Proactive Support Tops 2008 Resource List for SSPA Members

We just sent out our 2008 Support Technology Survey, which details planned member spending on support technology in 2008, along with capturing what solutions members already have in place and how satisfied they are with them.  Stay tuned and I’ll highlight those results when available.  But in the meantime, in the January SSPA News I included the following poll: “Where do you plan to make the biggest investment (resources, time, new technology) in 2008?”

  • Knowledge management tools (customer and/or agent facing knowledgebases)
  • Multi-channel customer service tools (email, chat, web self-service)
  • Customer community tools (discussion forums, blogs, wikis)
  • CRM/customer interaction tracking tools (incident management, entitlement, customer history)
  • Proactive support tools (remote monitoring, automatic problem detection/resolution)

The answer may surprise you!

As you can see in the chart, 42% of respondents say the biggest push in 2008 will be proactive support, followed by online communities with 25%, knowledgebase and multi-channel service with 17% each, and a big zero percent for CRM.

SSPA Member Planned 2008 Spending

If there are any VCs reading this, I hope you will take this opportunity to find and invest in some innovative technology for true proactive support, because there is a dearth of offerings available and SSPA members with great proactive programs (Dell and Adobe are good examples) have all developed the technology internally.  NextNine and LogMeIn both offer solutions targeting monitoring and fixing of remote customer problems, and while both are good solutions, I’m surprised there aren’t more vendors in this space.

I’m increasingly frustrated that the vendors selling systems management tools for IT shops to monitor internal systems using complex rule engines to detect errors and automatically initiate recovery procedures (HP OpenView, BMC Patrol, CA Unicenter) show no interest in building versions of their tools to work outside the firewall with external customers.  Not only does the same business problem exist (preventing outages saves money for all involved), but proactive support for external customers has an extra ROI story–support organizations can offer select proactive capabilities as “premiere” support options, generating additional support revenues.

What does proactive support mean to you? What should be included in a basic service contract and what should only be offered via a premiere contract?  Can an ISV effectively deliver software to automate proactive support, or will solutions always be home grown?  Please add a comment or shoot me an email with your thoughts.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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2 Comments on “Proactive Support Tops 2008 Resource List for SSPA Members”

  1. Yassine Says:

    Thanks John for this relevant post!

    I personally refer to what you call ‘proactive support’ as ‘support automation’. However it can be applied in both break-fix situations (the monitoring device detects a problem, collect data and either log a call on the customer behalf or attempts to locate pertinent documents in the KB) or to perform optimization, verify patches … It is the latter that is proactive support from my perspective.

    BTW you mention that NextNine and LogMeIn and the only players in this space and that there is room for new entrants. Do you have an idea on the size of the market.

  2. jragsdale Says:

    Hi Yassine;
    If all the tech companies who are buidling this themseleves were to buy a COTS solution, I’d say $50-75M in the US, probably 3 times that globally. Not a huge market, but hopefully a growing sector that would be good add-on business for vendors expanding into that arena.

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