I have been involved in the call center and customer engagement market for more than 25 years, first as a consultant and systems integrator and for the past 11 years as an industry analyst. There have been lots of changes in that time but never as many as in the last 12 to 18 months. A simple illustration of the change is how I group vendors.
Ventana Research has published its Workforce Optimization 2016 Value Index. The Value Index provides a comprehensive evaluation of contact center workforce optimization vendors based on responses to our RFP-like questionnaire, which was constructed using insights gained from our recent benchmark research into workforce optimization and our knowledge of the market. In our definition workforce optimization systems include interaction recording, agent quality management, workforce management, agent compensation management, training and coaching, and interaction-handling analytics. The research shows that organizations have deployed many of these applications and by doing so have achieved efficiencies in handling interactions, improved outcomes of those interactions and improved both customer and employee satisfaction.
Ventana Research coined the term “enterprise spreadsheet” in 2004 to describe a variety of software applications that add a desktop spreadsheet’s user interface (usually that of Microsoft Excel) to components that address the issues that arise when desktop spreadsheets are used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise processes. Enterprise spreadsheets are designed to provide the best of both worlds in that they offer the ease of use and flexibility of desktop spreadsheets while overcoming their defects – chiefly inability to maintain data integrity, lack of referential integrity and dimensionality, absence of workflow and process controls, limited security and access controls as well as poor auditability. All of these issues can cause serious problems for business use, which I’ll discuss below.
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Financial Performance Management (FPM)
Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization products that was the top-ranked vendor in our 2015 Workforce optimization Value Index. However, like many other large vendors in this category, its product portfolio and capabilities extend beyond workforce optimization; indeed, from a glance at its home page it is not immediately obvious that workforce optimization is a main part of its portfolio. The portfolio includes actionable intelligence, customer engagement optimization, security intelligence, and fraud prevention, risk management and compliance. Workforce optimization is a key component of customer engagement optimization, as are process automation and an employee desktop system, both of which can make interaction handling and associated processes more efficient. Recently the company announced two new products that enhance these capabilities: Verint Robotic Process Automation and Verint Process Assistant.
Five9 provides contact center in the cloud systems. Its Virtual Contact Center is essentially communication infrastructure software deployed through cloud computing. At the heart of its products is cloud-based telephony software that replaces on-premises ACD and PBX technology. The software connects to public telephone systems and helps users receive, make and manage telephone calls while maintaining high voice quality. Being cloud-based provides a range of advantages: It opens up use of the systems by organizations of all sizes, requires fewer skilled resources than on-premises for implementation and administration, eases integration of the systems, provides flexibility and scalability, changes the cost model and above allows organizations to transition to omnichannel engagement that is consistent across all channels and touch points.
Vendavo is a vendor of business-to-business (B2B) price and revenue optimization software, which I have written about. A major focus of the conference sessions this year at the company’s annual user group meeting was on practical approaches to successful price optimization initiatives. While this category of software has been achieving increasing acceptance, penetration is still limited in the B2B segment, which includes, for example, industrial goods and services.
Since I last wrote about Upstream Works it has expanded its focus on contact center agent efficiency and effectiveness to include omnichannel customer experience. Each of its core products has undergone a number of developments. Its main product now is Upstream Works for Finesse, which it classifies as a smart agent desktop. This is a desktop application that enables users of contact center systems to access the information and systems they need to resolve interactions, as well as prompting the user with next best steps to complete the interaction efficiently and effectively. Upstream Works has a close working agreement with Cisco so the product is only available for users of the Cisco Finesse product.
Invoicing and billing are mundane business activities that hardly anyone outside of the accounting department cares about, but they are where the back office meets the front office. How well a company handles the process of getting paid by its customers can have an impact on its relationships with them. Like most of the details of business process execution, the impact of substandard invoicing and billing is rarely obvious or even of interest to senior management. That said, like trimming scrap rates or increasing sales pipeline conversion rates by a couple of percentage points, achieving consistent incremental gains in the “little stuff” of business usually translates into greater competitiveness and better financial performance.
I recently wrote that companies are struggling to provide omnichannel customer experiences and digital customer service is now seen as a business differentiator. To address these issues, organizations need to change how they use people and processes, and deploy innovative technologies that can support new initiatives. To provide an enterprise-wide solution, contact center systems fall into four categories: communications, business applications, analytics and self-service. Our benchmark research into next-generation contact center systems in the cloud shows which types of systems companies have deployed, which they plan to deploy in the next 24 months and whether they prefer them to be on-premises or cloud-based.
In today’s intensely competitive markets, companies must strive to meet customer expectations during every interaction, and interactions occur through many channels. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that customers use up to 17 channels of engagement. Some channels involve assisted service from employees of the company, and some use self-service technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR), websites, mobile apps and social media, also known as digital service. Although the use of self-service is increasing, the research finds that organizations still expect volumes of assisted interactions to grow, albeit more slowly. The research also shows that the employees customers interact with may work in almost any line of business, including marketing, sales, the contact center, finance and human resources. These challenges require organizations to focus on people, processes, information and technology to optimize the performance of the workforce.
Businesses and customers are ready for a new generation of digital commerce technology, but implementing it is challenged by significant barriers in two basic categories: technology commoditization and the lack of an IT and business framework for delivering great customer experiences. Regarding the first, for some companies making large IT purchases, the way an enterprise employs CAPEX and OPEX accounting practices to categorize spending on technology may be a deal-breaker when coupled with the time and resources needed to implement and maintain a product. But these subjects are increasingly relegated to the 55-minute mark of conference calls that weigh the pros and cons of available technology. Because while few organizations make a platform purchase based solely on the cheapest price, astute IT buyers now discuss and invest in analytical, data-driven tools for sales, marketing and service, deployed across Web and mobile environments, that help produce differentiated customer experiences and strengthen personalized, real-time digital commerce offerings. That leads to the second key consideration: Improving the customer experience is the top driver for almost three-quarters (74%) of organizations participating in our next-generation customer engagement benchmark research.
Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Mobile Marketing Digital Commerce
The blockchain distributed database was invented to create the peer-to-peer digital cash called bitcoin in 2008. Although the future potential of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been debated, the distributed ledger structure using a blockchain database that supports bitcoin is likely to be adopted for a range of commercial and governmental purposes. Distributed ledgers are a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets while enabling faster transaction speeds and reducing potential for fraud. How quickly companies, governments and individuals start using distributed ledgers and for what specific purposes remain to be seen, but their use will be independent of cryptocurrencies’ fortunes. Expansion in the use of distributed ledgers will depend heavily on the success of the initial applications and whether there are major hiccups in their use.
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, blockchain, distributed ledger, DLT, ERP, SCM, sup
My colleague David Menninger recently wrote about the SAS Analyst Summit, concluding that “the SAS analytics juggernaut keeps on truckin’.” He observed, as I have done in the past, that SAS has a vast array of products that it regularly updates to keep up with market demand, ensuring it remains one of the premier vendors of data management and analytics systems. Dave’s perspectives provide in-depth insights into what these products do, while I focus on how they help with business outcomes around customer experience. I was therefore intrigued to hear at SAS’s European analyst event that its products support four types of user – data scientist, business analyst, intelligence analyst and IT analyst. The presenter used simple quotes to illustrate the differing priorities of these groups: For the data scientist, the one that caught my eye was “I need the latest algorithms to solve the latest problems”; for the business analyst I picked “I need to get my report done quickly and easily”; the information analyst is about “identifying patterns of interest that can prompt active decision-making”; and the IT analyst is about “issue resolution and redemption” (mainly operational analysis). In short each type of user needs different products and capabilities, hence the array of products. Nearest to my research practice is the business analyst, who wants easy access to reports and analysis to resolve business issues, and this is where the company’s Customer Intelligence product plays a part.
One aspect of living in downtown Chicago is that there’s always something going on. But as distasteful as the subject matter of certain local events can be, some proceedings can inspire perspectives on a number of topics. One that occurs to me is how the retail industry can apply the new generation of mobile and location-based technologies not only to shape the customer experience but even rescue it from challenging situations. On Nov. 30, 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Black Friday protests on the city’s Magnificent Mile cost local businesses 25 to 50 percent of their expected sales. While protestors have a constitutional right to free speech, business operators also had an opportunity and a responsibility – to proactively engage customers before, during and after the tumultuous Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Topics: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Mobile, Marketing Location Communication
In our benchmark research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud more than two-thirds (69%) of organizations said they need to improve customer service, and market dynamics require them to do this is in new ways. Whereas today most (83%) compete on the services they offer, over the next two years 70 percent said they expect customer experience to be the top way they will compete, and nearly half (46%) said they expect to compete through self-service, digital channels. There is no doubt that consumers have changed the ways they prefer to communicate with each other and with companies. Mobile devices have become ubiquitous, and many consumers prefer to use chat-based technologies and mobile apps to engage. That is not to say that phone use is obsolete, as the research shows it and email are the most widely supported channels (each by 92% of companies), and while use of the corporate website (cited by 41%) is expected to show the greatest growth, more than one-fifth (22%) of participants said that the volume of inbound calls will show significant growth. Thus organizations must handle customer interactions across a variety of communication channels to maintain the business of all demographic groups.
NICE Systems was one of the first vendors I started to cover when I joined Ventana Research more than 11 years ago. Back then it was a pure-play vendor of workforce optimization (WFO) systems and was creating a portfolio of products by developing its own systems and acquiring niche vendors of call recording, quality management, workforce management, performance management and analytics. Over the years its portfolio has grown with new features, improved integration between the component parts, centralized administration and management capabilities, and a standard, modern user interface. The latest version of its core Workforce Optimization product was rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 WFO Value Index. It is still
undergoing development, and a new version is being marketed as Adaptive WFO as it uses analytics to become more information-driven.
As global business increases competitive pressures, marketing departments face new challenges. They must anticipate and respond to frequently changing customer preferences and produce effective programs and campaigns to attract them. In the online world where customers can jump instantly from one company to another, Marketing must develop new ways to catch and hold their attention. Doing this well requires systematic, flexible planning that begins with the CMO and engages the entire department to utilize the full portfolio of resources and act as one to serve their mission.
Cloud-based computing has become widespread, particularly in line-of-business applications from vendors such as Salesforce and SuccessFactors. Our benchmark research also suggests a rise in the acceptance of cloud-based analytics. We’ve seen the emergence and growth of cloud-only analytics vendors such as Domo and GoodData as well as cloud-based delivery by nearly all the on-premises analytics vendors. Almost half (48%) of organizations in our benchmark research on data and analytics in the cloud are using cloud-based analytics today, and two-thirds said they expect to be using cloud-based analytics within 12 months. In fact, only 1 percent said they do not intend to use cloud-based analytics at some point. This popularity leads to the question of how to maximize the value of investments in cloud-based analytics. We assert that one of the most important best practices for cloud-based analytics is to empower business users with modern analytics tools they can work with without relying on IT.
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, Cloud,, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Management, Uncategorized
I have been involved in the contact center industry for more than 25 years and often see organizations that are slow in keeping up with consumers’ expectations; many of them seem reluctant to change, regardless of the need to do so. For example, agents of my cell phone operator ask the same four questions at the start of a call as they did 30 years ago; my bank supports several channels of communication, but it doesn’t provide the same information on all channels; and a well-known airline couldn’t tell me where my bag was for 36 hours (it was at the airport where I departed!). My list goes on, and I am sure you have your own.
Information technology enables a data-driven management style that was not feasible until powerful, affordable computers became generally available. There’s no bright line marking when this became possible; the process is ongoing. People were using financial analytics long before ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer, appeared, but the metrics available were not especially timely, broadly applicable to day-to-day situations or comprehensive enough to inform most management decision-making. Even today, there are many areas of business management where companies continue to operate much as they have in the past. One of those is pricing.
I recently attended the Interactive Intelligence Interactions 2016 conference and came away with four key insights regarding the company’s plans and progress in providing contact centers in the cloud. These include the short-term success of PureCloud, the company’s financial performance, the importance of customer support and dealing with change.
There were two noteworthy themes in SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s keynote at this year’s Sapphire conference. One was customer assurance; that is, placing greater emphasis on making the implementation of even complex business software more predictable and less of an effort. This theme reflects the maturing of the enterprise applications business as it transitions from producing highly customized software to providing configurable, off-the-rack purchases. Implementing ERP will never be simple, as I have noted, but as companies increasingly adopt multitenant software as a service (SaaS), vendors will need to make their implementations as repeatable as possible and enable flexible configuration of parameters and processes that substantially reduce the billable hours required to complete a deployment. “Customer assurance” is an important stake in the ground, but it will be an empty concept unless there is complete overhaul of the entire value chain to take it beyond good intentions. Otherwise, customer assurance will be an ongoing rearguard action to overcome technology-driven challenges and disincentives for improvement. Business applications must be re-engineered to facilitate implementation, substantially reduce the likelihood of implementation errors and facilitate subsequent changes to adapt to changing business conditions. Moreover, software vendors’ partners will need to demonstrate that they can reliably cut a substantial number of billable hours per implementation engagement. This will require partners to restructure their business models. Neither of these changes will be easy to accomplish. To its credit SAP has set a course for increasing the simplicity of using its core ERP and financial management software. Getting there soon would greatly enhance its ability to retain if not gain customers in these mature markets.
Managing marketing performance is anything but simple. It requires establishing a unified approach to assess the outcomes of initiatives and projects and compare results with investments in marketing people and campaigns. In general, while performance management has been conducted effectively at the corporate levels, it has been a challenge for most lines of business, marketing departments included.
Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Marketing, Marketing Performance Management, Marketing Planning, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Uncategorized, CMO, Demand Generation
It’s widely agreed that customer experience is now the most important dynamic for business. Any organization that wants to retain loyal and even vocal customers should do everything possible to ensure and maintain customer satisfaction. Software companies, especially those that promise to provide CRM and effective interactions across any channel at any time, should be good examples of embracing the methods they prescribe for using their products. But do they?
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, NetSuite, TribeHR, HCM, HR, HRMS, Customer Experie
Organizations in all industries face various difficulties in managing product information. The most serious is providing complete, engaging information to consumers and customers on the internet. Newly developed products, mergers and acquisitions, changes to pricing and promotions in online commerce spur business growth, but these factors also increase the amount and complexity of product-related data and content. In addition the digital economy offers a new generation of services that are sold by subscription and packaged in various options and price points. As well, global diversification of suppliers, customers and business partners forces organizations to manage data quality and consistency in multiple locations, currencies and languages.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, PIM, Product Information Management, Sales, Market, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Management, Uncategorized, Information Optimization
Through a federal rule referred to as “Overtime Rule” and part of Title 29 regulations was issued on May 18th, 2016 by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Obama administration now mandates that unless they meet criteria for exemption, employees paid less than $47,476 ($22.825 per hour) are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. The rule change, which goes into effective on December 1, 2016, is intended to apply to executive, administrative and professional employees; it has exemptions for teachers, lawyers and other specific jobs and industries.
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, POTUS, Department of Labor, FLSA, Part 541, Overti, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Uncategorized
I have been meaning to write about Salesforce since its Dreamforce 2015 conference. Salesforce provides a platform, tools and applications for business and IT who claims to be the ‘no software’ company which as you will read is exactly what happened on May 10th. Heck, Salesforce is making a lot of advances on its platform, its applications and even with Analytics and the Internet of Things. These changes are at the center of what at our analyst firm calls digital business innovation. Much of what it’s doing is very good, but now I am questioning whether the company’s foundation of business processes and technology platform has reached a point at which it can’t grow any further without impacting its own customers’ operations and success. That may be a harsh statement, but I think my reasoning will become clear as you read this perspective.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, NA14, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized
Organizations are facing a digital transformation, as I have written, that is rapidly changing the applications and services that businesses use to operate and deliver information. This new digital generation addresses the expectations of consumers and business partners for information and service in real time. One example of it is enterprise messaging. Recently I wrote about the shift to this technology and the challenges it poses for organizations that lack sufficient skills. However, new messaging appliances and virtualized messaging can carry some of this burden. By interconnecting them, organizations can be more confident in their ability to support the range of information and applications that operate in real time, not only for people but on devices and machines.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Enterprise messaging, Internet of Things, IoT, mid, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Uncategorized
Enterprise messaging is the technology backbone of communications for applications and systems within and between organizations. Both its importance and its complexity are growing as organizations increasingly have to provide real-time responses to business customers and consumers as well as their own business professionals who support them and their internal supply chains. The variety of use cases for enterprise messaging also is growing rapidly, expanding to the Internet of Things (IoT) market of sensors and devices including wearable technology; to new generations of applications and services for consumers and customers; to cloud computing and the shift to platform or infrastructure as a service (PaaS or IaaS); and to real-time big data and analytics. All of these innovations will enable these types of transformation to digital business that is impacting organizations around the world.
Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Enterprise messaging, Internet of Things, IoT, mid, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Information Optimization
As the global economy transforms into a world of digital services that cross industries, including those that provide value-added services for physical products, managing the complications that arise from digital browsing, selection and purchasing of goods, as well as activation, billing and servicing of accounts, becomes a challenge. Organizations have to not just engage customers but provide satisfying experiences that keep them coming back. Our benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows that improving the customer experience is the most widespread impetus to improve engagement, for almost three-quarters (74%) of organizations. Few however have established business processes and applications that support these efforts, which today involve marketing, sales, customer service, operations and accounting departments. We also find that some of the largest suppliers of cloud computing software provide the worst experiences when it comes to billing for and changing existing subscriptions.
The learning management system (LMS) offers opportunity for organizations to progressively enhance the effectiveness of their workforce. An advanced LMS can be more than a digital version of an organization’s training programs for specific jobs or to achieve compliance with policies and regulations. It can provide dynamic yet informal learning that business units can create, deploy and sustain through their own efforts. Last year I outlined the benefits of this new generation of learning management systems.
Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, LMS, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized
In this highly competitive age, optimizing the potential of workers is essential. A learning management system (LMS) can increase both knowledge and engagement. Our benchmark research on next-generation learning management systems finds that adopting one can help almost half (46%) of organizations gain a competitive advantage, and more than one-third (35%) said it assists in helping customers. Expanded use of learning can engage customers, partners and others who need more information about an organization or its products and services. Thus we suggest that learning systems should be used for and made available in customer and third party communities. Doing so can enhance effective use of products and services and help reduce the volume of inbound calls to and interactions with the contact center.
I hope this title captures your attention; I’m trying to make a point about the chaos going on in managing and operating marketing. What marketing needs in 2016 is to manage and optimize its efforts in a more unified manner. This perspective kicks off a new series on the challenges for marketing to automate or execute tasks and manage toward maximum performance. We all know that the craft of marketing is in need of significant transformation, from the CMO throughout the entire marketing organization and all the way out to the experience of consumers and customers. But this may be a fanciful mission, as applications and technology does not really automate marketing let alone manage it. Most marketing automation products are specialized applications that are not used by marketing management, let alone front-line marketing managers; they are for specialized needs in demand generation or digital marketing that personalizes inbound and outbound interactions with contacts for the purpose of advancing dialogue and creating relationships. Marketing automation, like its cousin sales force automation, has been a placeholder category that describes only a narrow slice of marketing, and the term has been co-opted by the industry for its own purposes. Though some observers predict that CMOs will outspend CIOs and other leaders of the business in technology investments, I have debunked this ludicrous idea; even if it were true, that would not make marketing departments much more efficient in their management and operations. To counterbalance the silliness of the marketing automation dialogue, I plan to bring you a series on key areas for investment to start the conversation. Evaluating them should help Marketing demonstrate its commitment to promoting effectively its organization and its products and services. Here is an overview of the many issues in the landscape.
Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, CMO, Information Optimization, Sales Performance Management (SPM)
For several years I have been advocating that sales organizations adapt their processes and applications to optimize both sales performance and the customer experience. For details see my research agenda for last year. However, it appears that not many sales organizations have responded to this challenge; many can barely maintain their quarterly sales forecasts and monthly pipeline, track progress toward quotas and ensure that sales commissions are processed promptly and paid accurately. A great many are still using spreadsheets for these critical activities. Yet our benchmark research finds that more than half (61%) who use them for commissions said this makes the effort more difficult. Elsewhere, I have seen B2B sales organizations continue down the old path of annoying prospects with direct cold calling and email instead of nurturing real relationships. For B2C sales, the digital age of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) has begun to haunt prospects by inserting ads in our personal social media channels. My research suggests that these practices are not due to bad intentions but to force of habit and lack of desire, time and resources to develop a modern strategy and plan. Most are just managing the basics of their sales processes and relying on sales force automation (SFA) systems, reporting and dashboards, which will only produce more of the same, less than optimal results.
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales, SFA, SPM, Sales Performance Management, Sal
Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization, advanced analytics and self-service products for customer experience management. Recently it announced its acquisition of Contact Solutions, whose products complement Verint’s. The acquisition adds analytics capabilities and fraud detection software, both of Verint will incorporate into its existing products. Contact Solutions also brings to the merger IVR and My:Time, two innovative products that add to Verint’s portfolio for customer self-service.
The evolutionary pace of technologies that shape the design of ERP systems has been accelerating over the last couple of years. In addition to cloud computing there is the increasing availability of analytics and reporting integrated into transaction processing systems, which I have noted; support for mobile users; in-context collaboration; and more intuitive user interface (UI) design. Each of these features enhances productivity and the usefulness of ERP software in managing a business. The latest release of FinancialForce, a cloud-based ERP system, offers significant enhancements to its user interface and collaboration capabilities.
Businesses and their human resource organizations feel pressure to maximize the value of their human capital in today’s intensely competitive world. Many have made or considered investments in new applications that better exploit information to efficiently recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Advanced applications not only advance these processes but also help management assess the performance of the workforce and compensate individuals fairly so that they advance their careers and find the level of employee satisfaction in the organization. A year ago I outlined the priorities in human capital management (HCM). During the past year our research found a significant number of companies lacking a unified HCM strategy that includes processes and the applications to support it. As others advance, HR organizations that are not equipped with such skills, resources and tools risk falling behind in human capital management as it contributes to business success.
Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Governance, HCM, HR, HRMS, Workforce Management, Learning Mana, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Uncategorized, Financial Performance Management (FPM)
Six months ago I wrote that Interactive Intelligence bases its product strategy on continued support of its three core products: CIC, CaaS and PureCloud. During a recent briefing CMO Jeff Platón made it clear that although the company continues to support all three, its main focus will be PureCloud Engage that is also certified and available on the Salesforce AppExchange. When the company first released this product in 2012, the financial markets and some analysts saw it as a big risk because it is a ground-up development designed to run only in the cloud. The question was whether the company could succeed with a new architecture, all new capabilities and a new cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Now the answer seems to be yes; the company asserts that cloud revenue is up and that it has gained 26 new PureCloud customers in the last 12 months and some positive customer references. This is not surprising to me because in my past research I carried out nearly two-thirds or organizations said they planned to adopt contact center applications in the cloud, and just under half said they intended to adopt communication systems in the cloud; judging by results from this and other vendors, many seem to have carried out this intention.
Technology innovation is accelerating faster than companies can keep up with. Many feel pressure to adopt new strategies that technology makes possible and find the resources required for necessary investments. In 2015 our research and analysis revealed many organizations upgrading key business applications to operate in the cloud and some enabling access to information for employees through mobile devices. Despite these steps, we find significant levels of digital disruption impacting every line of business. In our series of research agendas for 2016 we outline the areas of technology that organizations need to understand if they hope to optimize their business processes and empower their employees to handle tasks and make decisions effectively. Every industry, line of business and IT department will need to be aware of how new technology can provide opportunities to get ahead of, or at least keep up with, their competitors and focus on achieving the most effective outcomes.
Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Governance, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Workforce Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Optimization, Sales Performance Management (SPM)
During a recent analyst briefing, I learned that Genesys finished 2015 with a bang and enters 2016 with high expectations. Last year it made several changes at the top of the organization, naming a new president, Tom Eggemeier; a new chief marketing officer, Merijn te Booij; and a new head of global sales and field operations, Mark Turner. Their mandate is to stimulate sales of the company’s core product, Customer Experience Platform. I also learned that since spinning out of Alcatel Lucent in 2012, Genesys has had financial success, won many new accounts and expanded around the globe. Several new customers use the cloud-based version of the product, which reflects our analysis that many organizations are replacing outdated, disconnected on-premises systems with cloud-based, fully integrated software suites.
TelStrat is a company with a long history. Founded in 1993 it initially resold products of Nortel, Cisco and other telecom equipment vendors. The first product it developed and brought to market was a call recording system deployed on the customer’s premises. It expanded its portfolio over the years, and today its product suite Engage offers all the key pieces of workforce optimization: call recording, desktop capture, quality management, workforce management and speech, text and desktop analytics. TelStrat built this portfolio through a combination of in-house development and partnering with other vendors. It has achieved considerable business success, having more than 3,300 installations in 55 countries, most of which are delivered through a global ecosystem of some 330 channel partners. Engage is available in three models: Unity is an on-premises, single-server version that supports up to 250 users; Enterprise is an on-premises, multiple-server version that supports unlimited numbers of users at multiple sites; and Cloud is a hosted product that supports unlimited numbers of users and is available through a perpetual license or subscription. The company attributes its recent success to the Cloud version, which it supports through multiple data centers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. This and its longstanding team of call center experts and partners prepares TelStrat to help organizations of all sizes improve contact center agent performance.
Aria Systems provides companies with software for managing subscription or recurring revenue business models. A recurring revenue business models includes three types of selling and billing structures: a one-time transaction plus a periodic service charge; subscription-based services involving periodic charges; or a contractual relationship that charges periodically for goods and services. Aria’s cloud-based software addresses key requirements of users in the marketing, sales, operations and accounting functions in this type of business.
Topics: SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, ERP, Marketing, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, customer life cycle, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), billing software
There were significant technology developments in customer experience management during 2015. Multichannel contact centers in the cloud took hold of the contact center infrastructure market; I counted 21 vendors offering such services. A variety of vendors entered the market for customer analytics, combining analysis of structured data, speech recordings, text, desktop data, Web contacts, and events and processes to provide a comprehensive “360-degree” view of the customer and customer journey maps to track individual interactions over time. In addition a range of self-service or digital customer service applications became available, including mobile apps, voice-activated virtual agents, interactive video and Q&A websites and chat driven by natural-language processing. Digitally connected devices (the Internet of Things [IoT]) and wearable devices began to emerge. In 2016 I will track and try to anticipate the impact these technologies have on the customer experience.
Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Based in the U.K., mplsystems is a relatively small vendor of contact center in the cloud systems, having fewer than 200 employees, but it has a distinct portfolio of products. Its core product, intelligentContact, is designed for omnichannel customer engagement. Its two other products, Customer Service CRM and Field Service Management, are not typically supported by other vendors in this space. As I dug deeper into the component parts of each of these products, I found other capabilities that also are not normally offered by contact center in the cloud vendors.
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
In our benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud, nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies said that adopting applications in the cloud would enable them to improve how they handle customer interactions, and slightly fewer than half (44%) said that adopting communication systems in the cloud would deliver similar benefits. Several vendors now provide such systems. Diabolocom is the latest one to brief me on its products. Founded in 2005 and having around 30 employees, it has headquarters in France (and its website is in French), but it has a global presence, primarily for supporting French companies that have offices around the world. Its contact center products are available only in the cloud and extend beyond basic multichannel communications to other applications connected with handling customer interactions.
Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Oracle has built one of the world’s largest software portfolios through a combination of developing products in-house and acquisitions. In the last few years it has put great effort into transitioning from providing its applications as on-premises products to making them available in the cloud. It also has worked to add customer experience capabilities to its range of business applications. Improving the customer experience is a top priority as our next generation customer engagement research found in almost three quarters (74%) of organization. In doing so it has developed a common user interface across the applications to address modern user expectations and has built a platform to support common capabilities in all its products. Recently I had the opportunity to study the strides Oracle has made in these areas as well as to identify some issues that still need to be resolved.
Stibo Systems has been providing product information management (PIM) software for decades. Its work has helped many organizations worldwide take control of their product information by developing a master definition that can be published across many channels from Web to digital to print. We recognized its work with customers Delta Faucet and Masco Corp. in our 2015 Ventana Research Leadership Award in Information Management. In 2014 Stibo Systems customer Brady Corp. won a similar award for Information Optimization. I have made it clear that in our view, when it comes to use all kinds of product content and data in business processes, product information management trumps master data management. Delivering value to business with PIM is much different than managing data infrastructure with MDM. There has been much angst in varying industry analyst views on this market segment. We analyze and rate vendors more rigorously than analyst firms that look at them only through an IT lens. Our methodology and framework put business first and IT second, and that shapes how we score vendors in PIM, MDM and other aspects of the software industry.
Topics: Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, MDM, Mobile Technology, PIM, Stibo Systems, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management
When I last wrote about Intradiem, its focus was on using numerous sources of data as input for a rules engine that enables companies to make better use of customer service agents’ idle time by allocating tasks to fill those gaps. Although that fundamental concept hasn’t changed, the latest versions of its products also take on a bigger challenge: automating the handling of interactions by shifting the focus from making the best use of idle time to making the handling of interactions and associated tasks more dynamic.
The need for businesses to process and analyze data has grown in intensity along with the volumes of data they are amassing. Our benchmark research consistently shows that preparing data is the most widespread impediment to analytic and operational efficiency. In our recent research on data and analytics in the cloud, more than half (55%) of organizations said that preparing data for analysis is a major impediment, followed by other preparatory tasks: reviewing data for quality and consistency (48%) and waiting for data and information (28%). Organizations that want to apply analytics to make more effective decisions and take prompt actions need to find ways to shorten the work that comes before it. Conventional analytics and business intelligence tools are not designed for data preparation, but new software tools can enable business users independently or in concert with IT to perform the tasks needed.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Marketing, Monarch, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Data Preparation, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Datawatch, Information Optimization, Risk & Compliance (GRC)
Having covered workforce optimization systems for more than 10 years, recently I was contacted for a briefing by dvsAnalytics. I quickly learned that the analytics mentioned in the company’s name are focused on workforce optimization. Founded in 1983, dvsAnalytics is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has thousands of customers in various industry sectors. Its Encore suite of products includes standard workforce optimization applications for call recording, quality management, workforce management and coaching as well as post-contact surveys, live monitoring, multiple forms of analytics and a range of APIs to support integration with third-party products, especially telecommunications systems. The products have mostly been developed in-house although workforce management is provided through integration with Community Workforce Management from WorkForce Management Software Group. DvsAnalytics makes its products available on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment; unlike some vendors, it builds all three options on the same code base. Most of its sales and post-sales support are provided through a network of partners in various locations.
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization
Over the last few years, through a combination of acquisitions and internal development, Enghouse Interactive has developed a portfolio of contact center products and services. Recently it announced its product portfolio for 2016. This consists of three core products: CCE, CCSP and EICC. These are updated and rebranded versions of the products I recently wrote about, and each is designed to help different types of organizations maximize the value of every interaction with customers.
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Transera is an established vendor of contact center in the cloud systems and analytics, and as I discovered at the Salesforce Dreamforce ’15 conference and during a recent briefing, it has added support for managing voice interactions for users of salesforce.com Service Cloud. Its core product, Global Omni-Channel Contact Center, now supports voice, email, chat and Twitter, which are managed centrally through a routing engine that treats all interactions in the same way. This ensures that companies have a central view of how interactions are being handled, and they can manage the rules to guide customers to the channel most appropriate for what they are trying to achieve and route the interaction to the most qualified person. An enhanced scripting engine allows users to script the ways in which different types of interactions are handled, and a recording engine captures all calls and makes them available for analysis. Transera also has added capabilities to produce real-time analysis of contact center performance through dashboards and analytics that show a single view across all sites and data sources. Operational and business metrics can be calculated using multiple data sources, and a variety of visualization capabilities enable the analysis can be displayed in the format most appropriate for a specific user and occasion. All the systems are available in the cloud and are scalable enough to support companies of all sizes, including those with centers in multiple sites.
Topics: Big Data, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Founded in 2000, LiveOps has evolved a unique two-sided business model. On one side is LiveOps Agents on Demand, an Uber-like business in which home-based workers sign-up as LiveOps agents, and the company uses them to provide outsourced contact center services. This model enables LiveOps to provide flexible levels of service; customers can scale up and down as needed while the provider is able to manage agent numbers cost-effectively. The agents use the LiveOps Cloud Contact Center platform; in this way the company can test its system and use these agents’ experiences to improve the platform as used on the other side of the business. I have previously covered their focus on contact centers in LiveOps Improves the Agent Experience. LiveOps reports revenues growing on both sides and being able to expand its cloud contact center business globally.
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
The digital economy has changed the way many companies provide products. Some no longer deliver packaged products but provide them as services over a network, typically the Internet. Telecommunications providers in particular are familiar with this business model and have developed processes and systems that use innovations such as product bundles that include elements of fixed charges (such as cost of installation) and variable charges based on usage (such as the number of calls made) and means of registering customers on the network, collecting usage data, invoicing and collections. This model has been adopted increasingly by the software industry, replacing a single license fee and maintenance charges for on-premises products with software as a service in which users access products over the Internet and pay per user and/or for usage. Adoption of this model by other types of business has led them to think of customers as subscribers.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Marketing, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Financial Performance, CRM
I recently joined more than 1,000 users, partners, consultants and other analysts at the first global G-Force 2015 conference, held in Miami. Sponsor Genesys put together an agenda that not only educated but entertained the attendees. For an example of the latter, Sekou Andrews, a poet, actor, musician and voice-over artist, preceded the main keynotes with a wonderful sketch that put customer experience into the context of marriage and reminded us to treat customers as he does his wife, remembering that the customer is always right!
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Whatever Oracle’s cloud strategy had been the past, this year’s OpenWorld conference and trade show made it clear that the company is now all in. In his keynote address, co-CEO Mark Hurd presented predictions for the world of information technology in 2025, when the cloud will be central to companies’ IT environments. While his forecast that two (unnamed) companies will account for 80 percent of the cloud software market 10 years from now is highly improbable, it’s likely that there will be relentless consolidation, marginalization and extinction within the IT industry sector driven by cloud disruptions and the maturing of the software business. In practice, though, we expect the transition to the cloud to be slow and uneven.
Topics: Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct
One of the key findings in our latest benchmark research into predictive analytics is that companies are incorporating predictive analytics into their operational systems more often than was the case three years ago. The research found that companies are less inclined to purchase stand-alone predictive analytics tools (29% vs 44% three years ago) and more inclined to purchase predictive analytics built into business intelligence systems (23% vs 20%), applications (12% vs 8%), databases (9% vs 7%) and middleware (9% vs 2%). This trend is not surprising since operationalizing predictive analytics – that is, building predictive analytics directly into business process workflows – improves companies’ ability to gain competitive advantage: those that deploy predictive analytics within business processes are more likely to say they gain competitive advantage and improve revenue through predictive analytics than those that don’t.
Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, SAS, Social Media, alteryx, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Information Optimization, SPSS, Rapidminer
I recently attended my first U.S. Dreamforce, the annual salesforce.com event designed to showcase its products and services as well as those of its partners, and I was impressed. I was told that Dreamforce ‘15 would be big, and it was – just about every hotel, restaurant, meeting room in San Francisco seemed to have been taken over for the week, and still the company had to bring in a cruise ship to accommodate people and events. I was told it would be manic, and it was – more than 100,000 attendees, and buses and cabs blocking surrounding streets. I was told it would be busy, and it was – more than 600 conference sessions. I was told it would educational, and it was – I gained many insights into new product developments, both from salesforce and several of its partners. Here are some of the key takeaways for my research practice.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Marketing, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
Our benchmark research into predictive analytics shows that lack of resources, including budget and skills, is the number-one business barrier to the effective deployment and use of predictive analytics; awareness – that is, an understanding of how to apply predictive analytics to business problems – is second. In order to secure resources and address awareness problems a business case needs to be created and communicated clearly wherever appropriate across the organization. A business case presents the reasoning for initiating a project or task. A compelling business case communicates the nature of the proposed project and the arguments, both quantified and unquantifiable, for its deployment.
Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, SAS, Social Media, alteryx, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Information Optimization, SPSS, Rapidminer
ResponseTek is a software vendor whose platform and services help companies collect and act on feedback from their customers. It supports a closed-loop process that collects feedback, analyzes it, provides customizable reports and analysis dependent on the user, and most importantly enables taking action based on the information. This allows companies to understand product and service issues, customer sentiment, intentions, and likely behaviors, and where necessary ensures the most appropriate actions are taken.
Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Text Analytics
As I discussed in the state of data and analytics in the cloud recently, usability is a top evaluation criterion for organizations in selecting cloud-based analytics software. Data access of cloud and on-premises systems are essential antecedents of usability. They can help business people perform analytic tasks themselves without having to rely on IT. Some tools allow data integration by business users on an ad hoc basis, but to provide an enterprise integration process and a governed information platform, IT involvement is often necessary. Once that is done, though, using cloud-based data for analytics can help, empowering business users and improving communication and process .
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Software as a Service, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Data
Calabrio is a vendor of workforce optimization software whose core product is Calabrio ONE. It includes the common workforce optimization applications: call recording, quality management, workforce management and analytics. The company is rated Hot in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index, and its product suite is the highest rated in the Usability category. Since our assessment, each of the modules has undergone upgrades, Calabrio has introduced more cloud-based services, and its analytics has undergone extensive changes to support customer experience management. The aim of these enhancements is to provide a single view of the customer that includes customer interactions across all channels, help companies streamline processes through workflow and automation, support more users and provide more deployment options. The Calabrio ONE Cloud Edition supports the full suite in a multitenant environment and is scalable to support companies of all sizes. It also enables users to store data, such as call recordings, in cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services. I have reviewed these enhancements and note the most significant changes.
Through a continuing program of acquisitions and internal development, NICE Systems has transitioned from being a vendor of workforce optimization systems to one focused on aspects of the customer experience, notably voice of the customer (VOC), customer engagement analytics and customer journey mapping. It is also moving to cloud-based services from products installed on customers’ premises and is taking a business-solution approach (providing previously integrated and configured products that address specific business issues) rather than general-purpose products. All of these changes are evident in its latest services, which link VOC, real-time journey mapping and predictive analytics to address common customer service and engagement issues. The foundation for these packages are products I have previously covered – Fizzback for multichannel customer surveying and feedback analysis and Causata for a big data analytics platform that includes predictive analytics capabilities – along with its own customer engagement analytics platform, which can link customer data from disparate sources. The result, for example, is that journey maps can show all interactions on all channels a customer uses to try to resolve issues, including the customer sentiment at each touch point and the outcome of the journey.
From its history of managing postal mail, Pitney Bowes has expanded into products for data management, analytics and location intelligence, as my colleague Mark Smith noted. Continuing this expansion through internal development and acquisitions of vendors such as Portrait Software and RTC, it has added to its portfolio products that include customer information management and customer engagement.
At the end of last year, I wrote about Interactive Intelligence’s release of a new service, PureCloud. It was the company’s first step into the multitenant cloud computing market, using Amazon Web Services and aimed at small-to-midsize contact centers. To help companies understand the different cloud-computing models, I provided answers to Interactive Intelligence questions on the advancements of these approaches for business.
Optimization is the application of algorithms to sets of data to guide executives and managers in making the best decisions. It’s a trending topic because using optimization technologies and techniques to better manage a variety of day-to-day business issues is becoming easier. I expect optimization, once the preserve of data scientists and operations research specialists will become mainstream in general purpose business analytics over the next five years.
Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Price Optimization
Our research into next-generation predictive analytics shows that along with not having enough skilled resources, which I discussed in my previous analysis, the inability to readily access and integrate data is a primary reason for dissatisfaction with predictive analytics (in 62% of participating organizations). Furthermore, this area consumes the most time in the predictive analytics process: The research finds that preparing data for analysis (40%) and accessing data (22%) are the parts of the predictive analysis process that create the most challenges for organizations. To allow more time for actual analysis, organizations must work to improve their data-related processes.
Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, alteryx, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Information Optimization
Recently my colleague Tony Cosentino wrote an analyst perspective asserting that big data analytics will displace net promoter score (NPS) for more effectively measuring the entire customer experience. This prompted a response from Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, asserting that big data and NPS aren’t the only ways to measure customer experience success. The main point of Tony’s piece, as I interpret it, is that NPS is just a number, but big data analytics can reveal much more about customer behavior and intentions, and it can link these to business outcomes. On the other hand Maxie argues that whether or not companies use NPS, when it comes to measuring the customer experience, they rely too much on surveys and no one metric does the entire job. While to a large extent I agree with both arguments, from a business perspective I don’t think either addresses three very important questions. The first is what actually is the customer experience? Second, how should it be measured? And third, what is the best use of big data in relation to customer experience?
The Performance Index analysis we performed as part of our next-generation predictive analytics benchmark research shows that only one in four organizations, those functioning at the highest Innovative level of performance, can use predictive analytics to compete effectively against others that use this technology less well. We analyze performance in detail in four dimensions (People, Process, Information and Technology), and for predictive analytics we find that organizations perform best in the Technology dimension, with 38 percent reaching the top Innovative level. This is often the case in our analyses, as organizations initially perform better in the details of selecting and managing new tools than in the other dimensions. Predictive analytics is not a new technology per se, but the difference is that it is becoming more common in business units, as I have written.
Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, alteryx, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Location Intelligence, Oracle, Information Optimization
To impact business success, Ventana Research recommends viewing predictive analytics as a business investment rather than an IT investment. Our recent benchmark research into next-generation predictive analytics reveals that since our previous research on the topic in 2012, funding has shifted from general business budgets (previously 44%) to line of business IT budgets (previously 19%). Now more than half of organizations fund such projects from business budgets: 29 percent from general business budgets and 27 percent from a line of business IT budget. This shift in buying reflects the mainstreaming of predictive analytics in organizations, which I recently wrote about .
Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, alteryx, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Rapidminer
Our recently released benchmark research into next-generation predictive analytics shows that in this increasingly important area many organizations are moving forward in the dimensions of information and technology, but most are challenged to find people with the right skills and to align organizational processes to derive business value from predictive analytics.
My research and experience show that contact center agents and others handling customer interactions face the continuing challenge of meeting customer expectations while keeping down the cost of handling interactions. Our benchmark research into the agent desktop and customer service finds that one obstacle to meeting these dual objectives is that users have to access multiple systems – typically four or five – to resolve a customer interaction. The research shows that this impacts efficiency (by increasing average handling time and reducing first-contact resolution rates) and effectiveness (by degrading the customer experience, introducing data entry errors and undermining agent satisfaction). This situation is compounded as companies support more channels of communication, often making it necessary for agents to access even more systems.
Our benchmark research on next-generation business planning finds that a large majority of companies rely on spreadsheets to manage planning processes. For example, four out of five use them for supply chain planning, and about two-thirds for budgeting and sales forecasting. Spreadsheets are the default choice for modeling and planning because they are flexible. They adapt to the needs of different parts of any type of business. Unfortunately, they have inherent defects that make them problematic when used in collaborative, repetitive enterprise processes such as planning and budgeting. While it’s easy to create a model, it can quickly become a barrier to more integrated planning across the business units in an enterprise. As I’ve noted before, software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications. They’ve failed to make much of a dent because although these applications have substantial advantages over spreadsheets when used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise tasks, these advantages are mainly realized after the model, process or report is put to use in the “production” phase (to borrow an IT term).
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing Planning, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning
Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that the top priorities in customer service for companies are to improve the customer experience (said 74%) and their customer service performance (70%). To do this, the technological steps most companies expect to improve customer engagement are to deploy collaboration systems, redesign the customer portal, deploy internal mobile applications, deploy mobile customer service apps and use social media for customer service. All of these we regard as potentially innovative and required digital technologies. Deeper analysis of the results finds key primary drivers for these priorities. Employees across the organization are handling customer interactions, but customers expect consistent responses no matter who they engage with. Customers are using more electronic channels of engagement, but here, too, they expect consistent responses. People on both sides are engaging more while they are on the move, so mobile support for employees and customers has become essential. Let’s consider how each of these five technologies can help companies meet these challenges and improve customer engagement.
Our benchmark research into big data analytics shows that marketing in the form of cross-selling and upselling (38%) and customer understanding (32%) are the top use cases for big data analytics. Related to these uses, organizations today spend billions of dollars on programs seeking customer loyalty and satisfaction. A powerful metric that impacts this spending is net promoter score (NPS), which attempts to connect brand promotion with revenue. NPS has proven to be a popular metric among major brands and Fortune 500 companies. Today, however, the advent of big data systems brings the value and the accuracy of NPS into question. It and similar loyalty metrics face displacement by big data analytics capabilities that can replace stated behavior and survey-based attitudinal data with actual behavioral data (sometimes called revealed behavior) combined with unstructured data sources such as social media. Revealed behavior shows what people have actually done and thus is a better predictor of what they will do in the future than what they say they have done or intend to do in the future. With interaction through various customer touch points (the omnichannel approach) it is possible to measure both attitudes and revealed behavior in a digital format and to analyze such data in an integrated fashion. Using innovative technology such as big data analytics can overcome three inherent drawbacks of NPS and similar customer loyalty and satisfaction metrics.
Envision is a vendor of workforce optimization software that I have been following for many years. It is rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It offers a full suite of products, including interaction capture, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching and training, agent compensation management and workforce analytics. In an analysis last year I wrote about how, in an effort to make workforce optimization more accessible and affordable, it created an architecture optimized to run in the cloud. During a recent update, CEO and founder Rodney Kuhn said that the company continues to focus on the cloud while adding new capabilities, especially in interaction capture, agent evaluation and coaching, and analytics.
OnviSource is a 10-year-old vendor of workforce optimization software whose core product, OnviCenter 7, includes interaction capture, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching and training, and workforce analytics. The company is rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It scored highly in the Manageability, Usability and Reliability categories but was held back by lack of compensation management (for which it provides input to third-party products) and some analytics capabilities. The 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index shows how competitive the workforce optimization market is: The top seven vendors are separated by fewer than three percentage points, OnviSource ranking fourth.
IBM’s Vision user conference brings together customers who use its software for financial and sales performance management (FPM and SPM, respectively) as well as governance, risk management and compliance (GRC). Analytics is a technology that can enhance each of these activities. The recent conference and many of its sessions highlighted IBM’s growing emphasis on making more sophisticated analytics easier to use by – and therefore more useful to – general business users and their organizations. The shift is important because the IT industry has spent a quarter of a century trying to make enterprise reporting (that is, descriptive analytics) suitable for an average individual to use with limited training. Today the market for reporting, dashboards and performance management software is saturated and largely a commodity, so the software industry – and IBM in particular – is turning its attention to the next frontier: predictive and prescriptive analytics. Prescriptive analytics holds particular promise for IBM’s analytics portfolio.
Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Governance, Human Capital, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Visualization
Contact centers in the cloud are increasingly popular alternatives to managing them on a company’s own premises. Running many business applications on hardware owned and managed by a third party is relatively straightforward and requires less support internally. Also the payment model changes from a license to a recurring fee, and typically the vendor provides updates as part of the fee. The challenge with placing a contact center in the cloud is that it is not a single system or even a collection of similar systems. The center includes infrastructure systems to manage communication channels, a network to support telephone extensions and access points to business applications, specialist systems such as routing and IVR, business applications (such as ERP, CRM and workforce management) and performance management and analytics systems; increasingly the contact center has to support mobile and social media as well. Moving all these to the cloud in an integrated manner is a complex task.
In recent years I have tracked Salesforce, its product development and its announcements. Despite having grown into a giant corporation, it continues to introduce innovations. At a recent analyst day in the U.K., I followed up on the company’s overall direction, some key product developments and a new service to help drive adoption of innovative customer-related processes. Salesforce’s primary aim is to help organizations market and sell to, service, engage with and know their customers through innovative processes and cloud-based systems. To support these efforts, it has made significant updates to its marketing, service community and analytics clouds. For example, it has added Marketing Cloud Predictive Decisions to its Marketing Cloud. The new module enables marketers to apply analytics to a range of customer-related data to gain a more complete picture of their customers and from it build more personalized marketing messages and campaigns. Business users can set up their own analytics, determine next best actions and deliver marketing messages and dialogues through multiple communication channels. Predictive Decisions helps transform marketing’s approach from general one-off marketing campaigns to one-to-one, personalized dialogues through channels that individuals prefer. On another front, the company has enhanced its Service Cloud with Service Cloud Intelligence Engine. This product also runs across multiple channels. It dynamically pushes work to the right employee, based on the skill set required to handle the task and the history of the request, and at the same time it distributes and manages the workload across employees who handle customer interactions. Analytics here provides an enhanced view of customers so that dialogues concerning a case can be viewed and preserved across all channels. In other developments Community Cloud has been enhanced to expand the range of expert groups to engage, deliver customer self-service as part of a community, and do this on smart mobile devices. Analytics Cloud now can ingest larger volumes and types of customer-related data, including interaction data. It enables both business users and analysts to use a wider range of data sources to find answers to specific questions, also on mobile devices. It also includes capabilities for developers to build specific analytic apps for targeted business uses. My colleague has assessed the product in Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards. All of these developments and existing capabilities have been brought together on what Salesforce calls the Customer Success Platform. It is built on the company’s cloud infrastructure, and as well as its own cloud-based apps, it includes all the partner apps available on the Salesforce app store. A “scalable metadata platform” glues everything together. It includes data and objects, a mobile user interface, collaboration tools, analytics, workflow and identity management. Enhancements enable developers to build mobile apps for both customers and employees more easily. In the pipeline are capabilities to use wearable technology to collect and display data. Salesforce’s efforts to help companies “do business in a new way” reflect challenges that many companies encounter in trying to serve customers more effectively. Our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that the three most common challenges are integrating systems (49%), managing communication challenges in a unified way and not as silos (47%) and inconsistent responses and information in customer interactions (33%). My research and customer case studies lead me to conclude that changing processes is the biggest challenge. To meet this challenge Salesforce has introduced a consulting program called Ignite. This collaborative consulting service aims to help organizations design their customer management vision and execution roadmap. It is comprised of four steps: discovery, inspiration and design, prototyping and iteration and doing it. Discovery uses joint workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to introduce the program and its objectives, gain buy-in and discover the current state. Inspiration and design is another series of joint workshops to develop ideas and envision the desired state. Prototyping and iteration uses the new ideas to develop prototypes of how the new vision can be delivered. The “do” step presents and demonstrates the prototypes to stakeholders and develops a value statement and an implementation plan so the business can decide the way forward. Overall this seems to be a fairly typical consulting service that focuses on customer engagement and associated processes, systems and metrics, but it is deliberately collaborative and tailored around Salesforce applications and tools. The main innovation I see is that it is designed to uncover new ways of working that organizations may not have considered. Business, especially around customer engagement, is changing more rapidly than ever, and it is hard for organizations to keep up with technology developments and learn how to gain maximum benefit from them. Ignite should help Salesforce customers identify how they can improve customer management and introduce new approaches to keep ahead of the competition. The Salesforce Customer Success Platform is a comprehensive package of systems that focus on customer management processes, underpinned by improved integration, analytics and collaborative capabilities. Our research consistently finds that most companies are still relatively immature in the use of people, processes, information and systems for customer management. I therefore recommend companies seeking to survive and prosper in today’s highly competitive markets assess how the Salesforce products and service can help. Regards, Richard J. Snow VP & Research Director
I recently wrote about six technologies that can help companies deliver experiences that live up to their customers’ expectations: an integrated multichannel infrastructure, analytics, a smart agent desktop, business applications such as workforce management and knowledge management, collaboration and mobile apps. They should be closely integrated to simplify system administration, to support processes that have been disconnected because they required multiple systems and to be easy to use. In my experience few vendors provide systems that meet all these goals so I was keen to learn about the latest version of the Genesys Customer Experience Platform which was the recipient of 2014 Ventana Research T Technology Innovation award for contact center in its works with IBM Watson Engagement Advisor.
Some new words can give the wrong impression. Take “gamification,” for example. It may sound as if employers are inviting their employees to play games just for fun, when actually this is a technique increasingly being used to recognize achievement and thus help improve performance. Several workforce management software vendors have introduced gamification systems that support setting targets, measuring achievement against those targets, rewarding players who meet their target and displaying winners who do best at meeting or exceeding their targets. This concept is not entirely new in contact centers, which long have used notice boards that recognize achievements such as “agent of the month,” which is also an award to the employee best meeting his or her targets. A new product called Verint Gamification supports similar capabilities but visualizes them in more engaging ways that link meeting personal goals with enterprise objectives.
NICE Systems is an established vendor of workforce optimization products that has long included analytics in its portfolio. Its latest release in this area, NICE Customer Experience Analytics, focuses on mapping, understanding and managing customer journeys and metrics. The product is built on NICE’s common technology platform, which consists of three functions: collect, understand and optimize. The Collect segment has tools to help manage customer-related data and ingest data from multiple data sources; Understand uses analytics tools to analysis the data and produce reports, dashboards and other forms of output; and Optimize uses the outputs to help users improve business tasks such as improve customer satisfaction and net performer scores, suggest next best actions and reduce customer effort.
For most of the past decade businesses that decided not to pay attention to proposed changes in revenue recognition rules have saved themselves time and frustration as the proponents’ timetables have slipped and roadmaps have changed. The new rules are the result of a convergence of US-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles – the accounting standard used by U.S.-based companies) and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards – the system used in much of the rest of the world). Now, however, it’s time for everyone to pay close attention. Last year the U.S.-based Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB, which manages US-GAAP) and the Brussels-based International Accounting Standards Board (IASB, which manages IFRS) issued “Topic 606” and “IFRS 15,” respectively, which express their harmonized approach to governing revenue recognition. A major objective of the new standards is to provide investors and other stakeholders with more accurate and consistent depictions of companies’ revenue across multiple types of business as well as make the standard consistent between the major accounting regimes.
Topics: Planning, Customer Experience, Governance, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Reporting, Revenue Performance, Budgeting, Tax, Customer Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance
Recently, Infor held its second innovation conference with industry analysts at its New York City headquarters. Infor’s products include the major categories of ERP, human capital management and financial performance management applications. Behind the marketing aspects of its use of “innovation” is a business strategy for retaining existing customers, migrating a sizable percentage of those customers to the cloud and gaining new customers. (Because of the relative size of the installed base, renewals and migrating customers to the cloud are likely to be more important to Infor’s future revenues than adding new customers.) I think it’s useful to assess the content of the event in the context of the company’s business strategy.
Adaptive Insights held its annual user group meeting recently. A theme sounded in several keynote sessions was the importance of finance departments playing a more strategic role in their companies. Some participating customers described how they have evolved their planning process from being designed mainly to meet the needs of the finance department into a useful tool for managing the entire business. Their path took them from doing basic financial budgeting to planning focused on improving the company’s performance. This is one of the more important ways in which finance organizations can play a more strategic role in corporate management, an objective that more finance organizations are pursuing. Half of the companies participating in our Office of Finance benchmark research said that their finance organization has undertaken initiatives to enhance its strategic value to the company within the last 18 months.
Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Human Capital, Marketing, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning
When I last wrote about Panviva I likened its product SupportPoint to a smart agent desktop – a system that helps contact center agents access the information they need to handle customer interactions, guides them through the process of handling interactions and offers advice on what to say next (for example, which product to upsell). Several trends have emerged since then. Two of our recent benchmark research projects, next-generation customer engagement and next-generation customer analytics, confirm that handling interactions is now an enterprise issue – every business unit except IT now handles interactions. This change creates challenges. More kinds of employees need access to information relevant to the type of interactions they handle. Yet each business unit typically has its own processes and systems to support the way it handles interactions. A third issue is that more employees handle interactions away from their desks and need access to information on mobile devices. The situation is further complicated because, as our research projects also show, customers now interact with organizations through more channels, and companies must provide easy access to those channels.
There’s a long history of companies not paying close enough attention to the contractual elements of acquiring software. Today, this extends into the world of cloud computing. Many companies are choosing to acquire software services through cloud-based providers and increasingly rely on access to cloud-based data, as is shown by our forthcoming benchmark research, in which a large majority of participating companies said that having access to data in the cloud is important or very important. As they say, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television, so what follows is intended to be nothing more than a conversation starter with legal counsel. But I do advise companies on how to use software to improve their business performance and provide guidance on what software they need to achieve their objectives. From that perspective, let me offer this blanket recommendation: Your company should examine the terms and conditions of its contracts carefully to be certain that it has the ability to control, access and retain its data in single or multitenant cloud-based systems. It should be prepared to add terms and conditions to any software-as-a-service (SaaS) contract to preserve ownership of and access to the data as well as other proprietary elements of that business relationship.
Topics: SaaS, Sales, Customer Experience, Governance, contract, e-discovery, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM)
Ventana Research recently completed the most comprehensive evaluation of analytics and business intelligence products and vendors available anywhere. As I discussed recently, such research is necessary and timely as analytics and business intelligence is now a fast-changing market. Our Value Index for Analytics and Business Intelligence in 2015 scrutinizes 15 top vendors and their product offerings in seven key categories: Usability, Manageability, Reliability, Capability, Adaptability, Vendor Validation and TCO/ROI. The analysis shows that the top supplier is Information Builders, which qualifies as a Hot vendor and is followed by 10 other Hot vendors: SAP, IBM, MicroStrategy, Oracle, SAS, Qlik, Actuate (now part of OpenText) and Pentaho.
Topics: Big Data, Data Quality, Predictive Analytics, Gartner, Governance, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Value Index, Strata+Hadoop
Advertising and marketers tell us we now live in a “digital economy.” That implies the economy is based on and depends on digital technologies. It certainly is true that many consumers, especially younger ones, have changed the ways they interact with each other and businesses; they are now more likely to use digital channels of communication, particularly email, websites, text messaging, instant messaging and social media. In this digital world, where customers can search globally for products and services and change suppliers instantly, it is critical for companies to focus on the customer experience.
In 2013, Ventana Research carried out groundbreaking benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud. It revealed that customer pressures have forced companies to support an increasing variety of channels of interaction. This research investigated the systems companies were using then or were planning to use, particularly cloud computing, to manage these channels. The research uncovered three major challenges: integration of systems, channels of communication supported as silos and customers receiving inconsistent information across channels. We found that to overcome these challenges, companies most often were planning to improve agent training and coaching (73%), to deploy contact center applications such as CRM and workforce optimization in the cloud (63%) and to adopt communications management systems in the cloud (44%). Further benchmark research shows continuing changes. The number of channels customers use continues to grow, and in particular more customers prefer to use digital self-service channels such as chat, visual IVR, voice-activated virtual agents and social forums. On the business side more employees across the organization have become involved in handling interactions, including finance and HR departments, mobile customer service and home agents. As channels proliferate more companies have realized that they need a single, comprehensive view of their customers that includes a history of their interactions, the channels they used for those interactions and likely actions they might take as a result of the outcomes of those interactions.
In covering Verint for several years I have watched it go from selling call recording systems to adding workforce optimization software, analytics, and support for multiple channels of interaction with customers. Its latest product, Customer Engagement Optimization, increases support for customer engagement and managing the customer experience. Verint has achieved this expansion through a combination of acquisitions and in-house development. Its acquisition of Kana enabled it to go from supporting workforce optimization with some analytics to supporting multiple channels of customer engagement, workforce optimization and advanced analytics. I have written several times that this approach has its advantages – acquisitions shorten the time it takes to add new capabilities and extend the scope of the products – and disadvantages – it creates challenges in producing fully integrated products and developing a common user interface so the products are easier to use. During a recent briefing I saw that the company continues its efforts to advance in all these areas.
Just a few years ago, the prevailing view in the software industry was that the category of business intelligence (BI) was mature and without room for innovation. Vendors competed in terms of feature parity and incremental advancements of their platforms. But since then business intelligence has grown to include analytics, data discovery tools and big data capabilities to process huge volumes and new types of data much faster. As is often the case with change, though, this one has created uncertainty. For example, only one in 11 participants in our benchmark research on big data analytics said that their organization fully agrees on the meaning of the term “big data analytics.”
Topics: Big Data, Data Quality, Predictive Analytics, Gartner, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, Information Management, Value Index, Strata+Hadoop
Nexidia is a leading vendor of speech analytics vendor. I recently wrote about how it has enhanced its architecture to include text analytics and improve overall system performance. Version 11 of its Neural Phonetic Speech Analytics continues these enhancements to make the product faster and more accurate in its results.
It’s stating the obvious to say that how well executives manage planning processes has a big impact on how well a business unit or company plans. However, one significant source of the value of our benchmark research is that it establishes hard evidence – the numbers – that transforms mere assertions into proof points. This is particularly important when people within an organization want to improve a process. Change management is facilitated by providing senior executives with facts to back up assertions related to solving a business issue. Our recently completed next-generation business planning research provides insight into the importance of managing the planning process well and identifies some components of good management.
Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Marketing, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Supply Chain, S&OP
VPI is a well-established vendor of workforce optimization systems and rated a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It offers a full suite of products for this market. Notable among them is Performance Reporting, which produces reports and dashboards showing a range of analysis and metrics about telephony, agent performance, coaching and customer success, along with alerts to inform employees of required actions. It combines data from a range of sources, both structured and unstructured, using speech analytics, and works in real or near real time. Performance Reporting is the basis for a new product, Customer Experience BI, which uses many of the same capabilities but focuses more on the customer experience while retaining the contact center capabilities. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer analytics shows this to be an important development as just under two-thirds (63%) of participants said they are considering investing in customer analytics to improve the customer experience.
Enghouse Interactive is one of three divisions of Enghouse Systems, a publicly traded Canadian company founded in 1984. The other two divisions provide network technology to telecommunications providers and applications for public and private transportation companies; Enghouse Interactive owns the company’s three contact center systems. The corporate group has a history of growth – it now has a market capitalization of more than US$1 billion - achieved both organically and through an aggressive acquisition policy. The same applies to Enghouse Interactive. Its three core products are built on three acquisitions – Syntellect in 2002, CosmoCom in 2011 and Zeacom in 2012. Each of these has been enhanced by a combination of in-house development and integration with other acquired products. The three products are maintained and developed independently, something Enghouse Interactive says will continue for the foreseeable future. However it is working to integrate its latest acquisitions with all three products, so each will gain new capabilities.
Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
As I noted in a recent analyst perspective note the recurring revenue business model is gaining increasing use worldwide. Our recently completed recurring revenue benchmark research shows that companies are using this business approach because they find that it can convey a strategic advantage in creating additional sales opportunities, making future revenues more predictable, enhancing their customers’ experience and increasing customer loyalty. However, recurring revenue businesses have unique challenges, especially in finance and accounting departments because most ERP systems (the ones that handle the accounting function) are not designed to manage the specific requirements of a recurring revenue businesses.
Topics: SaaS, Customer Experience, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Zuora, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Financial Performance, billing software, Intacct
Competition for customers is more intense today than ever before, and companies struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition. Our research repeatedly finds that customer experience is a key differentiator. Our research into next-generation customer engagement said the impetus for improving engagement is to improve the customer experience in almost three quarters (74%) of participants. One increasingly popular way to do this is to use customer journey maps, which show how companies plan to engage with customers: at what times, through which channels, at which touch points and with which business units or using which self-service technologies. Our benchmark research into customer relationship maturity shows that two-thirds (67%) of very customer-focused companies use customer journey maps. The top four uses are to develop more customer-focused employee training (by 78%), personalize customer experiences (76%), enhance customer experience processes (73%) and drill down on customer experience processes to the customer segment level (73%). Typically producing these maps has been a manual process, perhaps using process mapping tools; in these cases few companies were able to capture and visualize actual journeys. However, as more business units engage with customers and companies deploy multiple channels of engagement – including self-service – improving the customer experience and mapping the customer journey become more complex, and to keep up companies have to invest in processes and tools that help them automate the process of producing maps and capture data about and visualize actual customer journeys.
Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics
In many organizations, advanced analytics groups and IT are separate, and there often is a chasm of understanding between them, as I have noted. A key finding in our benchmark research on big data analytics is that communication and knowledge sharing is a top benefit of big data analytics initiatives, but often it is a latent benefit. That is, prior to deployment, communication and knowledge sharing is deemed a marginal benefit, but once the program is deployed it is deemed a top benefit. From a tactical viewpoint, organizations may not spend enough time defining a common vocabulary for big data analytics prior to starting the program; our research shows that fewer than half of organizations have agreement on the definition of big data analytics. It makes sense therefore that, along with a technical infrastructure and management processes, explicit communication processes at the beginning of a big data analytics program can increase the chance of success. We found these qualities in the Chorus platform of Alpine Data Labs, which received the Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Predictive Analytics in September 2014.
Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, alpine data labs, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Strata+Hadoop
In our benchmark research at least half of participants that use spreadsheets to support a business process routinely say that these tools make it difficult for them to do their job. Yet spreadsheets continue to dominate in a range of business functions and processes. For example, our recent next-generation business planning research finds that this is the most common software used for performing 11 of the most common types of planning. At the heart of the problem is a disconnect between what spreadsheets were originally designed to do and how they are actually used today in corporations. Desktop spreadsheets were intended to be a personal productivity tool used, for example, for prototyping models, creating ad hoc reports and performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not built for collaborative, repetitive enterprise-wide tasks, and this is the root cause of most of the issues that organizations encounter when they use them in such business processes.
Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, ERP, Forecast, GRC, Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, dashboard, enterprise spreadsheet, Excel, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Data, Risk, application, benchmark, Financial Performance Management
Verint entered the enterprise market for customer feedback management when it acquired Vovici in August 2011. Since then the Vovici products have been integrated into Verint’s Customer Engagement Optimization suite, which includes products originally developed by Verint and Kana, which it also acquired. The current suite supports a range of capabilities that Verint groups into three categories: customer analytics (various types of analytics and Enterprise Feedback Management), customer engagement (which is largely the Kana products that support the agent desktop, email, chat and co-browsing, knowledge and case management, and Web-based self-service) and workforce optimization (quality monitoring, workforce management, desktop and process analytics, performance management and e-learning and coaching). Having this broad array of capabilities allows Verint to support a closed-loop approach to customer feedback and connect it to the processes with which to identify issues raised through feedback and take action to improve (through process change, training and coaching, for example).
Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics
Ventana Research recently released the results of our Next-Generation Business Planning benchmark research. Business planning encompasses all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. The research examined 11 of the most common types of enterprise planning: capital, demand, marketing, project, sales and operations, strategic, supply chain and workforce planning, as well as sales forecasting and corporate and IT budgeting. We also aggregated the results to draw general conclusions.
Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Supply Chain, capital spending, demand management, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning, S&OP
Data is an essential ingredient for every aspect of business, and those that use it well are likely to gain advantages over competitors that do not. Our benchmark research on information optimization reveals a variety of drivers for deploying information, most commonly analytics, information access, decision-making, process improvements and customer experience and satisfaction. To accomplish any of these purposes requires that data be prepared through a sequence of steps: accessing, searching, aggregating, enriching, transforming and cleaning data from different sources to create a single uniform data set. To prepare data properly, businesses need flexible tools that enable them to enrich the context of data drawn from multiple sources, collaborate on its preparation to serve business needs and govern the process of preparation to ensure security and consistency. Users of these tools range from analysts to operations professionals in the lines of business.
Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Data Preparation, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Information Optimization
The idea of not focusing on innovation is heretical in today’s business culture and media. Yet a recent article in The New Yorker suggests that today’s society and organizations focus too much on innovation and technology. The same may be true for technology in business organizations. Our research provides evidence for my claim.
Recurring revenue is a term applied to business models that involve three types of selling and billing structures: a one-time transaction plus a periodic service charge; subscription-based services involving periodic charges; or a contractual relationship that charges periodically for goods and services. Telecommunications was the first major industry to use it, but recently the model has gained popularity in others. It is a major trend in information technology as an increasing number of companies offer software and hardware technology accessed as a service through cloud computing. Recurring revenue also has been transforming the entertainment business, as customers subscribe to rent movies, music and other creative digital products instead of owning them; this is part of the so-called “sharing economy” whose social impacts are wide-ranging.
Topics: SaaS, Customer Experience, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Zuora, Customer Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Financial Performance, billing software, Intacct
Most people in business management admit that sales is more an art than a science. Organizations have long struggled to find the right mix to improve its effectiveness, and few get the most out of available technology. For many the default is still to use sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets to manage processes and try to increase the productivity of sales staff. In our view they should take a holistic approach to sales processes from contact to close and support everything from sales forecasting to pipeline management to compensation with applications designed for these purposes. Those in sales operations need to apply analytics to understand and fine-tune sales activities. Those in sales management need applications that can help recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Even more than elsewhere in business, in sales people matter, and the organizations that most empower their teams are likely to get the best results. Optimizing people and processes requires a balance of information and technology to support the various needs of the sales organization.
Oracle is one of the world's largest business intelligence and analytics software companies. Its products range from middleware, back-end databases and ETL tools to business intelligence applications and cloud platforms, and it is well established in many corporate and government accounts. A key to Oracle's ongoing success is in transitioning its business intelligence and analytics portfolio to self-service, big data and cloud deployments. To that end, three areas in which the company has innovated are fast, scalable access for transaction data; exploratory data access for less structured data; and cloud-based business intelligence.
Big data has become a big deal as the technology industry has invested tens of billions of dollars to create the next generation of databases and data processing. After the accompanying flood of new categories and marketing terminology from vendors, most in the IT community are now beginning to understand the potential of big data. Ventana Research thoroughly covered the evolving state of the big data and information optimization sector in 2014 and will continue this research in 2015 and beyond. As it progresses the importance of making big data systems interoperate with existing enterprise and information architecture along with digital transformation strategies becomes critical. Done properly companies can take advantage of big data innovations to optimize their established business processes and execute new business strategies. But just deploying big data and applying analytics to understand it is just the beginning. Innovative organizations must go beyond the usual exploratory and root-cause analyses through applied analytic discovery and other techniques. This of course requires them to develop competencies in information management for big data.
Topics: Big Data, MapR, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Marketing, Mulesoft, Paxata, SnapLogic, Splunk, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Cloudera, Financial Performance, Hortonworks, IBM, Informatica, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Datawatch, Dell Boomi, Information Optimization, Savi, Sumo Logic, Tamr, Trifacta, Strata+Hadoop