The turning of the calendar is again typically filled with bold predictions about what the future of life, business, and technology will look like. Some may end up being spot-on, others way off. But here’s a pretty safe bet for the near future, especially as it relates to field service: More and more companies are going to replace their internal information technology departments with software that’s hosted off-site, in the cloud.

In this article from Field Technologies Online’s Brian Albright, several field service product vendors speculate on the future of cloud hosting and what service companies can gain by getting ahead of the technological curve now:

(Article excerpted with permission. Download the full article by visiting Field Technologies Online’s website here.)

The level of cloud-computing adoption in the enterprise is increasing as IT departments search for ways to reduce costs and end users demand anytime/anywhere access to corporate data. Forrester Research expects the global market for cloud computing to grow from $41 billion as of 2011 to $241 billion in 2020. Field service is one line-of-business application that is quickly gaining acceptance as a cloud-based or -hosted solution. “For field service, being cloud-based is even more important that other functions,” Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax, said. “Field service workers are, by definition, working remotely, and they need to be able to access information to do their job from anywhere. Universal access via mobile or Web browser is a key advantage for field service technology in the cloud.”

Many large companies still prefer on-premise solutions (in part because of security or reliability concerns) and can afford to support those solutions with their own large IT departments. But for mobile solutions like field service, many companies are coming around to the idea that a hosted model makes more sense. “We’ve found that once a company has migrated its sales automation, or its ERP, or any other important system to the cloud, then they are over the hump,” says Kris Brannock, VP of corporate development at Vertical Solutions. “They are ready to move other applications to the cloud. At that point, they are more concerned with functionality and managing integration points than they are with security.”

Cost Drives Cloud-Based Service Solutions

Why do companies ultimately make the leap to the cloud? Cloud-based solutions have a number of advantages, including increased flexibility, scalability, ease of use, and lower IT support requirements. If the system exists in the cloud, internal IT staff can be freed up to work on other projects and initiatives. “All this equates to a substantially lower cost of ownership, which affects the entire organization positively by significantly affecting the bottom line,” says Yuval Brisker, CEO and cofounder of TOA Technologies. “Also, SaaS and cloud-based software is a platform for ongoing innovation that is delivered continuously to users with no delay, helping enterprise stay ahead of the technology curve.”

(Disclaimer: ServiceMax sponsors The SmartVan.)

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Field Technologies Online provides is a resource for the optimization of field workers, service and assets. The publication's goal is to provide companies in the field service, transportation/distribution, government, public works and utilities industries with information on mobile technologies that can be used to improve productivity and drive efficiency.