Monday, December 29, 2008

U.K. Call Centers Performing to Expectations

Commissioned by fifty of the U.K.'s leading call centers, new independent research has shown that 93 percent of customers get through to the call center on their first attempt. This study is part of The Top 50 Call Center Initiative, commissioned by Siemens.

The number of customers reaching the call center on first attempt rose to 98 percent in the retail sector, followed by 95 percent in the financial services and entertainment, leisure and travel sectors. The public sector returned a performance of 87 percent, lagging behind the telecoms and utilities at 90 percent.

Surprisingly, a staggering 96 percent of customer inquiries were resolved by the initial call. The retail sector proved to perform the best in this area, achieving a 98 percent first call resolution rate. Financial services and telecoms and utilities returned a 97 percent. For the Public Sector, this number fell to 92 percent.

The survey found that it takes on average just 1.3 minutes for customers of the Top 50 Call Centers to get through to speak to an actual person. This figure accounts for time waiting to get through, as well as time spend selecting IVR or touch-tone options, before getting through to a customer service representative.

This study also found that 58 percent of callers got through to a Customer Service Representative in less than one minute. The retail sector performed even better as 74 percent of callers reached the company within 60 seconds. The telecoms and utilities sector was the lowest performing, at 52 percent, just ahead of the entertainment, leisure and navel and public sectors, both at 53 percent. Apologies tend to be lacking in these call centers, according to this study. For those callers that had to wait more than one minute to get through, only 27 percent received an apology for the delay. Again retail performed the best at 35 percent, and entertainment, leisure and travel returned a 20 percent.


More information on the call center industry can be found at

Monday, December 15, 2008

SAAS User Satisfaction Skyrockets

Cutter Consortium's fourth annual survey of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market has revealed that a whopping 97% of responders are satisfied with their SaaS deployments.

The benefits enterprises are enjoying that have lead to such an unprecedented satisfaction level include reducing infrastructure costs as a result of SaaS solutions, greater functional capabilities from their SaaS solutions, better application reliability and performance, and higher productivity and more systematic software updates and upgrades.

Another key finding of this study is that more than 50% of the respondents expect to generate 11%-30% cost savings from their SaaS solutions, while nearly one-fifth expect more than 40% savings.

More information on the service and support industry can be found at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Downturn in U.S. Economy Has Significant Impact on SMB Priorities and IT Spending Plans

The downturn in the U.S. economy is having a significant impact on small and medium business (SMB) priorities and plans for technology acquisition. The concern is real, and impact potentially profound, with variations by company size, industry, and attitude segment, according to a recent IDC survey. As a result, 38% of small firms are more likely to delay IT spending, and 42% of medium-sized businesses are more likely to reduce IT spending.

Among other key findings are the following:

  • Businesses in the architecture/engineering, legal, retail, and manufacturing sectors are the most likely to delay IT spending, and wholesale, insurance, and legal firms are the most likely to reduce IT spending.

  • Small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to focus IT investment on tactical projects, which deliver immediate benefits, than strategic projects.

  • Cloud computing initiatives are not being driven by economic concerns, save for the small minority of SMBs that indicate that they will look more closely at hosted solutions as a result of the economy.

  • Fewer than 50% of SMB 2.0 firms, the most forward-looking group, are extremely or strongly concerned about the U.S. economy, compared with approximately 70% of IT Indifferent firms and 60% of Pragmatist firms.
  • More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Tech-Spending Growth Is Seen Slowing

    Technology spending will grow at its lowest rate in six years in 2009, a research firm said, as businesses shift their buying habits in response to the economic downturn. Businesses and other organizations in the U.S. will spend $573 billion on computer software, hardware and services next year, just 1.6% more than they spent in 2008, according to new data out from Forrester Research Inc. In contrast, U.S. tech spending grew 4.1% in 2008 and 7% in 2007. Earlier this year, Forrester predicted U.S. tech spending would grow 6.1% in 2009.

    The results are based on several factors, including real gross domestic product growth and how technology is valued by businesses. Forrester also doesn't anticipate that tech spending will contract the way it did when the tech bubble burst in 2001. Back then, businesses overinvested in technology. In this downturn, information-technology departments may not cut as much as other departments.

    Forrester predicts that software revenue will only grow 3.4% in 2009, with much of that coming from support fees for previous purchases. Software companies say that they've already seen a shift in the way businesses buy tech products. Historically, businesses would buy more software and hardware than they needed at the time of the purchase in anticipation of future growth.
    Source: WSJ

    More information on information technology can be found at

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Supply Chain Technology Market Will Grow 7% Annually to $9.2B in 2012

    AMR Research has released a study that estimates the supply chain management (SCM) applications market will grow 7% annually for the next five years, despite the gloomy economic conditions of 2008. Now a $6.5B market, AMR Research forecasts steady growth will bring the SCM applications market close to $9.2B in 2012. Based on its analysis, AMR Research predicts there is a high likelihood the economic challenges of the coming years will offer much greater opportunity for supply chain technology adoption.

    The study named five major forces that will be at work in the economy and society in the foreseeable future, and how the supply chain and the technologies that support it will help companies in the next five years.

    --High inflation – Inflation will force supply chain managers to play an important role in protecting product and company margins through cost control and increased efficiencies in their operations.

    --Rising commodity prices – Pressure from higher commodity prices will bring supply more in line with demand and reduce inventory levels from raw materials to the finished product.

    --Threats to brand security – Counterfeiting, the gray market, and questionable quality standards will make brand protection a top priority. Companies will look to adopt risk mitigation and global trade technologies as well as analytics to monitor distribution channel buy-and-sell patterns.

    --Sustainability becomes a component of corporate decision making – Public sentiment will force substantive measures by industry to become more environmentally friendly. This will present opportunities to more directly connect product development efforts with supply chain management to minimize waste and material usage.

    --Cash is king – Capital spending will come under great scrutiny as companies preserve cash. Technologies that increase the velocity of cash collection, including B2B e-commerce, will become a critical component of future initiatives.

    The report also found that SAP, Oracle, and Manhattan Associates were the three largest SCM vendors by revenue in 2007, with a market share of 13%, 10%, and 5% respectively.

    More information on the information technology industry can be found at

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Overloaded With Information? Get Back to Business in 2009

    Should you disconnect the cell phone? Boycott voice mail? Throw the PDA out the window? As a chaotic 2008 comes to a close and workers resolve to regain sanity in 2009, where do they go for answers to questions about how to cope with information overload?

    For more than 30 years, Xerox Corporation social scientists have been studying how workers communicate, organize and generally get things done. Inspired by their Future of Work study, they provide nine tips to help workers save time and manage information overload.

    *Breathe. It may sound simple, but not enough people take the time to do it. So schedule breaks into your daily working routine. It helps productivity -- even stepping away from your desk for a moment. Even a quick nap helps you regenerate and be more productive. Research supports this, we swear.

    *Simplify Your Schedule. Try scheduling all of your meetings on specific days so you have more time on non-meeting days to process information coming in –- it’s much easier to focus when you don’t have a meeting looming in 20 minutes.

    *Back It Up. No information is worse than too much. Make sure you have a solution in place for regular back-up.

    *De-clutter Your Desktop (both of them). File, pile or toss papers as soon as you receive them. Scan and save important documents to reduce desktop clutter instead of filing. On your computer, consider getting rid of folders altogether and using desktop search engines to find things when you need them.

    *Touch it Once. Often we waste time dealing with the same piece of information again and again. Respond as soon as you receive it, put it in its file or delete it/shred it the first time you touch it.

    *Forget the Free Stuff. It comes at a price (e-mail garbage and unsolicited offers). Choose quality over quantity. Manage your bills and accounts online and sign up for the do not call lists and the no junk mail lists.

    *Use Your Tools. Make use of your phone for getting the right info at the right time. For instance, you don’t have to waste time printing maps if you can access them from your phone. GPS phones have the smarts to give you the right information based on your actual location.

    *RSS Reprieve. Sign up for an aggregator. It helps you see all your news in one place.

    *Manage Mobile Madness. Use a mobile device with e-mail support to make hours way from your desk more productive. Keeping track of e-mail throughout the day can help you anticipate future work, and take care of mini-projects as they arise instead of waiting until later to sift through a huge pile of e-mail.

    More information on the Service and Support industry can be found at

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    CIO Survey: E-mail, In-Person Conversations Preferred Forms of Communication

    While smartphones, instant messaging and other communication tools may be distracting at times, there appears to be an upside: A majority (57 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed recently said they feel more connected to colleagues given the prevalence of new technologies in the workplace. Still, e-mail and in-person conversations remain the preferred ways to communicate, according to 43 percent and 36 percent of CIOs, respectively.

    The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

    More information on the Service and Support industry can be found at

    US IT Spending Forecast Worst Since 2001

    ChangeWave's latest corporate IT purchasing survey shows an accelerating collapse in U.S. business spending that has reached historic proportions - with record pullbacks occurring both in the current 4th Quarter and going forward.

    In one of the survey's few upbeat findings, the corporate smart phone market continues to show growth - with Research in Motion (RIM) maintaining its huge lead, but Apple (AAPL) continuing to make inroads in small to medium-sized businesses.

    A total of 1,926 respondents involved with IT spending in their organization participated in the ChangeWave survey, conducted November 6-12, 2008.

    Simply put, the IT spending projections for 1st Quarter 2009 are abysmal - the worst ever for a ChangeWave survey dating back to 2001. An unprecedented 45% of respondents say their company's IT spending will decrease (or there will be no spending at all) in the 1st Quarter - 16-pts worse than our previous survey.

    Only 10% say spending will increase - a 3-pt drop from previously.

    Most disturbingly, spending is plunging at a time of year when we normally experience seasonal increases. This becomes immediately apparent when you look at the change from each November - beginning with November 2003 - in the Projected IT Spending chart above.

    It we also asked of respondents if their IT spending was on track thus far in the current 4th Quarter. By a wide margin, these results are also the worst on record.

    Nearly four-in-ten (39%) say they've spent "Less than Planned" so far this quarter - 9-pts worse than in our previous survey. Just 8% have spent "More than Planned" - a 4-pt drop from previously.

    Moreover, in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, respondents do not see any immediate improvement occurring in their company's IT spending. In fact, nearly half (48%) now believe IT spending won't pick up for their company until the 3rd Quarter of 2009 or later - a two-fold increase since our August survey.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    IDC Confirms Slower Growth All Around in the Worldwide Services Market

    A new study from IDC forecasts that worldwide services spending will grow 5.2% year over year in 2009, down 1.5 percentage points from the previous forecast. IDC estimates that the remaining years in the forecast period, through 2012, will also grow slower than predicted earlier. The study also highlights changes in worldwide services spending growth rates by macromarket, including the following:

    Project-oriented: Growth rates are forecast to slow to less than 3% in 2009, but then increase by the end of the forecast period.

    Outsourcing: The business process outsourcing services market is the largest portion of the services market overall and will be the major driver in growth rate changes. Even with the decrease in growth rate for the hosted application management market, it still remains the fastest-growing market opportunity.

    Support and training: Growth rates are forecast to remain below 3% for the remainder of the forecast period. Smaller spending increases are expected in both the hardware and software deployment and support markets.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Customer Service, Not Price, Remains Top Cause of Customer Churn

    Service again ranked above price as a global driver of customer churn, according to Accenture’s fourth annual study on customer service satisfaction, titled “High Performance in the Age of Customer Centricity.”

    In total, two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents reported moving their business to other companies as a result of poor service in a variety of industry sectors, up from 59 percent of respondents in last year’s survey. Underscoring the sharp increase in consumers switching business providers is an overall erosion of customer loyalty. Half (50 percent) of respondents in this year’s survey reported that they switched providers in multiple industry sectors during the year, taking an average of $4,000 worth of business with them, by their own estimate, each time they took business elsewhere.

    For the fourth straight year, the Accenture study also found that the number of consumers who left because of poor customer experience was significantly higher than the number of those who left a business because they found a lower price elsewhere -- 68 percent versus 53 percent. Among respondents in the United States, the discrepancy was even greater, with 73 percent of respondents saying they switched service providers due to poor service, compared with 47 percent who switched providers because of lower prices.

    The findings also revealed that consumer expectations continued to increase. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of those surveyed described their service expectations as higher now than one year ago, and 52 percent described them as higher now than they were five years ago. Expectations were even higher in the developing markets of China, India and Brazil, where many companies now look to for growth. Significantly more than half (60 percent) of respondents in those countries said that their expectations are higher now than they were a year ago, and 84 percent said their expectations are higher now than five years ago.

    Additionally, Accenture found that consumers are becoming less forgiving of companies that fail to satisfy their expectations. Twenty percent of respondents reported that they would immediately leave a company because of a poor service experience, up from 13 percent in last year’s survey.

    Among the survey’s other findings:

    *Consumers were most likely to switch providers when they were dissatisfied with four key aspects of customer service, including:

    - whether service representatives were polite and friendly;
    - whether their issues were resolved in a timely manner;
    - whether service representatives took ownership for resolving the customer’s issue; and
    - whether customer service was available at convenient times.

    Additionally, consumers were most likely to switch companies when they became frustrated by being forced to wait for a response after requesting customer service or when they encountered business policies that impeded the ability of customer

    *Consumer expectations were met least often in the emerging markets. In China, there was a particularly notable decline in companies’ ability to meet consumer expectations, with only 32 percent of Chinese respondents in this year’s survey saying that their expectations were met frequently or always, down from 70 percent in 2007.

    *Consumers in emerging markets were most likely to say that the increased use of technology has improved customer service. Nearly nine in 10 respondents (87 percent) in emerging markets said technology has improved customer service, compared with only 44 percent in mature markets.

    *Consumer use of the full range of service channels has increased in the past year. While the vast majority of consumers still prefer to use the telephone to seek assistance (selected by 85 percent of respondents), use of other service channels — including e-mail, speaking with representatives at places of business, corporate Web sites, sending a letter and online chats — has increased across the board. However, satisfaction with service declined across most channels, with the exception being live online chat -- 43 percent of consumers reported that they were satisfied with chat services, up from 30 percent a year earlier. Even so, satisfaction remained highest when service was delivered on premise, with the largest number of respondents – 55 percent – expressing satisfaction with on-premise customer service.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Thirty Percent of New Customer Service and Support Application Investments Will Be Through the SaaS Model by 2012

    Organizations are experiencing project savings of 25 to 40 percent by deploying CRM applications in a software as a service (SaaS) model, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner said that its clients were making these savings from reduced application expense and lower implementation costs.

    Much of the savings that organizations are making is a result of a lesser dependence on large external service providers (ESPs), which typically help businesses improve customer processes as part of the CRM engagement but which play less of a role when SaaS is involved. Among the top 100 SaaS deployments in 2007 and 2008, fewer than 10 percent involved a large system integrator or an external enterprise business consulting team. This would indicate that the role of ESPs in designing, measuring and driving CRM process improvements will diminish at enterprises deploying SaaS solutions for CRM through 2012.

    Gartner expects a similar drop in customer experience scores from midsize businesses. They're a stronger target for SaaS offerings, and they rarely use ESPs for business consulting skills.

    Gartner said that many projects that involve complex customer service contact centers are reported to be "on hold" until better references are available from the large enterprise application vendors that are in the process of releasing a new generation of their products. However, SaaS is the deployment model of choice for an increasing number of projects.

    Gartner predicts that all forms of SaaS-delivered customer service applications in the call center will grow by more than 20 percent per year through 2012, and this will deliver significant savings. By 2012, 30 percent of new customer service and support application investments will be through the SaaS model.

    Because SaaS applications lack sophistication in BPM and process design, and due to the absence of ESPs offering business process advice, the growing spread of SaaS CRM applications threatens CRM efforts.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    EMEA IT Market Poised for Slowdown in 2009

    IDC's latest update on information technology (IT) spending in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa reveals a bleaker outlook for the near term in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis. Growth of just under 3% is now expected for the EMEA IT market in 2009, which represents a 1.5-point drop compared to IDC's previous, pre-crisis forecast.

    The downturn in the world economy is affecting demand for IT in both mature and emerging markets in EMEA, albeit somewhat differently. While IT spending in Western Europe will fall to just 1.2%, reflecting a sharp decline in capital investment with a contraction in GDP, the regions of Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East/Africa will continue to illustrate relatively healthy growth rates.

    In terms of technology sectors and demand, IDC expects discretionary spending on IT hardware to be the main focus of cutbacks in 2009. PC refresh cycles will be delayed while new planned projects will be postponed or scaled back and, as business growth is projected downward, demand for storage and servers will be weak. Sharply falling ASPs will also affect revenues. Growth of -2% is expected here for next year, with positive growth only resuming in 2011.

    Similarly, the growth rate for expenditure on software has been almost halved to 4.1% for 2009, reflecting IDC's expectation that major business software upgrades will be delayed, particularly in the infrastructure space. The IT services market will also feel the recession as demand for project-oriented services are affected, and pressure may abound to renegotiate existing outsourcing contracts.

    Despite the troublesome short-term picture, there are a few silver linings:

    --Although the hardware market will have a hard time, some segments like IP phones and smart handhelds will continue to show double-digit growth rates.

    --Open source software will get an extra boost as a means for organizations to cut back on license fees.

    --The development of the software-as-a-service business model will gain momentum as its pay-per-use promise becomes a serious alternative for the current licensing model.

    --The outsourcing market will get an extra boost, reflecting efforts to further reduce non-discretionary IT expenditure.

    --Green IT and virtualization are measures to improve datacenter efficiencies that will enable companies to drive infrastructure costs down.

    --Business continuity and IT security will require attention and investment regardless of the economic climate.

    --The credit crisis will eventually bring on more regulation and associated compliancy efforts, which is an opportunity for the IT sector in terms of required storage, software, and data management investment.

    More information on the IT market can be found at

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Worldwide IT Spending Growth to Slow Significantly, But Remain Positive, in 2009

    Worldwide spending on information technology will slow significantly in 2009 as a direct result of the global financial crisis that began in September 2008. According to a newly revised forecast from IDC, worldwide IT spending will grow 2.6% year over year in 2009, down from IDC's pre-crisis forecast of 5.9% growth. In the United States, IT spending is expected to decline to 0.9% in 2009, much lower than the 4.2% growth forecast in August.

    On a regional basis, spending growth in Japan, Western Europe, and the United States will hover around 1% in 2009. In contrast, the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America will continue to experience healthy growth, but at levels notably lower than the double-digit gains previously forecast. On a sector basis, software and services will enjoy solid growth while hardware spending, with the exception of storage, is expected to decline in 2009.

    Looking beyond 2009, IDC expects IT spending to make a full recovery by the end of the forecast period with growth rates approaching 6.0% in 2012. Despite these gains, IDC estimates that more than $300 billion in industry revenues will have been lost due to slower spending over the next four years.

    In light of the uncertainties associated with the ongoing financial crisis, IDC also developed a downside scenario to help executives plan for a situation where the impact of the crisis is more pronounced. In this scenario, IDC lowered the forecast for worldwide GDP growth in 2009 to 0.3%, which is 1.5% lower than the current forecast and worse than any year since World War II. This produced a forecast of 0.1% growth in worldwide IT spending in 2009 with negative growth in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    IT Slashes Budgets, Starts Layoffs: Exclusive CIO Survey

    The results of CIO's most recent survey on IT budgets, fielded between October 17 and 22, couldn't be more striking compared to results from our two surveys done earlier in 2008. As unfavorable economic conditions continue, more CIOs say they must shave IT budgets, according to our exclusive October survey of 243 IT executives.

    Three quarters of IT heads surveyed say their IT budget will stay the same or decrease in the coming year. Notably, forty percent of CIOs plan to decrease their IT budget, up from 17 percent and 26 percent, in similar surveys conducted earlier this year. 34 percent say their IT budget will remain the same, up from 20 percent in March and 26 percent in July. The number of respondents in mid-size and large companies reporting plans to cut IT budgets rose sharply from 4 months ago.

    Overall, respondents report average expenditures of -3%, down from +3% in July and +7% in March. More than one-third of CIOs say they expect to decrease spending for software (37 percent), hardware (36 percent) and outsourced IT services (33 percent).

    CIOs Put Discretionary IT Projects on Hold, Freeze IT Hiring

    Seventy-two percent of IT heads surveyed have postponed (49 percent) or are planning to postpone (23 percent) discretionary IT projects.

    Forty-six percent, respectively, have renegotiated IT vendor contracts and instituted an IT hiring freeze in the past 6 months, while 45 percent have begun restricting IT travel and 44 percent have cut spending on IT contractors and consultants.

    Large company IT chiefs have taken more action to contain costs than their mid-market counterparts. The survey finds a higher percentage of large company IT heads reducing spending on IT contractors and consultants (63 percent), postponing discretionary IT projects (59 percent) and restricting IT travel (56 percent), as compared to survey respondents on the whole.

    As for salaries and staffing, nearly one in five CIOs (18 percent) report that their IT compensation costs will decrease in the coming months. Forty-six percent of CIOs have put a freeze on IT hiring in response to tough economic conditions, while 23 percent have begun to reduce IT headcount in the past 6 months.

    More than three quarters of CIOs (77 percent) have a contingency plan in place or are planning to implement one in the event of IT budget cuts; that's up from 68 percent in July. Among CIOs with a contingency plan, 35 percent are currently implementing it while 17 percent plan to implement in the next 6 months.

    Unfavorable Financing Climate Delays Purchases

    Nearly one quarter of IT heads (23 percent) have delayed and 35 percent plan to delay technology purchases as a result of unfavorable financing terms or conditions from a vendor or lending institution. Fourteen percent have cancelled technology purchases while 10 percent plan to cancel purchases as a result of poor lending conditions.

    More than one-third of CIOs (35 percent) believe current economic conditions will cause IT purchase decisions to be pushed higher within their IT organization.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Customer Satisfaction Tops List of Reasons to Train Customers

    Expertus, a provider of services that optimize the business impact of learning, and Training Industry, Inc., an objective and trusted expert on the marketplace for learning, recently announced the findings from their joint study, Optimizing Customer Training. The results revealed that customer satisfaction is the leading reason that organizations implement and maintain customer training.

    The vast majority of respondents both expected and attained improved customer satisfaction from their customer training programs. 82% of respondents expected improved customer satisfaction from their customer training. 93% reported results in this area; 53% realized strong benefits and 40% realized moderate benefits.

    There were only two other areas where over one-third of survey respondents reported a strong benefit - increases in customer retention and increases in training revenue. 88% reported increases in customer retention, with 36% reporting a strong impact in this area.

    Higher training revenue was also reported as a strong benefit, particularly among the 58% of respondents who operate their customer training as profit centers. 88% of those in profit centers reported increased training revenue – with 63% reporting a strong increase.

    --48% of survey respondents believed that customer training budgets would rise in 2009, compared with 32% of respondents who believed that employee training budgets would increase next year. Further, 41% believe customer training budgets would grow by over 10%, with as many as 19% expecting it to increase by over 20%.

    --The vast majority of companies use website and email marketing to market training to their customers, which many also considered to be the most effective way to market their programs.

    --Webinar technology is used most frequently to deliver customer training.

    --The two top challenges in customer training relate to a lack of resources – in staffing and marketing expertise or budget.

    More information on customer service and support can be found at

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    The Number of Organizations Planning to Adopt SOA for the First Time Is Falling Dramatically

    The majority of large organizations are moving ahead with service-oriented architecture (SOA), but a growing number are deferring plans, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Fifty-three percent of the respondents were already using SOA in some part of their organizations. Another 25 percent were not using it but had plans to do so in the next 12 months; and 16 percent had no plans to use SOA at all. Approximately 20 percent were building event-driven architectures (EDAs), and 20 percent were planning to do so in the next 12 months.

    Since the beginning of 2008, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of organizations that are planning to adopt SOA for the first time. In 2008, this was cut by more than one-half, down to 25 percent from 53 percent in 2007, while the number of organizations with no plans to adopt SOA more than doubled from 6 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2008.

    The number of organizations that are already pursuing SOA shows a massive change in the future perception of SOA, from something that is essentially inevitable for all organizations in a short time to a situation where many organizations have evaluated SOA and have chosen not to spend time and effort on it.

    Gartner found that the significant minority that is not planning to adopt any SOA is a diverse group. The highest concentrations of organizations not pursuing SOA and having no plans to do so are in process manufacturing and agriculture and mining.

    Overall, the two major reasons that organizations choose for not pursuing SOA are a lack of skills and expertise, and no viable business case. If the business case has been tested and is not viable, then there is no reason to do it. However, conversations with many Gartner clients have shown that there is a great deal of confusion about how to construct a business case for SOA. Even if a valid business case exists, then the required skills are often unavailable in-house, and the costs and effort to develop in-house skills and acquire outside expertise are often daunting.

    The survey also found that the adoption of SOA and the plans for adoption vary widely by region. Overall, SOA adoption in Europe is nearly universal, moderate in North America and lagging in Asia. In Europe, current adoption rates are very high, and only a tiny percentage of organizations having no plans for adoption in the future. In North America, the adoption rate is high, but a low number of organizations have committed to adopt SOA in the next 12 months, and a fairly high proportion has no plans to pursue SOA. The picture in Asia is quite different, where adoption is less than half of that in other regions, and where the majority of organizations are not planning to pursue SOA within the next 12 months.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    National Survey Highlights How Economic Climate Is Impacting Local Government Technology Budgets

    Thirty-eight percent of local government information technology budgets will decrease over the next two years as a result of the economic slowdown, according to the results of a national survey conducted by Public Technology Institute (PTI) and INPUT.

    The survey, “The State of City and County IT 2008,” targeted local government chief information officers (CIO) and information technology (IT) department directors. Other areas of the IT budget impacted by the economic climate include:

  • Staff development and training: 38% of respondents stated this budget item will decrease over the next two years, while 53% stated this budget item will remain the same.
  • Travel for educational events for IT department staff: 54% of respondents stated this budget item will decrease over the next two years, while 39% stated this budget item will stay the same.

  • More information on the service and support industry mcan be found at

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Market Hits $1.9 Billion in 2007

    DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics research, has published its inaugural 2008 Worldwide Interactive Voice Response Trends and Market Share Report. IVR systems have been around since the 1980s, but the market has exploded in the last few years. DMG estimates that worldwide IVR revenue reached $1.867 billion at the end of 2007 and will grow to $2.4 billion by 2010, despite the current economic challenges.

    Growth in the IVR market is being driven by strong demand for self-service applications, a steady flow of innovation, the increasing popularity of hosted solutions and the expansion of the outbound notification market. The recent slowdown in IVR growth in the US has been offset by expansion in international sales, particularly in Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim. Once enterprise spending freezes caused by the economic meltdown are lifted, DMG expects increased investment in the IVR market. Sales will be driven by spending on self-service applications, replacement of outdated and expensive-to-maintain systems, and the need to standardize technology in newly merged and consolidated companies, especially in the IVR-intensive financial services industry.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Data Leaks & Malware Incidents Rise as Employees Embrace Web 2.0 & Collaborative Internet Applications in the Workplace

    For large enterprises, the costs associated with malware now amount to an average of more than $125,000 per month. The costs of repairing malware attacks and corporate data leaks have risen along with employee usage of Web 2.0, and social media at work. These are some of the key findings in the 4th annual independent study commissioned by FaceTime Communications, the leading provider of solutions that control employee use of Internet applications and manage unified communications in the enterprise. The report also confirmed that the use of these applications is widespread with more than 60 percent of all companies surveyed having eight or more of these application in use on their networks.

    The research was conducted to determine the impact that collaborative Internet applications have on companies and organizations. Conducted by NewDiligence in September 2008, the survey of more than 500 employees and IT managers tracks the growth of Web 2.0 and employee-initiated applications that contribute to the consumerization of IT. These applications, which introduce compliance, security and data leakage risks, are in use at 97 percent of all organizations, up from 85 percent in 2007. On average, companies report 9.3 such applications in use by employees on the enterprise network. This year's study delved into the use of social media in the enterprise as well as IT's preparedness for electronic discovery requirements.

    While email and Web browsing are typically monitored and controlled by IT (79 percent and 65 percent respectively), the extent of the risk associated with Internet applications may be less understood. Fewer than 40 percent of IT respondents report monitoring and managing applications such as P2P and only 25 percent say they are securing and monitoring Web 2.0 applications.

    The survey also revealed that fewer than half of IT managers could actively monitor and reproduce specific applications such as instant messaging (IM) communications if asked by corporate attorneys in the event of a lawsuit. In fact, 38 percent of IT managers said they have no such capabilities and only 13 percent said they could do it - but not in any practical time frame. In 2006, the definition of what is considered electronically stored information (ESI), as defined by the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure, expanded to include IM, and other types of electronic communication. In the event of litigation, all ESI – not just email – must be produced as part of the e-Discovery process. Yet, only 31 percent archive IM communications.

    More key findings:

    --79% of employees use social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube) at work for business reasons and 51% access social media sites at least once per day.

    --IT managers reported an average of 34 security and data leakage incidents per month.

    --73% of IT managers report at least one security incident as a result of Internet application usage; viruses, Trojans and worms (59%) are most common, followed by spyware (57%) for a close second.

    --37% of companies report an instance of non compliance with corporate or regulatory policy, while 27% report incidents of accidental or unintentional data leakage.

    --Despite the new Federal Rules for Civil Procedure, only 31 percent of enterprises store IM communications. One in four has copies of audio conferences (25%), while slightly fewer (20%) archive corporate Web conferences.

    Unified Communications

    Unified communications suites, such as Microsoft Office Communications Server and IBM Lotus Sametime, are becoming integral to the way employees work today. However, IT managers are finding that their UC rollouts don't significantly reduce employee use of consumer-oriented Web 2.0 applications and public instant messaging networks. Security and compliance controls must extend across all UC modalities in this heterogeneous environment, both enterprise-sanctioned and consumer-oriented.

    Unified communications suites, which give enterprises a way to enable employees with multiple communications modalities over an IP infrastructure, exist today at about 29 percent of IT respondent organizations and an additional ten percent have deployed pilots to a limited number of users. Security, compliance and management issues are top of mind among IT managers in organizations with UC deployed.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    2008 technology leaders forecast survey reveals concerns and opportunities in the current economic environment

    In the midst of a financial and economic crisis, and in the midst of uncertainty associated with a historic presidential election, the DLA Piper 2008 Technology Leaders Forecast Survey found that industry leaders have a host of concerns, but are fundamentally optimistic about future opportunities.

    The survey, measuring the attitudes and perspectives of top executives within the technology industry, reveals that 75% of respondents say they have been adversely affected by the economic slowdown. Only 15% of respondents think the U.S. economy is likely to rebound in the first half of 2009 and more than half of respondents (55%) believe the IPO market will not begin to rebound until at least 2010. With responses received between September 23 and October 6, the survey was conducted as Congress debated the $700 billion bailout bill and during a tumultuous two weeks on Wall Street.

    Respondents deploying capital (Venture Capitalists) reflected a much different view of the financial crisis than those needing capital (companies themselves), which is understandable given that VCs have a greater focus on exit strategies. Nearly half (47%) of finance and venture capital respondents say the current financial crisis will have a more adverse impact on the technology industry than the Technology Bubble Burst of 2000. However, 67% of technology company entrepreneurs and leaders disagree. The survey yielded a number of other interesting conclusions, including:

    --85% of respondents think we are in for another year or more of the current economic conditions, signaling a collective view that the present financial challenges are not a short-term phenomenon.

    --Clean technology is one of the bright areas amid the financial crisis and economic turmoil, with tech leaders believing the sector will get a boost given the continuing economic and political pressure towards greater U.S. energy independence.

    --With almost 90% of respondents saying the Chinese consumer market is an exploitable opportunity, technology industry executives still believe China represents a significant opportunity as both an end market and a supplier.

    --Almost half of all respondents (48%) do not have an open source software policy, which experts warn could open them up to legal exposure.

    -- While there continues to be considerable discussion about innovation coming out of emerging markets, 55% of respondents think the US will still lead in producing the next generation of “leap-frog” technologies in the coming decade.--Beyond the hard data captured, survey respondents provided some interesting perspectives when asked to share the greatest opportunities in today’s technology industry. Many respondents see green technology and clean technology as the segments most poised for growth.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Changing the Cost Structure of IT Will Become a Business Imperative for Most CIOs

    IT departments are struggling to keep pace in a world that is moving at breakneck speed, and the IT industry is entering a period in which it will not only be possible to change the cost structure of IT, but it will be an imperative for many CIOs, according to Gartner, Inc.

    Today, IT spending is heavily weighed by fixed costs. Almost two-thirds of the average IT budget is fixed, at least in the short run. IT outsourcing is the most well-known way to move fixed costs to variable, but it is not the only technique organizations will employ. Gartner analysts said they expect some organizations to come up with new models, such as joint ventures and shared data centers as a means to reduce the fixed costs associated with IT.

    Gartner said that fixed-cost models burden organizations with assets and large amounts of depreciation, making the business less responsive. The trend toward user provisioning of IT requires a more flexible acquisition model that gives greater agility in both IT and the business.
    Going forward the burgeoning number of technology as a service (TaaS) offerings that will emerge during the next five years will give firms new acquisition models. In the area of staffing, reducing the number of salaried IT professionals and shifting to a model of using more contract labor will move more fixed costs to variable costs while compensation changes – such as putting more pay into the performance-driven category – can also help reduce fixed costs.

    Prominent industry trends such as TaaS and the need for greater business flexibility will increase the importance for more variability and IT leaders need to recognize and balance the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of variable cost structures. Gartner expects that some of the biggest challenges will come from the businesses internal capabilities, such as demand management budgeting and forecasting and vendor and asset management, all of which will need to evolve to exploit new acquisition models.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Maintenance and Professional Services Now Generate 54% of Revenues for a Typical Software Company

    For most high-end software companies, post- sale services now contribute more total revenue than product and license sales, according to a new research report from the Association of Support Professionals (ASP). The report, based on data from a hundred major public software companies, shows that maintenance and professional services now generate 54% (median) of revenues for a typical software company.

    Services also make a substantial contribution to overall profitability, the report points out. Maintenance is the top cash cow, with a gross profit margin rate of 81% (median). Professional services, a category that includes custom development, consulting, and training, is a more people-intensive business, but still delivers a median 22% margin. The ASP's report notes that software companies vary considerably in their emphasis on services.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Survey Shows Employees' Everyday Behavior Puts Sensitive Business Information at Risk

    RSA, The Security Division of EMC, announced the findings of its latest insider threat survey, conducted among attendees at industry events in North America and Latin America in the spring and summer of 2008. The results of the survey show that employees are well aware of the restrictions placed upon them by their corporate IT departments, yet many often work around these controls in order to get their jobs done in a convenient and timely manner.

    Of all respondents polled:

    --94% are familiar with their organizations’ IT security policies, yet 53% have felt the need to work around IT security policies in order to get their work done.

    --In response to a separate question, 64% frequently or sometimes send work documents to their personal email address in order to access and work on them from home.

    --15% have held a door open for someone at work that they did not recognize

    --8% frequently or sometimes access their work email via a public computer, and 65% frequently or sometimes access their work email via a public wireless hotspot

    --One in 10 has lost a laptop, smartphone and/or USB flash drive with corporate information on it

    --79% frequently or sometimes leave their workplace carrying a mobile device containing sensitive information related to their jobs, such as a laptop, smartphone and/or USB flash drive

    --43% had switched jobs internally and still had access to accounts/resources which they no longer needed

    --79% reported that their company employs temporary workers and/or contractors who require access to critical organizational information and systems

    --37% have stumbled into an area of their corporate network to which they believe they should not have had access

    Access to highly sensitive data should be granted only to those who need it, and in some job functions access to only very specific areas within the information infrastructure are necessary. Organizations can manage large numbers of users while enforcing a centralized role-based security policy that ensures compliance, protects enterprise resources from unauthorized access and makes it easier for legitimate users to do their jobs.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Firms Yield 12% Boost in Service Profitability from the Use of Mobility Field Service Solutions

    In an extremely competitive service landscape, Best-in-Class service firms are looking to empower their field technicians and mobile workers with tools to ensure quick and efficient service. As such, these firms are actively taking steps to map and automate service-specific workflows to replace outdated and inefficient paper-based systems, as indicated in a new study published by the Aberdeen Group.

    Aberdeen’s benchmark survey of over 250 companies identified that rising cost pressures were top of mind for most service firms, and the need to balance these pressures with rising customer expectations for service was the major driver for these firms to evaluate mobile automation initiatives. In an attempt to meet these pressures, leading firms were more than two times as likely to track their mobile assets in real-time and almost two times as likely to provide their field technicians with mobile tools to manage service work orders and parts-related information.

    To support improved access, increased data capture and enhanced data transfer capabilities needed for real-time field worker empowerment, leading firms were nearly two times as likely to leverage mobile field service applications for work order management and 42% more likely than others to leverage mobile solutions for optimized scheduling and asset tracking. As a result leading firms were experiencing:

    -- An 18% decrease in mean time to repair over the last year

    -- A 19% increase in technician productivity over the last year, compared to a 9% increase for all other firms

    -- A 93% level of SLA compliance, compared to a 77% performance for all other firms

    -- Service-based margins of 25% as compared to a 18% level for all other firms

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    IT Spending to Slow in 2009, But Continued Growth Reflects Critical Role

    Global economic problems are impacting IT budgets, however, the IT industry will not see the dramatic reductions that were seen during the bust, according to Gartner, Inc. At that time, budgets were slashed from mid double-digit growth to low single-digit growth.

    “In a worst case scenario, our research indicates an IT spending increase of 2.3 percent in 2009, down from our earlier projection of 5.8 percent,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. “Developed economies, especially the United States and Western Europe, will be the worst affected, but emerging regions will not be immune. Europe will experience negative growth in 2009, the United States and Japan will be flat.”

    The IT industry went through more dramatic reductions during, and after, the recession of 2001. Mr. Sondergaard said many lessons were learned.

    Organizations now view IT as a way to transform their businesses and adopt operating models that are much leaner. Other reasons that IT will not see more severe reductions include:

    --IT is embedded in running all aspects of the business
    --The shift to multi-year IT programs aligned with business, and they are difficult to cut immediately
    --IT spending decreases lag the economy by at least two quarters

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Telecommuting Boosts Worker Productivity, Survey Finds

    Companies that give their workers the option of telecommuting are benefiting from greater productivity, lower costs, more options for finding and retaining qualified staff, and improved employee health, according to a new survey released by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

    More than two-thirds (67 percent) of survey respondents said their organization has experienced greater worker productivity as a result of allowing employees to telecommute either full-time or part-time. Improved productivity is principally due to workers spending less time getting to and from work.

    Companies who utilize telecommuting are also benefiting from cost savings through reduced use of office-related materials and resources and lower vehicle-related expenses. Nearly six out of ten respondents (59 percent) to the CompTIA telecommuting trends survey identified cost savings as a significant benefit.

    Telecommuting is also helping organizations find and keep qualified staff, and keep their employees healthier. According to the CompTIA survey, 39 percent of respondents said their companies have access to more qualified staff, especially those who may not otherwise be geographically accessible, because they offer telecommuting as an option. Another 37 percent of respondents said telecommuting helps their organization improve employee retention. One-quarter of survey respondents (25 percent) said telecommuting improves employee health, mainly though reduced stress levels associated with commuting to and from work.

    Other benefits of telecommuting, as revealed in the survey, include promotion of safety through reduced highway use (18 percent); and environmental benefits (17 percent).

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Facing Economic Uncertainty, 2009 IT Budget, Staffing Remain Strong

    Even when faced with a discouraging economic outlook, CEOs, CIOs and top enterprise managers projected increased budgets and staffing needs for 2009. That’s according to a survey commissioned by the Society for Information Management (SIM) that was completed in June.

    More than three-hundred respondents participated. The results showed that:

    • 44% project their 2009 budgets will increase from 2008
    • 43% estimate they will have a greater headcount in 2009 compared to 2008
    • 75% project IT staff salaries will increase in 2009
    • An average of 5.2% of IT budgets is anticipated to be spent on outsourcing (a 2%
    increase from 2008)

    While the survey was taken before the recent financial developments, SIM believes that the
    results overall are very positive for the IT industry.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Study Reveals Consumer Expectations for Customer Care Continue to Soar Despite Economy

    According to RightNow’s third annual Customer Experience Impact Report conducted by Harris Interactive, consumer demand for positive customer experiences continues to rise despite a tight U.S. economy. In fact, 87 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with an organization after a bad customer experience, up from 80 percent in 2007 and 68 percent in 2006. The report also found that:

    --58 percent of U.S. consumers said that in a down economy, they will always or often pay more for a better customer experience.

    --When recommending a company, outstanding customer service is more important (58 percent) than low prices (44 percent) and top quality products/services (43 percent).

    Impact of Negative Customer Experiences

    While consumers are willing to recommend organizations and companies to others because of outstanding service, they are almost twice as likely to tell others about poor treatment.

    --84 percent of consumers indicated they would tell others about a bad experience – up from 74 percent in 2007 and 67 percent in 2006.

    --In addition, blogging about a negative customer experience is on the rise: 22 percent of consumers this year have posted negative feedback about a company, vs. only 13 percent in 2007.

    --However, in some ways, men and women react quite differently following a negative customer experience. While men are more likely to react angrily or physically by swearing or hitting something (5 percent of males vs. 1 percent of females), the female tendency is to react emotionally by crying (9 percent of females vs. 2 percent of males) or getting a headache (11 percent vs. 2 percent, respectively).

    Also interesting to note, even with the exploding popularity of social networking and mobile technology, when asked how companies can improve their customer experience to encourage consumer spending:

    --Only 5 percent of consumers said the “delivery of tailored information via mobile technology” would help.

    --Only 4 percent said they wanted organizations to “increase their presence on social networking sites like Facebook, etc.

    --Even those aged 18-34 didn’t demand this type of engagement with great frequency – opting instead for better access to agents. Tailored information via mobile technology, as well as presence on social networking sites were both selected by 9% of respondents in this age group, respectively.

    The survey also found that, when interacting with organizations online, 51 percent of consumers want the option of a live web chat session, a similar rate as in 2007.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    10 Ways to Spot a Potential IT Train Wreck, and How IT Modernization Can Help

    Many IT organizations are overly focused on which tactical step to take next and are missing the ever-worsening bigger picture with respect to IT modernization, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner foresees a confluence of trends that, if ignored, will leave many organizations unable to respond effectively to business demands.

    In order to help organizations recognize the signs of potential danger, Gartner has identified 10 key indicators:

    Sign No.1: Skills Shortage. Many organizations are investing huge budgets in hiring programmers to keep an old system running. Instead, companies need a strategy for supporting the business that fully exploits, for as long as possible, the investment in the old system, but which also recognizes that a replacement system strategy is also needed.

    Sign No. 2: Vendor/Product Consolidation/Support. As the number of vendors consolidates and products age, those products are retired by the acquiring company and taken off support status, with the result of increasing maintenance charges with little in the way of incremental functionality. However, companies often depend on these applications, and switching to a new application is both inconvenient and resource intensive. In some cases it requires resources that the IT group does not have and as a result, companies work harder to maintain more outdated but mission-critical applications.

    Sign No. 3: Agility Metrics Decay. Agility metrics for making a business changes decay as systems become more brittle and the "piling on effect" worsens. Consequently, the business cannot afford to change because the IT organization can’t support the changes. The result is a loss of business agility in an increasingly agile world.

    Sign No. 4: Operation Expenses Escalate. Operation expenses become a larger portion of the IT budget as the piling on effect worsens. As a result there are little resources — money, people or time — to work on anything new.

    Sign No. 5: Aging Technology Portfolio. The aging technology portfolio drifts further away from the desired "future state" architecture standards. The technology vision laid out by the enterprise architects becomes impossible to achieve. The result is an increasingly outdated set of systems and infrastructure that becomes the source of more problems.

    Sign No.6: Difficult to Access Information. Information becomes increasingly difficult to access and analyze as data structures age. Modern business users are highly information-dependent. As the data becomes more out of date, less accurate and more difficult to access, the business is increasingly forced to work without the information needed to make decisions.

    Sign No. 7: Legacy Capacity Risk. Legacy capacity needs increase as new interfaces, such as Web connections, drive up transaction volumes, resulting in greater spending on traditional processing and storage and so forth. Ironically, this legacy capacity is usually priced at a premium compared with newer technologies riding the consumerization curve.

    Sign No. 8: Regulatory Compliance Issues/Risks Increase. Compliance is an issue even in traditional lightly regulated industries, and legislation shows that any company may be at the mercy of outdated systems that can’t meet the needs of increased regulations.

    Sign No. 9: IT Costs Increase, Agility Decreases. Direct business purchasing of IT-related services drives up central IT costs and drives agility downward.Sign No.10: Green IT. Today’s CIOs are likely to have targets that will involve substantial infrastructure changes to achieve green IT objectives. These changes will almost inevitably carry implications for the application portfolio.

    To avoid the so called IT train wreck, Gartner advises that organizations put IT strategic planning, rather than tactical budgeting at the heart of the CIO management agenda.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    Contact centers invest in CRM to improve customer retention

    Enterprises are to up investment in customer relationship management (CRM) and unified desktop solutions in a bid to improve customer retention. This is according to a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor. It estimates the global market for contact center CRM licenses and services was almost $2 billion in 2007 and investment in CRM solutions in contact centers will increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 10% through 2013. Unified agent desktops - solutions that provide a complete view of the customer from one application, are expected to thrive.

    The sluggish economy and fears of a recession will inevitably cause lower consumer spending levels which will impact organizations. As a result, there will be a tightening of IT and marketing budgets within enterprises. Enterprises need to improve customer service in order to retain customers, particularly where products are commoditized and customer service is seen as a differentiator. Towards this end, CRM solutions in the contact center are being deployed to help provide customer services agents with more detailed information on customers and their historical transactions and information. This should help increase first call resolution rates and lead to cost reduction in contact centers.

    Moreover, enterprises are also keen to improve system usability and reduce agent turnover. Recruitment and training costs for new staff can be high and the notion that improved user interfaces and more accurate customer data will increase staff retention rates is becoming an important value proposition for the unified agent desktop. These factors are driving adoption of the unified agent desktop in contact centers.

    The report also highlights that the use of analytics with CRM is increasing at a brisk rate in contact centers as management are under constant pressure to optimize operations while uncovering trends within aggregated customer data. In addition, enterprises are using real-time analytics to predict the areas where cross-sell and up-sell opportunities exist and guide agents with the relevant prompts in real-time for each campaign. As customer analytics grows as a CRM tool, real-time predictive decisioning, which automatically guides agents to the next best action, will play a bigger role in contact centers.

    More information on the contact center industry can be found at

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    IT Software Spending In 2009 Could Be Worst Since 2001

    Enterprise software spending in 2009 could drop to the lowest level since 2001, JMP Securities software analyst Patrick Walravens asserted in a research note this morning. Walravens reached that conclusion from a JMP survey of 35 enterprise technology buyers on their IT spending plans for 2009.

    Walravens says 74% of those surveyed expect their software spending next year to be flat or down. The results are a bit better for on demand software providers, with half the respondents expecting to increase spending there. Walravens also notes that only 40% of the survey group expect to spend their entire 2008 software budget.

    Source: Barrons

    More info on the Technology industry can be found at

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Five Anywhere Consumer Segments that Will Drive Mass-Market Technology Adoption

    Yankee Group has identified five consumer segments that are driving the mass-market adoption of technology products and services. With connectivity at the core of everything they do, Anywhere Consumers are driving a shift in buying behaviors that will have tremendous economic impact during the next 5 years.

    The report reveals the five segments of Anywhere Consumers:

  • Actualized Anywheres -- These consumers demand connectivity be core to their every experience at home and on the road. They make up only 5% of the consumer population today. This group pays the most for services, has the most devices and greatly influences the behavior of the mass market behind them. Though the least populated segment, these consumers are where new trends develop and broad market appeal begins.
  • Outlet Jockeys -- Connectivity defines these road warriors, who make up 15% of the consumer population. They are willing to experiment with new mobile services and devices to achieve Anywhereness.
  • Digital Shut-ins -- Totaling 19% of the total consumer population, these are owners of many advanced in-home entertainment devices but who do not subscribe to the services that would push their Anywhere behavior.
  • Technophytes-- These are consumers with the desire to be cutting-edge, but who feel no urgency to do so. This group makes up 22% of the consumer population, just barely ahead of the Analogs. They drive volume as prices drop and early adopters move on to new technology.
  • Analogs -- This is the oldest and largest (40%) segment. They have little interest in technology for the sake of technology.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at
  • Friday, September 26, 2008

    Hosted Contact Center Solutions Poised for Continued Growth and Market Acceptance in North America

    New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, North American Hosted Contact Center Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of $28 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $1.1 billion in 2014.

    Inherent advantages such as flexibility, low cost of entry, and scalability drive the deployment of hosted contact center solutions across North America. Leasing contact center technology allows organizations to deflect the high upfront capital expenditure normally associated with premise deployments. This is a particularly attractive business proposition for mid and small-sized companies seeking access to the same advanced technology as large enterprises, but at an affordable price.

    However, the hosted model is not without its share of challenges, which include the perceived lack of control over operations and the security of critical customer data. Clearly, older legacy deployments in premise-based technology present growth challenges for the hosted deployment model.

    Hosted providers have wisely included tenant self-administration capabilities in newer releases of the technology along with process/methodologies with enhanced security options. These measures have played a critical role in overcoming reservations around security and ease-of use after initial deployment.

    More information on contact centers can be found at

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Research Indicates that Customer Training is Growing Faster than Employee Training

    Expertus and Training Industry, Inc. announced the release of the findings from their joint August 2008 study, Optimizing Customer Training. The research found that 48% of survey respondents believed that customer training budgets would go up, compared with 32% of respondents who believed that employee training budgets would go up in 2009. Further, 41% believe customer training budgets would increase by over 10%, with as many as 19% expecting it to go up by over 20%.

    In addition to this growth, over one-third of respondents reported that they are getting a strong benefit from their customer training, not only in customer satisfaction (52%) but also in increasing training revenue (50%) and customer retention (30%).

    Other findings include:

    --The vast majority of companies used website and email marketing to market training to their customers, which many also considered to be the most effective way to market their programs.

    --Webinar technology is used most frequently to deliver customer training.

    --The two top challenges had to do with a lack of resources – in staffing and in marketing expertise or budget.

    More information on Customer Service can be found at

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Web 2.0 technologies are changing the way Enterprises think about IT

    A new report published by the Butler Group, Europe’s leading IT research and advisory organization, reveals how speed, agility, mobility, innovation, and reuse are forcing organizations globally to push aside old technologies, models, and architectures to make way for the world of Web 2.0. Broadly put, Web 2.0 is a paradigm shift in the way the Internet is used. It involves a more open approach to the Internet, and user-generated content in particular, such as blogs, podcasts, social media and special-interest review sites.

    Butler Group believes that social software, collaboration, and real-time communications are now pivotal parts of the ‘Enterprise Web 2.0’ story, and that these in turn are acting as conduits for new cultural ideas and practices.

    In some circles, the terms ‘Enterprise Web 2.0’ and ‘Enterprise 2.0’ are used interchangeably to describe the application of Web 2.0 ideas and technologies in the enterprise; however, Butler Group analysts believe that a clear distinction exists between the use of these two terms, and that this differentiation is important to maintain, as it enables more meaningful discussions to be had when examining the future role of IT within the business.

    “The management of customer, employee, partner, and stakeholder relationships is vital for all organizations”, says Mark Blowers, Enterprise Architectures Practice Director at Butler Group. “The social aspects of Web 2.0 are mirrored in the corporate world of Enterprise Web 2.0. Workforce mobility and changing communication patterns are two more trends that are driving change at the infrastructure layer. As such, unified communication and collaboration requirements are an important part of Enterprise 2.0 strategies.”

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Excellent Growth Perspectives for the Technology Services Industry

    Technical services can produce substantial revenue growth, but achieving profitable growth requires a smart service strategy. A new study from Downton Service Management Consultants examines the strategies of successful service operations and how they produce revenue and profit growth. 41% of the surveyed companies concentrate on services of high added value or focus on the personal relationship with customers. Over 50% of these companies foresee more than 10%, revenue growth with one third expecting more than 20% revenue growth in the next years and nearly 40% of these firms estimate their annual margin growth to be more than 10%.

    The respondents indicated they deploy one of the following strategies:

  • 18% focus on brand driven, high value added services

  • 23% focus on people driven, relationship-based services

  • 31% focus on feature driven, high performance services offering more benefits

  • 16% focus on price driven, high performance services at the lowest possible price

  • 8% of service-organizations remain as a cost center

  • 4% are moving from a cost centre to a profit centre strategy

  • The study was designed together with senior executives in round-table meetings and 180 companies in Europe and North America participated.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Speech Analytics Market Grows at 106% in Past Year

    DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics research, market analysis, and technology consulting services, has published the 2008 Speech Analytics Market Report. The speech analytics market grew by a resounding 106% in 2007, producing a four-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 268%. DMG forecasts continued market expansion at a rate of 70% in 2008, and 50% in 2009, despite challenging economic conditions. This market is growing rapidly; there are now 22 competitors, and many new entrants are planning to introduce solutions within the next few months.

    Speech analytics is attracting a great deal of attention because of its proven ability to provide enterprises with insights into customer needs and wants. This is translating into significant productivity savings for contact centers, and increased customer retention and revenue for enterprises.
    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Cost-cutting in Enterprise IT Departments Hits Staff and Salaries

    When enterprise IT departments have to make cuts of over five per cent of their budget, they’re most likely to reduce staff, cut salaries, and eliminate vendors and outsourced contracts to achieve targets, says an Info-Tech Research Group study conducted this summer. Companies in the health care, transportation and manufacturing sectors in particular frequently achieve any necessary budget cuts through layoffs, citing rising fuel costs as a key driver for cost-cutting.

    The Info-Tech study conducted this summer involved 167 surveys and 60 personal interviews with senior IT leaders at companies from a diverse mix of industries, primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Companies surveyed said that IT staff reductions have typically been comprised of:

    -- 44% entry-level and intermediate employees;
    -- 19% management staff;
    -- 17% contractors;
    -- 15% senior staff; and
    -- 5% consultants.

    While cutting staff and salaries can deliver quick bottom-line benefits, reductions can also have a negative impact on morale of remaining staff and their ability to maintain IT service levels. As well, revenue-generation of the overall organization is negatively impacted in one-quarter (24%) of businesses surveyed.

    Companies facing cutbacks should carefully consider all aspects of their business and their IT department spending to make wise decisions, says Info-Tech. Companies can often avoid large-scale layoffs if they implement staff training enabling employees to cover multiple functions and make staff cuts gradually, but that requires advance planning and best practices over time.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Companies Embrace Workforce Planning to Reduce Staffing Pains

    A new report by the Aberdeen Group found that organizations are placing greater emphasis on future workforce planning initiatives, in order to improve their ability to recruit and to retain the talent they anticipate will be needed in the short-term and long-term future. Workforce planning programs are especially important in light of the pains that organizations already report with finding talent in the workforce today, and with the impact of turnover of current staff. But preparing today’s workforce to meet tomorrow’s needs requires that an organization have a clear picture of the skills and capabilities in the organization currently, what gaps exist at present in terms of needed skills, and how that picture will be impacted by changes that lay ahead to the business.

    Best-in-Class organizations are being aggressive at identifying emerging job roles and missions, at implementing career acceleration and leadership development programs, and at partnering with local schools and institutions to help develop future workers with needed skills.

    As a result of these efforts, Best-in-Class organizations have:

    • Increased employee retention on average by 31%

    • Improved workforce capacity utilization on average by 31%

    • Increase employee performance on average by 27%

    • Increased skills availability on average by 23%

    The study also found that Best-in-Class organizations with respect to workforce planning programs are more likely to:

    • Clearly understand the purpose of workforce planning

    • Have established buy-in from senior corporative executives

    • Understand the core competencies of key job roles

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Users Are Becoming Increasingly Confused About the Issues and Solutions Surrounding Green IT

    IT users are unsure of the implications of green IT and where to invest their technology budgets, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner analyst said this confusion will continue for some years to come in what is a rapidly changing segment of the industry.

    There is a great deal of uncertainty about which green technologies and products are actually available today and which may become available in the future. The future "productization" of technologies will not just depend on the maturity of the design but also on the prevailing market conditions and the possibility of future legislation.

    However, Gartner research shows that the spectrum of green technologies, services and legislation that users need to focus on can be broken down into short-term (immediate), midterm and long-term activities. The immediate issues affect the next 24 months and need to yield a quick return on investment while the midterm category covers the next five years. The long-term category covers products and activities that are, by nature, rather esoteric and may never become mainstream.

    Immediate Green IT Issues for Users to Focus On

    Immediate Green IT issues center around power, cooling and floor space problems in data centers and office environments. With this in mind, Gartner has identified eight important areas for users to focus on during the next 24 months:

    - Modern data center facilities' design concepts
    - Advanced cooling technologies
    - Use of modeling and monitoring software
    - Virtualization technologies for server consolidation
    - Processor design and server efficiency
    - Energy management for the office environment
    - Integrated energy management for the software environment
    - Combined heat and power

    Midterm Green IT Issues for Users to Focus On

    During the next two to five years, many green technologies will mature and become important to IT groups looking to develop greener IT organizations. However, much of the planning and assessing of the appropriateness and cost of using these new products needs to be examined earlier and in the context of an overall IT strategy. This is especially the case where government legislation (affecting building design, for example) may come into force. Gartner highlights eight areas in this category:

    -Green IT procurement
    -Green asset life cycle programs
    -Environmental labeling of servers and other devices
    -Changing people's behaviors
    -Green accounting in IT
    -Green legislation in data centers-Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and IT programs

    Long-Term Green IT Issues for Users to Focus On

    There are many green IT technologies, services and projects that will span the next five to 20 years. Much of the industry hype (or "greenwash") sits in this area and is causing confusion for users. They are unclear about whether carbon-trading programs will become the norm, or whether it will be possible to recycle energy from data centers in a simple and cost-effective way. Gartner has identified the following seven areas to focus on:

    -Carbon offsetting and carbon trading
    -Data center heat recycling
    -Alternative energy sources
    -Software efficiency
    -Green building design
    -Green legislation
    -Green chargeback

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Survey Finds That 91% of Organizations Perceive Cybercrime as a Major Business Risk

    Finjan Inc., a provider of secure web gateway solutions for the enterprise market, announced the findings of its Web security survey of 1387 IT/Security professionals conducted during July 2008. The results reveal that an overwhelming number of respondents perceive cybercrime as a major business risk, specifically the possibility of their sensitive information such as customer, patient, and employee data being stolen by crimeware.

    Key findings from the survey:

    --91% of all respondents stated that they perceive cybercrime as a major business risk (e.g. loss of customers, brand name damage, lawsuits etc.)

    --73% of the all responding CIOs and CSOs were more concerned about data theft (crimeware stealing their business data) than about downtime and loss of productivity due to virus infections
    --The majority of the respondents (68%) indicated that their corporate intellectual property and sensitive information is at risk of data-theft

    --More than half of the respondents (54%) worry about their corporate employee information being stolen

    --47% of all respondents listed theft of their corporate customer information as a major business concern

    --In the banking and financial sector, 95% of the respondents perceived cybercrime as a major business risk to their organization

    --Of the responding healthcare providers, 73% listed their patients’ medical records as the main potential cybercrime target

    --25% of the respondents reported that their data had been breached, with an overwhelming 42% of respondents who could not exclude the possibility of a breach

    --67% of respondents knowledgeable about web security listed real-time content inspection technology as the preferred web security solution

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    IT Security Spending On The Rise

    Spending on IT security will continue to grow next year, according to new data unveiled by Forrester Research, Inc. The Forrester Business Data Services survey, which polled more than 1,200 North American enterprise and SMB security decision-makers, found that 21 percent of respondents expect to increase their IT security budgets in 2009, while nearly three-quarters of those surveyed expect no cutbacks in their security spending. Only 6 percent of respondents anticipate having to cut their security budget next year despite the current economic uncertainty.

    Other key findings from the survey include:

    • Security makes up 10 percent of overall IT operating budgets in 2008, up from 8 percent last year.
    • Nearly 50 percent of respondents report to a board/CEO or an executive committee. Security is no longer embedded within IT.
    • Data protection is critical. More than half of respondents said that protecting corporate IP and customer data was their top priority for the next 12 months.
    • Companies are realizing the significance of having business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place. Forty-two percent of respondents said it was very important, up from 33 percent from last year.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Customer and End-User Support Fueling Demand for IT Professionals

    Eleven percent of chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report expect to add staff in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 3 percent forecast personnel reductions. The net 8 percent increase compares with a net 10 percent increase projected last quarter. The majority of respondents, 83 percent, plan to maintain current staffing levels.

    Key Findings

    --Increased customer and/or end-user support was cited as the leading reason for Information Technology (IT) hiring, replacing business growth, which had been named by CIOs as the primary driver of IT hiring in each of the past 22 quarters.

    --Help desk/technical support was cited as the job area experiencing the most growth.

    --Firms in the Middle Atlantic region are most optimistic about IT hiring.

    --Technology executives in the transportation industry forecast the strongest hiring activity.

    For the first time since the question was asked in the second quarter of 2003, increased customer service and/or end-user support (25 percent of the response) overtook business growth (23 percent) as the main reason firms are hiring IT staff. Installation or development of new enterprisewide applications came in third, with 21 percent of the response.

    Skills in Demand

    Network administration (LAN, WAN) is the technical skill set in strongest demand, according to 70 percent of CIOs. This was followed closely by Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) and desktop support, each at 69 percent. (Note: CIOs polled were allowed multiple responses.)

    Technology executives cited help desk/technical support as the job area experiencing the most growth, with 18 percent of the response. The strong showing is consistent with research from HDI, an association for IT service and support professionals, which found that 45 percent of its members planned to increase help desk/technical support hiring in 2008. Networking, which has held the top spot for the past year in the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, slipped to second at 14 percent, followed by data/database management at 11 percent.

    Industry Outlook

    Technology executives in the transportation sector, which also includes communications and utilities, forecast the most notable hiring gains in the fourth quarter. Seventeen percent of CIOs plan to add IT staff and 1 percent anticipate personnel reductions, for a net 16 percent increase.

    Business services should also see solid IT hiring activity. Fourteen percent of CIOs surveyed plan to add employees and 1 percent foresee staff cutbacks, for a net 13 percent increase. CIOs in the retail and professional services sectors also forecast staffing activity above the national average, with a net 10 percent increase forecast for both industries.

    More information on the customer service and support industry can be found at

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    Firms Slash an Average of $535,000 on Operating Costs from use of Optimized Workforce Scheduling

    In an extremely competitive service landscape, Best-in-Class service firms are turning to schedule, dispatch and mobile solutions to: increase the efficiency of their service organizations, deliver better, faster and more accurate service, and to efficiently contain service-related costs. As such these firms are actively taking steps to map processes related to the lifecycle of incoming service work orders and implement optimization tools to boost performance, as indicated in “a recent report by the Aberdeen Group.

    Aberdeen’s survey of over 160 companies identified the need for improved workforce utilization as a key driver for service and manufacturing firms to consider work order and scheduling optimization tools. In an attempt to improve utilization, leading firms were two times as likely as all others to utilize optimized scheduling tools and nearly three times as likely to provide their field technicians with mobile tools to access work order or customer/asset related information.

    In improving work order management, leading firms were reducing their reliance on paper, developing flexible criteria and rules for their scheduling solutions, and actively leveraging mobile service solutions to provide field workers with adequate access to work order and customer/asset specific information. The study also found increased customer involvement in the service delivery process through access to self-service scenarios or via customer visibility into technician or vehicle location and status.

    As a result leading firms were experiencing:

    -- A 9% decrease in mean time to repair over the last year

    -- A 17% increase in technician productivity over the last year, compared to an 8% increase for all other firms

    -- An 8% improvement in meeting promised service response times over the last year

    -- A 71% level of workforce utilization, compared to a 50% performance for all other firms

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Study Reveals North American Contact Centers Tap Low Efficiency Potential of Their Workforce Management Practices

    The recently published study “Workforce Management Practices in Contact Centers” provided results on numerous topics including Performance Metrics, workforce management resources utilized, investments, processes, tools, and satisfaction with all of the topics for contact centers in North America. The study is sponsored by InVision Software.

    The workforce management processes analyzed in the study comprise forecasting of contact volumes, converting the forecasts to required agents, scheduling of agents, intraday forecasts and schedule adjustment, managing the agents’ schedule change requests, staff planning and budgeting as well as real time adherence monitoring and performance results reporting, and satisfaction with WFM practices and tools. From the data collected in the survey it becomes obvious that although workforce management takes on greater significance in all sized contact centers companies only tap the low efficiency potential of their workforce management tools and techniques.

    The increase of importance of workforce management (WFM) and the related investment in WFM is reflected in the number of dedicated employees being responsible for the many operations within the whole workforce management process. Contact centers with more than 500 agents raised their full time WFM positions from 17 to 24 between 2006 and 2008 which represents an increase of 41 percent. Also medium-sized contact centers have extended their WFM staff in the last two years and even contact centers with less than 100 agents have 2.5 dedicated WFM positions on average. The number of forecasters and intraday managers increased since 2006: In 2008, 69 percent of all respondents included forecasters (2006: 60 percent) and 68 percent included intraday managers (2006: 58 percent) in their WFM staff.

    Focusing on the applied tools and techniques, it is remarkable that adherence monitoring is one of the two main WFM processes that is fulfilled with licensed software by the majority of contact centers. About 90 and more percent of the call centers, except those with less than 100 agents (70 percent), use third party solutions for adherence monitoring. Scheduling is the second operation where licensed solutions are most commonly used. On the other side of the coin, the study reveals that manual approaches and spreadsheets are still very popular among contact center managers. 38 percent use these tools for forecasting, especially in small contact centers (55 percent), and 22 percent use them in terms of performance reporting. It is absolutely worth noting that one third of big call centers also use manual tools or spreadsheets for performance reporting as well as for their forecasts and for converting the forecasts to agents. In total, only 13 percent of all respondents use licensed software solutions for the forecasting.

    More information on the service and support industry can be found at

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    5 strategies for quickly and effectively implementing a virtual support center

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