Service simplified: Axeda merges with Questra; promises next-gen remote service software
Axeda very recently consolidated its position as leader in the small but growing remote product services (RPS) market by acquiring No. 2 vendor Questra . The buy seeks to push Axeda into the nascent smart services market.
Services are seen among product manufacturers as a significant new revenue stream and a critical component for greater competitive differentiation. RPS technology is used to proactively monitor the operation and performance of equipment, deliver remote diagnostics in the event of problems, and apply fixes remotely. It also facilitates equipment service processes when technicians have to be dispatched, ensuring that they have correct parts on hand.
Indeed, the market need for better equipment performance—i.e., more uptime, greater throughput—is significant, according to research out of Boston-based Aberdeen Group . In a recent survey, Aberdeen found that only 28 percent of companies reported providing customers with asset availability greater than 90 percent; with 16 percent reporting that assets at customer sites were available only about 50 percent of the time.
“The [Axeda-Questra] acquisition makes sense as the remote product services market is in its early-growth stage, with a lot of opportunity for continued growth,” says Sumair Dutta, senior research analyst for Aberdeen Group. “The technology helps in terms of customer satisfaction, asset uptime, and reducing costs. Given the economy we’re in, these are especially critical issues.”
Brian Anderson, VP of marketing for Axeda, concurs. “We saw an important opportunity to bring the [top] players in the market together, to bring the people and technology together to be the best in the market. And it gives us a platform to move into smart services in the larger machine-to-machine [M2M] space to solve larger problems.”
For Axeda and Questra, there is some overlap in their product portfolios, but there are important distinctions as well. While both have strong presence in the medical devices market, Axeda also has presence in high-tech, and Questra in product imaging and industrial manufacturing.
Axeda pushes an on-demand, easy-to-deploy Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model while Questra has its strength in service-oriented architecture (SOA).
Regarding partners, Axeda has a strong, established relationship with Oracle , with Axeda ServiceLink solution a component of Oracle’s service suite. Questra has been an integral part of SAP ’s Service and Asset Management solution, with both RPS providers benefiting from the big ERP vendors’ up-market presence.
|Brian Anderson, VP of marketing for Axeda, says in a down economy, “Remote product services resonates more strongly for many companies.”|
The merger brings the combined customer base up over 100, including front-runners like Abbott Laboratories, ABB, EMC, Diebold, Eaton, Phillips, Siemens, Samsung, and Pittsburgh-based Respironics , a $1-billion global equipment company that specializes in sleep and respiratory products. Its Critical Care Group develops and markets Esprit Ventilators used in hospital ICUs to aid patient breathing. Axeda’s ServiceLink solution is used to remotely upgrade unit software functionality. In the first year, the solution saved $1.2 million in optimizing the upgrade process, reduced Respironics’ field service visits by 20 percent, and cut 15 percent in overall service costs.
“In a down economy, remote product services resonates more strongly for many companies,” concludes Axeda’s Anderson. “Companies are trying to optimize their organizations for serving customers. If they can do it remotely, rather than putting people on planes, they can reduce costs. Optimizing service revenues when sales are down also keeps the bottom line from going the wrong way.”