Archive for November 2008

Think Strategic Service Partner, Not Outsourcer

November 17, 2008

The SSPA has historically not done a lot of research on outsourcing. This is definitely an area where we encourage SSPA members to collaborate and share best practices–we don’t pretend to have all the answers to the incredibly complex issues of what, where and how to outsource.  As a chief service executive from one of our largest members said, “We have 400 analysts whose full time job is analyzing outsourcing contracts and identifying best practices, and we still don’t have it figured out.”

I’m happy to announce that this Thursday at 9am PT I am moderating a webcast with SSPA member John Laino, Director of Enterprise Support Planning for NetApp, who is reprising his well attended and highly rated presentation from our recent Vegas conference, “How Strategic Support Partnerships Can Become Keys to Success for Technology Companies.” Click here to register!

I will be sharing what I’ve learned about successful outsourcing from speaking with SSPA member companies, for example: (more…)

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Numara FootPrints 9: Increased Mobility and ITIL V3 Compliance

November 12, 2008

I last blogged about Numara Software back in August 07 for the release of Numara FootPrints 8, and having just completed a briefing for Numara FootPrints 9, releasing this week, I thought it was time for an update. I’ve been a big fan of this product since I first met the Numara FootPrints team (then UniPress) back in 2001, and I continue to recommend this surprisingly rich suite of incident management, configurable workflow, service level tracking, customer portal, knowledge management, and now a full CMBD, quite frequently.  Why?

  • The suite is functionally and architecturally robust, but costs considerably less than most customer service or CRM suites.
  • The customer base is wildly referenceable; a high percentage of revenues come from existing customers expanding their implementations.
  • The development, product management and product marketing teams are passionate about delivering value to customers, and they are also some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.

The new version, Numara FootPrints 9, ships this week and I wanted to highlight a couple of things from the release that show the sophistication of the product, as well as illustrate some industry trends I’m seeing.

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Cool Consolidation 2: Amdocs acquires Changing Worlds Ltd.

November 6, 2008

I just published a post regarding Oracle’s acquisition earlier this week of Tacit Software, and felt obligated to also report on another cool deal in our industry–just announced yesterday:  Amdocs to acquire ChangingWorlds.  You probably haven’t heard of ChangingWorlds (OK, I admit I hadn’t either), but they specialize in delivering an excellent customer experience for accessing corporate information using different devices, with particular emphasis on mobile devices. 

If you are an iPhone user, you’ve noticed that more websites now detect your device/browser and present you with a special iPhone interface.  This is common for retail/e-Tail, and Amazon, Target, Home Depot and Wal-Mart all have special iPhone websites.  American Airlines also introduced one a while back.  Let me be clear:  the existing sites are a step in the right direction, but still offer a lousy experience (in my opinion).  Target’s iPhone site doesn’t show pictures or prices of items on search lists, so you have to open each item individually–horrible.  American’s site makes a few things easy (checking flight times) but many options (vacation planning) aren’t even accessible from the iPhone site.  It is all very hit and miss, and by default I’ve started bypassing the iPhone site and going to the regular website.

ChangingWorlds can solve this problem.  Their technology translates content access and process execution to mobile devices, so an iPhone website can represent all the capabilities of the normal site.  And that’s really interesting to me, because one area I don’t see anyone porting to the current iPhone sites is service and support.  Although ChangingWorlds’ focus has been more on delivering highly personalized content (and advertising) to consumers, obviously their platform has greater implications across the enterprise. (more…)

Cool Consolidation 1: Oracle Acquires Tacit Software

November 6, 2008

Economic downturns always lead to an uptick in technology mergers and acquisitions.  Small companies struggling to stay afloat as deals begin to dry up suddenly look very attractive to large vendors hoping to add some cool, innovative capabilities to their often moribund suites.

I’ve written before about the need for better internal collaboration tools.  The customer community vendors don’t want to sell to internal communities because they can’t make enough money with their page-view pricing models.  And even if companies have invested in building or buying a good internal collaboration platform, they struggle to identify experts on a topic across a huge global workforce.  The hole in most collaboration platforms has been expertise management:  how to instantly identify who the expert is on any given topic. Once that is accomplished, inviting them to join an online collaboration is easy.

I was very pleased to read earlier this week that Oracle had acquired Tacit Software, the only specialist I’ve run across for expertise management.  Oracle will be incorporating Tacit’s expertise management into their Beehive enterprise collaboration platform.  So how does this work?  Tacit’s ActiveNet analyzes content across the enterprise (project/product documents, discussion forums, email, internal chat/IM, etc.) to create a matrix of who knows what about a concept. When you need an expert on a given subject, not only does it give you a pick list of those in the know, it guides you to *what* they know about the topic so you can pick the right person. (more…)