Opening Day: 2008 Services Leadership Conference
Greetings from Las Vegas! Our 2008 Services Leadership Conference officially kicked off at 3pm today with our first joint keynote across the AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA. JB Wood, Stephen Smith and Thomas Lah talked about the past, present and future of the industry, with emphasis on service convergence and Value-Added Support. Next, Juergen Rottler, EVP of Customer Services for Oracle, gave one of the best keynotes in my recent memory about how Oracle challenged the industry status quo and pushed for innovative services.
I spent my day in 1:1 meetings with members and partners, and the economy was front and center in every conversation. The good news is that many members came to this event with budgets for technology purchases, ready to evaluate alternatives, and with the strong ROI for core support technologies like remote control/remote support, knowledge management and proactive monitoring, even concerns about a recession have not impacted those budgets.
Most of our members lived through the tech crash of 2001, so they understand what budget challenges may lie ahead. But as I said in a previous post, support operations are no longer cost centers, and AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA members are much better positioned this time around to defend their budgets, their technology needs, and their plans for new programs.
So what are companies asking me about? Typically the bulk of my 1:1 meetings are related somehow to knowledge management, and today was no exception. The thread that connected todays’ meetings was both confusion and intrigue about how the traditional KM and multi-channel service providers (Kana, RightNow, Talisma) compare to the intelligent search and ‘intent engine’ providers (InQuira, Knova) and the new breed of community-geared Web 2.0 KM and customer service providers (Fuze, HelpStream, Parature).
The economy definitely factored into these conversations, which discussions about the risk:reward potential of investing in innovative technology. Vendor viability is definitely on everyone’s mind, and members are interested in which industry drives the bulk of revenue for vendors on their short list. (If the bulk of your business comes from the financial services industry, the concern is you will be impacted faster and to a greater degree than those focused on telco or tech).
Tomorrow is the first full day of the conference. I’m presenting the Fall 2008 Recognized Innovator Awards at 10:30, then leading Innovation Tours of the winners booths in the Expo at 11am and 2pm. I also have a session on Green Support at 3pm, a panel discussion with executives from Xerox, SupportSpace, Cisco and Ericsson. Stay tuned for more updates on the latest topics and trends!