Robotics is nothing new to some aspects of manufacturing and the IT industry, but it is relatively new in the customer experience (CX) market. The term often conjures up images of little gray machines taking over tasks previously handled by humans – machines making cars, programmed vacuum cleaners and the like. In the CX space, however, we are not talking about machines but about software that can automate routine tasks. For the time being, I don’t believe robots will take over the contact center and replace human agents. Indeed our recent research into next-generation contact centers in the cloud strongly suggests the opposite. It shows that the telephone is still the top channel of communication and that almost two-thirds (62%) of organizations expect call volumes to rise over the next 24 months. Thus agents will continue to handle large volumes of interactions, which may become more complex.
Topics: Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Service, Customer Engagement, CRM, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Analytics, Text Analytics, Speech Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Customer Experience, Cloud Computing
Fall is a busy time for software industry analysts. It’s a season filled with vendors’ user conferences and some industry conferences. Throughout the course of attending these events I’ve come to the realization that big vendors are often considered the Rodney Dangerfield of the software industry: They get no respect. What I mean by no respect is revealed in snarky social media comments, less enthusiastic coverage by tech media than smaller vendors get and a general sense that big vendors don’t do anything new with their development efforts. However, I suggest this is a shortsighted view of the software world. Smaller vendors serve a valuable function as a source of innovation for the industry, but they get a disproportionate share of attention. I suggest the big vendors deserve businesses’ attention, too, when they consider new software purchases.
Analysts have been talking and writing about a “360 degree” view of the customer for years. Our own benchmark research into customer relationship management shows that only37 percent of organizations are able to produce analysis and reports that yield such a comprehensive view. Other research into next-generation customer analytics reveals that the main issue in this area for nearly two-thirds (63%) of organizations is data availability. To make the situation worse, customer-related data is getting ever more numerous and complex. A principal reason for this growth is the number of communication channels consumers now use to engage with organizations and the type of data these channels produce. It includes call recordings, text messages, email, social media posts, customer feedback surveys, chat scripts and event data such as videos that users download. All of these types of data are unstructured , which makes them harder for conventional analytics tools to access and analyze.
Topics: Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Service, Customer Engagement, CRM, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Analytics, Text Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Customer Experience, Cloud Computing
Data preparation is critical to the effectiveness of both operational and analytic business processes. Operational processes today are fed by streams of constantly generated data. Our data and analytics in the cloud benchmark research shows that more than half (55%) of organizations spend the most time in their analytic processes preparing data for analysis – a situation that reduces their productivity. Data now comes from more sources than ever, at a faster pace and in a dizzying array of formats; it often contains inconsistencies in both structure and content.
Ventana Research recently awarded Workday a 2016 Technology Innovation Award for its newly released application, Workday Planning, because it simplifies and streamlines the budgeting and planning processes while facilitating collaboration, deepening visibility into spending and enabling tight fiscal control. These capabilities can help a variety of user organizations in several ways.
Topics: Budgeting, CFO, Controller, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, In-memory, Integrated Business Planning, Marketing, Workday, Office of Finance, Big Data, demand management
SYSPRO is a 35-year-old software vendor that focuses on selling enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to midsize companies, particularly those in manufacturing and distribution. In manufacturing, SYSPRO supports make, configure and assemble, engineer to order, make to stock and job shop environments. The company attempts to differentiate itself through vertical specialization and its years of ongoing development, which can reduce the need for customization and cut the cost of initial and ongoing configurations to suit the needs of companies in these industries, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership. Worldwide its targeted verticals include electronics, food, machinery and equipment and medical devices; in the United States, SYSPRO adds automotive parts (original equipment and after-market) and energy. The company’s development efforts follow a design philosophy that balances its target customers’ need for software capabilities that are on par with larger enterprises with their resource constraints (chiefly limited financial resources and technical staffs). Its software can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
In the late 1990s, CRM systems were launched to help organizations become customer-centric, to manage customer relationships from end to end, through marketing to sales to customer service, and to provide a “360-degree view of the customer.” For a variety of reasons (overselling, lack of proper adoption, missing functionality), they never lived up to many companies’ expectations, and so CRM got a poor reputation. I recently wrote that customer experience management has undergone significant change in the last 18 months, taking over the role of helping organizations become customer-centric, and that CRM vendors have played a part in these changes. Some of the larger ones have, in my view, taken a backward step by breaking CRM into three components to support marketing, sales and customer service; this makes it harder to support the end-to-end customer life cycle.
Intacct, a cloud-based ERP vendor focused on midsize companies, recently held its annual user group meeting. Two of its products that were covered in the keynote are worth noting. One, already available, enables companies to manage their order-to-cash process in a continuous fashion, from the time a salesperson begins to engage with a prospect to the time funds are collected. The other is a custom report writer, to be available in the first quarter of 2017, that will provide business users with the ability to create even complex reports from any data that resides within Intacct in a straightforward, interactive fashion that is similar to building reports in a desktop spreadsheet. The company also presented modules that will facilitate compliance with the new revenue recognition standards.
During a recent briefing with NGData, I was initially put off by excessive “marketing speak.” The team began by describing its product, Lily Enterprise, as a “customer experience operating system.” Being used to having operating systems run entire computers, I wasn’t sure what this meant. This term was followed by a statement that NGData’s products help companies transition from being “B2C to C2B,” that is, to put the customer first, an idea that has been around for several years but in my experience few companies achieve. One of the biggest challenges in this regard is that most companies are organized into business groups, and each business group typically has its own processes, systems and metrics, a situation that makes it hard to have a single view of the customer and take actions based on the same customer view, and which lends itself to focusing on internal goals, not the customer. As an example, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows three key impediments to delivering exceptional customer experiences: systems that are not integrated (for 49% of organizations), communication channels managed as silos (47%) and customers receiving inconsistent responses at different touch points. The root cause of all these is data – customer data. Organizations have multiple systems that generate customer data, in multiple forms: for example, structured data in CRM and ERP systems, voice recordings, text data from multiple sources (letters, email, Web scripts, text messages, chat scripts and social media posts), video and event data such as a customer downloading a film. With so much data in so many formats, it is hard for companies to generate a single, “360 degree” view of the customer that can be shared across the whole organization.
Topics: Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Service, Customer Engagement, CRM, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Analytics, Text Analytics, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Customer Experience, Cloud Computing
I recently attended .conf2016, Splunk’s seventh annual user conference. Splunk created the market for analyzing machine data (shorthand for machine-generated data), which consists of log files and event data from various types of systems and devices. Our big data analytics benchmark research shows that these are two of the most common sources of big data that organizations analyze. This market has proven to be fertile ground for Splunk, growing steadily with revenues more than doubling over the previous two fiscal years. Machine data is also the backbone for the Internet of Things (IoT) and operational intelligence, which form the basis of forthcoming benchmark research from Ventana Research.
Over the years, our benchmark research studies on contact center systems have shown that larger centers use dedicated contact center systems to support their operations nearly twice as often as centers that have fewer than 250 seats. Smaller centers typically lack budgets and technical skills to deploy and operate such systems. This situation is evident in the tools commonly used to support workforce management and analytics; smaller centers most often use spreadsheets. While spreadsheets have their place in limited ad hoc analysis for small groups, in an environment such as a contact center, they cause issues with regard to ingesting data from multiple sources and providing analysis in real time.
The topic of corporate governance received renewed attention recently after the publication of an open letter signed by 13 prominent business leaders, including Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. The first principle the group advocated in the letter is the need for a truly independent board of directors. To achieve that aim, the letter suggests having the board meet regularly without the CEO and that the members of the board should have “active and direct engagement with executives below the CEO level.” From my perspective, translating this idea into reality would be helped by a change in the dynamics of most board meetings. I would eliminate the standard presentation of results and begin the meeting with questions and observations from the board members directed to company executives related to its financial and operating results and any other matters on the agenda. This could take place with or without the CEO.
I recently spent time at Strata+Hadoop World 2016 in New York. I attended this event and its predecessor, Hadoop World, off and on for the past six years. This one in New York had a different feel from previous events including the most recent event in San Jose at the end of March. Perhaps because of its location in one of the financial and commercial hubs of the world, the event had much more of a business orientation. But it’s not just location. Past events have been held in New York also, and I see the business focus as a sign of the Hadoop market maturing.
I recently attended Oracle OpenWorld for the first time in several years. The message at this year’s event was clear: Oracle is all in on the cloud. I had heard the message, but I didn’t get the full impact until I arrived at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. All signage at the event contained the word “cloud,” and Oracle issued 18 press releases in conjunction with OpenWorld related to cloud computing. I also found out that Oracle has its own definition of “cloud.”