Sneak Preview: TSW EXPO Theatre Sessions

Posted April 16, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Our Spring Technology Services World Conference is just a couple of weeks away at the Santa Clara Convention Center, and I wanted to highlight some sessions from TSIA’s partner network you won’t want to miss. On Tuesday, May 6, we have four special sessions taking place in the theatres inside the EXPO. Grab some lunch, pick a presentation, and get the most out of your EXPO time.  Here’s a look at the agenda:

  • I Know Social Media. What the Heck Is Social Support? In Theatre One at 12:20, we have this presentation by Jive Software: The term Social Media gets tossed about a lot these days. So, what is Social Support? At Jive, it includes Social Media, of course, but it’s much more than just monitoring Facebook and Twitter. True Social Support means meeting your customers where they are, even as their support expectations evolve and change. Doing this well equals meaningful ROI in case deflection and improved customer impressions. We’ll define the key deltas between social media and social support with a framework to understand which will delight your customers. We’ll also discuss effective ways to bridge the two and share results from businesses succeeding at this now. Also learn to imbue your brand’s messaging into your social responses, with emphasis on reaching Millennials. Customer Care is now social. Join us to discuss a strategy to make you successful. Presenter: Tim Albright, Senior Director Community Strategy, Jive Software, Inc.
  • Innovate in Customer Support: At Least Six Hard-to-Fix Needs Satisfied Through One Solution. In Theatre Two at 12:20 we have this presentation from Sykes Enterprises: Great support is what your users expect. Delivering this and successfully handling the multiple, and often opposing, goals of maintaining high quality while minimizing waste, managing costs, increasing access, and remaining flexible, agile and relevant is what your business really needs. Virtual Contact Centers deliver on this by using home-based agents. Imagine if your customer support could: Meet seasonal demands without adding real estate; Barely miss a step when bad weather hits; Handle unexpected volumes within minutes/hours instead of days/weeks; Match agent knowledge/experience to customer needs/interests in their own area; and draw on skills and abilities from virtually the entire population of North America. Your speaker, Nick Sellers, TSIA Partner Advisory Board member, will: Describe how to recruit, train, manage and engage the team safely and securely without seeing employees daily; Show how the operation scales and flexes to meet changing needs; and provide examples of how regulatory compliance, security, and other requirements are satisfied. Join this session for insights into how Virtual Contact Centers are changing the way that customer support is being delivered and business objectives met. Presenter: Nick Sellers, Senior Director, Strategy and Marketing, Sykes Enterprises.
  • Convert Stellar Service into Revenue with Enhanced Digital Engagement. At 1:10 in Theatre One, we have this presentation from LivePerson: Best-in-class companies know the secret to converting high value visitors: You need to engage them at the right moments with the right message with the right medium. Companies like Intuit are re-inventing engagement strategies by moving away from treating website visitors with a “one size fits all” approach. The secret to their success is in identifying, segmenting and targeting those who are high impact, and engage each differently to convert them into lifetime customers. With the help of LivePerson, Intuit drives product adoption by creating a customized path for their most valued customers, maximizing the customer service experience to drive revenue. Learn how to use technology to identify your most important customers and guide them through their service journey, resulting in increased lifetime value and creating brand advocates–while lowering costs along the way. Presenters: Tim Egolf, Customer Care Designer, Intuit Inc., and Alon Waks, Head of Product Marketing, LivePerson.
  • Product Support 2.0: Addressing the Shifting Demands of Customer Support for Products and Services Businesses. At 1:10pm in Theatre Two is this presentation by Cognizant Technology Solutions: Product evolution and customer expectations on the support experience are going through fundamental shifts. As the velocity of business accelerates and products move to an “as a service” model, technical support is increasingly becoming critical to business continuity for end customers. Customers of products and services are demanding a high-quality service experience – available anytime and anywhere. Business leaders expect their customer support organization to become a strategic revenue driver rather than solely be a cost center. Further, businesses want to gain deeper customer insights to determine appropriate cross-sell/up-sell opportunities. The combination of these evolving business demands is what we are calling “Product Support 2.0.” Cognizant has a successful track record of delivering a next generation support experience across software product generations – through desktop, web, mobile, cloud models. Cognizant integrates world-class support operations with business/domain consulting, product/platform engineering, IT delivery, and analytics capabilities. Combined with our best-in-class people practices and “customer first” DNA, we are transforming support operations for our clients globally. In this session, we will share some of our best practices and approaches around “Product Support 2.0” and how you can deliver greater value to your customers. Presenters: Cary Oshima, AVP, Technology Industry Group, Cognizant Technology Solutions; and Mahesh Jadhav, AVP, Business Process Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to TSW! And as always, thanks for reading!

 

Interview with Cisco’s Doug Pluta: Social Media Pacesetter Practices

Posted April 14, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

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TSIA’s Technology Services World is just around the corner, May 5-7 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. On the opening day of the conference, we are doing a flight of Pacesetter sessions, with presenters from some of our most progressive members giving insight into successful programs. Topics include customer experience, analytics and automating service delivery. I’m hosting a session on Social Media for Support, with two Pacesetting members, Doug Pluta, Project Manager, Cisco; and Tim Lopez, Social Support Manager, Symantec.

I became familiar with Doug when he published a white paper on social media monitoring, “How Cisco Services Uses Social Media Listening to Improve Internal Efficiencies and Customer Support.” As supporting customers via social channels enters the maintstream, I’ve started receiving more inquiries on how to include social media and communities in voice of the customer programs. At most companies, this is still in the marketing domain, but service is increasingly including social in survey and voice/text analysis work. Here’s a link to Doug’s paper:

cisco_socialsentiment_whitepaper

Last week Doug and I had a chance to talk, and I wanted to share our conversation with you. Here’s how it went:

John: Thanks so much for agreeing to participate in our Pacesetter Session on Social Media in Service!

Doug: Thanks for asking me John. We’re doing some exciting social media projects within Cisco’s Technical Services unit, and we’re happy to share our experiences with the Eye on Services blog.

John: I’ve been reading your whitepaper, “How Cisco Services Uses Social Media Listening to Improve Internal Efficiencies and Customer Support.” Most B2B companies think that monitoring social media conversations is a marketing job, but you make a good case for why service executives should care about this too. Can you talk about that?

Doug: This effort has been in the works for over two years now. During that time we’ve focused on developing a working process that includes stakeholder buy-in and executive support. Our outage and disaster monitoring initiative has been recognized by our executive team as a strategic resource that is vital to our ability to service our customers in a proactive way. The work we do with other internal stakeholders is consistently recognized as an important contributor to our ongoing conversations about improved service to our customers and Ease of Doing Business initiatives.

John: I’m very pleased to see you’ve actually developed a process for social listening, the “Social Sentiment Internal Engagement Process.” How did this process come about, and can you describe some of the key process steps?

Social Sentiment Internal Engagement Process

Cisco Social Sentiment Process

 

Doug: Cisco Technical Services has been keenly focused on enhancing internal stakeholder engagements and this includes using Social Media listening as an important data point. Initially, we did not need to seek out stakeholders. The first groups we engaged were asking for this data and the Customer and Business insight (CBI) group recognized the opportunity to provide this type of data along with traditional survey data. Social Sentiment is one of several “Listening Channels” that provides solicited and unsolicited customer sentiment data to several key internal stakeholders. Our expectation is that we will increase our stakeholder base and continue to evolve our data sets.

John: In the whitepaper, you document both internal and external impacts of the program. Great to see you measuring results! Can you highlight some of the impacts for our readers?

Doug: Over the last year, Social Sentiment has moved from being a data provider to also providing robust analysis. This includes more detailed information that follows the history of cases and how they were ultimately closed. For instance, we did a detailed analysis on one of our internal content developers. Their audience is significantly large and they have a direct impact on Cisco’s Technical Services unit. With the level of analysis that we provide, we can tell them the top areas of the business that are seeing more negative social sentiment and even which products are being impacted. This allows them to focus their efforts on content that is generating readership and is important enough for people to mention in Social Media.

John: One of the questions I receive from TSIA members is how do you know which social channels to monitor. Do you have any guidance on deciding where to focus your attention?

Doug: The Social Sentiment team gets the best data from Forums and Twitter. Forums provide us with the detailed history that we need to develop metrics that can drive action through a business unit. Twitter gives us the emotion that we need to gauge acceptance (or not) of new or existing tools and processes and of course to find out about any Twitter-based outage or disaster mentions that we can leverage to the benefit of our customers.

John: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, and I look forward to seeing you in Santa Clara!

Doug: Thanks again for asking me John. I’d like to recognize my teammates Michele Budden and Angela Wilson for the cutting-edge work they’re doing within the Social Sentiment team.

Thanks to the whole Cisco team, and thank to you for reading! Hope to see you in Santa Clara!

Sneak Preview: Case Study Sessions at TSW Santa Clara

Posted April 11, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Best Practices

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Sorry I’ve been absent from my blog for a while. My annual technology survey closed on 3/31, and I had 2 weeks to write 10 reports based on the data in order to have them edited and published in time our upcoming Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara. All the reports are done, and now I’m ready to start working on slides for TSW. Many of the top attended sessions at our conferences come from the case study track, in which TSIA partners and their customers present real-world examples of technologies and services in action. Our conference theme is “Extreme Efficiency,” and the case study sessions will all include a focus on how innovative technology and service providers are driving increased efficiency for service operations.  Here’s a look at the sessions planned so far:

  • Delivering Support thru Technology Skill Groups. 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, PWC and NetApp 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. Speakers: Matt Stone – Director, Customer Success Services, NetApp; and David Yoffie – Customer Impact Consulting Practice, PwC.
  • From C-Suite to Practitioner: Patheon Leverages PSA to Maintain Competitive Edge. In a global climate of outsourcing, services businesses are no longer exclusive to technology organizations. With greater emphasis on speed to market and extension of technical capabilities, one such industry moving more and more towards outsourcing is the pharmaceutical industry. However, there is one characteristic shared by all services organizations – the need to continually improve core KPI’s (revenue and margin) in increasingly competitive environments. Hear how Patheon, a global leader of contract drug development and manufacturing services leverages Changepoint to give it a competitive edge to improve efficiencies in delivery of services and profitability. Temoor Saeed, manager, Global PDS, Business Processes, discusses how Patheon, by strengthening its core operations, has deployed a strategy to drive efficiency improvements throughout its facilities, materials and supporting operations, giving it a broader solution for project delivery within its pharmaceutical development services division. Speakers: Temoor Saeed – Manager, Global PDS, Business Processes, Patheon; and Matt Weick – Director, North American Sales, Changepoint Corporation.
  • Next-Generation B2B Online Community. 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.
  • Power to the People! 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. Speakers: Julian Lopez – Head of Customer Loyalty, Rackspace Hosting, Inc.; and Clayton Sherwood – Business Development Director, Clarabridge.

We are still finalizing abstracts and speakers for a few additional case study sessions, so stay tuned for more updates! Hope to see you in Santa Clara. And as always, thanks for reading!
 

TSIA’s 9th Annual Technology Survey NOW OPEN!

Posted February 28, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Tags: , , , ,

I’m pleased to announced that my 9th annual TSIA Technology Survey is now open! This survey covers 24 categories of tools and services used by customer support, professional services, education services, managed services and field service. The survey is open to everyone (not just TSIA members), and if you complete the survey, you will receive a copy of the resulting research report, “The 2014 TSIA Heatmap,” which discusses adoption levels of each category and top technology trends related to service organizations.

The survey addresses adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending for commonly used technologies including CRM, knowledge management, enterprise search, web collaboration, online communities, social media monitoring, analytic platforms, learning management, etc.  The survey asks which line of service you work for, then only prompts you with categories that apply. For example, if you work in Field Service, you will be asked about scheduling and dispatch tools, and if you work in Professional Services, you will be asked about professional services automation. So you won’t have to answer all 24 categories!

There are 2 new categories in the survey this year:

  • Recurring Revenue Management: These tools are used by service professional to manage the sales and renewals processes for maintenance and service contracts. Functionality includes automating renewals, renewal dashboards, and analytics to predict likelihood of renewal and manage profitable contract/maintenance programs.
  • Consumption Monitoring/Analytics: These tools are used to measure and monitor customer consumption of technology, gauging how quickly customers are adoption new tools, common process flows, top used features, number of users and length of session time, etc. Consumption Monitoring is a key piece of shifting toward outcome based services.

I also use the data to create several other reports, including a spending trends report by discipline, a special report for EMEA, and a report showing top installed products in each category, which always ends up as one of the top downloaded research reports of the year. In addition, the survey results provide the winners to 2 awards we present to TSIA partners, TechBEST Best in Satisfaction at our Spring TSW conference in Santa Clara, and TechBEST Best in Adoption at our Fall TSW conference in Las Vegas. If you are a TSIA partner, ask your customers to take the survey!

The survey is open until March 31st. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are kept confidential, and are only reported in aggregate. Here is the link to the survey:  https://survey.vovici.com/se.ashx?s=7E212C591306D9B1

Thanks in advance for your support, and after you take the survey, pass along the link to your friends in service organizations! The more responses, the better. And as always, thanks for reading!

Top Knowledge Management Trends for 2014

Posted February 27, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

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Today I co-presented a webinar with longtime partner Coveo, “Top Knowledge Management Trends of 2014.” We had a huge response to the event, and the largest live audience I’ve seen for a webinar in quite a while. KM is always a hot topic with TSIA members, but interest continues to grow as we see knowledge strategies moving beyond customer support to include field service, professional services, managed services, and more. So what are the biggest trends in KM today? Based on TSIA data and member conversations, here are the top 3 trends I highlighted in today’s webinar:

 

  • Legacy search tools failing. My colleague Ken O’Reilly completed TSIA’s first “knowledge management practices” survey in December, and the results will be published in the next couple of weeks. I shared a couple of proof points in the webinar today to illustrate how existing KM implementations aren’t keeping up. The lion’s share of respondents to the survey have had both their customer-facing and employee-facing KM platforms in place for 4 or more years, which should indicate they are mature, highly adopted, and delivering value. But, when asked to rate their current KM implementations, the largest percent of respondents indicated the worst option: “Needs a lot of work.” So why are these mature implementations failing? In my experience, inadequate search is often at the root of the problem. Legacy search tools don’t do well outside a proprietary knowledgebase, and according to my annual tech survey, SharePoint is now the top installed knowledgebase tool used by service organizations. Not a specialized tool built for support knowledge, a generic content warehouse. With customers and employees now expecting to search content anywhere in the enterprise, in any format, requirements for search have evolved dramatically. Today, companies need a search tool that provides context, intelligence, dynamic taxonomies, and multiple filtering options.
  • Enterprise collaboration. I have a report in editing right now calling enterprise collaboration “the third wave of knowledge management.” Another factoid from the recent KM survey is that less than half of customer issues are resolved by content in the knowledgebase. If you don’t have the answer at your fingertips, the most direct route to the answer is to ask an expert. I’m seeing huge planned spending on enterprise collaboration tools to enable this. But the missing element–and this is a BIG missing element–is how to know who the expert is to ask. This is where expertise management comes in. I have blogged before about the importance of expertise management, and I’m hoping more companies begin to include requirements for this in their KM/enterprise search plans. The same search platform that can analyze all the content in your enterprise to create dynamic taxonomies, can also create relationships between content topics and people. So, if you are trouble shooting an install script, the system can prompt you with the developer who wrote the install script, the Q&A person who tested it, and the Tech Pubs person who documented it. Armed with this information, you know exactly who to reach out to for an answer.
  • Mobility. I tend to refer to this trend as “The Connected Customer” and “The Connected Technician.” The mass adoption of smartphones and tablets has revolutionized the way we retrieve and interact with information. While the majority of mobile devices may be originally designed for consumers, we bring our consumer experiences into the workplace with us. Today’s customers and employees expect–if not demand–that they have ubiquitous access to corporate content at any time, from any place, using any device. But to enable this, you need the right mobile infrastructure. When shopping for KM/search technology, include requirements in three areas. First, the system should support all devices, not just Droid or Apple or RIM. Ideally, this means HTML5. Secondly, the system should offer optimized displays for mobile devices–the same user interface that works fine on a desktop web browser will not work effectively on a 2″x 3″ smartphone screen. And third, the system should be able to retrieve and display a wide variety of formats. I’ve heard complaints from companies whose mobile search tools displayed some file types like ASCII characters–completely unreadable.

 

For those of you who missed today’s webinar, here’s a link to the OnDemand version:  https://cysalesteam.com/tsia/event/on-demand-top-knowledge-management-trends-of-2014. It is only 30 minutes, and worth a listen if you are interested in what’s new with KM. Thanks to everyone who tuned in today. We didn’t have time to answer audience questions, so if you asked a question during the live event, we will be following up with you afterwards.

And as always, thanks for reading!

ServiceSource Acquires Scout Analytics: Consumption Monitoring Becomes Core Piece of Recurring Revenue Management

Posted January 22, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Tags: , , , , ,

Last year TSIA executives released a new book, “B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship,” which discussed the realities of the cloud economy, and exposed just how ill prepared most (all?) technology firms are for the new revenue models emerging in a post-onpremise world. An underlying theme in B4B is that to be successful, technology firms can’t just sell products anymore. And it isn’t enough to just provide services to get the product up and running. That worked when companies were buying onpremise tools, paying 100% of the product cost up front. Whether they were successful or not, the vendor had their money for the deal. As my first startup CEO said to me once when I pushed for a product enhancement with huge CSAT implications, “The customer doesn’t get a vote. Their check has cleared.”

In a cloud economy, the customer gets to vote. One way they vote is by paying a monthly rental fee for your products, and if they don’t like the product, they don’t pay the fee. If you aren’t delivering value, you won’t have customers sticking around for long. A fundamental shift is occuring: technology firms have to become experts very fast on exactly how customers are consuming their technology. What are normal usage patterns for customers who have used the tools 30/60/90 days? For 12/24/36 months? Where are customers struggling to follow normal process flows? What sort of ROI is the technology delivering, and how are customers calculating this? What additional business value could be unlocked if customers used an additional feature, or rolled out the tools to the entire enterprise? Armed with this consumption information, technology vendors must begin to analyze adoption and usage and work closely with customers to provide services that enable and guarantee positive business outcomes.

Bottom line: A core piece of managing recurring revenue in a cloud economy is consumption analytics.

Today’s announcement that ServiceSource was acquiring Scout Analytics is an excellent proof point in this market evolution. ServiceSource, a long time TSIA partner, provides tools and services to manage recurring revenue, with expertise in both onpremise renewals, i.e., traditional maintenance contracts, as well as Software as a Service subscriptions sales and contract renewals. They offer a full SaaS platform (Renew OnDemand) which includes contract/entitlement management and automated renewals. In fact, if successful renewals management is not in your company DNA, ServiceSource is happy to manage your renewal business for you as a service, which they do for some very large tech companies.

I was first introduced to Scout Analytics last April. They joined our partner program just as I was searching for vendors who specialize in consumption analytics–and there are very few. I naively thought that while monitoring consumption of onpremise technology was difficult, it would be a breeze with cloud tools. Every click is recorded on your servers and available for analysis, right? Wrong. It turns out that many cloud vendors are just as in the dark about how customers navigate and consume their online technology as their onpremise counterparts. Scout Analytics produces impressive reports and dashboards measuring customer consumption, helping you understand things like average time to complete a process, most common process flows (helpful to know where to place help options or advertising), as well as general information on volume of users and adoption rates by account.

Combining the two companies creates a powerful and unique offering. Bringing together ServiceSource’s Renew OnDemand platform, which manages renewal sales, integrating to ERP, CRM, and a dozen contracts databases if necessary; with Scout Analytics’ predictive analysis tools for usage monitoring and subscription billing; means the merged companies support–and enable–the entire subscription customer lifecycle. While my focus is B2B technology, clearly this also has huge implications for digital media firms–monetizing clicks is big business.

I will also have some good spending data on this technology very soon–my 2014 Member Technology Survey launches in March, and will include 2 new categories: Consumption Analytics and Recurring Revenue Management. So stay tuned.

Congratulations to both companies on the announcement! And as always, thanks to you for reading!

2014 Opens With a Bang: Verint and Microsoft Invest in Knowledge/Multi-Channel

Posted January 7, 2014 by jragsdale
Categories: Technology

Happy New Year! It has been a long time since I wrote about industry consolidation and the trends that consolidation indicates. We are only a week into 2014, and in 2 days we’ve seen 2 key acquisitions that provide a lot of food for thought. Here’s a recap:

Yesterday, Verint Systems, a top provider of enterprise feedback management (EFM) and workforce optimization (WFO), announced their intentions to acquire KANA, who started as a knowledgebase vendor and expanded into a full multi-channel platform. I’m a big fan of both companies. I’ve worked with the Verint folks for many years, and they have the reputation of being one of the nicest companies to do business with in high tech.  The company has continually expanded their footprint, through development and acquisition, and now offers an impressive suite of tools including complex voice and text analysis, and the Voice of the Customer Analytics platform (formerly Vovici) which we use at TSIA for external surveys. I’m a huge fan of the Verint survey platform and use it for my annual surveys on technology and social media.

I’ve also known KANA for a very long time. Some of my favorite Silicon Valley people have spent time at KANA. Marchai Bruchey, one time KANA CMO, is now Chief Customer Officer at Thunderhead.com. Charlie Isaacs, who I’ve known since 1995, served several years as CTO at KANA, and is currently CTO for Customer Connection at salesforce.com. Michael McCloskey was the CEO of KANA at one time; he went on to be CEO of FrontRange, and now runs his own think tank, McCloskey LLC. And many, many more. When I was at Forrester and published the Forrester Wave on multi-channel platforms, KANA had the leader’s position.

What we’ve typically seen over the years is CRM vendors acquiring knowledge management and multi-channel vendors to bring additional capabilities into the CRM platform. Clearly a big challenge for most tech firms is integrating all of the email, chat and self-service interactions into CRM history, so having everything on a single platform makes sense. But Verint’s acqusition of KANA is, to me at least, much more strategic. Verint is not a CRM vendor. Their job is ensuring every customer touchpoint is of the highest quality possible, with a complex platform of monitoring, analysis and reporting tools to pinpoint process problems in the front OR back office, as well as identify trending customer problems in real-time. The Verint demo that always blows me away is the voice and text analysis engine, which provides a dashboard of key words and phrases (returning merchandise, product defect, late delivery, etc.) and allows you drill down into these topics and see how many interactions touched on this topic, and even hear individual call recordings or read individual email or chat interactions if necessary. Amazing set of tools for any service or marketing organization.

I haven’t been briefed yet, but what the marriage of Verint and KANA means to me is that it gives Verint more control over the entire customer conversation. Integrating monitoring, survey and listening tools into your existing multi-channel environment can be expensive and complicated. By offering a ‘best of breed’ customer support suite, with pre-integrated EFM capabilities, Verint should not only be able to sell the entire stack, and have infinite upsell opportunities with existing customers, but they also can better partner with companies to create a vision for EFM, and then enable the entire vision from phone calls to final analysis.

On the heels of the Verint/KANA announcement, this morning it was announced that Microsoft has acquired Parature, a cloud-based knowledge, multi-channel and social platform, to build out the customer service capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Having seen Microsoft showing up for the first time in enterprise-sized CRM deals in the last year, I’m thrilled to see them paying attention to the service side of CRM, and not just investing in sales and marketing functionality as most cloud CRM vendors tend to do. One of the benefits of being a technology analyst is meeting so many company representatives, and though I haven’t seen him in person for a few years, Parature CEO Duke Chung is a total class act. He launched Parature at a very difficult time economically, and was the first vendor to seamlessly blend an online community and social monitoring into a customer service suite. Duke is so positive, his employees love him, and I give him personally the bulk of the credit for Parature’s success. Congratulations to Duke and the entire Parature team!

With TSIA members continuing to invest in knowledge management and multi-channel, I do believe that more companies are understanding the value of end-to-end integration. Thanks to easier to integrate cloud tools, I’m seeing fewer “channel islands” created, and more cross-channel integrations planned. This is important because the more we can consolidate the delivery and monitoring of every touch point, the more consistent service quality we can deliver. And ultimately, the customer wins every time.

Congratulations to all those involved, and here’s to another fun year in the customer service technology world! And as always, thanks for reading!


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