What’s the Buzz? Top Technology Inquiry Topics for 2010
In preparing my research agenda for 2011, I looked over all the inquiries I received from members during 2010. While it would be fun to pick research topics based solely on personal interest, I tend to focus on areas with the most planned spending and areas about which I receive the most inquiries from members. The TSIA member inquiry process is one of the (in my opinion) most valuable pieces of TSIA membership: members can ask any question regarding service operations and we do our best to answer within 48 hours. Analyzing inquiry topics not only tells you what is top of mind for service organizations, it also tells you where they are struggling the most.
This chart shows my 2010 inquiries by topic. The top inquiry areas were:
- Knowledge management. There are so many issues around KM–best practices for capturing, creating and maintaining content; pros/cons of the many KM solutions available today, and always questions on calculating ROI for KM projects. If you were to add in all the related areas (self-service, intelligent search) you can see that this is where I spent a majority of my inquiry time.
- Multichannel. This is another broad topic area, ranging from best practices for improving service with specific channels (email continues to frustrate many companies), moving traffic from one channel to another, and quite a few questions this year on web chat, as chat adoption grows in the B2B world.
- CRM. Let’s face it, CRM is a dirty word to a lot of companies. Complaints run the gamut from “we built it ourselves and it never really met our needs,” to “our platform is hopelessly outdated and IT says it will be 5-10 years before they can upgrade,” to “IT shoved a product we hate down our throats.” It is no surprise that adoption of less complex, albeit lower functionality, ondemand products are finding wider adoption, as service organizations give up trying to get value from aging enterprise CRM tools and bring in lighter weight tools that meet most of their current needs with little or no involvement from IT.
- PSA. I was glad to see a topic from another TSIA discipline make the list. Our data clearly shows that companies who have adopted professional services automation (PSA) technology have improved operational performance. As I said on a webcast last week, it isn’t that PSA is a magic bullet and writing a check for the software eliminates your problems. Rather, moving off spreadsheets to a PSA suite forces you to formalize processes you’ve never talked about, and provides you with industry best practices in workflows and processes. It also gives you great insight into financials in realtime–not after the quarter ends.
Other topics, such as metrics, operations and social media, are obviously big topics as well, but I only receive the technology questions. Our other analysts receive more questions on these topics than I do, including Michael Israel, who launched the new support services and field service benchmark this year and is now an expert on metrics and their definitions; Tim Flannery, our support services analyst with expertise on multi-channel and consumer support; and of course TSIA’s own social media guru, Shawn Santos, who fields most of the questions on communities and social support.
Thanks to all the TSIA members who submitted inquiries during the year, and I hoped my answers helped! I look forward to working with all of you in 2011. Happy holidays, and thanks for reading!