Announcing the SSPA Fall 2007 Recognized Innovator Award Winners


Yesterday at the SSPA Fall Leadership Conference, I announced the winners of the Fall 2007 Recognized Innovator Awards, and lead tours of the winners’ booths in the Technology Services Expo.  The SSPA Recognized Innovator program identifies three new categories for each round of awards, and winners are selected by a panel of SSPA members and industry insiders.

For the Fall 2007 awards, the categories were:

·         Innovation in Globalization. Enabling breakthrough customer success is not limited to customers who speak English or are located in Eastern Standard Time.  Thanks to the Internet, even smaller companies are finding growing customer ranks around the world, and support organizations often struggle to effectively support customers who speak different languages and have different cultural attitudes toward service.  This award recognizes an SSPA Partner whose innovative solutions permit companies to successfully support global customers, regardless of location, time zone, or language.

·         Innovation in Interaction Quality. When companies focus on cutting talk times and deflecting live agent interactions, the customer experience sometime suffers.  Ongoing agent monitoring and training are critical to be certain every customer interaction offers a memorable experience.  This award recognizes an SSPA Partner whose innovative solutions allow companies to more easily assess the quality of agent interactions across channels, identifying agents in need of additional training or coaching, and improve the customer experience.

·         Innovation in Proactive Support. A key element of VAS is moving from the traditional break-fix model to one of proactive and preventative monitoring and support.  As technology becomes even more ingrained in our personal and work lives, customers are becoming even less tolerant of technical problems and any subsequent downtime.  This award recognizes an SSPA Partner whose innovative solutions better enable companies to proactively support customers.

Judges rated the applications using three criteria:

·         Is it innovative?  SSPA Research defines ‘innovation’ as “the successful exploitation of new ideas,” and judges rated the application on how well the solution embodies this spirit.

·         Is it unique?  With technology evolving within our industry at a rapid rate, every new invention has copycats very quickly, and judges rated the application on how unique and differentiating the innovation is.

·         Is the innovation exemplary of the category?  Judges rated each application on how well the innovation adheres to the category description provided.

One winner and one finalist were selected for each category.  The Fall 2007 SSPA Recognized Innovators are:

Recognized Innovators for Globalization

·         RightNow Technologies. The winner in this category, RightNow Technologies delivers OnDemand CRM and eService solutions.  With roots in knowledge management and self-service, RightNow recognized early that to provide consistently excellent experiences worldwide, companies need to deliver relevant knowledge to their customers and to frontline employees, regardless of location or time zone. RightNow’s innovative solution allows enterprises to localize their agent desktop and Web self-service implementations with 21 languages and dialects.   The system will automatically notify all the owners of the different knowledgebase language versions of answers if one language is changed, to ensure consistency.  All 21 languages are supported for natural language searching (NLS), including ontologies and emotion detection from text (used for incident routing), and all 21 supported languages make use of the NLS techniques to focus the results to the most likely conceptual linguistic match.

·         InQuira. The finalist in this category, InQuira, has expanded their suite beyond Web self-service and intelligent search to include multi-channel interaction support as well as a fully integrated discussion forum offering.  There are two general ways in which InQuira is “global”: InQuira enables the ability to easily create, manage, and share content across languages and countries, with contributions from around the world, as well as driving user interactions through a contextual understanding of user intent as expressed in search phrases using multiple languages. In order to control the amount of content that is translated, a country can identify content for translation by its usage (e.g. reuse count), feedback, or other document properties. When translating individual documents, the translator sees the documents side-by-side and can view previous versions and compare versions of the master document.

Recognized Innovators for Interaction Quality

·         Verint. The winner in this category, Verint’s acquisition earlier this year of Witness Systems brought together these ‘best of breed’ solutions to form a new product line:  Verint Witness Actionable Solutions.  The new suite offers quality monitoring, TDM and IP recording, speech and data analytics, performance management, workforce management, eLearning, customer feedback management, as well as a full range of support, professional, and consulting services.  Boasting impressive customer successes for increased agent productivity and customer satisfaction scores, Verint’s analytic-based approach to quality monitoring means ‘at risk’ agents are automatically identified before their performance impacts overall satisfaction scores, and a bevy of multi-channel options are available to further automate the training and coaching process to get these agents back on track.

·         Citrix Online. The finalist in this category, Citrix Online’s suite of remote support tools is well known by SSPA members, but new features added in the latest release have streamlined the quality review process for Citrix customers.  GoToAssist 8.0, which debuted in April 2007, introduced “invisible” team collaboration for quality assurance and over-the-shoulder training. While speaking with a customer, a support agent can silently use his keyboard to invite one or more experienced experts into the session to view the customer’s screen and evaluate the problem. Silent monitoring by a supervisor is also possible using the GoToAssist collaboration platform. Managers can “invisibly” view sessions in progress without an agent’s knowledge.  Citrix customers report that supervisors now monitor in-progress sessions using the manger console, and when a session extends beyond the average talk time, they are able to silently join the in-progress session, offering help to the agent as needed to speed up issue resolution.

Recognized Innovators for Proactive Support

With top vote-getters only one point apart, there were two finalists in this category.

·         NextNine. The winner in this category, NextNine is the only provider of self-healing, remote monitoring and diagnostics, secure remote support, and software distribution specifically designed for external customer technical support.  NextNine Service Automation delivers truly proactive support via 24X7 monitoring, identification, diagnosis and resolution at the symptom stage. The suite can prevent disruptions and downtime before it manifests itself in the system and even before customers realize the existence of a problem.  NextNine’s unique Virtual Support Engineer is an agentless, small footprint Java-based component that is flexible enough to be deployed at a customer site within a matter of hours and can begin proactively preventing problems immediately.  The software solution enables the management and support of all layers of diverse systems including hardware, operating systems, applications, databases, in new and legacy systems across multiple operating systems from multiple vendors.

·         Clarabridge. A finalist in this category, Clarabridge’s Content Mining Platform blends a number of technologies that enable it to transform text based sources into a reports/dashboard deliverable. Clarabridge’s CMP is the first text analysis solution to work seamlessly with standard BI applications, tools and techniques and is the only text analytics company to offer a hosted solution. The basic components of the software are NLP, entity and fact extraction, a sentiment engine, categorization and clustering, and analytical/BI reporting tools.  The automatic categorization and clustering along with the sentiment indicator allows support professionals to understand the issues that are greater both numerically as well as greater by negative sentiment. Resources can be provisioned to address those issues first instead of waiting for call and email volumes to spike and then determining why after the fact.

·         ISOdx. A finalist in this category, ISOdx takes the concept of ‘change management’ to a new level. Because 90 percent of information technology issues are the result of a change, the IT world has long been hindered with the laborious time and effort required in “finding the change” to fix the problem. ISOdx is the first solution to attack this age-old problem in a completely new way. Changes in the technology environment can be rapidly detected—down to the character level —across hundreds of thousands of aspects and numerous devices in a matter of seconds. What previously took hours of exasperating, hands-on review can now be automatically achieved in a matter of minutes.  The implication for proactive support is huge:  ISOdx can automatically scan all customer implementations for any sign of known errors, or configuration problems, allowing tech support to fix the problem before the customer is impacted.

I’d like to thank the judges for taking time out of their busy schedules to assist.  The judges for this round were:

SSPA Members:  JC Gonzalez, VP, Support Services, Ultimate Software; Desmond Jacas, Director, Customer Support & Training Technology, Aspen Technology, Inc.; and Tim Rondeau, Director, Consumer Support, Symantec Corporation.

Industry insiders :  Becky Carroll, President, Petra Consulting Group; M. M. “Sath” Sathyanarayan, President, Global Development Consulting, Inc.; and Francoise Tourniaire, President, FT Works.

If you have category suggestions for the Spring 2008 SSPA Recognized Innovator Awards, or are interested in being a judge, please add a comment or shoot me an email.  Thanks for reading!

Explore posts in the same categories: Consumer Support, Enterprise Support, Technology

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