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