Archive for October 2011

TSW Day 2: Top Attended Sessions

October 26, 2011

The final day of Technology Services World is now under way, with this morning’s keynote from Unfortunately I was booked with 1:1 meetings and couldn’t’ attend, but I’m sure there were some insights on the Oracle/RightNow deal announced this week! But I digress…

I’m here to report the top attended sessions from yesterday. While we can try and predict hot topics, conference attendees vote with their feet, and I think looking at the breakouts in which the majority of members decide to spend their time is a great way to identify the issues that are top of mind. And it appears that some of TSIA’s perennial hot topics continue to dominate. Here is the list of top attended sessions from each round of breakouts yesterday:

  • How Revenue Recognition Rule Changes Associated with Service Impact the Bottom Line. Great to see a PS focused session make the top attended list. I know that anytime Thomas or Bo publish a report or blog about VSOE it immediately becomes a top-read article, and when Thomas mentioned this session in his keynote, saying VSOE as we know it is going away, I expected this session to be popular. Not only was it a good topic, but the session was presented by PWC, definitely experts in consulting billing practices.
  • Discover the Power of Live Chat! A Key Service Differentiator. We did a webcast with EMC on their highly successful chat practice earlier this year that was very well attended (here’s a link to the OnDemand version). While chat has been popular for almost a decade in consumer industries, EMC’s impressive story, leveraging a chat platform from Moxie Software, proves chat works equally well for B2B support. According to our benchmark, chat interactions cost about 1/10th as much as phone, and 1/15th as much as email.
  • Why Technical Training Doesn’t Work. This provocative session, presented by Cisco and Kepner-Tregoe, challenged the traditional thinking that technical support success is all about more technical training for support techs. Instead, Cisco and KT maintain that a more strategic, process- and people -driven approach is critical to delivering  consistent, high quality problem resolution. As more companies try to move away from the expensive and often ineffective models of Level 1/2/3, I expect to see more creative approaches to core service processes.
  • Driving Service Transformation with Knowledge. A session by InQuira, now part of Oracle, is almost always in the list of top attended sessions, and this year was no exception, with this presentation featuring a case study by Martin Marcinczyk, Vice President, Business Technology Solutions, Comcast. You may know him as the ‘voice of Comcast’ from his blog, Comcast Voices. The session described best practices in integrating knowledge into service, including social media.
  • Listening and Acting on the Voice of the Customer. This session discussed how to collect, monitor and act on the voice of the customer, an increasingly strategic topic as customers gain more control over service offerings and product features. The session featured a panel of experts from the Call Center Group,, Juniper Networks, and TSIA’s Sally Foster.
  • A Strategic Approach to Knowledge Management. This presentation by Taleo highlighted important activities to consider when building your knowledge management strategy, including Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) and ISN (Integrated Solutions Network) methodology. 50% of TSIA support services members are investing in additional knowledge tools this year, and KM programs are proven to increase key metrics such as first contact resolution, resolution time, and escalation rates.

Thanks to all the presenters for doing such a great job! As a reminder, attendees receive an email each evening of TSW with a link to rate all of the session you attended that day, along with a link to download all presentation materials. So be sure to check your inbox!


Social Support: Seizing the Opportunity

October 26, 2011

Today at TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas I served as moderator for a session entitled, “Social Support: Seizing the Opportunity,” led by David Kay of DB Kay & Assoc. and Brad Smith, Vice President, Global Support Experience, Yahoo. This was a workout session, meaning instead of the usual “stand and deliver” format, David and Brad opened with a few slides and then introduced a list of discussion topics for the group. I tried to capture some of the major discussion points:

  • Companies need to automate virality tracking. For the uninitiated (I had to Google it), virality is the measure of a customer’s social media influence. If a customer has thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, or a popular blog, you don’t want to give them a reason to start attacking you via social media channels.
  • Outside experts can help validate things for feet-dragging executives. While you may know as much or more than the consultant, the truth is some companies need to hear about the critical importance of a strong social strategy from an outside expert as validation.
  • Measuring forum consumption. You need to understand if people are in your community to learn, to contribute, to ask a question, etc. Exit surveys are a good way to capture data on customer intent, as well as figure out some deflection numbers.
  • Insight analysis tools. Having a platform that analyzes oceans of community content to understand trends and customer sentiment is increasingly important. Today’s customers demand a voice in product futures, and companies ignore this valuable input at their peril.
  • Managing conversations. When questions from social media channels like Twitter or Facebook are too complex to answer with a simple response or a link to existing content, try to move the conversation to your customer community. There the question will receive visibility with the entire community, and a more thorough answer is possible.
  • Characteristics of social support lead. While younger employees may be great at interacting with customers via social media, the program lead needs some experience and business savvy to better judge when issues aren’t appropriate for the community, as well as which questions should be referred to a marketing or PR group to answer.

I’m always a bit nervous with these workout sessions, and have moderated a few in the past that had a difficult time getting the discussion going. With a hot topic like social media, and real-world examples of best (and worst) practices from Brad and David, the audience had lots of questions and comments, and I think the session was very valuable for attendees.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of today’s top attended sessions, and thoughts on the closing day of TSW. As always, thanks for reading!

Top Attended Session on TSW Day 1: Social Media Trends & Best Practices

October 25, 2011

Yesterday was the opening day of TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, and our opening keynotes took a somber tone as our executives discussed the changes in the industry and service revenue models and gave calls to action for rapid evolution in order to survive. I always worry about starting a conference on a worrisome note, as you walk a fine line between energizing attendees about the importance of change vs. intimidating them with dire predictions.

Following the keynotes, we had the Power Hour, with concurrent presentations from each of us on the research team.  (See this previous blog entry for an overview of my session on Video in service.) We had a good selection of topics, including a big focus on revenue generation and cloud impacts. I was anxious to see the numbers on top attended sessions, since I think that is great indicator of where people’s heads are at. Christi Holzer, our tireless Events Project Manager, sent me the attendee numbers for the Power Hour session late last night, and while the revenue generation sessions all had good attendance, the top attended session with Shawn Santos’ presentation on social media, “The State of Social Support: New TSIA Research Uncovers Leading Trends & Best Practices.” Not only does social media continue to be a fascinating topic for members, it is also a fun and sexy subject that is relevant to everyone, regardless of your role or title.

Just in time for TSW, Shawn completed his annual social media survey, which has a massive response rate and provides incredible information. This is the third year Shawn has done the survey, so now he has created great trending data, tracking results from 2009 to today. He shared his findings in this session. My session on video in service was actually next door to Shawn’s presentation, and I could hear hoots, hollers and applause from the audience, so I’m pretty sure the content was well received!

I will leave it to Shawn to share his results, but I will be providing a few data points today when I served as moderator for a session entitled, “Social Support: Seizing the Opportunity,” led by David Kay of DB Kay & Assoc. and Brad Smith, Vice President, Global Support Experience, Yahoo.  You will have to come to the session to hear the details (2:15 in St. Thomas B), but suffice to say a shocking percent of companies continue to report they are either unable to measure ROI for social media, or worse–they receive zero ROI for their efforts. We also continue to see lagging adoption of best practices like CRM integration and federated search of self-service content and community content. However, companies that ARE receiving ROI for social media have already done these things, helping prove our point that integration, reporting and dashboards are key to success.

Also today I am leading an invitation-only partner advisory session on key industry trends across each of our service disciplines, I have multiple member 1:1 meetings scheduled, and I’ll be interviewing LionBridge and Astea on the Solution Stage in the EXPO. If you see me in the hallway, please say hi! And as always, thanks for reading!

Video’s Impact on Service’s Future: KM, Education, and Customer Interactions

October 25, 2011

Today at TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas, I held my “Power Hour” session entitled, “The Impacts of Video on Service’s Future,” a panel discussion with Jennifer MacIntosh, Global Director, Knowledge Management, Yahoo; Radha Penekelapati, Director, Global Support Operations,; and Phil Verghis, Founder and President, The Verghis Group. Also today my paper on the topic was published to the TSIA website.

Video is an incredibly powerful medium that is already changing the face of service operations, but the impact will be even greater in the future, as video becomes even more widely adopted, including the enablement of face-to-face customer service interactions. By combining rich information with a visual demonstration, videos are able to more clearly illustrate information and processes so viewers instantly understand a concept or can follow along to complete a complex process.

The massive popularity of online video sites such as YouTube have helped drive down the cost of video production. While in years past videos required expensive equipment and a production team, today you can create a video using your built-in webcam and free video software, or using screen capture software already installed on many corporate desktops. The YouTube generation knows that content is more important than high production values. Video is impacting service in three primary areas.

  • Knowledge management. Video content to augment or replace knowledgebase articles has already emerged as a best practice, with TSIA members adding video libraries to self-service sites as well as creating dedicated YouTube channels for technology “how to” videos.
  • Education. Video content for employee and customer education is available, but so far without large-scale adoption. Not only is creating an online video training library that can be streamed to an employee or customer desktop less expensive than traditional classroom training, it is also proving more effective, especially with younger demographics.
  • Service interactions. While there are only early examples, the future of customer service interactions will radically change with the introduction of video interactions between customer and support technician, not only streamlining problem resolution but also boosting the relationship factor with accounts.

Service organizations need to evaluate how early adopters are leveraging video effectively for knowledge management, education, and support interactions, and create a roadmap for the use of video in their operations. For conference attendees, you will recieve an email t0night with a link to rate the sessions you attended today, and to download all presentation materials–including video examples from Salesforce and Yahoo.

Thanks for reading!

Announcing the Recognized Innovator Award Finalists: Innovation Tour Today at TSW

October 24, 2011

Today is the opening day of Technology Services World, and I’m looking forward to my favorite part of the event, the Innovation Tour of the finalists for the Recognized Innovator Awards. These awards are for TSIA’s partners, who submit applications for consideration, and case studies documenting business results are required. The applications are judged by a panel of judges consisting of tech-savvy TSIA members as well as industry insiders, with 2 finalists selected in each category.  Today at 12:45 in the Tech EXPO, each of the finalists will present a 6 minute demo of their solution or service, with the audience voting for one additional award: best innovation demo. Winners will be announced Wednesday during the closing award ceremony of the conference.

The Fall 2011 Recognized Innovator Finalists are:

For Innovation in Products:

  • Kopin.  Kopin’s Golden-i is a hands-free, wireless, mobile computing headset, providing users on-demand access to nearly all digital information. Information is viewed on an all-weather, sunlight-readable, virtual, 15-inch, full-color PC screen, which appears as a standard laptop display 18 inches from the user’s eye. To achieve hands-free operation, Golden-i employs advanced noise-canceling natural speech recognition and a six-axis, head-gesture-tracking interface. Golden-i further enables hands-free control of multiple remote devices at one time, allowing businesses to significantly improve worker productivity, safety, and efficiency.
  • Stone Cobra. Stone Cobra offers software and professional services for critical business solutions. The firm is taking an innovative approach and building a System of Engagement. Stone Cobra’s Engagement Apps are “built on the shoulders of giants,” leveraging all the value from the various existing Systems of Record and adding into the mix the best practice processes, closed-loop feedback, point-in-the-flow interactions, modern user experience, and productive and engaging software that understands the human being sitting behind the computer. With the focus on innovative and engaging interactions, Stone Cobra’s Engagement Apps are deeply collaborative, highly effective, and astoundingly efficient.

For Innovation in Services:

  • Convergys. Convergys Corporation is a global leader in relationship management. For more than 30 years, Convergys’ unique combination of domain expertise, operational excellence, and innovative technologies has delivered process improvement and actionable business insight to marquee clients all over the world. In their application, Convergys provided multiple examples of innovation in services, including a global technology company who needed to improve efficiency and reduce the costs of delivering email and web support services in multiple languages to channel partners and distribution firms around the world. Convergys partnered with an on-demand language translation service to create a process that provides transparent multilingual support to channel partners and distributors using a team of English-speaking agents in the Philippines. The Convergys solution provides partner services to the company’s expanding international markets with 40% less staff while exceeding all key performance indicators and client expectations.
  • SYKES. SYKES is a global leader in providing customer contact management solutions and services in the business process outsourcing (BPO) arena. SYKES provides an array of sophisticated customer contact management solutions to Fortune 1000 companies around the world, primarily in the communications, financial services, healthcare, technology, and transportation and leisure industries.  Insight Analytics is SYKES’ approach to Customer Experience Analytics. This is “human analytics,” in stark contrast to the prevalence of speech mining and text analytics technologies and the associated hype. This methodology relies on experienced analysts who can interpret a customer experience, and find opportunities to improve it beyond coaching representatives on their empathy or troubleshooting skills.

For Innovation in Consulting:

  • DB Kay & Associates. DB Kay & Associates, Inc. is a consultancy that helps support organizations implement knowledge management, self-service, and social support initiatives. Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) is DB Kay’s core business, and they’ve contributed to KCS over the past decade as active members of the Consortium for Service Innovation. In their application, DB Kay provided multiple examples of innovative knowledge-related projects with customers, with special focus in two areas. In the first, extending knowledge management (KM) to field service organizations, DB Kay worked with a TSIA member to break down the wall between field and support service knowledge by giving field staff easy access to content using a 3G-enabled iPad, allowing field staff to easily “capture in the workflow” to contribute to the knowledgebase and overcome cultural barriers that separated the groups. The 2nd area is gamification of KM. Gamification is the application of game design to engage people outside of games, and DB Kay is in the early days of taking this new idea from the MIT Media Lab, the Institute for the Future, and other think tanks into TSIA member support organizations.
  • Verghis Group. The Verghis Group is a management consulting firm focused on senior service and support leaders. The firm’s founder, Phil Verghis, is an internationally recognized expert who has helped dozens of support and services executives devise winning strategies. He’s been a top-level support executive himself, he’s written a book on customer-centric management, and he has hands-on experience with implementing new metrics, new systems, new business models, and new market development initiatives. The application from the Verghis Group detailed multiple client projects and business challenges, with four specific areas of innovation cited from client projects. Innovation One: Clear alignment from vision to the individual; Innovation Two: Let the “doers” do; Innovation Three: Focus.

All attendees of today’s Innovation Tour will receive a report detailing the innovations from each finalist. Note that after voting for ‘best innovation demo,’ we will also hold a drawing for prizes–so don’t miss the Innovation Tours! See you there!

Countdown to TSW: Partner Advisory Board Meeting

October 24, 2011

Tomorrow TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference in Las Vegas at the Mirage kicks off with my Innovation Tour of the Recognized Innovator Finalists at 12:45.  Today we are heads down in final preparation, and we also held our very first in-person meeting of the newly formed Partner Advisory Board (PAB). Lydia Zaffini, our senior director of partner programs, and I chair the PAB, which consists of senior executives from Astea International, Compuware Corporation, Pretium Partners, Consona CRM, RTM Consulting, Convergys, ServiceMax, Coveo, ServiceSource, DG Associates, Sykes Enterprises, IGLOO Software Inc., Verint Systems Inc., and ISOdx Solutions LLC.

I opened the meeting with a discussion of major trends for 2012, including the impacts of Consumption Economics on technology buyers, pending 2012 budget cuts and of course, my favorite topic of the moment, mobile and video (more on that in my blog tomorrow!). We also had a presentation from Julia Stegman, our new research vice president for the brand new discipline being launched at this conference, Service Revenue Generation (SRG), on service revenue trends.  Diane Brundage, our senior vice president of sales, and the executive sponsor of the PAB, led the group in a very interaction session on building better relationships between TSIA members and partners.

Cindy McCombe, TSIA’s director of marketing, gave a very informative session on marketing plans, including the new world of marketing via social media. It was great to hear input from the partners on which social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) each of them is using, some with great success, some not so much. Webcasts and white papers continue to be effective ways to reach people, but both are changing. Some partners are having good results with shorter webcasts (bite size chunks packed with content as opposed to a one hour presentation) and ebooks (electronic content perfect for smartphone and table consumption as opposed to traditional PDFs of reports).

I’d like to give a personal Thank You to all the partner advisory board members for giving up part of their weekend to attend the meeting, as well as a big Thank You to the TSIA team members who made time to attend the meeting and make presentations.

I’ll be back tomorrow with updates from Day 1 of TSW! Hope to see you there!

Introducing TSIA’s Newest Research VP: Sally Foster, and Her Blog, “What Would Sally Do?”

October 20, 2011

I’m very pleased to welcome aboard a new member of our research team, Sally Foster, who will serve as vice president of research for field service and support services. Sally will be responsible for benchmark reviews, operational research and inquiries, and driving the research agenda for field service and support.  Sally comes to us from IBM, where she was a services executive with a specialty in the areas of security, storage, and field services. She served as a vice president of customer support at Internet Security Systems (ISS), prior to ISS’ acquisition by IBM. Her executive roles have spanned numerous industries and include: president and CEO of Atlanta Career Center, CEO and COO/president of, general manager and vice president of Clarus Corporation, and vice president of business operations for Dun and Bradstreet Software.

Sally Foster, TSIA VP of Support and Field Services

Today Sally launched her new blog, “What Would Sally Do?” where she will address member inquiries and discuss emerging trends in the industry. Please add Sally’s blog to your list of industry resources, and stay tuned as she beings publishing a new stream of research for

For everyone attending our largest event ever, Technology Services World Las Vegas, kicking off next week at the Mirage, Sally will be presenting in three sessions:

  • Service Executive’s View on Benchmarking. Sally’s Power Hour session on Monday at 4:15pm, and will discuss the importance of benchmarking as the foundation for building success as a support organization, and credibility with customers. Come hear how you can transform your organization to a thriving–and not just surviving–customer support center by using benchmarking.
  • Listening and Acting on the Voice of the Customer. On Tuesday at 2:15pm, Sally will be moderating a panel discussion with the Call Center Group, Juniper Networks and on challenges and successes in championing the voice of the customer in their organizations.
  • Optimizing Your Spare Parts Business. On Wednesday at 11am, Sally will participate in a panel discussion with Avaya, Carestream Health, EMC and NetApp on the three cornerstones of every successful spare parts operation, and how today’s spare parts professional needs to think about these fundamentals: forward logistics, reverse logistics, and metrics.

Please join me in welcoming Sally to TSIA!

The Implications of Consumption Economics for Service Technology Buyers

October 18, 2011

Next week at Technology Services World Las Vegas, TSIA will be releasing a new book: Consumption Economics: The New Rules of Tech, by J.B. Wood, Thomas Lah, and Todd Hewlin. In preparation for the launch, each of us on the research team have written reports on how Consumption Economics impacts our individual coverage areas. My report, “The Implications of Consumption Economics for Service Technology Buyers: Business Users Driving Cloud Technology Purchases: Caveat Emptor,” will also be available at the conference, but I wanted to pre-publish some thoughts on the topic in my blog today.

Consumption Economics documents the rapidly changing world of technology services as on-premise technology moves to the cloud and as up-front application and user license fees are replaced by micro-transactions. Consumption Economics is a must-read for everyone in the technology services industry, serving as a rallying cry for service leadership to take action now to avoid being classified once again as a “cost center” as the market evolves. As TSIA’s service technology expert, I advise member companies on available technology to improve specific operational, quality, and financial metrics, as well as help companies select the “best fit” vendor for their needs.

Consumption Economics has clear implications for technology buyers, and my accompanying report is an attempt to expand upon the trends and recommendations in the book in regard to services technology; in particular, the enormous responsibility that comes along with technology decisions as buying power shifts from IT to the business user, and how companies are leveraging data analysis tools in early attempts to capitalize on user-level behavioral data, as the book recommends.

In the opening pages of Consumption Economics, the authors outline three unrelated but synergistic drivers that are at the root of the current and future trends in technology services. These same three drivers are also at the root of many trends in tools and technology for the enterprise, including applications and devices in use by education services, professional services, field services, and support services. Those drivers and their resulting trends specifically for technology buyers are:

  1. The global economy tanked. When the U.S. economy had a devastating downturn after 9/11, services were hit hard. Big layoffs impacted the ability of many companies to service customers adequately, and the first major push of service interactions offshore had devastating results to many companies, introducing a new vocabulary to both consumer and enterprise technology customers, such as “accent neutralization.” Most companies learned their lesson, and the most recent downturn in 2008/2009 saw fewer mass layoffs of service technicians and consultants. However, big layoffs in IT meant services management had fewer resources to assist with existing technology, and older platforms for critical tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) and knowledge management (KM) grew hopelessly outdated with no funds for upgrades or replacements. With services budgets frozen due to the economy, organizations that had already been “working smarter, not harder” for a decade were once again under pressure to increase productivity and revenue without impacting quality.
  2. Cloud computing got hot. Clearly, on-demand, cloud, or software as a service (SaaS) technology is becoming available in every single enterprise technology area, across the front and back office. But nowhere has there been as much momentum as in CRM, thanks largely to the poster child for on-demand,, whose low-cost, low-complexity sales force automation (SFA) solution found mass adoption by appealing not to sales managers, but to front-line sales reps—the laggards who kept many on-premise SFA implementations from succeeding. With fewer IT resources available, business users gravitated toward cloud solutions, often picking tools with zero IT involvement. Often sacrificing sophistication for less complexity, the shift to on-demand CRM and related tools has proven risky for larger firms, who ultimately may not receive the intended ROI for the purchase, negating the savings from on-demand.
  3. The iPhone came out. Who knew that a consumer device could serve as such a critical impetus to the adoption of mobile tools for the enterprise? The iPhone, and later the iPad, have had huge impacts on enterprise technology, with end users now able to access content from anywhere, demanding better enterprise search tools and more online tutorials. The sudden popularity of free and low-cost downloadable applications for the iPhone pushed enterprise application vendors to develop new iPhone applications and user interfaces, with Apple calling the shots as to much of the technology platforms (Adobe’s Flash being the most obvious victim). The iPhone may be a consumer device, but it quickly replaced the BlackBerry as the device of choice for corporate employees. The iPad, though not designed as a ruggedized device for field service, is becoming the default device, with innovative vendors creating end-to-end field service applications for the iPad, incorporating video, camera, and GPS capabilities to improve field productivity.

With these issues as a backdrop, my report explores themes included in Consumption Economics and their impact on services technology, as well as highlighting some technology available today to meet some challenges described in the book. Check back next week, the report will be available to download from the TSIA home page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member, Stacey Epstein, Vice President of Marketing, ServiceMax: Mobility, the iPad, and Revenue Generation

October 17, 2011

TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.

Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. First up is Stacey Epstein, Vice President of Marketing, ServiceMax.

John Ragsdale: Nearly a quarter of TSIA’s field service members are shopping for new scheduling and dispatch tools this year, so I’m very pleased to have an expert on the topic join our Partner Advisory Board. Stacey Epstein is the Vice President Marketing for ServiceMax. Stacey is a veteran of the customer service and CRM industry, dating back to the late 90s when she was a district sales manager for Clarify during the time I was working there in product management. Stacey, thanks for sitting down with me today.

Stacey Epstein: Thank you John, great to be here.

John: After a decade of slow spending, the field service industry is back in business, with a number of trends bringing visibility to field service automation. I’d love to ask you about a few of them. First up is the move to the cloud. ServiceMax was the very first TSIA field service partner with a 100% cloud solution. What advantages does this give you over the traditional on-premise tools?

Stacey: From a financial perspective, the advantages are undeniable. The cost savings of a business running cloud-based applications is massive, with many businesses reporting savings of well over 50% over on-premise. But what’s most exciting to me is that really smart people at great businesses are finally being freed from the rigidity of on-premise and no longer have to put their talents and skills aside so they can tend to complex IT systems. They are now able to tackle far more strategic projects with the freedom and agility to be more creative and innovative than any on premise solution would ever allow. Running a cloud-based field service solution is a competitive advantage for our customers because they can focus on what’s most important: serving their customers and making them happy.

John: In 2010, spending on mobility for field service was the #1 spending area in my annual member technology survey. In fact, I’d go as far as saying increased mobility is driving a lot of the renewed interest in field service automation. Could you talk about how mobility impacts field service?

Stacey: Field service technicians, by nature of their job, are constantly working remotely. For so long, they had to carry around clunky computers, or use a mobile solution that was far less functional than it’s PC based counterpart, or worse yet, have no communication with the home base at all. But now, with the iPad, full cloud-based solutions can go anywhere. Field technicians have access to the full range of information and functionality. Their routes and scheduling can be updated in real-time, GPS and routing information is at their fingertips, recording work and job details can be done instantaneously, and they can access a full library of knowledge, training and product information right from their device. Better yet, they can collaborate with experts real-time to solve issues in the field. Mobility is truly revolutionizing field service and, as you mentioned, companies are really starting to see the value it can have on their service organization.

John: On the mobility topic, I have been a bit surprised to see the iPad emerge as the “must have” tool for field service. ServiceMax was ahead of the game on this one, with the sexiest iPad demo I’ve seen to date, showing end-to-end field service using an iPad. While IT may grumble about ruggedized devices, clearly the iPad is meeting the needs of users. What has the reaction been like to your iPad applications?

Stacey: Well thank you! The iPad is such a remarkable device and it really gives you a blank, yet powerful canvas to build technology on. What’s so incredible about the iPad is that people love using it, and even look forward to doing their work on one. We see it in schools, and we see it in field service — the work people used to hate (like homework or entering work order details) becomes fun, intuitive and fast on the iPad. Our customers are reporting remarkable adoption of our iPad solution. We actually just demo’d our most recent iPad app to a customer who initially was just using our web-based solution. He was so blown away that he went to the Apple Store THAT DAY and purchased an iPad to give it a whirl himself. People are really excited about this!

John: Another trend that I see impacting field service is collaboration. In years past, when a field tech encountered a problem they couldn’t fix or a piece of equipment they weren’t trained to support, the customer usually was scheduled for another appointment. Today, there is more emphasis on collaboration so field techs can ask questions and get answers quickly from their peers, even while in the field. With the cost of rolling a truck as high as $750 or more, fixing things on the first visit is important. Could you talk about how ServiceMax embraces collaboration?

Stacey: You’re exactly right, that second or third truck roll is not only costly, but it’s the last thing the customer wants to deal with. ServiceMax is built on the concept of collaboration. Through the fully integrated Chatter application, technicians have access to their entire company to get real-time answers. To take that a step further, our new iPad app leverages the built-in FaceTime application on the new iPad so a technician can actually show a real-time view of what they are working on and get input from others. On top of that, we offer real-time access to a rich media knowledgebase. One field technician usually goes out to fix a problem, but with ServiceMax he’s really bringing the entire company and all of its knowledge with him to every job.

John: With a tough economy, companies shopping for technology focus on ROI—where does the return on investment come from and how long does it take to see results? ServiceMax helps customers figure this out with an online ROI calculator. I love this approach! In what areas do you typically see customers achieving business value with ServiceMax solutions?

Stacey: As I discussed before, the savings from moving from on-premise to cloud already gives our customers good ROI to show their boss. Many of our smaller customers were using whiteboards, Excel spreadsheets and even notebooks to track everything from installed base to entitlements to scheduling. They were bleeding inefficiency in all aspects of the business. For larger companies, the cost savings comes in many forms. To name a few – better management of warranties & entitlements, better communication and interaction with service partners, tight control of parts logistics, and optimized scheduling. And many of our customers are not only saving, they’re adding revenue through upsell and cross-sell capabilities, and expanded service offerings that were not possible prior. For a company in, say, biomedical devices, one upsell, or one instance of charging for a service that they formerly would have provided for free covers the cost of ServiceMax two or three times over. The ROI math is really simple and undeniable.

John: We have an upcoming webcast together focused on how best to market and sell your company’s services. Do you see more field service operations looking for ways to generate additional service revenue?

Stacey: Yes, I’m very much looking forward to the webinar. In our current economy, services is a big opportunity for companies to generate revenue. Yet, service departments often don’t have the time or even skill to really market and sell service. As a marketing executive, I really feel for them. In our webinar I hope to share some low effort, high impact best practices that will help service managers realize the goal of becoming a strategic contributor to the bottom line.

John: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, and I look forward to seeing you at Technology Services World in Las Vegas!

Stacey: We’re looking forward to it too, thanks for having me.

IT Shoves Content Management Down Services’ Throat–How to Prepare for Battle

October 11, 2011

CIOs are on alert: Beginning January 1st, 2011, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65 every single day. That will happen every single day for the next 19 years. The “brain drain” this will cause technology companies is worrying–that is lots of knowledge walking out the door. As a result, most CIOs are on a warpath to capture more tacit knowledge to protect against the brain drain.

It is no surprise then that spending on knowledge management tools is up. As seen in this chart from my 2011 Member Technology Survey, planned spending on knowledge tools is high across all service disciplines, with 50% of support services and field service organizations having budget for additional KM tools this year. Even PS–our most technology-phobic group of members–has high spending, with 28% of PS groups planning KM purchases to help document customizations and integrations and other best practices for onsite engagements.

Percent of members with budget for KM tools in 2011-2012

But here comes the challenge: with CIOs focusing on content management systems (CMSs) for the enterprise, I’m hearing from more service leaders that their search for specialist KM tools for service is being thwarted by IT, who is pushing everyone to adopt their generic enterprise tools. In fact, according to my technology survey, 21% of service organizations are now stuck with an enterprise content management tool (SharePoint, Lotus Notes, Documentum, etc.) instead of a specialized tool for capturing problem/resolution scenarios.

On this Thursday’s webcast, “Can’t We Just Use SharePoint? A Knowledge Manager’s Guide to Productive Conversations with IT,” we are going to discuss why these generic tools do not fit the needs of support. As one TSIA member said to me, “SharePoint is a black hole of content. We keep entering information, but we can’t retrieve it.” Examples include:

  • Workflow. Generic CMSs are not Knowledge Centered Support certified and are missing the workflow rules for capturing and sharing content KCS mandates.
  • Search. CMSs use very generic keyword search, not intelligent search. The difference? Try asking Google a question–you don’t get the answer, you get websites with the same words. Support specialists need search tools specifically designed to understand the intent of the question and offer an answer.
  • Analytics. Specialist KM tools include analytics for duplicate and missing content, actually flagging you for content being searched that doesn’t exist, as well as consumption reporting on hot trends and topics for creating dynamic FAQ lists.
  • Self-service. Even if employees can be trained to use CMS tools, they will never be intuitive enough for customers attempting self-service. This is one of the reasons we are seeing self-service success continually trending down.

Someone who battles this every day is Tim Hines, Vice President of Product Management for Consona, whose Knova knowledge management platform is highly adopted by TSIA members. On the webcast, I’ll have a conversation with Tim about the differences between service-specific KM tools and generic content and document management. We’ll also talk about how to present your case to IT for the tools you need, including making the business case with ROI.

With 2012 looking like a tight budget year, attend this important webcast so when IT comes calling with tool recommendations that will dumb down your project, you are prepared!