Archive for May 2007

Notes from the Services Research & Innovation Initiative Symposium

May 31, 2007


Yesterday I attended the Services Research & Innovation Initiative (SRII) Symposium, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  As one of the founding partners, the SSPA is in good company with our sister association TPSA, as well as IBM and Oracle.  Around 200 attendees met for a day of presentations and discussions about the current and future role of services in our businesses and the economy, and the importance of funding services research for our future success. (more…)


noHold InstantSupport: Intelligent, Conversational, Virtual Agents

May 25, 2007

I wrote a while back about the return of the chat bot…only this time they work. But I completely overlooked an early entrant in the intelligent advisor space, noHold.  Having just had an update briefing with Diego Ventura, noHold’s founder and CEO, I wanted to correct that oversight with some info on what’s new with noHold.

I first met Diego during my Giga Information Group days, and the last time I talked to them they were doing a lot of business with partner, offering intelligent sales advisors to qualify leads online and pass info into Salesforce.  And though the noHold suite now includes a Sales Advisor and a Marketing Advisor, the core DNA of the company is still customer service and technical support with InstantSupport.

noHold creates virtual agents based on Artificial Intelligence capable of answering questions online without human intervention (they even hold a patent on this–U.S. Patent No. 6,604,141 if you want to read the details).  They claim to achieve high First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates due to being more Interactive and Diagnostic than other self-service solutions.  Here’s a screenshot of noHold in action at Linksys. (more…)

RightNow Connect: OnDemand Integration Made Easy

May 22, 2007

One of the early criticisms about OnDemand technology was that it was harder to integrate with.  I don’t know that this was ever really the case, and I wrote a case study on RightNow’s CTI integration at Belgacom while at Forrester back in 2003 to prove the point.

But I do think it is true that historically, OnDemand vendors have been less focused on external integration and composite applications than traditional OnPremise suite vendors with their much-ballyhooed infrastructure. definitely changed that with the introduction of their AppExchange platform.  And now RightNow Technologies has announced RightNow Connect as part of RightNow 8.1, a standards-based SOA integration framework that makes integrating RightNow with any enterprise system a straightforward process. (more…)

SAP’s Acquisition of Wicom Builds Contact Center and OnDemand Credibility

May 15, 2007

Yesterday SAP announced that they were acquiring Wicom Communications of Finland, a  multi-channel IP telephony vendor.  With Wicom Communications in the Netweaver stack, SAP will be able to offer a multichannel, all-IP, end-to-end contact center solution, integrating interaction routing processes into customer service.

Why does a CRM/ERP vendor need telephony, when they have successfully integrated with every major switch out there (Genesys, Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, etc.)?  Having lived through the Nortel/Clarify acquisition, I know for a fact that there aren’t many ‘green field’ opportunities for both CRM and telephony at the enterprise level.  So what gives?  I see three primary reasons/benefits for this acquisition, as follows: (more…)

Live from the SSPA Best Practices Conference: Tuesday Highlights

May 9, 2007

SSPA 2007 Best Practices Conference

Our Spring 2007 Best Practices Conference came to a close yesterday after another day of strong, member-led breakout sessions, the announcements of our Spring 2007 STAR Awards, and a closing tribute to our retiring founder and Executive Director, Bill Rose.

The winners of the 2007 STAR Awards for Best Practices are: (more…)

Live from the SSPA Best Practices Conference: Monday Highlights

May 8, 2007

SSPA 2007 Best Practices Conference

Our 2007 Best Practices Conference, which opened Sunday night, kicked off yesterday morning with over 600 attendees for a full day of main stage keynotes, partner presentations in the Technology Services Expo, and an afternoon of breakout sessions. 

Here are some highlights of the keynote presentations:

  • Stephen Smith, Executive Director, SSPA. Though Steve joined us just three weeks ago as our new ED, he delivered our vision of Value Added Support with aplomb. I told him afterwards it was the most ‘consumable’ overview of VAS I’d seen. With experience leading huge organizational evolution within IBM Global Services, Steve understands creating and working toward a vision while keeping the daily operational issues under control….which is something our industry needs! (more…)

Announcing the Spring 2007 SSPA Recognized Innovator Awards

May 7, 2007


This morning at our Best Practices ConferenceI announced the winners of the Spring 2007 SSPA Recognized Innovator Awards as part of my keynote presentation. The categories for this round of awards were:

  • Analytics/Business Intelligence. Companies began embracing CRM’s “360˚view” a decade ago, and now have massive stores of customer history and interaction data, but what is missing is strong, business user targeted analysis tools to identify strategic business intelligence from the data.  Recognized Innovators offer complex analytics to derive “order from chaos,” and help companies identify key business learnings based on customer information, problem resolution statistics, or other ancillary data.
  • Web 2.0. Today’s always on, always connected internet offers a number of opportunities and challenges to customer service organizations.  Recognized Innovators in this category leverage the best of Web 2.0 features (communities, forums, Wikis) and/or Web 2.0 infrastructure (VOIP, proactive monitoring, extreme personalization) to meet the ever increasing demands of customers.
  • Offer Management. A core SSPA message in 2007 is Value Added Support, and leveraging service interactions to increase revenue is a key part of this message.  Recognized Innovators in this category enables upsell and cross-sell in a variety of customer situations (B2B and B2C) and channels (assisted and unassisted), helping support organizations increase customer wallet share and contribute to the company’s revenue goals.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges, including tech-savvy SSPA members, industry insiders (including 3 former CEOs of customer service technology vendors), and myself.  And the winners are: (more…)

Live from the SSPA Best Practices Conference: Opening Day Highlights

May 7, 2007


What a beautiful day in San Diego!  Our 2007 Best Practices Conference kicked off today, with 4 SSPA Training Day Sessions, a meeting of the SSPA Advisory Board, and the opening of our Technology Services Expo.  Here are some highlights for you.

This was my first Advisory Board meeting, and although no one likes to spend a sunny Sunday in a hotel conference room, this was a great meeting with great attendees.  Support executives from Intuit, Sun, Sony, Xerox, RIM, IBM, Network Appliance, Cisco and BEA put their heads together with the SSPA leadership team to discuss many industry issues, including these which really peaked my interest: (more…)

Mark Angel to fill post as KANA’s SVP of Strategy and Corporate Development

May 4, 2007

Maybe Mark Angel didn’t invent Web 2.0, but in my opinion, he is responsible for bringing Web 2.0 to the CRM and eService world.

As founder and original CEO of Kanisa, Mark took his expertise in real-time analytics and brought it to customer service.  As Kanisa grew, he assumed the CTO role, and continued in that role when Kanisa merged with ServiceWare in 2005 to form KNOVA.  I’ve known Mark since the early days of Kanisa, and while we don’t always agree on everything, I never come away from a meeting with Mark without at least one epiphany about the customer service industry. (more…)