Thursday, February 28, 2008

Communication Breakdown, Long Hold Times Top List of Customer Complaints

In the latest Ouch Point study from Opinion Research Corporation, one in five US respondents (20%) cited hard to understand representatives with thick accents as their biggest frustration in dealing with customer service departments. Running a close second was the length of time it takes to get through to a representative (17%).

A list of top customer service Ouch Points ranked as follows:

  • Reps that are hard to understand because of a thick accent - 20%

  • Length of time to reach a representative - 17%

  • Reps that are not knowledgeable about their organizations products/ services/ process - 14%

  • Being transferred to the wrong person or the wrong department - 13%

  • Reps who promise to follow through and don’t - 9%

  • Reps that are not empowered to handle a situation - 8%

  • Reps who don’t understand your situation - 7%

  • Reps who want to debate your situation - 3%

  • More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Average Spending on SOA Software and Services Reached $1.4 Million in 2007

    Companies adopting service-oriented architecture (SOA) spent $1.4 million on software and services in 2007, according to a report released by AMR Research. Survey respondents represented a cross-section of companies with 500- 10,000+ employees in the process and discrete manufacturing, retail, wholesale/distribution, telecom, and financial services industries. According to the survey, SOA adoption and spending largely varied across vertical industry, location, and size of company.

    Additional highlights of this report include:

  • SOA adoption is broad based and growing rapidly -- China, Germany, and the United States all showed adoption growth rates of over 100%.

  • SOA spending is significant -- 45% of SOA adopters reported spending over $500K on SOA software and services in 2007.
  • More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Research Reveals Most Subscribers Are Satisfied, But Many Will Switch Service Providers for a Better Customer Experience

    The results from the new Experience Matters Index from Amdocs, a study of consumers of wireline, mobile, cable and satellite services, found that most consumers are happy with their providers, but many would switch for a better experience. The results also showed that personalization and mobile advertising are growing factors of importance for consumers.

    The recent study measured the impact of the customer experience on service providers by surveying the attitudes and behaviors of more than 2,000 subscribers of mobile, wireline, cable and satellite services in the United States and the United Kingdom. The findings include:

    --Better Experience Drives Switching: While fewer than one in five subscribers said they are likely to switch providers in the next year (18 percent in the United States and 15 percent in the United Kingdom), interest in switching increases significantly when subscribers are offered a better experience – up to one in three U.S. subscribers (33 percent) and one in four UK subscribers (23 percent).

    --Satisfaction Alone Doesn’t Cut It: While subscribers are generally satisfied, with eight in ten (79 percent) rating their customer experience as positive, subscribers who have switched service providers were almost twice as likely to have switched due to a compelling offer from a competitor than for a problem they had with their existing provider.

    --Best Customers More Likely To Switch: Subscribers buying the most in services and new products were found to be the most likely to be disappointed and more likely to switch to another provider offering better customer experience.

    --Many Would Pay More for Better Experience: Three in ten U.S. subscribers (30 percent) and one in five UK subscribers (22 percent) said they would definitely or probably pay an extra $5 or ₤5 per month for a better experience.

    More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Emerging Regions Will Be a Major Force of IT Growth by 2011

    IT spending continues to rise in the emerging regions of Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and Eastern Europe at a pace far outstripping that of the industrialized world, according to Gartner, Inc. These emerging regions will generate IT spending of $1.1 trillion in 2008, and will grow to $1.3 trillion in 2011, becoming a major force of IT growth worldwide.

    The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for IT spending in emerging regions for 2006 through 2011 will be 8.5 percent versus 4.3 percent for mature markets. Gartner predicts that IT will become more of a catalyst for gross domestic product (GDP) increases in the years to come via more-efficient private organizations and competitiveness among countries.

    Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) will reinforce their role as the driving forces for other emerging IT countries. BRIC will represent about 39 percent of all emerging markets’ GDP in 2011.

    Gartner projects that IT spending for Asia/Pacific will reach $590 billion in 2011, up from $447 billion in 2007. This region continues along its strong IT adoption path, with China leading and India rapidly moving forward. China is substantially driving growth in other emerging IT markets such as Latin America and Africa, via imports and direct and portfolio investments. This creates increased opportunities for IT providers given the needs of local companies immersed in the supply chain with China.

    Latin America
    Latin America IT spending is forecast to reach $279 billion in 2011, up from $210 billion in 2007. Latin America is the second-largest emerging region in IT spending, with rapidly maturing IT segments, such as telecommunications. IT expansion is rapidly moving beyond Tier 1 cities in many Latin American countries, with consumer and professional market segments in high demand of IT products and services.

    Africa and the Middle East
    The forecast for 2011 IT spending in Africa and the Middle East is $259 billion, up from $182 billion in 2007. Africa and the Middle East are strongly advancing in all IT areas and are narrowing the gap in IT spending with Latin America. The large size of the region, with its relatively lower IT penetration and its engagement in major telecommunication deployments, is making a strong IT trend. This region shows a forecast CAGR from 2006 through 2011 of 77 percent, which is the strongest of all the emerging regions.

    Eastern Europe
    IT spending for Eastern Europe is forecast to reach $155 billion in 2011, up from $125 billion in 2007. Eastern Europe's growth and dollar transactions are lower than in other emerging regions, as the region is the lowest in population among the four emerging regions. Russia is the largest IT economy in this region, but shows the lowest real GDP among the largest emerging countries, partially because of existing infrastructure. It faces challenges in modernizing business practices, expanding its small business base and diversifying to beyond oil, gas and minerals, which present large IT opportunities for IT providers.

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

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Leading Service and Support Industry Experts Share Their Expertise on, an online resource dedicated to enabling organizations to deliver world-class customer service and support, has announced the addition of several new articles, authored by leading industry experts, to the web site.

    These content-rich pieces are intended to be another valuable resource for’s members, and can be immediately viewed at A selection of the latest offerings includes the following:

    - How Customer Preconceptions Affect Maintenance Contract Sales by Tom Sweeny, ServiceXRG

    - Calculating Support Center Staff Requirements by Penny Reynolds, Founding Partner, The Call Center School

    - Are You Taking Care of Your Employees? by Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., President of Human Technologies Global, Inc.

    - A "Frank" Conversation by Pete McGarahan, McGarahan & Associates

    - Emergence of Quality Management/Liability Recording Suites for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises by Donna Fluss, founder and President of DMG Consulting LLC

    Check out these great articles today!

    IT Governance Global Status Report—2008

    In 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was commissioned by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) to conduct the third global survey on IT governance, resulting in this IT Governance Global Status Report -- 2008. The IT governance survey was conducted from July 2007 until October 2007 and focuses on specific topics such as IT risks and value delivery. The purpose of the research was to reach members of the C-suite to determine their sense of priority and actions taken relative to IT governance, as well as their need for tools and services to help ensure effective IT governance.

    Key Findings of the Survey

    The 13 key messages that have been identified during the analysis of the survey reflect important findings from the results of the survey:

    1. Although championship for IT governance within the enterprise comes from the C-level, in daily practice IT governance is still very much a CIO/IT director issue. The few non-IT people in the sample have a much more positive view of IT than do the IT professionals themselves.

    2. The importance of IT continues to increase.

    3. Self-assessment regarding IT governance has increased and is quite positive.

    4. Communication between IT and users is improving, but slowly.

    5. There is still substantial room for improvement in alignment between IT governance and corporate governance -- as well as for IT strategy and business strategy.

    6. IT-related problems persist. While security/compliance is an issue, people are the most critical problem.

    7. Good IT governance practices are known and applied, but not universally.

    8. Organizations know who can help them implement IT governance, but appreciation for the available expertise and delivery capability is only average.

    9. Action is being taken or plans are underway to implement IT governance activities. A large increase is evident when compared to the 2006 report.

    10.Organizations use the well-known frameworks and solutions.

    11.COBIT awareness has exceeded 50 percent, and adoption and use remain around 30 percent.

    --a. Twenty-five to 35 percent of respondents apply COBIT to the letter or are very strict.
    --b. Fifty percent of respondents indicate that COBIT is ‘one of the reference sources’.
    --c. In general, there is high appreciation of COBIT, as has been seen in prior reports.

    12.More than half of the respondents apply or plan to apply Val IT principles, but are not familiar with the Val IT brand itself.

    13.Major obstacles to adoption and use of Val IT principles include uncertainty regarding the return on investment (ROI) and lack of knowledge/expertise.

    More information about Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    High-Tech, Computer Firms Ranked on How They Treat Online Customers Looking for Support in Q1 2008

    The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm, has released findings from its First Quarter 2008 Online Customer Respect Study of High-Technology and Computer Industry Online Support. The study evaluated the websites of a representative sample of high-tech companies that supply online support to customers. Using a common set of criteria, it is the only study to bring objective and consistent measure to the analysis of corporate performance from an online customer’s perspective. A directly comparable Customer Respect Index (CRI™) is provided for each company.

    The average CRI score for the industry was 6.3 on a ten-point scale, which represents a slight overall gain since the last report; the increase was mostly concentrated in improvements measured in site simplicity (general usability). The leading company was Hewlett-Packard with an overall CRI ranking of 7.7, followed by Intuit and Xerox with 7.6. The most usable sites were judged to be Sun, Xerox and Microsoft.

    Support sections have become critical in providing cost effective support to customers. All companies have separate support sections structured around the concept of specific product home pages from which information, manuals and drivers can be delivered. Eighty eight percent of support sites provide user manuals in various formats; all sites have product specific FAQs and links to updated drivers.

    Support sites provide a wide array of navigation methods, and site search facilities are especially strong compared to other industries. Sites have been technically well architected, providing better support for various disadvantaged users such as those with poor eyesight. The industry recorded the highest average score for any industry for accessibility.

    High-technology support sites exceed those from other industries in the provision of options for customers to gain information. Two-thirds now have user forums. Most companies are now fully invested in monitoring and updating such forums, preferring this option to allowing unofficial forums to grow in popularity. In most cases, forum contents are incorporated into general search results.

    One-third provide some form of alert through the use of RSS or other mechanisms. Online chat has become common practice in the industry, with more than half providing this facility to customers, compared to 30 percent six months ago. Chat has started to challenge e-mail as the website dialog of preference. With less than 50 percent of email questions answered in a helpful manner within a 24 hour time period, real-time chat might be increasingly demanded by customers. Of special note was the strong performance of Intuit, Microsoft and Symantec in responding to customer questions. Interestingly, Apple provides no chat or email support options and encourages users to contact Apple through stores and by telephone to solve issues. This approach is closer to consumer electronics than the technical self-help nature of comparable sites.

    Content relevancy has become a significant issue for many high-technology companies with the explosive growth in less sophisticated users looking for more basic “how to” information. The technical customer is generally well serviced on sites, but the new or less technical user in general is less supported. Ninety five percent of sites have incorporated feedback options on all advice notes, so this is obviously being monitored as the industry struggles to mature from technical roots to a more consumer electronic base.

    More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Green movement offers significant market opportunities for the technology sector

    As public awareness and support for global environmentalism increases, technology organizations are beginning to implement green initiatives to mitigate their impact on the planet. However, altruism is just one of many motivating factors behind the green movement according to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The strongest driver is economic.

    Forty percent of technology executives claim the green movement creates significant market opportunities for their companies, as evidenced by a noticeable increase in customer demand for green products and services. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents cite energy savings as one of the most important factors in their company’s environmental decision-making process. According to the survey, 61 percent of executives feel it is very important (29 percent) or important (32 percent) that their companies take steps to reduce their environmental impact. This shift towards green products, services and business operations is having a direct impact on the level of collaboration and innovation found throughout the entire technology value-chain, including marketing, HR, R&D processes, manufacturing, and supply chains.

    As organizations continue to evaluate their own business practices, they are paying closer attention to the actions of their partners and suppliers as well. One in five executives (18 percent) claim their companies practice environmentally preferred purchasing, where organizations select products and services that have a lesser effect on the environment than competitive products and services. Within the next two years, this figure will rise to over half (53 percent).

    Technology organizations are also taking steps to safeguard themselves from stringent government legislation and regulations in the future by proactively imposing their own green-oriented controls. Twenty percent of survey respondents say their companies maintain a formal and widely distributed environmental policy. This figure will increase significantly over the next two years, jumping to 48 percent. To further reduce the risk of government regulations, technology companies are implementing a range of other environmental processes such as auditing internal green practices, appointing senior executives to oversee green programs, and creating a clearer linkage between green initiatives and performance.

    A number of technology companies are also issuing Sustainability Reports. Within an organization, these reports can be used to manage operations more efficiently, while minimizing risks. Externally, technology companies can use these reports to highlight their environmental advantage in the marketplace with competitors, regulators and consumers.

    While global organizations across all sectors are striving to become more environmentally responsible, the effects of the green movement on hardware manufacturers compared to software companies varies substantially. The statistics demonstrate greater interest and associated green activity from technology manufacturers relative to service-oriented businesses, such as software providers and content developers. According to the survey, 60 percent of technology manufacturers are developing green products and services, compared to only 33 percent of non-manufacturers.

    Technology manufacturers are taking aggressive steps to expand their portfolio of green products and services by pursuing energy efficiency, implementing designs that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials, using recycled or recyclable materials, building products that last longer, and creating packaging that meets or exceeds global environmental standards. A growing focus on reducing the weight of products and improving their capacity for recycling is also helping manufacturers better address “end of life” issues such as the recovery and disposal of products that have run their course.

    The green movement also presents software and service-oriented technology companies with sizeable growth opportunities. The need for green technology consulting services and software aimed at helping organizations conduct business virtually to reduce travel and thus the carbon footprint will increase substantially in the coming years.

    More information on Customer Service and Support can be found at

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Outsourcing Programs Hampered By Poor Planning and Narrow Focus on Cost Savings

    A new study from Deloitte reports that enterprises entering into outsourcing arrangements are focusing too heavily on reducing costs through labor arbitrage alone, resulting in high levels of disappointment and conflict even though most companies are realizing the cost savings that they had hoped for. The study reported that 83 percent of companies surveyed had achieved an ROI of over 25 percent on their outsourcing projects.

    However, 49 percent of the executives surveyed indicated they would have defined service levels that aligned better with their companies’ business goals if they could start their outsourcing projects over and only 34 percent of respondents reported that they had gained important benefits from their service providers’ innovative ideas or transformation of their operations.

    In addition, by a 3-to-1 margin, the outsourcing service providers polled reported that their client companies did not have a solid outsourcing plan, lacked the operational data needed to make sound decisions and did not understand how the to-be organization would really work. Such contradictory findings could be the result of a failure to properly define the goals of the outsourcing projects as being more than saving money.

    According to Deloitte, while there is no single right way to use outsourcing for each company, companies should examine the following aspects of an outsourcing deal to see if they need to correct their course even in mid-stream:

    --Did you clearly define the strategy? Companies need to ask themselves if they are outsourcing the right things for the right reasons. Transferring a dysfunctional operation to a vendor in hopes of saving costs through economies of scale or arbitrage can be a case of “your mess for less.”

    --Do we have a solid foundation? Companies need to ask if they have defined and quantified what they expect from outsourcing. The creation of a business case and the establishment of effective service level agreements (SLAs) should not be given short shrift; but in practice this is too common.

    --Vendor selection now means something different. Companies need to select the right service provider, one that is capable of delivering strategic process improvements as well as cost reductions. When things do not go well in outsourcing, most companies automatically scrutinize the service provider, but do not recognize that their decision to select a vendor on cost alone may be the actual root cause of their problems.

    --Striking the deal. Companies need to ask if their contracting process is mutual and flexible. Contract negotiation is a pivotal point in the outsourcing process. *After the deal is signed, are you getting what you paid for? It can be tempting to think the signing of the outsourcing contract is the culmination of the outsourcing process. But in reality, effective performance management, especially the insistence that service providers actively search for, develop and implement strategic improvements, is the crowning component of an effective outsourcing initiative.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Ongoing Consolidation Wave in the Enterprise Applications Market Results in Record Performance for the Fourth Year in a Row

    The ongoing consolidation wave in the worldwide enterprise applications market, which has entered its fourth year with a record performance in 2007, could well become a permanent fixture in the high-tech industry, a new report published by IDC predicts. The study also reveals that mergers and acquisitions will continue to represent an indispensable vehicle for vendors and investors to strengthen their businesses and portfolios in the years to come.

    Key findings from IDC's report, Buyout Billboard Reaches a New Milestone with $59B of Deals in Enterprise Applications Market Consolidation 2007, include the following:

    --While there were only a handful of deals in Latin America and Asia in 2004, the number jumped to 14 in 2007. The outlook is rosy given the underlying strengths of the local economies from Brazil, with its abundant natural resources, to China, with its ambitious infrastructure spending. Both forces are expected to further whet the appetite of enterprise applications vendors and investors from abroad eager to expand into the region.

    --In the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, Western vendors are going east in their hunt for quality deals and technology gems as active ingredients to build a genuine pan-European software holding company.

    --Investment funds dedicated to a class of vertical or subvertical enterprise applications will proliferate in order to quickly build and capitalize on a critical mass of customers and recurring revenues.

    --Vertical vendors will start expanding into adjacent or new industries because of the need to diversify their customer portfolios and mitigate risks in anticipation of a deep and intractable recession.

    --Midsized enterprise applications vendors will start positioning themselves more like infrastructure players and vice versa by buying each other out.

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

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Enterprise Software Industry to Grow 8 Percent in 2008 Despite Economic Slowdown

    Despite the current economic downturn, the software industry is poised for growth in 2008, with worldwide enterprise software revenue totaling $190.7 billion in 2008, an 8.2 percent increase from 2007 revenue of $176.3 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. While the software market is forecast to grow, it will face challenges this year.

    The software industry experienced unprecedented growth in the late 1990s, leading to an exaggerated, through short-lived, downturn in 2001. Since many of the factors in place during that period do not exist now, Gartner analysts do not expect an economic slowdown in the U.S. or other markets worldwide to have a strong negative effect on software spending.

    Garter expects the second quarter of 2008 to be the first quarter in which some decline in revenues for software vendors is noticeable. Companies will need some time to get control of IT operations budgets and slow down discretionary budgets. In the short term, only a few types of software spending will be affected which in turn will compress the vendors in the vulnerable markets.

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

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Forrester Revises 2008 Outlook For US And Global IT Purchases

    Based on newly available economic data, Forrester Research, Inc. is revising downward its outlook for US and global IT purchases in 2008. Forrester now projects that US purchases of IT goods and services will grow 2.8 percent, down from its previous forecast of 4.6 percent. Global purchases of IT goods and services will grow 6 percent, down from the previous preliminary forecast of 9 percent, according to a new Forrester report.

    Forrester uses several metrics to determine the health and size of the IT market. The data referred to here (and in the Forrester report) comprises IT purchasing: how much equipment, services and consulting companies and governments are buying from technology vendors. It is one of the most important metrics for evaluating the health of tech vendors. The global market for IT purchases is estimated to be $1.7 trillion in 2008. In 2007, global IT buying grew at 12 percent; US IT purchases expanded 6.2 percent.

    2008 Global IT Spending By Sector

    --Software investment will do better than average. Forrester projects that global purchases of software products will grow by eight percent in 2008, down slightly from 11 percent last year, but still strong.

    --Communications equipment investment will grow below the average. This sector will see 3 percent growth in 2008, down from much stronger growth of 12 percent in 2007.

    --Computer equipment investment will see a similar slowdown in growth. Forrester foresees the growth in purchases of personal computers, servers, storage devices, and peripheral markets shifting down from 12 percent growth in 2007 to 4 percent this year.

    --IT consulting and outsourcing services will expand. While demand for IT consulting and integration services will weaken, demand for IT outsourcing will increase by 9 percent this year.

    2008 Global IT Spending By Region

    --Europe grows slowly but steadily. In Western and Central Europe, growth will be 5 percent in 2008, following 15 percent growth the previous year, which was due largely to the dollar's drop against the Euro. Measured in Euros, 2008 growth will be 3 percent.

    --Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa will see much stronger growth. The total market in this region is about one-sixth the size of the Western and Central European market with just $74 billion in IT purchases of goods and services in 2008. However, in oil and gas producing countries where the economy is stronger — such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Nigeria — IT purchases will grow at 12 percent in 2008, slightly lower than in 2007.

    --Asia Pacific grows strongly in 2008, but not as well as 2007. Overall IT purchases in the Asia Pacific market will grow at 9 percent in 2008 (measured in dollars). That impressive growth rate is actually a slowdown from the 15 percent growth rate in 2007.

    The US share of global IT purchases continues to contract. In 2003, the US market represented 40 percent of the global market for IT goods and services; by 2008, it will shrink to a 33 percent share. Asia Pacific is the largest region for computer equipment; the US and Asia Pacific each have about one-third of the communications equipment market. Only in software does the US market still dominate, with a 44 percent share of the global software market.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    IDC Lowers Forecasts For IT Spending in 2008, Citing Macroeconomic Weakness

    IDC announced that it has lowered its forecasts for IT spending in 2008, due to recent downward revisions to macroeconomic indicators and assumptions. As a result of these changes, IDC now predicts worldwide IT market growth of 5% this year, down from last year's pace of 6%. Global IT spending is now projected to reach $1.38 trillion this year, up from just over $1.3 trillion in 2007. In the United States, growth is expected to weaken to 4% in 2008, compared with 6% in 2007.

    These updated forecasts, published in the IDC Worldwide Black Book, reflect the negative change to economic indicators and projections since the previous quarter. The general reduction in anticipated growth for the U.S. economy has translated into forecast reductions across most IT market sectors. Additionally, historical correlations and recent IT buyer surveys confirm the view that market conditions are likely to weaken in the coming months.

    Highlights of the new IDC Black Book include the following:

    • A 5% decline is expected for the U.S. PC market in 2008, following last year's growth of 2%.
    • Slower growth is now expected for software, services, storage, servers, and network equipment in the United States.
    • IT spending in Western Europe is expected to grow by just 4% this year, down from last year's 5%.
    • Market growth is expected to be just 2% in Japan this year.
    • Slower growth in China compared to last year (12% in 2008 compared to 17% in 2007).
    • India is one of the few markets expected to post an acceleration from 2007 growth.

    Economic indicators are the biggest source of variability within the forecast. Any further weakening of the U.S. economy in the coming weeks, including recessionary conditions, could force IT market growth even lower. On the upside, a quick recovery for the U.S. and global economy may elevate expectations for the second half of this year.

    More information on Service and Support can be found at

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Economic issues are set to drive, rather than inhibit, growth in unified communications

    A new report by market analyst Datamonitor discusses the key trends in the unified communications market in 2008. It reveals that although uptake of such solutions has been relatively slow, environmental, social and economic factors will help drive growth going forwards. The report, “Trends to Watch 2008: Unified Communications”, analyzes five important developments that will be impacting this market over the next twelve months. While concerns over green IT, employee productivity and the economy may inhibit investments in some emerging technologies, Datamonitor believes that these issues will make unified communications a compelling business proposition for enterprises.

    More interest in software as a service as a result of the economic slowdown

    Datamonitor does not expect that there will be dramatic cuts in enterprises’ IT budgets in 2008. However, enterprises are highly likely to rethink their IT strategies after recent financial pressure and uncertainty. Datamonitor Technology Analyst, Aphrodite Brinsmead says “more software solutions will be run as a managed service, particularly for new technologies. The main benefits for enterprises are that payments will be staggered and there will be less pressure on the in-house IT team.” There has been an increase in the number of such solutions with vendors providing hosted IP PBX (telephone switching system within an enterprise that switches calls between voice over Internet Protocol users on local lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines), unified communications and conferencing services.

    Video conferencing can save on travel costs and ease environmental concerns

    The continued media focus on green IT is also likely to affect the unified communications market positively. Vendors will continue to market solutions from this perspective, helping to reduce businesses’ carbon footprints. Video conferencing can be used instead of long-distance travel to meetings; whereas presence and unified messaging can help keep home workers connected, meaning less time is spent commuting. There is now a wide variety of high-end video conferencing solutions, including Telepresence from Cisco and Microsoft’s RoundTable, and these developments mean that there is now a feasible alternative for global business meetings. Considering the current economic climate, enterprises will be encouraged by the cost saving benefits from reduced travel.

    Consumer IT activity is influencing enterprise communications and enterprises are becoming more supportive of flexible working

    Internet-based technologies such as IM, Skype and social networking sites are becoming more widespread in the home. Demand from users will see that these technologies also have a role in the workplace and enterprises need to adapt to keep up with changing consumer trends. Despite initial worries about employee productivity, there are clear business benefits for using these technologies. Integrated contacts, presence and the sharing of information online will be high on enterprises’ IT agendas. The importance of maintaining good customer relations when business growth is struggling is paramount.

    In addition, working patterns are changing and employers are beginning to accommodate flexible working. In order to support home workers, a combination of mobility and unified communications solutions needs to be deployed to allow them to work effectively with colleagues in different locations. Consequently mobility is also likely to play a more vital role in this market.

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

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Key Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2008 and Beyond

    Gartner, Inc. has highlighted 10 key predictions of events and developments that will affect IT and business in 2008 and beyond. The predictions highlight areas where executives and IT professionals need to take action in 2008. The full impact of these trends may not appear this year, but executives need to act now so that they can exploit the trends for their competitive advantage.

    This year's predictions include:

    By 2011, Apple will double its U.S. and Western Europe unit market share in Computers. Apple's gains in computer market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success. Apple is challenging its competitors with software integration that provides ease of use and flexibility; continuous and more frequent innovation in hardware and software; and an ecosystem that focuses on interoperability across multiple devices (such as iPod and iMac cross-selling).

    By 2012, 50 per cent of traveling workers will leave their notebooks at home in favor of other devices. Even though notebooks continue to shrink in size and weight, traveling workers lament the weight and inconvenience of carrying them on their trips. Vendors are developing solutions to address these concerns: new classes of Internet-centric pocketable devices at the sub-$400 level; and server and Web-based applications that can be accessed from anywhere. There is also a new class of applications: portable personality that encapsulates a user's preferred work environment, enabling the user to recreate that environment across multiple locations or systems.

    By 2012, 80 per cent of all commercial software will include elements of open-source technology. Many open-source technologies are mature, stable and well supported. They provide significant opportunities for vendors and users to lower their total cost of ownership and increase returns on investment. Ignoring this will put companies at a serious competitive disadvantage. Embedded open source strategies will become the minimal level of investment that most large software vendors will find necessary to maintain competitive advantages during the next five years.

    By 2012, at least one-third of business application software spending will be as service subscription instead of as product license. With software as service (SaaS), the user organization pays for software services in proportion to use. This is fundamentally different from the fixed-price perpetual license of the traditional on-premises technology. Endorsed and promoted by all leading business applications vendors (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft) and many Web technology leaders (Google, Amazon), the SaaS model of deployment and distribution of software services will enjoy steady growth in mainstream use during the next five years.

    By 2011, early technology adopters will forgo capital expenditures and instead purchase 40 per cent of their IT infrastructure as a service. Increased high-speed bandwidth makes it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites and still receive the same response times. Enterprises believe that as service oriented architecture (SOA) becomes common "cloud computing" will take off, thus untying applications from specific infrastructure. This trend to accepting commodity infrastructure could end the traditional "lock-in" with a single supplier and lower the costs of switching suppliers. It means that IT buyers should strengthen their purchasing and sourcing departments to evaluate offerings. They will have to develop and use new criteria for evaluation and selection and phase out traditional criteria.

    By 2009, more than one third of IT organizations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria for IT-related goods. Initially, the motivation will come from the wish to contain costs. Enterprise data centers are struggling to keep pace with the increasing power requirements of their infrastructures. And there is substantial potential to improve the environmental footprint, throughout the life cycle, of all IT products and services without any significant trade-offs in price or performance. In future, IT organizations will shift their focus from the power efficiency of products to asking service providers about their measures to improve energy efficiency.

    By 2010, 75 per cent of organizations will use full life cycle energy and CO2 footprint as mandatory PC hardware buying criteria. Most technology providers have little or no knowledge of the full life cycle energy and CO2 footprint of their products. Some technology providers have started the process of life cycle assessments, or at least were asking key suppliers about carbon and energy use in 2007 and will continue in 2008. Most others using such information to differentiate their products will start in 2009 and by 2010 enterprises will be able to start using the information as a basis for purchasing decisions. Most others will stat some level of more detailed life cycle assessment in 2008.

    By 2011, suppliers to large global enterprises will need to prove their green credentials via an audited process to retain preferred supplier status. Those organizations with strong brands are helping to forge the first wave of green sourcing policies and initiatives. These policies go well beyond minimizing direct carbon emissions or requiring suppliers to comply with local environmental regulations. For example, Timberland has launched a "Green Index" environmental rating for its shoes and boots. Home Depot is working on evaluation and audit criteria for assessing supplier submissions for its new EcoOptions product line.

    By 2010, end-user preferences will decide as much as half of all software, hardware and services acquisitions made by IT. The rise of the Internet and the ubiquity of the browser interface have made computing approachable and individuals are now making decisions about technology for personal and business use. Because of this, IT organizations are addressing user concerns through planning for a global class of computing that incorporates user decisions in risk analysis and innovation of business strategy.

    Through 2011, the number of 3-D printers in homes and businesses will grow 100-fold over 2006 levels. The technology lets users send a file of a 3-D design to a printer-like device that will carve the design out of a block of resin. A manufacturer can make scale models of new product designs without the expense of model makers. Or consumers can have models of the avatars they use online. Ultimately, manufacturers can consider making some components on demand without having an inventory of replacement parts. Printers priced less than $10,000 have been announced for 2008, opening up the personal and hobbyist markets.

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

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Software & Information Industries Revealed as Increasingly

    A new report from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), entitled “Software & Information: Driving the Global Knowledge Economy,” finds that the software and information (S&I) industries are among the fastest growing and most important for propelling continued economic growth -- both in the U.S. and globally.

    The Report’s key findings reveal that software and information industries:

    * Experience Faster Growth than Overall U.S. Economy. The rate of growth in the S&I industries significantly outpaces that of the U.S. economy as a whole. Recent growth of 10.8 percent compared to 3.2 percent GDP growth helps to sustain the expansion of the overall American economy.

    * Generate Millions of Jobs for Americans. The U.S. software and information industries employ more than 2.7 million Americans, with 17 percent net employment growth between 1997 and 2006.

    * Create High-Wage Jobs. Employees working in the nation’s S&I industries are well-compensated, earning among the highest wages in the country. The annual average wage paid in the S&I industries was $75,400 in 2006, 78 percent higher than the average $42,400 for all private-sector workers.

    * Compete Successfully Around the World. American firms comprising the S&I industries are world leaders, selling products and services in markets around the world with strong sales and revenue growth. S&I direct sales through U.S. affiliates are over $60.4 billion, 13 percent of the total $483 billion for all U.S. companies. Additionally, the S&I contributed another $19 billion in cross-border exports.

    * Propel Global ICT spending. Global ICT spending, a broad basket that includes a measurement of expenditures for software and computer services is greater than $3 trillion and is projected to grow to approximately $4 trillion in 2008.

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