Archive for May 2009

TSW Day 3: Awards and Top Attended Sessions

May 7, 2009

Our Technology Services World Conference ended yesterday, and we are so thrilled at the turnout (550+!!!), the excellent content, and the spirit of collaboration among the members of our three associations (SSPA, TPSA, AFSMI).  I was booked solid with member 1:1 meetings and heard some new challenges (like how to introduce a culture of selling) as well as many companies struggling with some age-old problems that never go away (like how to increase KB effectiveness).

The conference ended with an awards luncheon, recognizing SSPA Star Award winners, TPSA Industry Leadership Awards, and the inaugural winners of the new Services Innovation Awards (presented to collaborations between education and industry).

SRII CEO JB Wood presents the Services Innovation Award cash prize to Israel's Technion

SRII CEO JB Wood presents the Services Innovation Award cash prize to Israel's Technion

Here were some of the top attended sessions yesterday: (more…)

TSW Day 2: Top Attended Sessions

May 6, 2009

I always think you can learn a lot from seeing what the top attended sessions are for our conferences.  They show you what business problems people are trying to solve, and what topics they are most interested in in general.  Here were some of the top attended breakout sessions yesterday:

It was standing room only for “Service Operations – Easy Money: Support Communities and ROI,” presented by long time SSPA partner Francoise Tourniaire, Owner, FT Works; and top rated member speaker Tarik Mahmoud, E-Support and Service Technology Senior Manager, Cisco-Linksys. If you don’t know Tarik, he is brilliant, knows this industry cold, and has a really wonderful sense of humor to boot. I suspect any session with Francoise and Tarik would be popular, but add the sexy and elusive topic of community ROI (see Bill Odell’s comment on a previous post) and the session was a huge draw.

Many of our top attended sessions are usually in the “Innovative Service Technology” track, and this event is no exception.  Add to that a panel discussion–always a big draw–and a KM topic, and you have a very hot session:  “Measuring the Self Service Experience,” with the following panelists: Christopher Hall, Vice President, Marketing, InQuira; Bradford T. Smith, Senior Director/Architect of Online Support Strategy, Symantec Corporation; Judy Quinn, Processes and Tools Program Manager, Verisign; Chuck Flood, Senior Manager, Customer Service & Support Infrastructure, Blue Coat Systems; Nav Chakravarti, Vice President Solutions, InQuira.

Customer satisfaction is another topic that always draws a crowd, and another top attended session was “Consumer Services – High Customer Satisfaction with Outsourced Support Vendors – Impossible?” with Manish Sinha, General Manager, Microsoft Corporation. With several hundred analysts looking out how to outsource both cost effectively and with high quality, Microsoft speaks about this topic with a great deal of gravitas.

The last top attended session I will highlight from yesterday is another panel discussion, “Software as a Service – The Consume Stage In The SaaS Cycle – Realizing The Value,” with Luca Sartori, Manager, PRTM; Stephen Smith, Executive Director, SSPA; Krista Anderson, Senior Vice President, Global Support and Customer Success, salesforce.com; Paul Lake, Director of Siebel CRM OnDemand Global Customer Support, Oracle; John Blakeman, Vice President of Customer Support, Taleo; Patrick Saeger, Vice President, Customer Care, SuccessFactors.  SaaS continues to prove a disruptive innovation in the enterprise software market, but it does bring some unique challenges to the support organization.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of today’s events and top attended sessions. Thanks for reading!

TSW Day 2 Recap: Technology Spending Trends

May 6, 2009

Today is the final day of Technology Services World (TSW) Santa Clara. I’m amazed at the huge amount and high quality of the content in breakout sessions, and the positive buzz has been terrific. This post will provide a brief recap of what I was up to yesterday.

I gave my keynote address yesterday morning, providing details from my 2009 Member Technology Survey about technology budgets, adoption and spending. It is no surprise that technology spending is down, and we saw a pretty big decrease in average budget to maintain and acquire technology in the last year. But there remain some bright spots, with members having budget for spending in several areas. Overall, comparing 2008 to 2009 technology budgets, the following trends can be identified:

SSPA Member Technology Spending by Product Category

SSPA Member Technology Spending by Product Category

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HP: Monitor External Conversations about Your Products

May 5, 2009

Tara Bunch, VP of Global Customer Support Operations, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, gave a keynote this morning at our Technology Services World Conference about consumer support in a down economy. The fascinating part for me was how HP is leveraging Web 2.0 media to understand customer attitudes about their products and brand, and to engage customers in conversations. Though 57% of SSPA members now have a customer discussion forum, few of them are proactively monitoring what customers are saying about them outside their firewalls. There is a forum for just about everything out there–especially consumer electronics–and according to Tara, just because you don’t own that forum doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be active in it.

 

Tara Bunch, VP of Global Customer Support Operations, Imaging and Printing Group, HP

Tara Bunch, VP of Global Customer Support Operations, Imaging and Printing Group, HP

Her example was how when a consumer complains about a product in an open community that allows anonymous postings, people tend to “pile on” a negative post complaining about any and all things related to the vendor or product. Rather than ignore these forums, HP tracks these external conversations and takes part when lots of activity occurs around an HP topic. Reaching out to frustrated customers in the forum with an offer of assistance usually stops the ‘piling on’ immediately, and typically there is a rush of customer posts afterwards complimenting HP for caring enough to monitor what people say about them. She also suspects they are receiving extra credit from younger customers for even knowing about these sites and caring enough to get involved.
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Announcing the Spring 2009 Recognized Innovator Award Winners

May 5, 2009

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This morning in my keynote address at our Technology Services World (TSW) event in Santa Clara, CA, I announced the winners of the Spring 2009 Recognized Innovator Awards. These awards are presented to partners of the AFSMI, SSPA, and TPSA for outstanding innovation; the categories for the awards change for each event. Winners are chosen by a panel of judges composed of association members, our industry alliance partners, and industry insiders.

Faced with an uncertain economy, AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA Research took a “back to basics” approach for the Spring 2009 Recognized Innovator Awards, identifying categories that enable operational and financial success for service and support operations. The Collaboration category looks for business value amid the Web 2.0 buzz; the Infrastructure category digs below functionality to identify how new and innovative technology platforms are contributing to success; the Revenue Generation category recognizes technology with a proven track record in boosting services revenue. Partners submitted applications, and for the first time, customer case studies showing real business value from the innovation was required. For more information on the categories, see this post.
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TSW Opening Keynote: Breakthroughs in Service Economics

May 4, 2009

Technology Services World (TSW) Santa Clara opened today with a keynote address by our CEO, JB Wood, on ‘Breakthroughs in Service Economics.”  This was a serious note on which to open, discussing the downward trend of service margins and the implications for the future if things don’t change.  

CEO JB Wood opens Technology Services World

CEO JB Wood opens Technology Services World

One angle he discussed was right down my alley–the role of technology.  JB talked about how our industry has wide adoption of technology that cuts costs and streamlines processes, but have we plateaued?  Has all the low hanging fruit been picked?   (more…)

TSW Registration Desk Opens: Workshops Underway

May 4, 2009

I am onsite at the Santa Clara Convention Center for our Spring Technology Services World (TSW) Conference, sequestered in a sunny room for member 1:1 meetings.  For all of you attending the event, I have several 1:1 slots still open so please sign up!  The official open of the event is 3pm today, but many members arrived early for professional development workshops and advisory board meetings.

Spring TSW 2009 Registration is OPEN!!!

Spring TSW 2009 Registration is OPEN!!!

I just spent a few minutes in Implementing Knowledge-Centered Support, a workshop led by longtime SSPA friend and partner, David Kay of DB Kay & Associates. Knowledge management is one of the perennial hot topics at TSW, and there are signs that this event is no exception.  In fact, the few member conversations I’ve already had today are about this topic.

David Kay's Knowledge Centered Support Workshop kicks off

David Kay's Knowledge Centered Support Workshop kicks off

One of the main KM themes this year, I predict, is the merging of service and support KM practices and higher level corporate KM practices.  I am seeing inquiries from members about the differences between corporate content management strategy and tech support knowledge strategy, and I know this can be a big political issue within companies that have a CIO who is closely engaged with KM/CM, or companies with titles like CKO: Corporate Knowledge Officer.

While there is definitely a lot of overlap and some best practices both sides can share, I would advise everyone to keep in mind that these two initiatives have different business goals, different tools, usually different processes, so support executives should not let corporate KM gurus intimidate you or force you to assimilate.  Stick to your guns. Shaving seconds off a phone call is not a goal of corporate CM/KM initiatives.  1-click content retrieval is not a use case requirement for corporate knowledge repositories. And most of all, corporate KM systems are not usually available to outside users, while support center KM tools are purchased and implemented with customer self-service in mind.

I’ll be trying to post frequently this week to highlight some of the great content from presentations and hallway conversations. If you are at TSW, please track me down and say hello, and please attend my keynote presentation tomorrow at 10:45am in which I will present findings from my 2009 Member Technology Survey, and present the winners for the Spring 2009 Recognized Innovator Awards.