In an effort to boost its field service capabilities, Oracle on Thursday announced that it has agreed to buy TOA Technologies. The cloud-based provider of field service solutions that manage the "last mile" of customer service by optimizing activities between dispatchers, employees in the field and customers.
TOA's as a service is designed to follow field service requests from contact centers in real time, to increase the efficiency of scheduling an appropriate employee. It also uses analytics to track inventories, forecast service windows, and increase overall optimization. TOA's current customers include Vodafone, Ricoh and Virgin Media, and the company said it handles over 120 million service events yearly.
Terms of the deal were not made public.
David Vap, Group Vice President of Oracle Product Development, said in a statement that field service "is a critical aspect of customer service and by integrating TOA with Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle will uniquely offer enterprises the ability to coordinate face-to-face service interactions from the contact center to service scheduling and delvery."
He added that the integration between TOA and Oracle's ERP Cloud and ERP Applications allows field service teams to "have better information [so they can be] operated more efficiently and at a lower cost."
Efficient, targeted field service is one of the areas where Oracle is competing against Salesforce, among others. TOA will be integrated into Oracle's Service Cloud.
Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, pointed out to us that, ironically, field service remains important even as Oracle and others move further into becoming cloud-based companies.
'Brick in the Edifice'
"If you look at [efficient field service] as a brick in the edifice, it's another thing that Oracle needs to provide to be a credible cloud services provider," he said. Ultimately, "the cloud has to meet the real world," he added.
In other Oracle news, the company has cut its annual stock grants to CEO Larry Ellison and co-Presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, following shareholder criticism. Ellison, who had been receiving 7 million stock options each year, has now had that amount cut down to 3 million shares annually. Ellison, who started Oracle, owns a quarter of the company's stock. Hurd's and Catz' options will drop from 5 million to 2.5 million.
Earlier this week, Oracle launched a new cloud computing technology center in Seattle. The city is increasingly becoming a location for major cloud services -- it is also the home base for Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google's cloud business, and others.
Meanwhile, when you're watching the next installment of the seemingly endless "Terminator" series of feature movies, keep an eye out for the Oracle headquarters building in Redwood City. A notice has been distributed to employees and nearby residents that shooting will be taking place there over the next few days for "Terminator: Genesis."
Not coincidentally, executive producers are David and Megan Ellison, film industry veterans and Ellison's children.