Archive for the ‘Professional Services’ category

10th Annual TSIA Global Technology Survey is Now Open! Free Research Report for Participating

March 3, 2015

I’m pleased to announced that my 10th annual TSIA Technology Survey is now open! This survey covers 24 categories of tools and services used by customer support, professional services, education services, managed services and field service. The survey is open to everyone (not just TSIA members), and if you complete the survey, you will receive a copy of the resulting research report, “The 2015 TSIA Heatmap,” which discusses adoption levels of each category and top technology trends related to service organizations.

The survey addresses adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending for commonly used technologies including CRM, knowledge management, enterprise search, web collaboration, online communities, social media monitoring, analytic platforms, learning management, etc.  The survey asks which line of service you work for, then only prompts you with categories that apply. For example, if you work in Field Service, you will be asked about scheduling and dispatch tools, and if you work in Professional Services, you will be asked about professional services automation. So you won’t have to answer all 24 categories!

Along with the traditional service technology, the survey also addresses some emerging hot technology areas critical to TSIA’s B4B, customer success and expand selling messages:

  • Consumption Monitoring/Analytics: These tools are used to measure and monitor customer consumption of technology, gauging how quickly customers are adoption new tools, common process flows, top used features, number of users and length of session time, etc. Consumption Monitoring is a key piece of a Customer Success strategy.
  • Recurring Revenue Management: These tools are used by service professional to manage the sales and renewals processes for maintenance and service contracts. Functionality includes automating renewals, renewal dashboards, and analytics to predict likelihood of renewal and manage profitable contract/maintenance programs.
  • Upsell/Cross-Sell: Also known as offer management software, these tools prompt call center, tech support, field service, or renewal sales reps with contextual offers to extend to customers, using analytics to identify offers they are most likely to accept. Tracking extend and accept rates, the software continues to learn which offer to prompt for which situation and customer profile.

I make great use of the data collected, with mulitple reports published of the survey findings for the Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara. First is the 2015 Technology Heatmap, which looks at high level adoption and spending trends across service disciplines. This report will be sent to everyone who completes the survey. In addition, I will publish detailed spending report by service discipline, a separate report on EMEA, as well as the “top installed” report, listing the top used tools or service providers in each category. If you are a TSIA partner, ask your customers to take the survey!

The survey is open until March 31st. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are kept confidential, and are only reported in aggregate. Here is the link to the survey:  http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1994057/2015-Global-Technology-Survey

Thanks in advance for your support, and after you take the survey, pass along the link to your friends in service organizations! The more responses, the better. And as always, thanks for reading!

Five Service Technology Things I’m Thankful for This Year

November 24, 2014

Here we are at the holiday season once again. When I was a kid, it seemed that Thanksgiving and Christmas were always a million miles away, but as I get older, time accelerates, and it feels like I just put the tree and decorations away a few weeks ago. This week we all take some time to think about what we are thankful for, and I truly give thanks for my personal and professional existence. But I thought it would be fun to write a post about what I’m thankful for this year as a service technology analyst. Here goes!

  • I’m thankful for new KM insights. This was the first year that I conducted TSIA’s knowledge management survey, and instead of focusing just on metrics like days to publish, I dug into KM potential, culture issues, adoption of emerging technologies, and the “rip and replace” problem. The data was very impactful, and has really informed my research and conversations. Though I cover a lot of technology topics as an analyst, I’m the most passionate about knowledge management tools and processes. It is great to have data-backed talking points about where companies struggle and pacesetter practices for success.
  • I’m thankful for rising PSA adoption and interest. The first few years I was the technology analyst for TSIA’s new professional services practice, it was the easiest job in the world–no one asked me about anything. Boy, has that changed. Today Professional Services Automation (PSA) is my #2 or #3 topic by inquiry volume. I’m seeing PS organizations become more sophisticated in their use of technology, including automated scheduling, analytic-powered dashboards, and automated billing, and core PS metrics like utilization rates and billable utilization are rising as a result.
  • I’m thankful for managed services. In my industry it seems almost politically incorrect to say anything negative about the cloud. But I hear from large enterprises every week who jumped on the cloud bandwagon, usually to save money on a CRM deployment, and are finding the tools are not as sophisticated or feature rich as their legacy solution, and often with abysmal usability. Managed services is rescuing this, offering the sophistication of onpremise technology with none of the ownership headaches or cost. According to George Humphrey, TSIA’s Senior Director of Managed Service Research, “It’s becoming less important to the customer where the product resides. It is becoming crucial to the customer that, whoever sells them the solution, that it is managed. It doesn’t matter if the technology provider is an SI, SP, VAR or the manufacturer selling direct. The expectation from the customer is that it is a fully managed OpEx solutions. The MSPs that are offering this type of solution are seeing explosive revenue growth in MS (many seeing triple digit growth).” For 2015, I expect to see some unhappy cloud customers moving to a managed service platform that better fits their needs.
  • I’m thankful mobility has moved beyond trend into serious business impact. Back in my CRM days, I was the product manager for a WAP CRM product, which I don’t think anyone ever used. The WAP interfaces were so klunky they really didn’t offer huge value for field employees. Early in my Forrester career I wrote a research report about mobile CRM, calling it, “The Next Big Thing That Hasn’t Happened Yet,” because all the vendors were releasing WAP products but no one seemed to be adopting them. The latest round of mobile solutions are a huge improvement, and as a result, we are seeing wide adoption and real business benefits. Here’s a chart with some data from our Field Service benchmark survey, which asks field service organizations what sort of business impacts they have seen from mobile initiatives. The value is clear and documentable, and I’m thrilled to see this “next big thing” is finally having the impact we all envisioned over a decade ago.

FS Mobility

  • I’m thankful NPS is losing some luster. I’ve gotten in trouble over the years because I have never been a fan of net promoter scores. I totally understand the importance of repeat business and referrals, but too many companies asked the “would you recommend us” question once a year, of one person at the account, which in my opinion is a totally useless way to gather real information on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Let’s be honest–many NPS programs are only designed to allow executive bonuses to pay out–not to really measure customer sentiment. Over the last 6 months I’ve heard many companies talk about how shallow their NPS program was, in retrospect. The new focus on customer consumption, customer experience, and now customer effort scores seem to be measuring much more actionable information than a single NPS score.

Wishing each of you a wonderful holiday season. And as always, thanks for reading!

Changepoint Acquires Daptiv, Adding Cloud PPM and PSA to OnPremise and Hosted Portfolio

August 21, 2014

Today Changepoint announced their acquisition of Daptiv, adding pure cloud solutions for professional services automation (PSA) and project portfolio management (PPM) to the Changepoint portfolio of OnPremise and hosted products. Changepoint, a long time TSIA partner and advisory board member, has been the top installed PSA platform for the last two years, according to my annual Global Technology Survey, and this acquisition will give them even more reach into PS, IT and development organizations wanting a SaaS solution.

PSA has three main modules: resource management, project management, and project accounting, and is used by professional services teams to automate the staffing of projects to maximize utilization rates, as well as providing dashboards so managers can track project status, costs and margins, identifying problems early enough to step in and correct the problem before the customer or project is impacted. PPM offers similar capabilities for IT and development project teams, matching skills and experience to projects, tracking project milestones and deliverables, as well as total costs for internal projects.

Changepoint’s PSA offering, available in OnPremise or Hosted options, is ideal for large organizations needing sophisticated capabilities. I’ve praised them in the past for their innovative approach to analytics, imbedding IBM Cognos into a release last year to deliver real-time management dashboards. However, with IT departments being downsized, more companies want at least one pure SaaS provider on the short list when evaluating PSA vendors, and Daptiv gives Changepoint a competitive edge, since they now can compete in deals for any deployment model.

Daptiv has been receiving good reviews for their technology, including a strong position in the Leader quadrant in the 2014 Cloud PPM Magic Quadrant from Gartner. Gartner even notes that Daptiv has been moving upmarket, with their average deal size now more than 200 seats, meaning they are competing with traditional players for large enterprise deals. Interesting, Daptiv has also imbedded IBM Cognos into their application for sophisticated analytics and dashboards, which provides a nice consistency across the Daptiv and Changepoint product lines.

Congratulations to the Changepoint and Daptiv teams on the deal! And as always, thanks to you for reading!

 

 

Best Practices for Successfully Migrating to a New CRM Platform

August 19, 2014

Over the last few months I’ve received multiple inquiries from companies moving to a new CRM platform, asking for any best practices to make the migration efforts less painful, and to ensure a successful result. Most companies I talk to have 3-5 different systems in place, usually due to acquisitions and mergers, so they have an even bigger task of migrating everyone off disparate systems onto a single platform moving forward. Based on my experience working for CRM vendors, doing consulting projects as an analyst with companies implementing CRM, and many recent conversations with companies moving to a new CRM platform, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Change is hard. No matter how long you’ve had your old system, and how much people may grumble about using it, getting employees to embrace a new system isn’t easy. The #1 complaint from employees when I do system audits is “they shoved this new system down my throat.” This is one of those times when you should over-communicate with employees. Tell them why you are making the change. Give them demos of the new system. Buy everyone a mug or t-shirt with the new vendor’s logo. Do what you can to get them informed and excited about the new system before you start training them to use it. This will go a long way towards getting acceptance and rapid adoption for the rollout.
  • Change is good. The biggest mistake I see companies make when they migrate to a new system is just replicating the old screens and process flows on a new platform. You need to take a very hard look at your legacy implementation and figure out what’s working, and what’s not. Do a real audit of the current system so you know what NOT to recreate in the new platform. I even recommend surveying employees about what they like and don’t like in the old system, which goes a long way toward getting them invested in a new system. Typically, a lot of fields and process flows were added over the years for one reason or another, and many of them need to be eliminated. Process analysis isn’t fun, but you need to look at all your customer-facing processes and identify where changes should be made. Implementing a new CRM system is a wonderful opportunity to change what’s not working.
  • Minimize customizations. Popular CRM systems have thousands of customers, and their “out of box” capabilities and screens reflect the most common, i.e., best practice, approaches used by their customers. Try to stay “out of box” as much as possible. If you see areas—and you will—that need major customizations to meet your current processes, ask yourself if those processes are really providing competitive differentiation for your company. Maybe going with a common industry approach is the right thing to do. The other thing to keep in mind is that the traditional OnPremise CRM platforms are fairly complex, and customizations may require a highly trained system administrator with some programming skills. In newer cloud CRM platforms, customizations are very simple to do with little training. This is both a blessing and a curse. Because customizations are so easy, companies go crazy making constant tweaks, which can wreak havoc for users and degrade usability. Make sure you have a process in place to evaluate and approve every customization before implementing it.
  • Prioritize integrations early in the project. I’ve done a lot of writing and inquiries about integrating CRM to other systems to enable “quote to cash.” There are many 3rd party applications you should consider integrating with CRM to streamline processes and avoid employees juggling multiple applications. Knowledge management is an obvious example, with integration performing automatic searches of the knowledgebase based on incident text and field values. PSA is another example, with integration to CRM automatically passing along new project information to the PSA system to enable resource and project management. The majority of the time, companies say, “Let me just get CRM up and running, and we’ll do the integrations in Phase 2.” The problem is, Phase 2 never happens. Hopefully, you have selected a CRM platform with integrations in mind, as each CRM vendor has a set of ecosystem partners with packaged integrations to minimize the effort required. Get a realistic estimate early in the project about time/costs to integrate each 3rd party system, and try to get as many integrations as possible into the initial project phase.
  • Pick your implementor with care. I guess this goes without saying. But I’ve heard some horror stories about really bad implementors, so be sure you carefully evaluate their credentials and check several of their references. As I said previously, implementing cloud CRM may not require as much technical/programming skills as OnPremise CRM systems. A decade ago, most CRM implementors worked with big accounting firms, and you were assigned a project team with deep experience in process optimization and certified on the CRM platform so they knew every bell and whistle in the system. Unfortunately, today I see companies hiring some yahoo whose only experience was implementing a cloud CRM system for small non-profits or a 5 person insurance office, and they have no clue about “best in class” processes or any real depth of knowledge about the platform.

I know many of my readers know as much or more than I do on this topic, so please submit comments with any other suggestions you may have on what to do–or what to avoid doing–to make moving to a new CRM system successful. Thanks for reading!

2014 Mid Year Trends: KM, Social and PSA

June 16, 2014

Just over a month ago we had our Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara, and any time I wasn’t presenting, I was in 1:1 meetings with TSIA members and partners. I’ve been thinking about what I heard, as well as follow-on inquiry conversations after the event, and I wanted to report back with what I’m hearing as the 3 top trends in service technology so far in 2014:

  • The concept of knowledge management has expanded. It used to be so easy. Buy a knowledgebase tool, train all your support techs on KCS basics, and start receiving value. But lots of things have changed to complicate this. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledgebase continues to be a critical element for success, but today’s service organizations are now seeing the knowledgebase as step one of a more complex knowledge infrastructure. Communities are now rated as more useful in solving customer problems than the knowledgebase, according to the TSIA Support Services benchmark. Unified search tools are becoming a ‘must-have’ technology to index and search all your corporate content, including online documentation, release notes, customer configuration files, and incident history. Expertise management is growing in popularity, to analyze your corporate content and identify experts on any topic or feature, so you know who to reach out to when you hit a knowledge or content gap. Though every company seems to come at this complex mix of technologies from a different direction, just about everyone I talk to today is interested in leveraging corporate content, and expertise, and definitely looking beyond the traditional knowledgebase.
  • Social media listening as early warning system. According to Cisco’s Doug Pluta, customers frequently talk about product or service issues via social media channels before the issue is reported via traditional assisted support channels. My inquiries on social media have completely changed. The last few years the questions were transactional: what social channels should we support, how to automate incident management, how quickly should we respond to social issues, etc. Today, the incident traffic regarding social media is focused primarily on monitoring social for voice of the customer analysis. What are customers saying, what sort of sentiment is being expressed, are there thoughts or suggestions floating around we haven’t heard from traditional surveys, etc. It is good to see more support organizations getting active in social listening, and not leaving it to marketing to monitor. Marketing cares about the perception of the brand more than individual products and features, and there is a lot of value to be gleaned from actively listening to these social conversations.
  • ERP integration boosts PSA value. A lot of members tend to start their search for a professional services automation (PSA) tool by looking at who integrates with their CRM platform. But based on inquiry conversations, as well as audience discussion in the breakout session I did at Santa Clara on selecting a PSA system, tightly integrating PSA to ERP delivers more value, faster, than plugging into CRM. Since tightening up billing cycles and reducing DSO on PS bills is a hot button for most companies, it makes sense to plug your PSA system into your billing and accounting system. Project details, milestones, signature approvals and travel and expenses are all passed automatically, with enough audit trail detail to satisfy even the toughest customer. One member told me that they have received 100% compliance in submitting expense reports and project updates by COB on Friday by tying a percent of the consultant’s bonus to getting those reports in on time. I plan to put more focus on existing ERP systems when speaking with companies shopping for PSA from here on out.

Many other topics are brewing as well. A rising trend in inquiries is asking how to reduce the cost of a CRM deployment, with many companies complaining that their cloud CRM vendor is “nickel and diming them to death,” charging extra for every new feature. Mobility continues to be a hot topic as well, with more field service organizations investigating devices and mobile capabilities. Collaboration is another big subject in 2014, especially with more at-home workers making it impossible to ask questions across the cubicle wall.

2014 is seeing a lot of companies shopping for new and interesting technology to take them to the next stage of productivity, as well as new levels of insight/visibility into operations.  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on other big trends in service technology. Feel free to add a comment! And as always, thanks for reading.

2014 TSW Vision Awards at Service Revolutions: Recap

May 13, 2014

Last week at Technology Services World Best Practices, the closing event of the conference was the Vision Awards at Service Revolutions. This “American Idol” style competition gives tech companies 7 minutes to demo their coolest technology. The competition was hosted by our CEO, JB Wood. A panel of judges, consisting of Al Gray, Vice President, Bentley Systems; Tony Brucha, Director, Advanced Services, WebEx Customer Success, Cisco; and yours truly, asked questions and made somewhat relevant comments after each presenter. Audience voting determined the winners.

To be considered for Service Revolutions, technology firms submit applications in 3 categories:

  • Service Practitioners. These are service organizations within tech firms, showing off technology or programs they have developed to improve customer service, streamline operations, or drive service revenue.
  • Commercial. These are established technology firms selling products to service organizations. The products must be in Beta phase or newly released.
  • Startup. These are brand new tech firms within their first 2 years, often pre-VC, showing off products yet to be released. The winner of the startup category wins a check for $10,000!

The finalists who took the stage were:

  • Service Practitioner: Blackbaud. Blackbaud demonstrated their group consulting model for professional services.
  • Service Practitioner: SAP. SAP demonstrated their Learning Hub for customer education.
  • Commercial: Ancile. Ancile demonstrated their in-product dynamic help technology.
  • Commercial: Radialpoint. Radialpoint demonstrated their Google extension which incorporates internal content into employee’s Google searches.
  • Commercial: Transversal. Trasnversal demonstrated Prescience, their voice self-service product.
  • Startup: SimpleQL. SimpleQL demontrated their dynamic analytics tools, “the Festivus of Business Intelligence.”
  • Startup: XOEye Technologies. XOEye demonstrated their camera and video enabled saftey glasses for field service, with a price point in the hundreds–not thousands.

The winners were Blackbaud, Radialpoint and SimpleQL. I thank all the presenters for great demonstrations, and congratulations to the winners!

TSW Power Hour Session Recap: The 2014 Technology Heatmap

May 6, 2014

Yesterday was opening day of Technology Services World Best Practices, and I had a very full day. I did 5 presentations, which I think is a new personal record for a single day.  The day started with the TechFUTURES event, which was hugely attended, then the TechBEST showcase. I gave a tech trends overview at the partner Expo kickoff, then had my power hour session, and finally moderated a session on social support.

I wanted to recap some of the info from my Power Hour session, which focused on technology trends and the results from my 2014 Global Technology Survey. The results of the survey were released yesterday, including 10 research reports based on the data published on TSIA.com. The survey tracks adoption, satisfaction and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services, and we use the adoption data to build the annual Heatmap. Here’s a look at the 2014 Technology Heatmap:

2014 Technology Heatmap

As you can see, the categories are color coded by adoption level, with letters indicating which service disciplines each category applies to (E=Education Services, F=Field Service, M=Managed Services, P=Professional Services, R=Service Revenue Generation, S=Support Services).

The three categories that saw the highest adoption gains over 2013 were:

  • Field Service Parts and Logistics: +8%
  • Knowledge and Content Management: +6%
  • Intelligent Search: +5%

Another area everyone is always interested in is planned spending–where are companies investing in the next 1-2 years? Here’s a list of the top investment areas, with more than 50% of TSIA members having budget earmarked for new or additional purchases in 2014-2015:

  • Enterprise CRM: In a cloud world, buying CRM is never over as every new feature requires an additional purchase
  • Communities and Collaboration: Focus shifts from customer communities to employee collaboration
  • Knowledge and Content Management: Mobile and social driving spending across disciplines
  • Reporting and Analytics: Real-time dashboards key requirements across disciplines
  • MultiChannel Platforms: Continued investments in chat, social channels added to core multichannel strategy

For more details on adoption and spending trends, see the spending reports for each discipline live now on TSIA.com.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you this week at TSW!

2014 TechFUTURES: What will Service operations look like in 2019?

May 5, 2014

Today I have the pleasure of opening Technology Services World with our TechFUTURES event, kicking off at 11am. TechFUTURES takes us forward in time five years, to the year 2019, for a look at the state of the industry with special focus on the impact of services technology. TSIA TechFUTURES focuses on three topics identified as primary change agents within the industry. The three topics are:

  • Analytics. “Big data” is not only a buzz phrase, it provides a solution to the explosion of enterprise data: harnessing the power of analytics to glean critical information from multiple, real-time streams of content. As an example, professional services organizations have historically run their operations using spreadsheets, only to find out at the end of the project that major milestones were missed, the project ran over budget, and customers are not satisfied with the outcome and are pushing back on payment. Today, we are beginning to see real-time dashboards that can pinpoint projects in trouble immediately, giving supervisors the opportunity to resolve problems and put the project back on course. With increased sophistication coming to analytics every year, what will big data look like in 2019? How will proactive dashboards evolve over the next five years?
  • Collaboration. There are many drivers behind the growing budgets for enterprise collaboration tools by technology suppliers. Younger demographics entering the workforce prefer to share ideas and collaborate on problems. Mobile devices provide mechanisms to ask questions of peers from any location, on any device. The rise of expertise management is making it easier to identify the expert on any subject—or any line of code. The growing number of remote workers means collaboration can’t happen over cubicle walls—enterprise collaboration tools are required. Looking ahead to 2019, with collaboration becoming the default communication mechanism for employees, how will this change the way we work? Looking beyond just employees, what is the role of partners and customers in collaboration?
  • Service Channels. The way we interact with customers has seen dramatic changes over the last decade. The shift from call centers to contact centers was forced by customers rapidly adopting emerging channels. First was email, offering a way for customers to thoughtfully describe problems without a phone call. Next was self-service, then chat, and today, rising adoption of social media channels means technology firms are interacting with customers via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more. Looking ahead to 2019, what will be the dominate interaction channels for customers? With the Internet of Things allowing every device in your home and office to be online and interconnected, how can we further streamline and automate technology support to leverage the new always-connected customer?

TSIA has identified three technology partners to paint a vision of the future state of services, focusing on the topics defined above. The presentations will take us forward to 2019, and focus on “a day in the life” of Bob, a highly social, collaborative, connected, and data-savvy customer, as well as June, a high-tech support executive, responsible for consolidated service operations. How will the combined forces of analytics, collaboration, and evolving service channels impact June’s people, processes, and technology, and what new challenges can we expect from our future customer, Bob?

  • Changepoint: Analytics 3.0 (Data + Analytics) = Business Opportunities. Analytics 3.0 is the heart of the next phase of global transformation—it’s where big data and analytics join forces with strategic operational and decision processes to create new accelerated opportunities and revenue streams for businesses, giving rise to the Data-Driven Economy. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Changepoint futurist Larry Kading takes you on a journey about how all organizations—not just the large online pioneers—can compete in the Data-Driven Economy. However, while new business opportunities and revenue streams abound as a result of this global transformation, they only exist for organizations that understand how to get there. Larry will share the secrets of how June can exploit the opportunity with game-changing, analytics-based products and services. Control the data or it may control you.
  • Jive Software: Collaboration. The human brain is as powerful as 300 supercomputers, but excels at a certain kind of intelligence: creativity, innovation, and intuition. It is limited by its isolation and access to information, and because of its limitations, we have all adapted our behavior to machines much better at crunching numbers. Today, we are starting to carry devices more powerful than the original supercomputers with us all of the time that are always connected: the laptop, the tablet, the smartphone, smart watches, Fitbits, and wearable HUDs. In the next five years, the time may come when all of us will complement our own intelligence with hundreds of tiny, connected supercomputers that are able to instantaneously perform staggering analytics, expanding our concept of collaboration by presenting us with the right information, conversation, or access to expertise in the moment that we need it. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Chris Morace, Jive’s chief strategy officer and New York Times best-selling author, explores how much better it will be to work together in 2019. Find out what work will be like when we are empowered by powerful technology, and not tethered to it.
  • Support.com: Service Channels. Support.com, Inc. is a leading provider of cloud-based services and software that enable technology support for a connected world. In this TechFUTURES presentation, Amy Millard will discuss how the Internet of Things will continue to create new opportunities and challenges. We live in a world where our devices monitor, track, and connect the physical world, and this will only increase in the years to come. As device interconnectivity begins to touch every phase of our lives in both the business and consumer worlds, the stakes rise higher and higher for a seamless customer experience. Amy will share how tech support teams can rise to meet these challenges.

Please join us for this fun event to get your TSIA experience off to a great start. And as always, thanks for reading!

Recapping 2013: Hottest Service Technology Trends

November 27, 2013

Is it too early to start recaps for 2013? With the end of the year barely over a month away, I’ve been thinking about what I heard this year that was new and interesting, and trying to put these trends/innovations into useful categories. Based on my member inquiries and partner briefings, here’s a stab at the hottest topics to emerge in service technology over the last year:

Large enterprises embrace cloud applications. Small and medium-sized businesses were early adopters of cloud applications, and as many OnDemand suites are much less sophisticated than their OnPremise counterparts, the lighter-weight tools met the needs of SMBs just fine. But this year I’ve talked to service executives of some the largest tech companies in North America and Europe who were in the midst of a migration from a legacy CRM system to a lower cost cloud suite. As I’ve written about before, large companies moving to cloud tools have to streamline and consolidate processes as the applications don’t support heavy customization. Unfortunately, about 3 months after the move to the cloud, I start getting calls asking about functional gaps they did not anticipate. Your cloud CRM tools probably do not include support for complex entitlement, automating renewals, or knowledge management beyond a list of solutions. With the move to the cloud all but inevitable, there is some heavy lifting that must be done to achieve extreme efficiency with the new technologies.

Knowledge management evolves beyond support. I first published a report back in 2009 about knowledge management being a cross-discipline (support services, field service, education services, professional services, managed services) subject, with convergence needed to leverage existing tools and processes across the enterprise. But it wasn’t until this year that I started receiving numerous KM inquiries outside of support. PS asking for best practices to capture and share lessons learned across project teams. Field service wanting to know how to best leverage mobile tools to access corporate knowledge from the field. Education services interested in how to define KM roles, as demand shifts from teacher to librarian. And, as I heard at our recent Las Vegas conference, support may have their KM practices well-defined, but other groups see support’s approach too slow,  too complicated and too focused on experts instead of collaboration. I think what we consider “KM best practices” is going to radically shift, and I also expect to see more Knowledge as a Service (which I’m going to call KaaS) providers entering the market. Too many companies have re-implemented KM tools and jump-started KM practices every 3-4 years for the last 12 years, maybe it is time to try a new approach?

Professional Services Automation (PSA) is the new MUST HAVE application category. I’ve always joked that professional services teams were too busy implementing technology for their customers to ever use any for themselves. PSA, which includes modules for resource management, project management and project accounting, is still not that highly adopted (according to my 2013 Member Technology Survey, 58% of PS members are using PSA). But, spending is on the rise, with over half of PS members (54%) having budget for new or additional PSA in 2013-2014. And as a proof point, my inquiries on PSA have risen to become my third hottest topic, after CRM and KM. I just published a new report, Five Key Criteria in Making a PSA Decision, based on dozens of these conversations over the last year. If you are still managing your PS operation using spreadsheets, now’s the time to make a change.

Video in Service: Here to stay. A couple of years ago I gave a conference presentation about the future of video in service, and received more than a few snarky comments saying it would never happen. Never mind that even then, Salesforce.com was using video chat tools with premiere customers, and the use cases for incorporating video into trouble shooting were many and varied. But video in service suddenly became a very hot topic recently when Amazon released the Kindle Fire HDX, and featured a video chat option, called the “Mayday button“, in print and TV advertising. The ads show a customer linking to a live video chat agent for help, with the agent able to take control of your device and even write on the tablet to illustrate how to do something.  Remote control of mobile devices isn’t new (checkout LogMeIn and Bomgar), but seeing it used along with video chat introduced a whole new user experience. That one commercial is going to convince consumers this is an option they need, so get ready for your closeup, Mr. DeMille.

“Core” is shrinking fast. I’ve written before about how service is constantly re-evaluating core verses context, realizing that less and less of corporate operations really are key to their success. Even outsourcing technical support was a bitter bill for many B2B companies to swallow, though I’ve talked to many who now realize they should have looked to partners for assistance a decade ago. But over the last year, with more companies trying to boost revenues and cut costs in the face of all the realities described in B4B, I’m seeing more and more options on the table for outsourcing. First it was technical support level 1, then level 2/3, field service, and now maintenance renewals, managed services, social media, online community management–there are no more sacred cows. As I alluded to earlier, I’m predicting 2014 is the year Knowledge as a Service emerges as a viable approach for more companies.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be thinking about how these hot topics will drive trends for 2014, and you can expect to see some of these ideas again when I publish my “state of the industry” reports in Q1. Stay tuned. And as always, thanks for reading!

Results from the 2013 Member Technology Survey: High Planned Spending for 2nd Year

May 29, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll be leading a webcast to share the results of my 2013 Member Technology Survey. The webcast is open to everyone, and all attendees will receive a copy of my 2013 Technology Heatmap research report, so please register and attend! I wanted to give a sneak preview of some of the survey highlights. The survey covers 24 categories of tools used by service organizations, tracking the adoption, satisfaction, and planned spending for each category. In addition to technology, I also have categories for outsourcing/service providers and business consultants.

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. We had a stretch goal of 500 responses, and we receive many more than that. It is a great data set and I really appreciate the time involved in completing the survey. We had a good distribution of responses across support, field service, professional services and education services; as well as a good showing–about a third of responses–from Europe.

A number of technology categories saw increases over 2012 adoption numbers, including areas with high planned spending last year which tells me that spending materialized. In particular, we saw big increases in adoption of professional services automation (PSA), analytic platforms, communities for customers and employees, and outsourcing.

Satisfaction levels were low again this year, and I have a theory about this I’m going to test in tomorrow’s webcast. Tune in and find out my hypothesis! The lowest rated category was contract management tools, with an average of 3.29 on a 5 point scale. I’ve discussed this with Julia Stegman, our VP of research for service revenue generation (SRG), and we think this indicates that legacy contract tools may be good for entitlement, but they do a lousy job of automating the renwals process, and a number of specialists are now dominating this side of contract management. I’m considering splitting contract management into 2 categories (entitlement management and renwals management) for the 2014 survey to get more granular information in this area.

Of course I’d like to mention that the satisfaction ratings were not all gloom and doom. A number of our partners received 4.0 ratings or higher, including the finalists in our TechBEST Best in Satisfaction awards presented a couple of weeks ago at TSW Santa Clara: Citrix, DB Kay & Associates, and MARKETii. The winner was DB Kay, with an average satisfaction score of 4.44. Excellent job and big congrats to David Kay and Jennifer Crippen, who do such great work with our members.

I will close the webcast with a look at planned spending for 2013-2014, revealing which areas have the highest planned spending by members. Last year saw record planned spending, and this year’s results are almost as high. Nearly half of the survey categories reported planned spending by 50% or more of survey respondents, and each of these areas has a direct tie to improving productivity and/or generating revenue.

Again, here’s the link to register for tomorrow’s 9am PT webcast. Hope to see you there! And as always, thanks for reading!