Archive for May 2010

Top Technology Trends for 2010

May 17, 2010

Earlier this month at our Technology Services World (TSW) conference, I released the results of my 2010 TSIA Member Technology Survey, which tracks the adoption, satisfaction and planned spending in 24 areas of enabling technology and services for professional services, field service and technical support. After a long and very dark time for spending over the last couple of years, the numbers show that pent up need for refreshed technology is finally translating to spend: more than half of the categories covered in the survey are being invested in by more than 20% of members in 2010-2011.

For complete results, see the TSIA 2010 Member Spending Reports under ‘Research‘ on  There is one for each discipline: field service, professional services and support services. Highlights include:

  • Mobile devices and applications proliferate. Mobile technology and devices came out on top of the spending survey, with 34% of field service members having budget for mobile technology. iPad, iPhone and Blackberry users demand native applications, and increasingly they are getting them. For example, Oracle announced an iPad application for Oracle CRM on April 20th. NTRglobal’s NTRconnect gives iPhone users full access to home computers, including the ability to shake the device to move from screen to screen in a multi-screen environment (a feature I LOVE). Our newest partner, Anoto, has created a line of writing devices that records as it writes, capturing data in real time and synching it with databases and applications.
  • Make it social. No surprise, spending on social service is big this year. In fact, 31% of members have budget for social service tools, meaning 2010 is the year enterprise companies are pulling the social trigger. While most companies have already invested in online communities, this new round of spending includes social media monitoring tools (Baynote, Clarabridge), wikis and other collaborative content and tribal knowledge tools, idea storming, and integrations to incident and knowledge management.
  • Focus shifts from knowledgebase to search. The emphasis of knowledge management programs shifts from KBs toward a “knowledge anywhere” approach, with 31% of members having budget for intelligent search tools than can mine content in any location, in any format. The new breed of search tools (Coveo, InQuira, Consona CRM) are also bridging the gap between traditional online support content and customer community content, helping to merge self-service, online communities and social service into single initiatives.

Other areas with high planned spending include workforce management/optimization tools, analytic platforms, quality monitoring tools, learning management, and professional services automation.

For any TSIA members starting a project to identify new tools, please leverage the inquiry process. I can give you additional information, such as top installed products by TSIA members, and member satisfaction with specific tools.  And as always, thanks for reading!


Announcing winners of the TSIA Recognized Innovator Awards: Spring 2010

May 5, 2010

The TSIA Recognized Innovator Awards recognize innovation in services technology, and are presented to partners of TSIA at our Technology Service World conferences. Partners submit applications for consideration, and case studies documenting business results are required. I announced the winners today during the closing awards ceremony at Technology Services World in Santa Clara, CA. The categories for the Spring 2010 TSIA Recognized Innovator Awards were:

  • Innovation in Knowledge Management (KM). Creating, maintaining, and leveraging content to speed issue resolution and project success is not only a core process within every technical support operation, but increasingly field services and professional services are launching KM initiatives to share learnings from the field across a global operation. The Recognized Innovator in this category will provide documented case studies of how their technology and/or services are enabling service organizations to more easily publish knowledge and effectively use that knowledge to improve business results.
  • Innovation in Value-Added Services. As documented in Complexity Avalanche, value-added services (VAS) programs enable customers to fully consume purchased products and services, helping them quickly receive full business value and speed the repurchase cycle. In addition, VAS programs are providing new revenue sources for budget-strapped service operations. The winner in this category will have documented case studies showing how their technology or services are being leveraged to boost service and support revenues through delivery of value-added services. Examples could include:
  • Innovation in Emerging Channels. According to TSIA survey data, a quarter of TSIA support services members are leveraging video-sharing sites such as YouTube to communicate with customers, and 36% are offering some level of support via micro-blogging channels such as Twitter. Support organizations are struggling to not only identify which emerging channels to support, but there is little best-practice information available on effective customer management via social media. The Recognized Innovator in this category will provide documented case studies of how their technology and/or services are enabling services organizations to meet and exceed customer expectations for support via emerging channels without breaking the bank.

TSIA Research identified a panel of judges for the Spring 2010 Recognized Innovator Awards, including technology-savvy association members and partners, and several industry experts. The judges were: Kathleen Rege, Bluecoat Systems; David Kay, DB Kay & Associates; Chris Karp, Tektronix; Tim Matanovich, Value and Pricing Partners; Terry Clearkin, Bluecoat Systems; Liz Glagowski, 1to1 Media; Thomas Lah, TSIA; Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar LLC; Mark Connolly, Logitech; Stacy Philippou, Intuit; Robert Guski, ADC; Melinda Schultz, Teletech; Shawn Santos, TSIA.

The Recognized Innovators for Knowledge Management are:

  • Lithium. The winner in this category is Lithium. Customer-driven content in online communities is changing the way companies approach knowledge management. Lithium, the leader in customer support community platforms, is pushing the envelope on customer content with their new Tribal Knowledge Base product. Lithium’s Tribal Knowledge Base is the first knowledgebase designed to be managed and maintained by an organization’s customer base.
  • Language Weaver. The finalist in this category is Language Weaver. To maximize adoption and success of self-service, knowledgebase content should be available in the native language of customers, but until now, manual translation has been too costly and time-consuming, and first-generation machine translation tools suffered from poor accuracy. Language Weaver has solved this problem with GlobalConnect, a product that plugs into knowledgebase applications and enables content managers to initiate automated translation of content articles—in one click—from within the knowledgebase application.

The Recognized Innovators for Value-Added Services are:

  • nGenera CIM. The winner in this category is nGenera CIM. TSIA Partners were invited to submit innovative service programs—not just technology—for award consideration, and nGenera CIM submitted their nGen Expert Services. The nGen Expert Services program optimizes ROI and customer satisfaction by increasing the number of features used and overall business value of nGen software to the partner’s customers.
  • LivePerson. The finalist in this category is LivePerson. A provider of online intelligent engagement solutions that facilitate real-time assistance and expert advice, LivePerson offers enterprise solutions that improve customer care and customer service acceptance ratings, while reducing contact center costs. LivePerson intelligent engagement solutions also help enterprises turn their call centers into profit centers by enabling online businesses to assess who—of thousands of visitors on their site—will need personalized assistance in order to drive first-contact resolution and ensure retention.

The Recognized Innovators for Emerging Channels are:

  • InQuira. The winner of this category is InQuira. With four out of five Americans now using social networks, the era of social networking clearly has arrived—creating significant implications for enterprises. Today, there are compelling rewards for embracing social communities and having this new social channel tightly integrated with a central knowledge platform. The InQuira Q8 knowledge platform uniquely enables enterprises to maximize these rewards. Featuring seamless integration between social communities and knowledge collaboration, InQuira delivers a new channel of crowd-sourced knowledge.
  • nGenera CIM. The finalist in this category is nGenera CIM. nGenera CIM’s nGen Social Media is a sophisticated collection of tools to identify, monitor, and respond to customer conversations on a variety of social mediums. To solve the problem of “not knowing what you don’t know,” nGen Social Media scans multiple social networking outlets using its Listening and Sentiment Analysis Platform. The platform swiftly identifies customer chatter, prioritizes the incident using sentiment-assessing technology, and routes the incident to the appropriate agent just like a traditional customer-initiated inquiry.

Each of the winners and finalists were featured on Innovation Tours. Tour attendees voted for the best demo–a seven minute overview of the technology, the innovation, and business value. The Spring 2010 Best Innovation Demo Award was presented to: InQuira.

Congratulations to all of our Recognized Innovators!

Recap of Day 2: Technology Services World

May 5, 2010

Yesterday at Technology Services World (TSW) was content, content, content, with 12 concurrent breakout sessions each hour, starting at 8am. I always like to look at the top attended sessions, as this is great indicator of what issues are top of mind with members. Here are the top attended sessions for yesterday.  Interestingly, the majority were panel discussions, indicating the popularity of peer-to-peer sharing and the value of community/association collaboration.

  • Online Support Panel Discussion: The Continued Drive to Push Customers to the Web. Moderator: Stephen Smith, Senior Vice President, Operations, TSIA; Panel: Sandra Coates, Vice President, Services, SMART Technologies; Jim Pendergast, Senior Director Customer Success, Yahoo!; Lois Townsend, Global Manager, Social Media Strategy,Hewlett-Packard; Denise Rundle, General Manager, Services, Consumer & Outsourcing, Microsoft
  • Women in Services: Profiles of Success. Moderator: Diane Brundage, Senior Vice President, Membership Development, TSIA; Panel: Amanda Berger, Vice President, Professional Services, Guidance Software; Catherine Jensen, Vice President, Business Operations, Enterprise Support Services, Symantec; Michelle Logan, Senior Director, Hitachi Data Systems; Kelly Truax, Vice President, Global Customer Support Services Operations, Dell; Denise Rundle, General Manager, Services, Consumer & Outsourcing, Microsoft
  • Cloud and Services – Delivering Support and Developing New Services in a Cloud Environment. Moderator: Stephen Smith, Senior Vice President, Operations, TSIA; Panel: Krista Anderson, Senior Vice President, Global Support and Customer Success,; Renee Bochman, Vice President, Support Services, Axeda; Patrick Saeger, Vice President, Customer Care,SucessFactors
  • Driving Support Leadership through Actionable Business Intelligence. Barry McPherson, Executive Vice President, McAfee
  • What is Hot in Knowledge: InQuiras 2010 Knowledge Panel. Moderator: Santi Pierini, Chief Marketing Officer, InQuira; Panel: Brad Smith, Vice President, Global Support Experience Group, Yahoo!; Francoise Tourniaire, Owner, FT Works; Christopher Hall, Vice President, Marketing, InQuira
  • Integrating Customer Feedback with Product Design Requirements: Strategy for Sustained Supportability. Susan Gillespie, Senior Manager, Global Release Management, Symantec
  • Mentoring for Professional and Business Development. Moderator: Diane Brundage, Senior Vice President, Membership Development, TSIA; Panel: Susan Zwinger, Vice President, Global Systems Technology Service Center, Oracle; Cindy Alley, Accounting Manager, The Women’s Museum; Kim Wise, Founder and CEO, Mentor Resources; Julie Fassberg, Senior Manager, Citrix; Jesse Finn, Vice President, Education Services, Taleo; Tina DeBrass, Manager, Services Delivery, Dell; Jodi Schilling, Vice President, Americas Consumer Support, Hewlett-Packard

Yesterday I also had my Innovation Tours of the Expo, visiting the booths of the finalists for our Recognized Innovator Awards. Today at the awards ceremony I will announce the winners, as well as give an award for the best innovation demo.

Language Weaver presents on the Innovation Tour

Thanks for reading!

Recap of Day 1: Technology Services World

May 4, 2010

Yesterday our Spring 2010 Technology Services World (TSW) kicked off at the Santa Clara convention center, with over 700 attendees. The morning was filled with professional development workshops, advisory board meetings, and 1:1 meetings with members and partners. The conference officially opened at 3pm with a keynote by my boss, executive director of TSIA Thomas Lah.

Thomas talked about how “the cloud” is changing technology services, and not necessarily for the better. The traditional “on premise” hardware and software companies are all morphing into OnDemand as quickly as possible, yet pure SaaS companies have lower profit than their on premise counterparts. Should we really be running so fast towards what seems to be a cliff?

One thing you can’t deny about cloud companies–support has a critical role in keeping customers happy so they renew when their 2-3 year agreement is up.  The most profitable accounts are those that extend beyond the initial contract, but the cost of switching OnDemand solutions is low, and you have to work extra hard to be sure your customers won’t leave for a better deal. In some ways, enterprise software is beginning to feel an awful lot like a cell phone plan: loyalty is hard to come by when the cost of switching is so low.

During the support services advisory board meeting, Bill Rose asked the board about problems that “keep them up at night,” and the answers were interesting, with a mix of old issues that never go away, and emerging challenges with no official best practices yet.  Some of the long time issues companies still struggle with include:

  • Multi-vendor support. As technology becomes more intertwined, identifying the failing component between a dizzy array of hardware and software is darn near impossible sometimes, and members are spending more time troubleshooting technology they don’t own or control. Training time and costs are going through the roof to keep techs up to speed on dozens of technologies, in addition to the core technology they support.
  • Outsourcing attrition. With turnover rates as high as 15% per month for some outsourcing contracts, having adequate staffing of highly skilled staff becomes very challenging. And, this is not just an India problem anymore. Latin American and other areas in Asia are now finding high demand for seasoned, trained support techs, so turnover keeps growing.
  • Demonstrating value. The economy has put even more pressure on maintenance renewals, with discounts climbing and more customers asking to renegotiate terms.

Some of the emerging issues listed were:

  • Managing consolidation. High tech has always been a hot bed of mergers and acquisitions, and activity has increased as valuations dropped due to the economy. 2009 was a big year for acquisitions, and 2010 is expected to be as well.  Multiple companies said more information is needed on best practices for merging support organizations, standardizing processes and systems across global operations.
  • Cloud complexities.  Companies m0ving to the cloud are finding a new set of support challenges, including confusing international standards for cloud computing–data storage, privacy, etc. Also, what are the key metrics/KPIs for cloud operations?
  • Social media. Our larger members, and many of our smaller members, have jumped into social service and now are wondering how to effectively handle the huge influx of customer content. In addition, the ROI of social service continues to stymie companies as online communities find huge adoption…but assisted support interactions never decrease.

Day 2 of TSW is underway with a full day of breakout sessions, including my session at 4pm revealing the results of my 2010 Member Technology Survey. I’ll also be giving 2 Innovation Tours of the Expo at 11am and 2pm, with a drawing for an iPod shuffle for tour attendees. Come join us!