: Because we are unique enough in our focus verticals that if they want to continue growing and that is a cornerstone of their growth, their customer, their moment of service, then they definitely need to look at IFS.
theCube: Absolutely. Does IFS care that it’s not as well-known of a brand? I mean, I mentioned you guys are growing. Maybe I didn’t mention this, number three in ERP, you are growing faster than the top two biggest competitors, which you mentioned SAP, Oracle as well, but those implementations can be quite complex. Does IFS care that you’re doing so well? Darren talked about where you’re winning, how you’re being competitive, where you went. Do they care about being a big-name brand, or is that really kind of not as important nearly as delivering those moments of service?
Marne Martin: So, you know, it’s a mirrored question that you asked me, and therefore, I’ll give you a multifaceted answer. (Lisa laughs) You know, ERP, we’re very proud to be a top three vendor and I think over time we’ll continue to dislodge SAP and Oracle in ERP, where companies want to make a different ERP choice, or they’re consolidating or whatever. I think already in field service management, we’re by far the number one and will continue to be that. And you actually see a lot of our ERP competitors that are dropping down and you seem a… There’s not really a lot of what I’d call best-of-breed options other than IFS as well. So… And then enterprise asset management, I really think the opportunity for IFS is how we put technology to work in some of these advanced capabilities in ways that can be automated that is, for example, in IBM Maximo or Watson or what have you haven’t been able to be.
And then you have some other best-of-breed EAM customers that have kind of not continued innovating and things like that. So, the lines where we are really building the brand recognition with the largest companies in the world might be anchored for now more around field service management, enterprise asset management. But of course, that brand recognition comes back into ERP.
Marne Martin: And there will be, you know, as we continue to innovate, as people make ERP decisions every 5, 7, 10 years as those buying cycles are, then it’s important that we’re using the leadership positions we have. And especially, you know, thinking about these verticals where the asset centric service nature is paramount to them either to meet their moment of service, or to meet their aftermarket service revenue goals that we get the recognition of IFS as being the leader. And all the, you know… And this is where I’ll go to the next layer of your question that building that is something I pride myself on and I’ll say that we’re building the IFS brand recognition at three different levels.
Marne Martin: There’s the C-level and the board level, which I’d say my top participation in Darren’s keynote this morning was more targeted to messages that would go, you know, “How are you a smarter digital business? How does IFS help you to be that?”
Marne Martin: Okay. Then we have the operational or kind of the doers in a digital dream team that are below C-level, maybe VPs or directors or SVPs, that actually have the objective of bringing in the new business models, the operational change, the new technology, putting it to work. And there, you know, you have aspects of what do they need now versus how do they change and how do they continue innovating in a way that is easy as possible.
Marne Martin: And then you definitely need to focus also on the people that are hands-on with those end customers.
theCube: The practitioners. Yeah.
Marne Martin: The people that not only are told about the moment of service, but live the moment of service, right? The actual users in the field. Maybe the dispatchers, you know, the people that are doing the maintenance or the service or things like that. So the domain expertise in how we build the brand recognition has to be in all those three constituencies. We want to make sure that the CEO and the board members know who IFS is. We want to make sure that the operational leaders and the IT leaders who actually are delivering the project trust us to deliver.
Marne Martin: And are confident in our ability to deliver with our ecosystem. And then we want to make sure that we’re delighting those users of the software that they can deliver the moment of service, not just the business value that we all want from technology, but really that we’re enabling them to have a solution that they love. That they can enjoy doing their job, or at least feel that they’re doing their job in a way that’s helpful to them.
Marne Martin: And that ties into the end customers getting the moment of service that we all want.
theCube: Absolutely. Well, very much aligned with what I heard today. It sounds like there’s a rock-solid strategy across the board at IFS and you… Congratulations on the work that you’ve done to help put that in place and how it’s been evolving. I can only imagine that those second half numbers are going to be fantastic. So, we’ll have to have you back on the show next year (Marne laughs) to see what else is new.
Marne Martin: Yeah, I can’t wait. It’s an absolute pleasure and-
Marne Martin: You know, and really, we’re so passionate about what we do here.
Marne Martin: You know, I think just as a final note, as we grow, we want to make sure that doubling the company, doubling the number of customers, that our customers still feel that intimacy and that care.
Marne Martin: Right?
Marne Martin: That they can access senior executives that aren’t clueless about their used cases and their vertical and actually have the ability to help them. You know, one of the things I pride myself on is that we… Okay, ideally people choose IFS in the first instance. We have successful projects and move on. Sometimes though, we’re taking failed projects from other vendors.
theCube: Yes, right.
Marne Martin: And what I pride myself on, and we all do here at IFS, is that we get those projects live, with those customers live. You know, we have the grit. We have the domain expertise, we see it through. And that even if customers have failed to get the business value or the transformation, you know, in the areas that we specialize at IFS, they can come here, and we get it done.
theCube: Right, you got a trusted partner.
Marne Martin: And that’s something- Yes, and that, you know, I know every vendor says that-
theCube: They do, but-
Marne Martin: But the reality is that we live it.
Marne Martin: And it doesn’t mean we’re perfect. No vendor’s perfect. But you know, we have the dedication and the focus and the domain expertise to get it done. And that’s what’s ultimately driving us into these leadership positions, changing how IFS is viewed. You know, we have people now that are coming to IFS that are saying, “IFS is the only choice in service management if you really want to do this work.” And, you know, again, we have to keep earning it. But that’s great.
theCube: Exactly. Well, congratulations on all of that. That customer intimacy is a unique differentiator, and it’s something that is… It’s very… It’s a flywheel, right? It’s very synergistic. We appreciate your time and your insights for joining us on the program today. Thank you, Marne.
Marne Martin: Absolutely a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming.
theCube: Mine as well. For Marne Martin, I’m Lisa Martin. No relation. (Marne laughs) You’re watching theCUBE live from Miami at IFS Unleashed. I’ll be back after a short break, so don’t go too far. (Soft electronic music) (soft electronic music continues)
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