Posted tagged ‘Oracle’

Social Day at TSW: Customer Communities Providing Strategic Value

October 23, 2013

Yesterday at TSIA’s Technology Services World Conference we featured a full day’s worth of social content, consisting of presentations, case studies and panel discussions around online customer communities and social media. I’ve heard some of the sessions were standing room only, so I look forward to seeing the actual attendance counts for the sessions. (Stay tuned for a post on top attended sessions from yesterday.)

I moderated 2 sessions yesterday that were both interactive, and it is always enlightening to see what questions are asked by the audience. The first session was a panel discussion, “Stump the Panel: Empowering Service Organizations to Take Community to the Next Level,” with some real-heavy hitter panelists. Rob Shapiro drives social strategy within Oracle services, and has lots of hands-on experience managing expert communities. Joseph Cothrel from Lithium Technologies has been a community advocate for a decade now, with a deep understanding of B2B support communities. Scott Hirsch from Get Satisfaction rounded out the panel; Get Satisfaction won the 2013 Vision Award at Service Revolutions at our Spring event for their innovative community platform.

Each panelist gave a short presentation, then we opened it up for audience questions. We had a good discussion on topics including how to screen and recruit social savvy employees, how to encourage use and adoption by both employees and customers, private vs. public communities, and a lot more. We awarded $25 casino chips to the audience members who asked the most thought provoking questions.

My 2nd session was “Social Media: The New Customer Service Channel,” with Carl Knerr Director of Services Offer Management for Avaya. Carl gave a great overview of social media channels and use cases for customer interaction. What I took away from the session was even though B2B companies don’t have as many use cases for supporting customers via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., there are customer conversations about your products happening in these channels, often with very visible and influential customers, and you are ignoring them to your peril.

I believe that customer community management is a key capability that service operations have to master. While I’ve talked to a few companies who have executive support and guidance for social programs, unfortunately many companies have yet to see the light regarding social, viewing it as just another channel. But at this conference I’ve heard example after example of how communities are becoming critical elements in customer relationships, identifying passionate customers to help you in renewal cycles, providing valuable insight into customer impacts to help prioritize bugs and enhancement requests, as well as some early data indicating customers active in communities are more satisfied and loyal than customers who are not socially engaged.

And as I always say, if your customers aren’t demanding this today, tomorrow’s customers will absolutely be insisting on community collaboration, and we are hearing that more firms are evaluating a vendor’s community as part of product selection.

Thanks to everyone who attended our social sessions and asked questions and participated in discussions! Always great to see passion around a topic! And as always, thanks for reading!


Social Support Content Featured at Upcoming TSW Conference

August 29, 2013

Our Technology Services World (TSW) Service Transformation Conference is just around the corner, October 21-23 at the Aria in Las Vegas. I am very excited about our new venue, Aria Hotel and Conference Center in City Center, the newest hotel property on the strip with lots of high tech features, including internet everywhere. That’s right, free internet in the hotel and conference center, and those staying at the hotel will even have faster connect speeds than the free option. Hopefully that will encourage attendees to be more social than usual. Get ready to hashtag yourself into a stupor!

Over the last few weeks we have been doing prep calls with speakers, discussing breakout session content and best practices, and we have created a solid group of sessions around various aspects of social support and I wanted to call those out now. If you are active in your company’s social media or online community efforts, or are interested in learning how to get started, here are examples of the social content you can expect to find at TSW:

Monday 10/21

Benchmarking Your Way to Customer Community Success. The first round of breakouts at the conference is the “Power Hour,” with TSIA research leads presenting sessions from 4:15-5:15 on hot topics in each service discipline. My session will give an overview of a new member program I am launching at the event, a benchmark survey for customer communities. Open to all members, this survey covers critical metrics on community size, growth, problem resolution, staffing, technology, etc., and will allow me to have coaching sessions with individual members on how their online communities compare to their peers. In this session, find out what questions are in the survey and how to participate.

Tuesday 10/22

Building a Customer-Centered Business, from the Support Organization Out. Usually many of the top attended sessions at TSW are technology case studies, and I expect this session at 9:45am, presented by SaaS provider Blackbaud and leading community platform vendor, GetSatisfaction, to be standing-room-only, so arrive early for a seat. As a SaaS pioneer in non-profit financial management, Blackbaud differentiates by creating a customer-centered culture. Their service organization leads the charge in this effort by creating and nurturing a base of enthusiastic and supportive customers. Find out how these efforts by the support organization are transforming their business and the results they’re seeing. The presenters are Kristen Gastaldo, Community Manager, Blackbaud, Inc., and Scott Hirsch, VP of Product and Content Marketing, GetSatisfaction.

Stump the Panel: Empowering Service Organizations to Take Community to the Next Level. This panel discussion at 2pm focuses on the strategic value of communities. Though at first communities were seen as a way of lowering support costs, today the emphasis moves beyond deflection to identifying how communities can empower their social-savvy customers through collaboration, with direct ties to product direction, customer satisfaction, loyalty and repurchase. For this session, TSIA has invited three recognized industry experts on customer communities to share their views on the current and future role of communities within technology firms, and to answer your questions, both tactical and strategic, on building, launching and driving adoption for customer communities. Prizes will be awarded to the audience members with the most challenging and thought provoking questions, so this is a great opportunity to bring your biggest community-related challenge and leave the session with a plan of action you can immediately implement. The panelists for the session are Rob Shapiro, Senior Director, Customer Service Technologies, Oracle Corporation; Joseph Cothrel, Chief Community Officer, Lithium Technologies; and Scott Hirsch, VP of Product and Content Marketing, Get Satisfaction.

Social Media: The New Customer Service Channel. This session at 3:30 is presented by Carl Knerr, Services Director at Avaya. Carl has already made a name for himself as a social media expert via the Avaya CONNECTED blog. Check out his series on social media in customer service, which he will expand on in this session. According to Carl, “There is encouraging news that companies see the need to move into social media as a customer support channel. In fact, 80 percent of companies were planning on utilizing social media as part of their customer service strategy by the end of 2012; something they know is important, as 62 percent of their customers are already there. While companies are moving to this space, that does not mean they know how to approach the problem. I’ll cover my ten recommendations on how to proceed.”

Also, for those of you who participate in the Social Champions group, we will have a Social Breakfast of Champions on Wednesday morning, 10/23, beginning at 7:15am in the Expo Theatre. I will be there to answer questions, facilitate discussions, and get to know the champions in real time. For more information on the Champions program and the Champions breakfast, follow this link.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing all of you at TSW!



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!

Cool Consolidation 1: Oracle Acquires Tacit Software

November 6, 2008

Economic downturns always lead to an uptick in technology mergers and acquisitions.  Small companies struggling to stay afloat as deals begin to dry up suddenly look very attractive to large vendors hoping to add some cool, innovative capabilities to their often moribund suites.

I’ve written before about the need for better internal collaboration tools.  The customer community vendors don’t want to sell to internal communities because they can’t make enough money with their page-view pricing models.  And even if companies have invested in building or buying a good internal collaboration platform, they struggle to identify experts on a topic across a huge global workforce.  The hole in most collaboration platforms has been expertise management:  how to instantly identify who the expert is on any given topic. Once that is accomplished, inviting them to join an online collaboration is easy.

I was very pleased to read earlier this week that Oracle had acquired Tacit Software, the only specialist I’ve run across for expertise management.  Oracle will be incorporating Tacit’s expertise management into their Beehive enterprise collaboration platform.  So how does this work?  Tacit’s ActiveNet analyzes content across the enterprise (project/product documents, discussion forums, email, internal chat/IM, etc.) to create a matrix of who knows what about a concept. When you need an expert on a given subject, not only does it give you a pick list of those in the know, it guides you to *what* they know about the topic so you can pick the right person. (more…)

Has CRM embraced eService…finally?

September 18, 2008

I, along with every other analyst, started predicting that CRM vendors would acquire all of the eService (knowledgebase, multi-channel service) vendors years ago. And we were wrong. As a Siebel executive once told me, “We have never lost a CRM deal because we didn’t have eService.” For a while there were a lot of partnerships and integrations, but even those have lost steam as CRM vendors started focusing solely on infrastructure (Fusion, NetWeaver) and ecosystems (AppExchange) instead of functionality.

Maybe, after all these years, CRM vendors are finally hearing that handling more than phone calls is important. Check out these two recent announcements: (more…)