Archive for December 2009

2009 Remembered: Top Three Customer Service Technology Trends

December 29, 2009

We all seem to be breathing a collective sigh of relief that 2009 is over. Thank goodness.  2009 started in a very dark place, with budgets in question, technology projects on hold, and a laser focus on ROI.  I remember advising our partners in January that, “2009 is not the year anyone wants to hear your Web 2.0 vision.” What a difference 12 months can make. As a buzz term, “Web 2.0”  certainly died, but it was replaced by the almost interchangeable “social media,” another generic term meaning whatever you want it to mean. Delayed projects seemed to mostly revive and continue by mid-2009, and judging by my inquiry volume from companies building RFPs for CRM and KM tools, 2010 will be a big year for updating infrastructure and building out some innovative technology areas.

As I look over 2009, with an eye toward what’s coming in 2010, here are the three technology trends I think most impacted the service and support industry this year: (more…)

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Gartner and AMR: Shrinking Demand for IT Advisory Services

December 7, 2009

After I get a question for the third time, I usually try to write about it in my blog. I’ve had more than three inquiries from TSIA partners asking my thoughts on the continued consolidation among IT advisory firms as Gartner announced last week they were acquiring AMR, so here goes.

As a former analyst from one of the big IT advisory firms, I certainly have a perspective on this.  And here it is:  the demand for IT advisory services has been shrinking as:

  • Large IT outsourcing projects means fewer companies are making IT decisions internally.
  • Cloud computing/OnDemand/SaaS minimizes demand for IT as well as minimizes IT’s role in a larger percentage of corporate infrastructure.
  • Business users become driving force behind product purchases as OnDemand and Web services put end users in the drivers seat.

Add to that the economy and tighter budgets, and there simply weren’t enough IT budget dollars to keep Gartner, Forrester, AMR, Meta Group and Jupiter Research (et al) afloat. Consolidation is the logical step.

I made the move in 2006 from IT research to business user focused research, and in hindsight, my timing was pretty good.  Business users continue to gain more clout (particularly in services, with our climbing revenues and strong margins), and personally, I find working closely with business users on functionality to meet unique business problems much more rewarding than discussing Linux versions with IT admins.

I do worry about the impact on IT, with fewer voices analyzing the market and giving advice, particularly when the focus from the largest analyst firms is always the big companies. Fewer voices talking about niche areas–like AMR’s expertise in supply chain–means less coverage for smaller and more innovative solutions, fewer options, and no alternative views to the bully pulpit sermons. But that just allows business users to assume even more control–they can look to industry groups such as TSIA for highly tailored advice based on the success (or lack of success) of peer companies.

The big losers are ‘best of breed’ and smaller vendors, who have to compete with Oracle, SAP, IBM and HP for analyst time and mind share. I’ve had complaints from partners for years now that they can’t even get a briefing with the big name analysts unless consulting dollars are attached, and the cost to buy your way in for inclusion in a Magic Quadrant or Wave is too high, with too much risk:  the small companies don’t have the lobby power the big companies do to influence findings or ask for edits.

And that’s my 2 cents! I hope there is a smooth transition for some excellent AMR analysts, like my friend Noha Tohamy. Thanks for reading!

Social Media Meets Tech Support: By the Numbers

December 1, 2009

The top attended session at October’s Technology Services World Conference was from Shawn Santos, TSIA’s Director of Programs & Community, entitled “Change is the Only Constant: How Social Media is Transforming Customer Service.” The content for the presentation was from the first TSIA member survey on social media, and I will be highlighting some of those results in Thursday’s Webcast, “Join the Conversation: How to Integrate the Social Web into Customer Service & Support.”

I plan to provide data to give insight on the top questions I receive regarding online communities and social media:

  • Who should own social media initiatives?
  • How do we staff social media projects?
  • What social media channels should we use/leverage?
  • What is the ROI story for social media?
  • How to select which social media channels to pay attention to, or provide service to customers via?

We will also hear from Kyle Christensen, Director, Product Marketing, Salesforce.com, about the Service Cloud. The Service Cloud 2 announcement from Salesforce included knowledge management, crowd sourcing, Twitter integrations, contact center integrations, and other features, along with core CRM capabilities, allowing companies to bring social media channels into the 360 degree view of the customer automatically.

The ROI issue continues to thwart member companies. In fact, when asked what the barriers are for industry adoption of social media to support customers, the number one answer was “unable to measure ROI.”

 

Barriers to Social Media Adoption

There are a lot of opinions on this subject, from those clinging to call deflection as a means of cost justifying communities to those who say embracing social media shouldn’t be viewed in terms of ROI. I think everything should be viewed in terms of ROI, but that doesn’t mean anything without 100% ROI is a bad investment. We are beginning to see success stories about communities and adoption of social media channels from members, particularly in STAR Award applications, and I look forward to bringing you more case studies on measuring cost and effectiveness of social media in the months to come.

Thanks for reading, and please join in for Thursday webcast!