Dispelling Myths about Professional Services Automation, Reporting and Analytics

Posted July 15, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

When I look over all the member inquiries I’ve received in the last year, it is no surprise that CRM and knowledge management top the list. But you may be surprised to hear that my #3 FAQ from TSIA members is professional services automation (PSA). Companies want to know exactly what modules are included, who the top players are, key selection criteria, ROI model, etc. According to my annual Global Technology Survey, 57% of B2B technology companies have budget for PSA in 2014-2015, which explains why inquiry volumes are so high.

This Thursday I’m doing a webinar with TSIA Partner Planview at 10am PT about the myths surrounding PSA tools, reporting and analytics. Specifically, we are going to talk about:

  • A project management tool or an elaborate spreadsheet is good enough to run a services P&L. When I survey companies about PSA, a large percentage are using home grown tools based on Excel, or a project management tool. PSA covers three modules: resource management, project management, and project accounting. You won’t get all of these capabilities in Excel or MS Project.
  • It’s OK for resource management tools to be totally separate from business reporting and analytics tools. If you really want to improve utilization rates, you need to introduce analytics into resource scheduling. Every staffing decision can be made to balance experience, skills, certifications, billable rates, utilization rates, etc.
  • Professional Services Automation & Service Resource Planning are just for consulting engagements. I’ll share some PSA data about the shift away from “pay as you go” custom projects, which are less common in a cloud world. Also, I’m seeing PSA tools used beyond the PS organization, including education services, field service and managed services.
  • Getting executive and team buy-in is very difficult. I hear this at conferences. Consultants enamored with mobile tools and the promise of higher utilization rates say, “My manager will never go for it.” And executives wanting project insight and real-time dashboards say, “My consultants will never adopt it.” Unlike SFA, which sales management loves and sales reps tend to hate, PSA has value for everyone. I’ll also share some tips on ensuring adoption.

I’ll also share some data from the PS benchmark showing that companies adopting PSA have better performance in key areas, including better project margins, lower field costs and improved billable rates. Here’s the link to register for the webinar: https://cysalesteam.com/tsia/event/dispelling-myths-about-automation-reporting-and-analytics/?webinarsource=tsiawebsite. If you aren’t able to attend, go ahead and register. We’ll send you a link to an OnDemand recording of the live event you can watch at your leisure.  Hope to see you Thursday, and as always, thanks for reading!

 

2014 Mid Year Trends: KM, Social and PSA

Posted June 16, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology, Best Practices, Professional Services, customer satisfaction, customer experience, knowledge management, social media

Just over a month ago we had our Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara, and any time I wasn’t presenting, I was in 1:1 meetings with TSIA members and partners. I’ve been thinking about what I heard, as well as follow-on inquiry conversations after the event, and I wanted to report back with what I’m hearing as the 3 top trends in service technology so far in 2014:

  • The concept of knowledge management has expanded. It used to be so easy. Buy a knowledgebase tool, train all your support techs on KCS basics, and start receiving value. But lots of things have changed to complicate this. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledgebase continues to be a critical element for success, but today’s service organizations are now seeing the knowledgebase as step one of a more complex knowledge infrastructure. Communities are now rated as more useful in solving customer problems than the knowledgebase, according to the TSIA Support Services benchmark. Unified search tools are becoming a ‘must-have’ technology to index and search all your corporate content, including online documentation, release notes, customer configuration files, and incident history. Expertise management is growing in popularity, to analyze your corporate content and identify experts on any topic or feature, so you know who to reach out to when you hit a knowledge or content gap. Though every company seems to come at this complex mix of technologies from a different direction, just about everyone I talk to today is interested in leveraging corporate content, and expertise, and definitely looking beyond the traditional knowledgebase.
  • Social media listening as early warning system. According to Cisco’s Doug Pluta, customers frequently talk about product or service issues via social media channels before the issue is reported via traditional assisted support channels. My inquiries on social media have completely changed. The last few years the questions were transactional: what social channels should we support, how to automate incident management, how quickly should we respond to social issues, etc. Today, the incident traffic regarding social media is focused primarily on monitoring social for voice of the customer analysis. What are customers saying, what sort of sentiment is being expressed, are there thoughts or suggestions floating around we haven’t heard from traditional surveys, etc. It is good to see more support organizations getting active in social listening, and not leaving it to marketing to monitor. Marketing cares about the perception of the brand more than individual products and features, and there is a lot of value to be gleaned from actively listening to these social conversations.
  • ERP integration boosts PSA value. A lot of members tend to start their search for a professional services automation (PSA) tool by looking at who integrates with their CRM platform. But based on inquiry conversations, as well as audience discussion in the breakout session I did at Santa Clara on selecting a PSA system, tightly integrating PSA to ERP delivers more value, faster, than plugging into CRM. Since tightening up billing cycles and reducing DSO on PS bills is a hot button for most companies, it makes sense to plug your PSA system into your billing and accounting system. Project details, milestones, signature approvals and travel and expenses are all passed automatically, with enough audit trail detail to satisfy even the toughest customer. One member told me that they have received 100% compliance in submitting expense reports and project updates by COB on Friday by tying a percent of the consultant’s bonus to getting those reports in on time. I plan to put more focus on existing ERP systems when speaking with companies shopping for PSA from here on out.

Many other topics are brewing as well. A rising trend in inquiries is asking how to reduce the cost of a CRM deployment, with many companies complaining that their cloud CRM vendor is “nickel and diming them to death,” charging extra for every new feature. Mobility continues to be a hot topic as well, with more field service organizations investigating devices and mobile capabilities. Collaboration is another big subject in 2014, especially with more at-home workers making it impossible to ask questions across the cubicle wall.

2014 is seeing a lot of companies shopping for new and interesting technology to take them to the next stage of productivity, as well as new levels of insight/visibility into operations.  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on other big trends in service technology. Feel free to add a comment! And as always, thanks for reading.

How to Leverage the Googlization of Knowledge Management

Posted May 20, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Best Practices, customer support, knowledge management

Tags: , ,

In my last blog post I wrote about the winners of our Service Revolutions competition at TSW, in which a group of tech companies each had 7 minutes to demo bleeding-edge technology, with the audience voting to determine the “coolest” presentation. This Thursday I’m hosting a webinar at 10am PT, “Making the Web Work for Customer Support,” with the winner of the Service Revolutions Commercial category, Radialpoint.

Radialpoint is really at the center of a number of converging trends around knowledge management in service. In the webinar I’ll be talking about:

  • The rise of complexity is making each customer issue harder to solve, and more companies are questioning the traditional “generalist” model of support, moving toward a collaborative group of expert specialists.
  • Traditional knowledgebase solutions are only meeting part of the needs of companies, leaving large gaps of customer issues with no corresponding content.
  • The primary way most people attempt to find information now is using Google (which I refer to as ‘Googlization’), and I have new survey data to illustrate this. I’m hearing from more support managers that they’ve invested heavily in KM, but their support techs use Google and bypass all the internal content.
  • Useful web content found by support techs isn’t captured or shared with other knowledge workers, causing support techs to “reinvent the wheel” researching the same  problem again and again.

Radialpoint can help address each of these problems. You need to see a demo to understand how cool this technology is, but in a nutshell, they are able to incorporate all your internal content (knowledgebase articles, manuals, case notes, release notes, etc.) into the Google searches your employees execute, automatically positioning your content along with web content. And, they can capture links to useful web content so it can be validated (much like you would a new knowledgebase article) and shared with other support techs. And, they offer some hot new features to enable and encourage collaboration, such as expertise management.

My thinking on knowledge management continues to evolve. Clearly companies need to recognize there are enormous amounts of useful information in online discussion forums, developer boards, even in YouTube videos, and you ignore all of this to your peril. But you still can’t abandon the traditional knowledgebase, which is proven to streamline resolution for repetitive issues. I would argue that Radialpoint helps solve both issues.

Please sign up for Thursday’s short 30 minute webinar. Here’s the link to register: http://www.tsia.com/documents/Making_the_Web_Work_for_Customer_Support/

If you aren’t available then, sign up anyway, and we’ll send you a link to the OnDemand version afterwards which you can watch at your leisure.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you live on Thursday!

2014 TSW Vision Awards at Service Revolutions: Recap

Posted May 13, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: customer support, Professional Services, self-service, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last week at Technology Services World Best Practices, the closing event of the conference was the Vision Awards at Service Revolutions. This “American Idol” style competition gives tech companies 7 minutes to demo their coolest technology. The competition was hosted by our CEO, JB Wood. A panel of judges, consisting of Al Gray, Vice President, Bentley Systems; Tony Brucha, Director, Advanced Services, WebEx Customer Success, Cisco; and yours truly, asked questions and made somewhat relevant comments after each presenter. Audience voting determined the winners.

To be considered for Service Revolutions, technology firms submit applications in 3 categories:

  • Service Practitioners. These are service organizations within tech firms, showing off technology or programs they have developed to improve customer service, streamline operations, or drive service revenue.
  • Commercial. These are established technology firms selling products to service organizations. The products must be in Beta phase or newly released.
  • Startup. These are brand new tech firms within their first 2 years, often pre-VC, showing off products yet to be released. The winner of the startup category wins a check for $10,000!

The finalists who took the stage were:

  • Service Practitioner: Blackbaud. Blackbaud demonstrated their group consulting model for professional services.
  • Service Practitioner: SAP. SAP demonstrated their Learning Hub for customer education.
  • Commercial: Ancile. Ancile demonstrated their in-product dynamic help technology.
  • Commercial: Radialpoint. Radialpoint demonstrated their Google extension which incorporates internal content into employee’s Google searches.
  • Commercial: Transversal. Trasnversal demonstrated Prescience, their voice self-service product.
  • Startup: SimpleQL. SimpleQL demontrated their dynamic analytics tools, “the Festivus of Business Intelligence.”
  • Startup: XOEye Technologies. XOEye demonstrated their camera and video enabled saftey glasses for field service, with a price point in the hundreds–not thousands.

The winners were Blackbaud, Radialpoint and SimpleQL. I thank all the presenters for great demonstrations, and congratulations to the winners!

TSW Day 2: Top Attended Sessions

Posted May 7, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Best Practices, Enterprise Support, social media

Yesterday was the first full day of sessions at Technology Services World Best Practices. I spent most of my day in 1:1 meetings with members and partners, as well as moderating a workout session on selecting the right Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool. A big thanks to the panelists who presented in that session: Al Gray, Vice President, Bentley Systems; Keith Drab, Solutions Architect, Changepoint; and Jeff Gebhart, Senior Solutions Consultant , Planview.

I always like to report on the top attended conference sessions, because while we all like to say what the ‘hot’ topics are, attendees vote with their feet. We had six sessions with over 100 attendees, with one session having over 200 attendees! Here are the top attended sessions from Tuesday:

Business Makeover Case Study – Support Services. This was the top attended session with 205 attendees (wow!). Business Makeover Case Studies consist of a member company who bravely agrees to “open the kimono” and talk about the biggest problems they face in their service operation, then receive input from a panel of experts on how to solve the problems. The audience also gets a chance to chime in. While finding someone brave enough to spill the beans about their own issues is difficult at each conference, clearly these sessions are hugely popular with members, the majority of which have the same or similar problems, or have solved them in the past. The brave volunteer for this session was Don Stanley – VP, Customer Support, CA Technologies. This session was moderated by Judi Platz.

Next-Generation B2B Online Community. This was the 2nd top attended session with 156 attendees. Customer communities is always a hot topic, and Joe Cothrel from Lithium is always a big draw. (Checkout Joe’s new book, Social Customer Experience.) Here is the session description: If you think online communities are just discussion forums, think again. Companies like AppDynamics are stretching the boundaries of a B2B community, encompassing documentation, learning, ideation, app exchange and other elements to create a one-stop shop for sharing and learning. In this session, Steve Levine, Senior Product Manager at AppDynamics, will share the business rationale for creating such a hub and what it took to bring all the right pieces together. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer at Lithium, will set the stage with some observations about B2B trends across Lithium’s global customer base.

Eliminating Serial Escalations: Leveraging Technology Skill Groups. This session, led by Matt Stone, Director, Customer Success Services,
NetApp; and David Yoffie, Customer Impact Consultant, PwC; had 151 attendees. Here’s the session description: Technical Support organizations tend to be characterized by teams with product focus, serial escalation of more difficult problems, and complex workflows. NetApp has embarked on a path to bring the appropriate level of technical assistance as close to the customer as possible while continuing to improve support efficiencies. In this session, we will share an approach to achieving these goals while servicing a highly demanding, global, extremely heterogeneous customer population. Leaders and practitioners that would like to explore new ways of providing high levels of service in complex technical environments will be interested in this presentation.

Power to the People! This session was led by Julian Lopez, Head of Customer Loyalty, Rackspace Hosting, Inc.; and Clayton Sherwood, Business Development Director, Clarabridge; received 131 attendees. Here’s the session description: During an epic 15 year journey, Rackspace® has transformed from an obscure San Antonio start-up into the global leader in hybrid cloud, the founder of OpenStack®, and a constant on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. The home of fanatical support, Rackspace® now operates on four continents and is helping the world through the cloud revolution. Learn how they empowered customers to guide them on this journey by combining trusted disciplines and a fiery culture, with a unique set of tools. Then get a sneak peek into the future as they share their plans for empowering front line employees to drive the next wave of innovation.

Business Makeover Case Study – Services Revenue Generation. This session, with another brave member discussing their top challenges, received 112 attendees. Longtime TSIA member Phil Nanus, Sr. Director, Business Development, SaaS, Infor Global Solutions, Inc. volunteered to discuss his challenges. This session was moderated by Julia Stegman, VP of Research for Service Revenue Generation.

I Know Social Media. What the Heck is Social Support? Another social topic rounds out the top attended list with 101 attendees. I know from my annual social media survey that 46% of TSIA members are now interacting with customers via social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, but the majority of companies started doing this because marketing was monitoring social channels and started forwarding them Tweets from unhappy customers. How to formalize the program and do it right remains a challenge. This session was presented by Tim Albright, Senior Director Community Strategy, Jive Software, Inc.; and Matthew Stauble, Vice President, Global Customer Support, Palo Alto Networks.

I will be back later this week with some final thoughts on today, the last day of TSW. Hope to see everyone at the Service Revolutions competition kicking off at 11am. Thanks for reading!

 

 

TSW Power Hour Session Recap: The 2014 Technology Heatmap

Posted May 6, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Best Practices, CRM, knowledge management, Professional Services, Technology

Yesterday was opening day of Technology Services World Best Practices, and I had a very full day. I did 5 presentations, which I think is a new personal record for a single day.  The day started with the TechFUTURES event, which was hugely attended, then the TechBEST showcase. I gave a tech trends overview at the partner Expo kickoff, then had my power hour session, and finally moderated a session on social support.

I wanted to recap some of the info from my Power Hour session, which focused on technology trends and the results from my 2014 Global Technology Survey. The results of the survey were released yesterday, including 10 research reports based on the data published on TSIA.com. The survey tracks adoption, satisfaction and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services, and we use the adoption data to build the annual Heatmap. Here’s a look at the 2014 Technology Heatmap:

2014 Technology Heatmap

As you can see, the categories are color coded by adoption level, with letters indicating which service disciplines each category applies to (E=Education Services, F=Field Service, M=Managed Services, P=Professional Services, R=Service Revenue Generation, S=Support Services).

The three categories that saw the highest adoption gains over 2013 were:

  • Field Service Parts and Logistics: +8%
  • Knowledge and Content Management: +6%
  • Intelligent Search: +5%

Another area everyone is always interested in is planned spending–where are companies investing in the next 1-2 years? Here’s a list of the top investment areas, with more than 50% of TSIA members having budget earmarked for new or additional purchases in 2014-2015:

  • Enterprise CRM: In a cloud world, buying CRM is never over as every new feature requires an additional purchase
  • Communities and Collaboration: Focus shifts from customer communities to employee collaboration
  • Knowledge and Content Management: Mobile and social driving spending across disciplines
  • Reporting and Analytics: Real-time dashboards key requirements across disciplines
  • MultiChannel Platforms: Continued investments in chat, social channels added to core multichannel strategy

For more details on adoption and spending trends, see the spending reports for each discipline live now on TSIA.com.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you this week at TSW!

2014 TechFUTURES: What will Service operations look like in 2019?

Posted May 5, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Best Practices, knowledge management, Professional Services, social media, Technology

Tags: , , , ,

Today I have the pleasure of opening Technology Services World with our TechFUTURES event, kicking off at 11am. TechFUTURES takes us forward in time five years, to the year 2019, for a look at the state of the industry with special focus on the impact of services technology. TSIA TechFUTURES focuses on three topics identified as primary change agents within the industry. The three topics are:

  • Analytics. “Big data” is not only a buzz phrase, it provides a solution to the explosion of enterprise data: harnessing the power of analytics to glean critical information from multiple, real-time streams of content. As an example, professional services organizations have historically run their operations using spreadsheets, only to find out at the end of the project that major milestones were missed, the project ran over budget, and customers are not satisfied with the outcome and are pushing back on payment. Today, we are beginning to see real-time dashboards that can pinpoint projects in trouble immediately, giving supervisors the opportunity to resolve problems and put the project back on course. With increased sophistication coming to analytics every year, what will big data look like in 2019? How will proactive dashboards evolve over the next five years?
  • Collaboration. There are many drivers behind the growing budgets for enterprise collaboration tools by technology suppliers. Younger demographics entering the workforce prefer to share ideas and collaborate on problems. Mobile devices provide mechanisms to ask questions of peers from any location, on any device. The rise of expertise management is making it easier to identify the expert on any subject—or any line of code. The growing number of remote workers means collaboration can’t happen over cubicle walls—enterprise collaboration tools are required. Looking ahead to 2019, with collaboration becoming the default communication mechanism for employees, how will this change the way we work? Looking beyond just employees, what is the role of partners and customers in collaboration?
  • Service Channels. The way we interact with customers has seen dramatic changes over the last decade. The shift from call centers to contact centers was forced by customers rapidly adopting emerging channels. First was email, offering a way for customers to thoughtfully describe problems without a phone call. Next was self-service, then chat, and today, rising adoption of social media channels means technology firms are interacting with customers via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more. Looking ahead to 2019, what will be the dominate interaction channels for customers? With the Internet of Things allowing every device in your home and office to be online and interconnected, how can we further streamline and automate technology support to leverage the new always-connected customer?

TSIA has identified three technology partners to paint a vision of the future state of services, focusing on the topics defined above. The presentations will take us forward to 2019, and focus on “a day in the life” of Bob, a highly social, collaborative, connected, and data-savvy customer, as well as June, a high-tech support executive, responsible for consolidated service operations. How will the combined forces of analytics, collaboration, and evolving service channels impact June’s people, processes, and technology, and what new challenges can we expect from our future customer, Bob?

  • Changepoint: Analytics 3.0 (Data + Analytics) = Business Opportunities. Analytics 3.0 is the heart of the next phase of global transformation—it’s where big data and analytics join forces with strategic operational and decision processes to create new accelerated opportunities and revenue streams for businesses, giving rise to the Data-Driven Economy. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Changepoint futurist Larry Kading takes you on a journey about how all organizations—not just the large online pioneers—can compete in the Data-Driven Economy. However, while new business opportunities and revenue streams abound as a result of this global transformation, they only exist for organizations that understand how to get there. Larry will share the secrets of how June can exploit the opportunity with game-changing, analytics-based products and services. Control the data or it may control you.
  • Jive Software: Collaboration. The human brain is as powerful as 300 supercomputers, but excels at a certain kind of intelligence: creativity, innovation, and intuition. It is limited by its isolation and access to information, and because of its limitations, we have all adapted our behavior to machines much better at crunching numbers. Today, we are starting to carry devices more powerful than the original supercomputers with us all of the time that are always connected: the laptop, the tablet, the smartphone, smart watches, Fitbits, and wearable HUDs. In the next five years, the time may come when all of us will complement our own intelligence with hundreds of tiny, connected supercomputers that are able to instantaneously perform staggering analytics, expanding our concept of collaboration by presenting us with the right information, conversation, or access to expertise in the moment that we need it. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Chris Morace, Jive’s chief strategy officer and New York Times best-selling author, explores how much better it will be to work together in 2019. Find out what work will be like when we are empowered by powerful technology, and not tethered to it.
  • Support.com: Service Channels. Support.com, Inc. is a leading provider of cloud-based services and software that enable technology support for a connected world. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Amy Millard will discuss how the Internet of Things will continue to create new opportunities and challenges. We live in a world where our devices monitor, track, and connect the physical world, and this will only increase in the years to come. As device interconnectivity begins to touch every phase of our lives in both the business and consumer worlds, the stakes rise higher and higher for a seamless customer experience. Amy will share how tech support teams can rise to meet these challenges.

Please join us for this fun event to get your TSIA experience off to a great start. And as always, thanks for reading!


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