Wednesday, December 30, 2009

US contact centers spend over $12bn each year asking customers to identify themselves

New research by ContactBabel has found that US contact centers spend $12.4bn each year simply making sure that the caller actually is who they say they are.

Research for the report has found that 59% of calls require identity verification, but that only 3% of these are dealt with entirely through automated processes, leaving the rest for contact center agents to ask security questions to callers.

One solution to this wasted time is to implement a voice verification system, which use spoken words to generate a voiceprint. A voiceprint can be compared with a previously enrolled voiceprint to verify a caller’s identity. These systems are not affected by factors such as the caller having a cold, or using different types of phones, or aging.

Identity verification processes are typically based on one or more authentication factors that fall into the following generally-accepted categories:

-- something you know - e.g. password, identity number or memorable information
-- something you are - a biometric such as a finger print, retina pattern or voice print
-- something you have – a tangible object, e.g. a number-generating key fob, or the 3-digit code on some credit cards.

Combining these factors, for example, by asking the caller an answer to their secret question (thus checking the answer, as well as the veracity of the voiceprint) creates a more complex, and potentially more secure two-factor or three-factor authentication process. Increasingly, regulations require two-factor authentication processes. Financial institutions’ can no longer rely simply on passwords to protect web banking services. Voice verification systems are now delivering levels of accuracy and security that have proven robust enough for use by banks and insurers.

More information on the contact center industry can be found at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Survey Shows 62% of CEOs See IT Having a Key Role in Post-Recession Strategy

Sixty-two percent of CEOs recognize that IT-enabled changes will be a key element in their post-recession strategy, while only 13 percent disagree, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. Preliminary results from the survey show 42 percent of business leaders are already focusing more on revenue growth than cost control.

In the third quarter of 2009, Gartner conducted a targeted web-based survey of 190 senior business executives, 81 of whom were CEOs, which probed their views and priorities for 2010 and beyond. It examined companies in the US and UK with annual revenues of more than $1 billion and specifically excluded technology service providers and government.

In 2009, CEOs initially placed cost cutting at the top of their priorities to cope with the sudden and severe recession. In 2010, the focus for 71 percent of business leaders is a return to revenue growth.

Twenty-nine percent of business leaders expect to see a return to revenue growth as their primary focus in 2010. Only 10 percent do not expect revenue growth to be their primary driver until beyond 2011.

Similarly, business leaders’ investment attitude towards IT is reasonably positive. In addition to the 43 percent of respondents who will increase IT investment level, 45 percent will keep the same IT investment level, while only 13 per cent of business leaders will decrease IT investment level.

CEOs and business executives are also changing the order of their priorities in 2010. In particular, they are making customer focus the top priority for 2010, with 85 percent of respondents reporting that retaining and enhancing their existing customer bases will be their top priority next year. Also, attracting and retaining skilled talent rose to the No. 3 priority, while reducing costs has become less important, falling from the No. 1 priority in 2009 to the No. 5 priority for 2010. This latter trend is also reflected in their views on the capabilities that IT can bring to the business. They recognize IT’s contribution to business performance beyond managing costs and that it has a role to play in processes, flexible working, decision making and legal support.

Although business leaders will start to drive through an economic recovery next year, very few anticipate a return to the way things worked in 2007 and certainly do not expect the pace of business to be as rapid. The survey found that CEOs and business executives expect only low business-activity growth in 2010. When asked about their expected changes in core production or service activity volumes in 2010, 20 per cent of respondents expect no change, 49 percent expect an increase, but 31 percent expect a decrease. Of those who do expect volume growth, 50 percent predict it will be less than 5 per cent and more than three quarters foresee it will be below 10 percent.

More information on the IT industry can be found at

Monday, December 14, 2009

Are employees twittering the day away?

Whether they’re shooting off their own “tweets” or following others, workers using Twitter—the fastest-growing social networking site—are creating liability and PR risks with their 140-character rants, raves and company gossip, according to Business Management Daily.

Example 1: A PR exec landed in Memphis and promptly posted on his Twitter account, “I would die if I had to live here.” The problem: Memphis is home to FedEx, one of the PR firm’s largest clients. FedEx reps were not amused.

Example 2: A 22-year-old applicant who was offered a job with Cisco sent a “tweet” saying, “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Needless to say, the woman Twittered her way out of the job.

Advice: Draft a brief policy on your organization’s expectations for employees' use of Twitter and other social networking sites (plus video). It could serve as a complement to your e-mail or e-communication policies.

As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out, “If your company ignores the impact of Twitter, the company’s silence might cause confusion.”

Here are some suggestions from SHRM for your Twitter policy:

--The personal use of Twitter or other social networking sites must not interfere with work time.

-- Employees must get supervisor approval to use the company’s electronic resources to send “tweets” or other public messages.

-- Any use of the organization’s name, trademarks, logos or other intellectual property must be approved.

-- If employees make personal comments about any aspect of the organization’s business, their profiles must carry a disclaimer that the views expressed are their own and not necessarily that of the organization.

-- Tweets, blogs or other messages should not disclose any confidential or proprietary company information.

Remind employees that they can be disciplined or terminated for making online disparaging remarks about the company—even if they’re made on their own time from their own computers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Employers Increasing Use of Social Media to Reach Employees in Challenging Times

In order to communicate messages to workers in a complex business environment, a majority of companies plan to increase their use of social media in the coming year, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting firm.

Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of companies plan to increase their use of social media in 2010, according to the Watson Wyatt 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study, which surveyed 328 companies from various regions around the world. Overall, 78 percent of global respondents have increased their electronic communication in the last 24 months, and 55 percent have increased face-to-face communication. However, nearly half (48 percent) have decreased their print communication over the past 24 months.

While interest is growing, many employers report common hurdles to implementing social media. Among employers that did not expand their use of social media, more than one-third (36 percent) cited the lack of information technology support or inadequate technical capability. Forty percent indicate limited knowledge of the topic, and nearly half (45 percent) of companies cite the lack of staff or resources.

For now, the traditional communication channels remain the most popular for many of employers’ messages to their workers. According to the report, most employers prefer to communicate changes to business performance via staff meetings (73 percent). Employers view financial education as best delivered through their intranet (43 percent). And employers still prefer communicating changes to pay and job security face-to-face (58 percent and 48 percent respectively).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amid the Downturn, Firms Look to Information Technology to Restore Strength

A majority (72 percent) of business and information technology (IT) executives say their organizations place greater value on the IT function today than they did before the economic crisis. What's more, they view IT as an important part of their economic recovery efforts, according to the findings of a global study released by Accenture and produced in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Consequently, executives expect technology spending to increase in their organization either selectively (47 percent) or across the board (10 percent) in the next 12 months. Further, and perhaps surprisingly, non-IT executives appear even more bullish than those directly responsible for IT, as 61 percent anticipate technology spending boosts.

Confidence appears to be highest in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where 63 percent of respondents overall expect increased investment, with nearly as much momentum shown in the United States, Spain and Italy. The survey was conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

The need to invest in technology notwithstanding, the study also shows that companies will keep a close eye on the returns delivered by IT. Accordingly, the vast majority (81 percent) of executives across all geographies say they are under increased pressure to deliver projects that incorporate more flexibility than was previously required. In the United States, 87 percent of respondents agree with this statement, while in Europe this pressure is felt most acutely in France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

The survey of more than 550 executives highlights that cost savings and control remain a key driver when it comes to IT investment decisions. The respondents identified three measures as most effective in reducing the cost of implementing IT projects: Ensuring the stability and business relevance of project requirements; the replacement or rationalization of existing systems; and movement to open platforms.

In terms of specific areas of investment, IT leaders have a much clearer idea than their business counterparts with regard to priorities for new projects over the next year. By far the most pressing priorities of IT chiefs are for server virtualization and consolidation (44 percent), whereas business managers in general rank virtualization as important as customer relationships and service. While acknowledging the importance of customer relationships and service, IT chiefs are also expecting significant funding for e-business (32 percent) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects (31 percent).

Technology performance metrics and clearer definition of risks are also taking on greater importance. Over three-quarters of executives at global firms now use either financial, productivity or progress metrics to measure the performance and benefits of their technology investments. Additionally, 27 percent of IT executives now use a specific methodology or governance framework to assess the business impact of their IT investments. However, in around half of cases of those surveyed, metrics are still only partly implemented. In about one-third of the firms surveyed, metrics are still not being used at all.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IT Organizations Finding More Green in Their Wallets

New research from IDC finds that IT organizations are recognizing increased benefits -- more than originally thought -- from implementing green initiatives and buying intelligently. Applying metrics to how the environment is reshaping the IT lifecycle, including asset disposal and recovery and recycling, IT organizations are generating substantial return on investment (ROI), in addition to lowered risk and liability, increased data security, and environmental stewardship, from "green" activities.

IDC's recent U.S. Green IT survey found the cost of energy to be the overwhelming reason impacting a company's adoption of Green IT. Beyond energy savings, IDC's IT Advisory Tools team was able to validate the benefits associated with the adoption of a Green IT strategy. The team found that distinct IT lifecycle elements, when made greener, become much less costly and more efficient for the organization, thus improving an organization's ability to sustain long-term pricing and value on their deals.

More information on the IT industry can be found at

Monday, November 30, 2009

Despite Difficult Economic Backdrop the IT Support Industry Working Hard to Maintain its Commitment to Service and Support

HDI, a membership association for help desk and IT service and support professionals, announced the 2009 Annual Practices & Salary Report, a comprehensive study that presents an overall look at the state of the IT support industry. The report shows that the technical support industry is working hard to maintain its commitment to the service and support of end-users and customers, despite the difficult economic backdrop.

Report highlights include:

--Even though support centers in general do not appear to be supporting more customers, the large majority of support centers continue to see an increase in their number of incidents. The leading contributor to increased incidents, once again, is attributed to changes in infrastructure and/or products.

--Self-help tools are the primary implementation initiative for 13 percent of support centers. This is up from 10 percent in 2008.

--The telephone continues to be the leading communication channel for incident management, followed by email. One-third of support centers respond to email incidents between 15 minutes and one hour and over one-third respond between one and four hours. Additionally, 70 percent of incidents are resolved with two or less email exchanges and fewer e-mail incidents are being converted to phone support than in 2008.

--The number of support centers whose employees are receiving bonuses is down five percent. Still, there are 19 percent of support centers whose management receives bonuses and 45 percent whose management and staff receive bonuses.

--Fewer support centers are outsourcing services in all areas except for one, hardware support and repair. The top reasons support centers are not outsourcing more are due to concerns about control of service, service quality, customer acceptance and then cost.

--Support managers foresee both hiring freezes and salary freezes in their support organizations. This is up 21.4 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively from 2008.

--Although the primary training focus for new hires is product knowledge, customer service remains the number one area that support staffs are being trained in overall. The Computer industry is currently providing the most training for its IT support staffs while Manufacturing and Retail provide very little.

--Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) seems to be particularly popular in Australia as well as large support centers and with those who provide internal support. Forty-three percent of support organizations are currently using or implementing ITIL and 21 percent are planning to implement some part of it.

--Sixty-five percent of support centers said that there is no direct charge to their customer for support services. This is up 5 percent from 2008.

--Sixty-three percent of support centers currently use Knowledge Management Software, while 20 percent are planning to add it. In addition, over 13 percent of support centers are calling it their primary initiative for tool implementation.

--While many support centers are embracing collaborative tools such as Share Point (30 percent) and Wikis (17.4 percent), they do not widely use social networking tools such as blogs, Linked IN, Twitter, Face Book, or My Space to provide support.

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

IT spending to recover in 2010

Goldman Sachs' latest IT spending survey is out and it looks a tech-spending recovery is on the way for 2010. To a large extent, the data suggests not so much that spending is dramatically higher, but that it has normalized at pre-recessionary growth rates, rather than contracting as it has over the past several months.

Goldman is cautiously optimistic about 2010 spending, noting that much of it depends on the macro-economic environment driving more business spending. And while most areas will see growth counter to 2009's downward spiral, some areas such as off-shore development will feel significant retraction.

Regardless, the sentiments are positive and dramatically different than Goldman's report from November 2008 where IT spending was in a total death spiral. What a difference a year makes.

A few key points from the report:

-- With recessionary buying cycle clearly through the trough, the remaining question centers on the pace of recovery for 2010.

-- Infrastructure, application development, and systems integration remain top spending areas, especially as CIOs start to consider newer technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing.

-- There is pent-up demand in hardware most notable, positive for storage and server/PC refresh.

-- The appetite for offshore services appears to be below trend at current levels.

-- HP, NetApp, CommVault, Red Hat, Riverbed, and are notable names showing positive upward momentum in our latest survey.

More information on the IT industry can be found at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Speech Analytics Market Continues to Grow

DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics market research and consulting services, has published the 2009 - 2010 Speech Analytics Market Report.

Speech analytics has been one of the fastest growing contact center technology sectors since its introduction in 2004. DMG's research shows that the market grew from 25 commercial speech analytics implementations in 2004 to 1,764 at the end of 2008, yielding a five-year compounded annual growth rate of 190 percent. Speech analytics continues to grow at a rapid rate, despite the global recession, due to its ability to help enterprises provide an outstanding customer experience, cut costs, retain customers and minimize risk. DMG Consulting predicts that this market will continue to grow year-over-year - 45 percent in 2009, 40 percent in 2010, 42 percent in 2011, 32 percent in 2012, and 25 percent in 2013.

More information on the contact center industry can be found at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Richest CIOs: CIO Magazine's Annual List of Top Earners

Which CIOs are earning the most? What does a top CIO's total compensation look like? The chart in this article details 2008 earnings for the top money-makers at public companies. Methodology note: This list is based on publicly-filed SEC documents. It represents only CIOs from public companies among the Fortune 1000, where the CIO is one of the company's 5 highest-paid officers. The total compensation figure combines value of stock and options awards, incentive payouts, perks, pension contributions and other compensation.
Read the full article by clicking here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leading Service Firms Achieve High Profit Margins and Enrich the Customer Experience

The latest research report published by the Aberdeen Group found that top performing organizations are turning to multiple service delivery channels to meet the needs of their customers. By managing service as a strategic profit center, forward-thinking companies have rejected the traditional approach in favor of a more integrated approach that includes managing resources (people, parts, vehicles), partners (internal, external), contracts and customers with a razor-sharp focus that aligns directly to corporate goals and objectives. Organizations that have successfully employed a strategic service management approach are able to deliver on the four key precepts of a strategic business unit: customer value, competitive differentiation, financial performance, and product quality.

Research findings in The State of Service Management report indicate that top performing companies are twice as likely as all other organizations to systematically share customer and product information with all relevant internal and external partners. As such, these firms exhibited the following:

• 95% customer satisfaction rate

• 93% customer retention rate

• 34% annual service profit margin

• 25% workforce productivity increase (i.e., number of service calls completed daily) over the past 12 months

The report also finds that leading service organizations are considerably more likely to use an appointment management solution to equip their teams and customers. In addition, leading firms are more likely than others to place a significant focus on business intelligence and analytics in order to better align service-related KPIs with business goals.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enterprise Spending Plans For IT Services Are Mixed

Responding to a still sluggish economy, IT executives in North America and Europe are taking a variety of measures to get more value for the money spent on IT services, according to the latest Enterprise IT Services Survey by Forrester Research, Inc. According to the survey results, IT contractors and consultants will see the deepest decreases in spending, while systems integration and outsourcing services will have the most increases.

Unlike during the last recession from 2001 to 2002, when outsourcing and offshoring experienced growth from firms seeking to reduce internal IT costs, the picture for IT services is much more mixed in terms of spending plans. When asked about changes they expect to see in their organization's total spending on IT services, 30 percent of executives surveyed said they plan to increase spending on systems integration and project work, 26 percent plan increases in applications outsourcing, and 25 percent expect to increase spending on infrastructure outsourcing. However, 41 percent of executives expect to reduce spending on contractors, and 34 percent foresee lower spending on IT consulting.

Other key highlights of the survey include:

-- Infrastructure outsourcing priorities. When asked what infrastructure services their firm is currently outsourcing or plans to outsource to a third-party company in the next 12 months, survey respondents placed convergent telecommunication/network management services and data center management services at the top of the list.

-- Application outsourcing priorities. Managed hosting services lead the list of application outsourcing priorities, with 44 percent of respondents currently outsourcing and six percent planning to use managed hosting services in the next 12 months. In addition, the outsourcing of packaged applications maintenance and support services increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009, and another seven percent of respondents are planning to do so in the next 12 months.

-- Systems integration priorities. Integration work installing or upgrading packaged applications remains a top activity, with 42 percent of respondents saying they already have a project under way or will hire a consultant for this in the next 12 months. Custom application design and development follows, with 38 percent of firms doing a project or hiring a consultant to do so in the next 12 months.

-- IT consulting priorities. Forty-three percent of respondents have a security assessment project either already under way or one that will commence in the next year. Infrastructure virtualization and automation programs follow, with 32 percent of respondents hiring a consultant in the next 12 months or already having a project under way.

More information on the IT industry can be found at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Number of Companies Planning to Reverse Salary, Hiring Freezes Jumps Sharply

Approximately half of the companies that froze salaries and hiring in the past year now plan to unfreeze them in the next six months, according to the latest update to an ongoing series of surveys by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting firm. Nevertheless, employers remain concerned about their ability, both currently and in the long run, to attract and retain critical-skill employees. Other findings from the survey include:

  • Thirty-seven percent of companies think their results have already bottomed out, compared to 27 percent in August.

  • For companies expecting to reinstate their 401(k) or 403(b) match, 70 percent will change it back to the original level. Thirteen percent will reinstate the match at a new, lower level, while 17 percent will vary it by year, based on company profits.

  • For companies expecting to make offers to new hires, 83 percent will do so for professional, non-managerial staff, followed by 71 percent for director, manager or middle management positions. Only 47 percent will be hiring for senior management or executive level positions.

  • Only 37 percent of employers plan to organize a holiday party in 2009, compared with 47 percent that organized one in 2008 and 70 percent in 2007. Two in five (41 percent) that are planning a holiday party have seen their budgets decrease.
  • Thursday, November 5, 2009

    CFOs to CIOs: Get Real

    It's a Catch-22 typical of the conflicts businesses have faced amid the recession. They're looking to information-technology departments for efficiency and productivity, to be sure. But their retrenched budgets may strain their ability to make the full investment needed to meet those goals. In that environment, the divergent agendas of CFOs and chief information officers may contrast even more than usual. Finance chiefs, for instance, want to avoid major risks and know exactly what IT projects will cost, while CIOs are likely to push ambitious ideas they believe could transform the company.

    Read the full article.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    2009 Agent Performance Management Findings Revealed

    VPI, a global provider of interaction recording and analytics and workforce optimization solutions, announced the availability of the findings from the 2009 Agent Performance Management (APM) benchmark research on contact centers. Conducted by Ventana Research, the findings include analyses of processes deployed and technologies used to make the agent workforce more effective, as well as the information and metrics used to monitor and assess agent performance.

    Key recommendations include:

    -- Improve customer interaction-handling by thinking more strategically. Focus on automating the agent quality monitoring process, using analytics tools to improve the agent assessment process, and utilizing more outcome-focused key performance metrics.

    -- Make better use of available technology and applications. Follow the example of innovative companies and deploy unified communications, smarter call routing to best-skilled and highest-performing agents, call audio and desktop screen recording and analytics, agent coaching, and the latest contact center-specific performance management tools.

    -- Reassess key performance metrics. Explore supplementing basic measures such as number of calls handled, average length of calls and percent of calls placed on hold with more outcome- and business-related measures.

    More information on the contact center market can be found at

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Gartner Says 80% of Enterprise Collaboration Platforms Will Primarily Be Based on Web 2.0 Techniques by 2013

    While retaining secondary support for documents, 80% of enterprise collaboration platforms will primarily be based on browser-based Web 2.0 techniques by 2013, according to Gartner, Inc. As wiki-like collaboration techniques mature and gain more acceptance, Web 2.0 approaches will become increasingly influential.

    Gartner expects that managing users’ transition from a file-orientation to Web 2.0 approach will be a major challenge for organizations.

    Typically users fall into two camps: those who prefer to collaborate around files and documents, and those who prefer to interact with content and other people directly on Web sites. The differences between these two working styles goes much deeper than mere user preference or alternative ways of getting things done as the "mind-set" of working with files affects how people work, attitudes toward security and the impact of governance.

    While document-oriented platforms are well established, familiar and more productive for some tasks, the trend is clearly toward more Web 2.0-type tools. However, Gartner maintained that Web 2.0 will not take over completely because there are situations where working with documents is more appropriate than the wiki style. Tasks that require sequential approval workflows or where the final product will be a file are often easier to get done in a document repository with check-in/out facilities than in a free-form wiki.

    Furthermore, some collaboration products show a hybrid of Web 2.0 and file orientation, while several browser-based office automation products allow working with files. For example, Google Apps, Adobe buzzword and Zoho are firmly in the Web 2.0 camp, but also work with files, either by downloading versions to work with offline or by organizing content online using file-like user interface metaphors.

    Gartner has the following best practice recommendations for managing the transition between the two working styles:

    * Don’t force the issue, if users prefer a particular model, tread carefully when introducing a new one.

    * Explain the business reasons for the choices made. If necessary, consider offering alternatives for particular situations where the lack of user acceptance will endanger the success of the project.

    * Recognize what each model is good for and adopt accordingly.

    * Don’t blindly assume that one or the other will fit every situation.

    * Examine the hybrid models some products support.

    * Most products are not wholly file-oriented or entirely Web 2.0. Make sure that users know about the features they will find attractive or useful.

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

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Study Reveals Empowered Consumers Have Sky-High Expectations When it Comes to Customer Experience

    The fourth annual Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report, a Harris Interactive study sponsored by RightNow, found that consumer expectations are high and delivering great customer experiences is critical. In fact, 86 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with an organization after a bad customer experience, up 27 percent from four years ago.

    The 2009 CEI report also showed that if consumer’s expectations aren’t met, they have multiple avenues to express their dissatisfaction and with social tools at their disposal, the repercussions of this can be enormous:

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

    -- Many consumers that had a bad experience shared their experience online by posting a negative customer review on the company’s website (23%), Facebook (7%), or a blog (6%).

    In addition, the 2009 CEI report identified several opportunities for consumer focused organizations to engage with customers, deliver better experiences and drive revenue:

    -- Consumers that are online want an interactive website experience that allows them to quickly and easily find the information they need; 62 percent of consumers go to a company website to find information if they are having a problem.

    -- If consumers can’t find what they need online, they want the option to engage with a live person; 73 percent of consumers prefer to speak directly to a live customer service agent.

    -- Organizations can even tap into the power of the social web to ensure superior customer experiences. For example, online consumers are looking for service and support on Twitter. 58 percent said if they had complained about a bad experience with a company on a social networking site, such as Twitter, they would like the company to reach out directly and respond to their comment.

    More information on service and support can be found at

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    IT Employee Confidence Index Up in Third Quarter of 2009

    The IT Employee Confidence Index increased 4.4 points to 50.2 in the third quarter of 2009, according to a recent survey commissioned by Technisource, the technology placement division of Spherion Corporation. The survey reveals increased confidence among IT workers, as more technology professionals reveal confidence in the economy and job market. Additionally, 40 percent of workers are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months (compared to 37 percent in the second quarter of 2009).

    Results from the IT Employment Report:

    -- Despite nearly one-third of technology workers (31 percent) believing the economy is getting weaker (compared to 48 percent in the second quarter of 2009), more workers are likely to search for a new job in the next year (40 percent versus 37 percent in the second quarter).

    -- Fewer IT workers are confident in the future of their current employers. Specifically, 57 percent say they are confident versus 64 percent in the previous quarter.

    -- Sixty-three percent of workers believe there are fewer jobs available opposed to 73 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Survey Reveals Two-Thirds Of Online Consumers Want Live Voice Help And Live Text Chat

    ATG (Art Technology Group, Inc.), a provider of commerce solutions, announced the results of a consumer survey that explores shoppers' perceptions of - and preferences for - live help options such as click to call and click to chat when browsing and buying products or services online.

    The most striking data from the survey found that 67 percent of consumers value the option of having both a live text chat and a live voice conversation to get the help they need when making online purchases. The survey also found that live help availability on Web sites is not meeting the demand that exists among consumers -- only 21 percent and 37 percent of respondents have tried click to call and click to chat respectively, despite indicating a clear preference for live help versus other online service options, such as email inquiries.

    Several other key conclusions of the survey of over 1,000 Internet users found:

    -- Online consumers rated the availability of live help as the third most important of seven core Web site features

    -- 70 percent of consumers rated click to call – defined as a direct connection with a live voice agent without having to go through an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) – as "extremely useful" or "very useful"

    -- Certain factors such as higher-priced products or services, complexity of questions, errors in the transaction process, and sensitivity of information were identified as main determinants for consumers choosing live call over live chat

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

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Next Gen to Meet New Normal in the Post-Recession Economy

    The global economic retrenchment over the past 18 months has been accompanied by an unprecedented contraction in the availability of capital. Faced with limited capital to fuel business operations and fund business investments, business and IT leaders have slashed expenses and limited capital purchases. With the economy now poised to begin a very modest, multiyear recovery, IDC expects these "new normal" economic operating practices will continue to shape key decisions about IT operations and investments for years to come.

    At the same time as these "new normal" economic operating practices are taking hold, the IT technology and platforms seem poised for a period of significant change. After an extended period of perfecting and refining the systems, architectures, and technologies that were on the table at the end of the last recession, IDC expects the next few years will see considerable IT platform change as companies are drawn toward the benefits of next-generation datacenters, new software offerings, and off-premise computing options.

    As the potential of "next generation" IT comes up against "new normal" spending practices, IDC believes five management practices will emerge at the core of IT organization initiatives.

    * Cost and Funding Management: IT organizations will increasingly be forced to develop cost profiles, including the business value of solutions, to support investment decisions. This will not be an easy or pleasant task, and has been a requirement that has dogged IT organizations for years.

    * Sourcing and Platform Strategies: As new options become available to achieve an IT or business objective, IT organizations will have more options to experiment, innovate, and change but will also have to justify their choices more conclusively.

    * Equipment Leasing and Software Financing: Commercial organizations will return to IT leasing and financing as a means of bolstering their access to IT resources.

    * Life Cycle Management: IT organizations have already extended the planned deployment of many major systems, but they still need to develop the tools and management processes to quantify the underlying cost implications of these longer asset lifecycle models.

    * IT Financial Management Tools: As IT platforms and business processes increasingly move toward a mix of in-house and third-party provisioning, the need for IT financial management software, tools, and best practices to better enable IT organization operational decision-making will become apparent.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    IT Spending to Rebound in 2010 with 3.3 Percent Growth After Worst Year Ever in 2009

    The IT industry is exiting its worst year ever, as worldwide IT spending is on pace to decline 5.2 percent, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide enterprise IT spending will struggle more with IT spending dropping 6.9 percent. The IT industry will return to growth with 2010 IT spending forecast to total $3.3 trillion, a 3.3 percent increase from 2009.

    The computing hardware market has struggled more than other segments with worldwide hardware spending forecast to total $317 billion in 2009, a 16.5 percent decline. In 2010, spending on hardware spending will be flat. Worldwide telecom spending is on pace to decline 4 percent in 2009 with revenue of nearly $1.9 trillion. In 2010, telecom spending is forecast to grow 3.2 percent. Worldwide IT services spending is expected to total $781 billion in 2009, and it is forecast to grow 4.5 percent in 2010. Worldwide software spending is forecast to decline 2.1 percent in 2009, and the segment is projected to grow 4.8 percent in 2010.

    From a budget perspective, there are three important items that IT leaders must consider in 2010:

    * A Shift from Capital Expenditure to Operational Expenditure in the IT Budget — Concepts such as cloud services will accelerate this shift. IT costs become scalable and elastic. CIOs need to model the economic impact of IT on the overall financial performance of an organization. For public companies, they must show how IT improves earnings per share (EPS).

    * Impact of the Increased Age of IT Hardware — With delayed purchases of servers, PCs and printers likely to continue into 2010, organizations must start to assess the impact of increased equipment failure rates, and if current financial write-off periods are still appropriate. Approximately 1 million servers have had their replacement delayed by a year. That is 3 percent of the global installed base. In 2010, it will be at least 2 million.

    * IT Must Learn to Build Compelling Business Cases — 2010 marks the year in which IT needs to demonstrate true line of sight to business objectives for every investment decision. IT leaders can no longer look at IT as a percentage of revenue. CIOs must benchmark IT according to business impact.

    Gartner said three additional topics that were important in 2009 will continue to dominate IT leaders’ agendas in 2010. These three topics include

    * Business Intelligence -- Users will continue to expand their investments in this area with the focus moving from “in here” to “out there”.

    * Virtualization -- IT leaders should not just invest in the server and data center environment, but in the entire infrastructure. In 2010, users will create the cornerstone for the cloud infrastructure. They will enable the infrastructure to move from owned to shared.

    * Social Media -- Organizations are starting to scale their efforts in this space. The technologies are improving and organizations realize this is not only about digital natives. It’s about all client segments including the most significant: the population in the next 10 years, the above 60 year old generations.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Five Issues Enterprises Should Examine With Upcoming Launch of Windows 7

    The move to Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS), Windows 7, is all but inevitable for most organizations, and Gartner, Inc. has highlighted five key issues enterprises should examine as this new OS hits the market.

    Five issues that enterprises should examine before they move to Windows 7 include:

    Plan to be Off Windows XP by Year-End 2012 — Microsoft will support Windows XP with security fixes into April of 2014, but past experience has shown that independent software vendors (ISVs) will stop testing much earlier.

    Start Working on Migration Projects Now — The typical organization requires 12 to 18 months waiting, testing, and planning before it can start deploying a new client OS. There is a lot of work to be done in preparation, and delays in getting started will only result in added costs later.

    Don’t Wait for Windows 7 SP1 to Begin Testing and Deployment — Many organizations say they plan to wait until SP1 ships to begin testing and deploying a new client OS. Gartner analysts suggest starting work now (especially if companies have skipped Windows Vista), but are planning to switch to SP1 before their actual rollout.

    Don’t Skip Windows 7 — Gartner categorizes Windows 7 as a “polishing” release on top of the architectural change that the Windows Vista “plumbing” release delivered. Gartner analysts said polishing releases should never be skipped.

    Budget Carefully — Migration Costs to Vary Significantly Gartner’s model shows that migration costs could be $1,035 to $1,930 per user to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, and $339 to $510 per user to move from Windows Vista to Windows 7 depending on an organization’s approach.

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

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Report Reveals Five Golden Opportunities to Optimize IT Budgets

    Informatica Corporation announced the availability of a new report by Ventana Research outlining five key opportunities for IT organizations to significantly reduce their "Keep The Lights On" budget through efficient data management and thus free up funds for more strategic IT activities.

    According to the Ventana Research report, it is essential for IT organizations to go beyond just assessing systems for potential savings through consolidation and other measures. IT must also start assessing existing data-related processes for optimization as their streamlining can deliver equally valuable savings and reduce the KTLO budget even faster. The report advocates focusing on the following five opportunities in this arena for the greatest and most rapid impact.

    1. Reduce Costs with Data Archiving across Systems - With proper archiving required for compliance and the operations and sustained performance of many applications, Ventana Research recommends making "data archiving an essential IT activity that is automated using data integration technologies." This enables archiving processes to be consistent across systems and applications, avoiding the costs of maintaining specialized archiving processes and custom interfaces for each application..

    2. Automate Data and Application Interfaces to Streamline IT - According to the report, ensuring readily available, consistent and high quality data is the crux of information management. At a time where data must be easily accessible across many systems and business process, many organizations are hampered by a proliferation of point-to-point, custom data integration interfaces and siloed data quality processes, leading to runaway development and maintenance costs and suboptimal business intelligence. Ventana Research believes that "utilizing a common process and technology can ensure that the business's data quality and integration needs are met efficiently and can reduce IT operating costs."

    3. Retire Outdated Applications with Information Lifecycle Management - While there might be sound reasons to retire an aging application, too often they are kept on life-support because of the importance of the data. This approach that can cost millions of dollars a year per large application. In contrast, an Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) approach ensures that data from retired systems is processed, archived and kept accessible as needed to other applications and users. Ventana Research believes that "IT should adopt application-focused information lifecycle management to provide significant cost reduction and new efficiencies in IT operations."

    4. Find Value and Integrate Legacy Systems Efficiently - According to the report, "in most sizeable organizations, systems more than 10 years old" drive more than one-third of underlying business processes. The costs of maintaining point-to-point system interconnects across these processes are enormous. Using as a model an organization supporting six legacy systems, each with a dedicated resource person, Ventana Research posits that "by standardizing data integration across legacy systems, the organization can reduce the headcount of technicians to two in the first year and to one individual the following year, saving $800,000 in year one and $1 million in year two."

    5. Simplify IT and Reduce Coding through Data Integration - Organizations frequently deploy custom-coded or proprietary routines to replicate and synchronize data across systems, and they support these costly routines with largely manual processes. Suggesting that many of these tasks can be automated and managed from one tool, Ventana Research believes that "establishing a common method to integrate data across enterprise applications can reduce the operating costs of these systems while eliminating the need for dedicated resources that specialize in supporting data integration for each application, database and custom program.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    CEOs Report Competitive Environments Pose Largest External Challenge to Growth

    Frost & Sullivan announced the results of its third annual CEO Survey, an evaluation of the thoughts and strategies of global industry leaders. Consistent with last year's results, CEOs continue to report that growth is their top objective (60% of respondents). Vision strategy and innovation round out the top three growth objectives; conversely, employee satisfaction and shareholder satisfaction are the lowest growth objectives rated.

    CEOs have varied ideas on how to achieve this coveted growth. The largest proportion of CEOs (45%) report the number one projected growth strategy is increasing sales. Rounding out the top three projected strategies are strategic partnering (40%) and product development (34%).

    Additionally, customer strategies and geographic expansion have also been utilized by nearly one third of CEOs (both 29%). For its second consecutive year, the least successful growth strategy appears to be growth outsourcing (5%).

    However, CEOs realize the need for a competent, experienced management team in place to carry out growth strategies. In the survey, slightly more CEOs report having a dedicated team for growth strategy compared to last year's results (up 2 percentage points to 40%).

    Economic downturns or a slowing economy often provide the most punishing environments in which to pursue growth strategies. Likely due to the economic recession, Frost & Sullivan finds that CEOs appear to be less confident in their organizations' ability to conduct core growth strategies. The largest decline was noted in launching new products (31%), down 22 points from 2008.

    As a final point, given this year's economic climate, the most prominent external challenge to CEOs is the economic recession (65%), up 17 percentage points from 2008. All other external challenges appear to have become afterthoughts – becoming less important in just a short period of time.

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

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Requesting Funding in Tough Economic Times

    In these tough economic times how can CIOs get the budget necessary to support key initiatives and application plans. The following steps from Janco & Associates are how to approach a presentation seeking to gain management support for the required funding.

    Define the scope, objectives, and requirement - It is not enough to have an objective of getting more funding or gaining executive support. Define exactly how much funding is needed, or exactly what form the executive support should take.

    Verify expectations - Define what management's expectations for the meeting are.

    Focus on immediate term business impact - It makes more sense to get the commitment for resources to achieve a preliminary objective than to demand the resources for an entire new program and get nothing.

    Anticipate objections - Realize that the number one objection is the cost, and prepare accordingly. Let the results of the business impact analysis (BIA) justify the "investment" (not "cost").

    Prepare a competitive analysis - Executives care what their competition is doing. Annual benchmark studies and surveys are good sources of information on the investments in IT being made by industry, by size of organization, etc.

    Prepare examples of what has happened to others - Remind the executives of the regulations that affect their business, and the impact of not achieving them.

    Define the Risk/Reward - Research and develop the request's return on investment.

    Get buy-in for key decision makers before you meet to ask for a decision - The effort will have greater success if key decision makers and other departments within the organization support the program. The power of a presentation supported by key executives, marketing, IT security, physical security, human resources, facilities, and risk management is highly significant.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    IT Executives/Network Administrators Often Feel Outsourcing Tech Jobs Offshore Has a Negative Impact on Network Security

    In an intriguing juxtaposition of perception and reality, findings from a new survey suggest that America's enterprise network administrators/IT executives have extra reason for concern about network security when outsourcing technology jobs offshore.

    According to the fifth annual VanDyke Software-commissioned survey of 350 network administrators and IT executives executed by independent research firm Amplitude Research on topics related to IT security, in general, more than two-thirds (69%) felt outsourcing tech jobs offshore had a negative impact on network security, while only 9% felt it had a positive impact, and 22% felt it had no impact.

    29% of the 350 survey respondents reported that their organization outsources technology jobs to an offshore location such as India, China, or another foreign country. Half of these enterprises that outsource feel outsourcing has a negative impact on their organization's network security, while 24% said outsourcing has a positive impact. Meanwhile, 26% indicated outsourcing has no impact on the organization's network security.

    Another interesting finding from the research is that while hacker and other unauthorized intrusions have continued to be a significant threat year after year, large companies have apparently made some progress very recently. In 2009, 41% of large enterprises reported intrusions, compared with 56% the previous year. This is the first year out of the past five in any company size category where a significant reduction in the rate of unauthorized intrusions has occurred, although it is too early to point to exact causes or to assume that progress will continue.

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Recession Spurs Growth in Hosted Contact Center Infrastructure Market

    DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics market research and consulting services, has published the 2009 Hosted Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report. The Report illustrates that even though 2008 was a down year for most technology products, the hosted contact center infrastructure market posted impressive growth and the first half of 2009 is proving to be even better. DMG’s research showed that the worldwide economic recession actually drove many types of organizations in all verticals to consider hosted contact center infrastructure solutions. It is interesting to note that many of these companies are not risk takers in the classic sense, but rather companies that see hosting as an opportunity to do business differently, without a significant initial investment.

    Growth of this market can be attributed to several factors including better, more stable and feature-rich solutions, increased contact center domain expertise and implementation best practices, and flexible pricing. The future is very promising for hosted contact center solutions, even after the recession abates. DMG forecasts that growth for the hosted contact center infrastructure market will be 30 percent, 35 percent and 20 percent each year from 2009 to 2011, respectively.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Despite Economy, Organizations Face Significant Information Technology (IT) Talent Gap

    According to new research from Deloitte, IT functional leaders have an increasingly clear understanding of what they must do to effectively support their organizations’ business strategies. However, existing IT talent strategies and programs appear to be falling short - leaving IT without the talent necessary to do the job.

    Based on a global survey of 306 IT decision-makers and executive business managers, and 15 subsequent one-on-one interviews with select respondents, current IT talent issues are having an impact on IT and business performance. Based on the research, Deloitte identifies two major IT talent gaps: growing talent gap for IT leaders and project managers; and the critical need for improved IT talent strategies and program execution. Additional key findings included:

    --The majority of survey respondents (51percent) strongly believe talent issues have limited their organization’s productivity and efficiency.

    --Half of the respondents say the talent shortage is limiting their ability to innovate, which is the strategic core of the benefits that technology can bring to a business.

    --Significant numbers of respondents indicate that IT talent issues are having a material impact on other key dimensions of business success - growth (58 percent), speed to market (54 percent), quality (53 percent) and customer relationships (53 percent).

    --The vast majority of IT organizations surveyed expect to expand their workforces over the next three-to-five years. In fact, nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) expect to see at least 5 percent annual growth in the IT workforce over that period - even as the pool of experienced and qualified IT workers in many countries gets smaller.

    More information on IT can be found at

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Worldwide Security Software Market on Pace to Grow 8% in 2009

    The worldwide security software market will total $14.5 billion in 2009, an 8% increase from 2008, according to Gartner, Inc. In 2008, it grew at 19%, and Gartner anticipates the market to grow 13% in 2010 as revenue will total $16.3 billion. In Europe, the security software market will total €3.2 billion in 2009, representing 7% growth from 2008.

    In 2009, consumer security will remain the largest segment (in terms of total software revenue) in the security software market, representing 25 per cent of the total market. Gartner estimates it will account for $3.6 billion, growing 4% in 2009. The enterprise security software market formed by a number of segments such as endpoint protection platform, email security boundary and user provisioning is predicted to account for $10.9 billion, reaching 9% growth in 2009.

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

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Expected Job Reductions in IT Begin to Taper Off

    In the midst of a slowly developing trend toward recovery in the information technology arena, data from the latest CDW IT Monitor indicates the first glimmer of good news about hiring. While industry sentiment falls short of promising new hires, the number of large companies planning on reducing IT staff continues to fall rapidly.

    According to the August CDW IT Monitor, only 10 percent of large companies say they may be reducing IT staff in the next six months, down from 17 percent in February. In addition, the number of medium-size businesses planning to reduce staff fell to seven percent, down from nine percent in April. For the first time since December 2008, the overall IT Monitor score, an indicator of the direction, momentum and mindset of the U.S. IT industry, climbed one point registering a reading of 70.

    The tapering of IT job reductions is also consistent with higher expectations of improved performance. According to the IT Monitor, 63 percent of large businesses expect better performance in the next six months compared to 43 percent in February. Similarly, 56 percent of medium-size businesses and 53 percent of small businesses also anticipate better performance in the next six months. Both sectors registered 47 percent in February.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Survey Reveals Many Executives Are Hesitant to Be "Friended" by Business Contacts on Facebook

    Thinking about “friending” your boss on Facebook? You may want to reconsider. According to a recent survey, nearly half of executives are uncomfortable being friended by the employees they manage (48 percent) or their bosses (47 percent ).

    The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

    Following are some common Facebook situations professionals may encounter and how to handle them:

    You’re tagged in an embarrassing photo. Untag yourself and change your privacy settings so photos are viewable only by your close friends.

    You’re friended by someone you don’t want to connect with. It might be best to accept friend requests from colleagues to avoid slighting them, but add them to a “work” list and adjust your privacy settings so you can effectively separate your job from your personal life.

    You’re considering friending your boss. It may seem like a natural extension of amiable office small talk, but think twice before proactively friending your boss. It could become awkward for both of you.

    You want to join various groups. You should join groups that interest you. But if you have colleagues in your network and don’t want them to see the groups you join, remember to adjust your application settings.

    You would like to be a fan of certain pages. Becoming a fan of pages on Facebook is visible to anyone who can view your profile, so you should avoid becoming a fan of any page you are uncomfortable sharing with coworkers or business contacts in your network.

    You love quizzes. Stop and think for a moment before taking online quizzes and posting the results to your Facebook page -- unless you want professional contacts to know which Gilligan’s Island character you most resemble.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    CIO's guide to do more with less in a downturn

    Analyst group Frost & Sullivan recommends that CIOs take the following actions over the coming six months:

    1.Prepare now for the rebound -- put business plans in place to cope with increased business growth and demands on IT.

    2.Prepare and plan for identifying, attracting, developing and retaining good staff at both technical and executive level.

    3.Re-evaluate your technology adoption profile (TAP) and match it to your growth plans.

    4.Allocate a specific team to develop and implement policies to reduce energy usage, and focus on data centers in particular.

    5.Transit from 'Threat Management' to 'Risk Management -- and make security - a 'forethought' rather than 'afterthought'.

    6.Evaluate vendor unified communications roadmaps thoroughly - start by meeting today's business needs (e.g. collaboration).

    7.And lastly, select a process of application for testing via Cloud Computing offerings.

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

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Call-Center Jobs That Pay $100K a Year

    Outsourcing will continue and globalization will change the world's economic landscape. But the U.S. is hardly helpless. With smart processes and the proper incentives, U.S. companies can keep jobs here in America, and do so in a way that is actually better for the company and its employees. Consider iQor, a call center and business process outsourcing company based in Columbus, Ohio, that's increased revenues at a 40% clip for the past four years. It's done this primarily by expanding its U.S. operations. IQor also gives its U.S. employees universal health insurance, and pays salaries and bonuses that are nearly 50% above industry norms.

    Read the full article!

    Security Software and Services Budgets to Increase 4 Per Cent in 2010

    Security software and services spending will outpace other IT spending areas in 2010, according to a new survey by Gartner, Inc. Security software budgets are expected to grow by approximately 4 per cent in 2010, outpacing all other areas of infrastructure software. Security services budgets are projected to grow almost 3 per cent, significantly outperforming other service areas.

    Specific areas of projected security-related software spending growth in 2010 includes security information and event management (SIEM), e-mail security, URL filtering, and user provisioning.

    The continued, comparatively strong emphasis on security extends beyond software. The survey showed that security services spending will also outpace spending in other services areas, with budgets expected to grow 2.74 per cent in 2010. This anticipated increase is being driven in part by a growing movement towards managed security services, cloud-based e-mail/web security solutions, and third-party compliance-related consulting and vulnerability audits and scans.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Social Media Can Expose Businesses To Risk

    A survey released by Travelers reveals how the use of social media can expose businesses to risk. A key finding in the survey shows that one out of eight respondents indicated that they post work-related information on social media Web sites. In fact, 30 percent feel it is acceptable to post information online about their employer as long as they believe it is true.

    Survey results also showed that more than 75 percent of those who post anything personal online said they were “not at all” or “not very concerned” about information posted online causing professional damage. In order to help reduce potential risks, businesses should consider the following best practices:

  • Develop a business-use policy – Develop a policy to govern employee actions on social media tools that a company might deploy within the company’s network, as well as provide guidelines for how employees should conduct themselves on external social media sites whether or not they are representing their affiliation to the company.
  • Communicate and train employees – Communicating the social media policy to employees will help them understand what is acceptable when it comes to publishing online. Businesses should provide annual training regarding the proper use of social media tools as well as e-mail, instant messaging, blogging and Internet usage.
  • Enforce the policy – A proactive and reactive plan should be in place to address employees who violate the policy.
  • More information on service and support can be found at

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    CIOs' Job Satisfaction Increases Despite Recession

    Despite having to cope with massive budget cuts, salary freezes and demoralized staffs, most employed IT executives are more satisfied with their jobs this year than they have been in previous years, according to the results of a job satisfaction survey conducted by ExecuNet.

    Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the 306 IT executives who responded to the survey said they were satisfied with their jobs. That's an 11 percent increase over 2008, when 286 IT leaders responded to the survey. In 2007, only 41 percent of IT executives reported being happy with their jobs even though the economy was arguably much stronger then than it is now.

    IT executives cited work they enjoy (checked by 13 percent), a good relationship with their bosses (12.5 percent), and a comfy fit with their employers (10.2 percent) as the primary reasons for job satisfaction.

    Among the 36 percent of IT leaders who indicated that they aren't happy with their jobs, their top reasons were limited advancement opportunities (noted by 14 percent), compensation (11.3 percent) and lack of challenge (10 percent).

    Source: CIO Magazine

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Reputational Risk of Social Networks is a Burgeoning Boardroom Topic

    According to additional findings from the third annual Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace survey, 58 percent of executives agree that the reputational risk of social networking should be a boardroom issue. However, only 15 percent of the respondents say that it is being discussed at this level.

    The majority (65 percent) of those executives who agree that the reputational risks of social networking should be a boardroom issue also say that they use social networking to build their company’s brand. Only 27 percent of executives say that they regularly discuss how to leverage these sites while at the same time mitigating the risks involved.

    According to Deloitte, social networks can be used to build business, they can also prove to be detrimental to brands. Setting usage guidelines as well as establishing a values-based ethical culture are among the steps leadership can take to encourage employees to make good decisions online.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    U.S. Companies Preparing for Economic Recovery in First Half of 2010

    U.S. companies are preparing for a global economic recovery to begin in the first half of 2010 according to a new "Road to Growth" study from AT&T.

    The study is based on more than six dozen one-on-one interviews with IT executives employed with multinational companies in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. portion of the study included CIOs and senior information technology executives from approximately four dozen multinational companies averaging $4.75 billion dollars revenue and operations in 28 countries. 2009 Road to

    Growth Study Key Findings:

    Time horizon to achieve ROI narrowed by 50%: In today's economic climate, U.S. companies have significantly shortened the time frame over which return on investment (ROI) is delivered.

    More than half of U.S. IT executives interviewed stated they are under pressure to deliver a return on investment in half or less than half the time. As a result, two-thirds cited that the change has affected their IT budgets, strategies and priorities. The study found that companies are less willing to invest in longer-term projects or projects where the return does not come quickly. One CIO stated that the added pressure has forced the company to focus on IT projects that give at least 100% ROI in 12 months; otherwise, the project(s) get dropped.

    Cost cutting and improving productivity are top priorities: Cost cutting and increasing revenue remain the two primary business goals cited by U.S. companies. To achieve the goals, survive the recession and move towards growth, IT strategies are focused on:

    1. Reducing operating costs: 87 percent cited "reducing operating costs" as "extremely or very important";

    2. Improve collaboration with customer and partners: 85 percent cited "improved collaboration with customers and partners" as "extremely or very important";

    3. Enhancing workforce performance and productivity: 83 percent cited "enhancing workforce performance" as "extremely or very important".

    Short and long term strategies are similar: The study found that U.S. companies employ multiple strategies to address business goals, and do not distinguish between short-term and long-term strategies. It appears that U.S. companies are reducing the time period for their long-term forecasting until after the recession is over. The role IT plays in helping U.S. companies achieve long-term strategies is very similar to the role IT plays in supporting the companies' short-term business strategies.

    Business continuity & security solutions have the highest positive impact: IT investments and priorities will go towards lowering cost, reducing risks and improving productivity and efficiency. The study found that "business continuity and security solutions" will have the biggest positive impact on business growth as U.S. companies prepare for an economic turnaround. This is closely followed by "enterprise mobility solutions" and "Web delivery solutions". Areas of IT investment that are expected to have a high to moderate impact on businesses are "unified communications services" and "hosted solutions."

    More information on IT can be found at

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    IT Products and Services Will Likely Be Subject to Regulation by 2015

    The frequency and intensity of leading indicators for widespread regulation of the IT industry are increasing, but many vendors and most enterprise IT organizations are unprepared to meet the requirements that regulated IT will likely impose on their processes and procedures, according to Gartner, Inc.

    "Three years ago Gartner published research predicting that either catastrophe from IT failure, or a continuing history of lower-level failures would provoke either a governmental regulation or industry self-regulation of IT products and services in the U.S. by 2015 and in the European Union by 2015 to 2018," said Richard Hunter, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Although the exact date of arrival for regulation is difficult to predict, we believe that, in recent months, the tempo and intensity of the indications of such an event have increased."

    Several recent articles describing the growth and scale of criminal hacking networks aimed at governmental and industry targets, as well as recent statements by representatives of the U.S. and U.K governments, indicate that the state of IT security is now viewed as unacceptably dangerous. In addition, healthcare industry representatives have asked the Obama administration to hold software vendors liable for failures resulting from implementation of administrative software mandated by the U.S. federal government by 2014. Elsewhere, corporate customers are filing litigation against their IT providers with greater frequency.

    The rise of social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have generated increased concern over the extent to which personal data and the safety of minors are threatened by criminals using these networks to gain access to potential victims.

    While neither supporting nor opposing regulation of IT, Gartner considers it increasingly likely and thinks it is probable that the EU will take formal steps to establish a regime for regulation of consumer-oriented IT products and services as early as 2011. Given the increasing likelihood of this scenario, Gartner advises IT vendors, service providers and user organizations to consider the implications of the regulation of IT on their businesses.

    Software vendors need to be aware that increased liability will drive generic software out of the market, and they should prepare for transparency and product/price differentiation based on quality and certified fitness for purpose. IT service providers should do the same and mitigate risks by incorporating strong documentation, audit right provisions and legal compliance terminology into outsourcing deals.

    Enterprise technology users are likely to benefit from regulation in terms of clearly understanding the functions and features they buy but should be aware that they cannot outsource regulatory compliance. They should consider whether the liabilities applied to vendors will apply to them as well, and consider whether the enterprise is prepared to manage its processes to regulatory requirements.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    IT Market Compensation Study Shows That Organizations Are Focusing on Containing Workforce Costs

    In today’s economy, it is imperative that CIOs understand what resources they have and may need in the short and long term and avoid making deep staff cuts without first considering their effects on the organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. However, a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. showed that nearly 66 percent of respondents do not currently have a formal IT workforce planning process that will enable them to leverage the opportunities presented by this downturn.

    According to a survey of 325 U.S.-based organizations in March of 2009, 64.1 percent of survey respondents indicated that they will put hiring on hold for the next 12 months (March 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010). In contrast, a total of 35.9 percent of respondents projected an increase in IT head count. Although some geographic markets, such as the Northeast, were seriously affected by hiring freezes and layoffs, survey respondents continue to have difficulty in finding skilled enterprise architects, database administrators, ERP programmers/analysts, project managers, Internet/Web architects and Web application programmers.

    In a financial crisis, companies can’t reward everyone in the same way as in good times and one of the first items to be cut is the annual salary increase budget. Results from this year’s survey shows there will be an across-the-board reduction (IT and non-IT) in salary increase budgets for 2009 and 2010. The median IT salary increase budget (including 0s) for 2009 is 3 percent, a half point drop from the 2008 figure of 3.5 percent, and it will remain at 3 percent for 2010. The median 2009 salary increase budget for all other departments outside of IT dropped to 2.8 percent and is expected to move up to 3 percent in 2010.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Cautious Optimism Will Define Second Half of 2009 for Communications Industry

    Yankee Group predicted 2009 would be a watershed year for the communications industry. After six months of economic anxiety, declining consumer confidence and widespread industry pessimism, Yankee Group expects communications spending to tick up in early 2010. Recent Yankee Group survey data supports this, with 68 percent of respondents planning to maintain or increase spending in the next three months.

    A new report, "Yankee Group’s 2009 Predictions . . . Reloaded," revisits Yankee Group’s top 10 predictions for 2009 to explore the remarkable changes that have already taken place and provide an outlook for 2H 2009 and beyond. Highlights of the predictions include:

    --Wired switch port sales will decline for the first time in history. Wireless LAN (WLAN) is transforming into a primary source of connectivity for many enterprises. In 2006, 57 percent of enterprises offered WLAN access in the office. Yankee Group survey data reveals that number has jumped to 89 percent in 2009.

    --Sunny skies are ahead for cloud computing. Cloud computing continues to grow as enterprises seek zero-capex solutions. According to a recent Yankee Group survey, more than 75 percent of IT decision-makers are considering a SaaS application for customer relationship management or sales automation.

    --Desktop virtualization will replace PC replacement. New Yankee Group survey results show that 64 percent of enterprises currently have some form of a production deployment of desktop virtualization. This is a dramatic shift from 2008 when Yankee Group surveys revealed only 10 percent had the technology deployed.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Contact Center Workforce Optimization Grew by 14 Percent to $2.7 Billion in 2008, Outperforming Most IT Sectors

    DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics market research and consulting services, has published the 2009 Quality Management/Liability Recording (WFO) Market Share Report.

    The Quality Management/Liability Recording (Workforce Optimization) market grew by 14 percent, from $2,389.1 million in 2007 to $2,724.3 million in 2008. The contact center segment contributed 4.3 percent, growing from $1,019.3 million to $1,062.8 million. While this growth rate is more modest than in prior years, the WFO market is outperforming many other IT software markets. DMG Consulting attributes this growth to increased spending on security, risk and liability avoidance, and cost reduction.

    Contact centers use recording to capture agent/customer call and screen activities for liability, verification, quality assurance, and to feed into analytics applications. Enterprise use of recording is growing; the traditional uses are for contact centers, trading floors, first responders and air traffic control. In recent years, recording has expanded to address video surveillance solutions (video-based recording and analytics) to protect buildings and infrastructure and branch/back-office communications and activities. Enterprise use of recording will broaden as companies discover more ways to use it to minimize their exposure to risk and reduce operating expenses.

    "One of the more interesting things in 2008 is that the growth of the QM/recording (WFO) market was largely organic. We didn't have any large-scale acquisitions or anything that really shook up the market. What we did have are vendors who continue to provide high-value applications that help end users solve the problems that plague them -- security, risk, liability, quality and cost reduction," said Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting. "Also interesting is that the market hit the tipping point for IP-based solutions, as these sales accounted for 61.4 percent of the market. This is a significant change from 2007 when the mix was close to 50/50."

    DMG does not expect 2009 to be a great year for sales of WFO solutions because many banks and investment firms are still trying to recover from the impact of the recession and, as a result, are making only essential investments. Despite the trying times, DMG expects the WFO market to grow by 2 percent to 4 percent.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    IT Hardware Spending Continues to Grow in Emerging Markets

    IT hardware spending growth rates among large organizations in emerging markets will surpass those of mature markets in 2009, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Despite the economic downturn, 84 percent of these organizations did not cancel any IT projects since October 2008. Furthermore, IT hardware spending in emerging markets is expected to increase for servers, storage, virtualization, cloud computing and green IT.

    Survey respondents were asked a series of questions regarding their annual expectations for enterprises in 2009, including if budgets would increase or decrease in various technology segments. The survey results showed 66 percent of respondents said there would be no change, or an increase in IT budgets in 2009

    Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would increase investments in virtualization, 32 percent said there would be increased investments into green IT, and 7 percent would invest more in cloud computing.

    Gartner has identified several reasons why large enterprises in emerging markets are showing this level of confidence. First, in many of these economies, these organizations have IT plans in place that include equipment renewal and a clear picture of their total cost of ownership. Secondly, these organizations, which represent anywhere from 8 percent to 12 percent of the business pyramid in many of these countries, have larger financial resources and rely less on lending to cover their IT operations than in midsize and small enterprises. Third, these large entities have a clear picture of their role internationally as many are involved in exports and therefore need to have the best technology tools to compete on a worldwide basis.

    Inroads by virtualization in the server space are becoming more visible in emerging markets as virtualization is now viewed as a critical component in the cost-saving strategy of large organizations. Although emerging markets are at the initial curve of adoption in green IT, Gartner said that its adoption will become mandatory due to increasing legislation because of the specific needs and energy challenges facing many emerging countries.

    Cloud computing is a new IT delivery model in emerging markets, and while it is gaining momentum, the survey revealed that about 50 percent of organizations in emerging markets have not heard of cloud computing or have heard the term but don't know what it means. However, in markets like Brazil, 28 percent of channels are already delivering software as a service.

    The survey also found that enterprises are focusing their investments on data management with storage and server and audio/video/Web conferencing as the top priorities. Voice over IP also reached a prominent position with respondents as landline and cell communications continue to be generally expensive in emerging markets while Internet connectivity and broadband expansion keep dropping in price and increasing in efficiency.

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

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    IT Professionals In Emerging Asia Region Are The Most Optimistic About 2009 IT Budget Growth In New Survey

    IT professionals in the Emerging Asian countries of China, India, and Vietnam are the most optimistic about IT budgets this year, with 19 percent of respondents expecting to increase their tech spending in 2009, followed by Latin American IT professionals at 12 percent, according to a new survey by Forrester Research, Inc. The survey of more than 1,400 IT executives and technology decision-makers located in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa is Forrester's inaugural study of businesses' technology adoption plans and priorities across all of these regions.

    IT budget plans differ significantly across industries in Emerging Asia, with the largest increases being in the public sector (34 percent) and utilities and telecoms (24 percent) and the smallest increase in the manufacturing sector (9 percent).

    Other key highlights of the survey include:

    -- Asia Pacific and MEA/Russia are the current bright spots for SaaS. Of the firms surveyed, 18 percent in Asia Pacific and 14 percent in the Middle East/Africa/Russia have implemented or are implementing software-as-a-service (SaaS) projects. Interest in considering or piloting SaaS projects is highest in the Emerging Asia region.

    -- Cloud computing activity is low globally. While Latin America has the highest percentage of firms (14 percent) that have already implemented cloud computing or pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers, 40 percent of firms in the region are not interested, and an additional 23 percent of firms are not familiar with the technology or don't know if they are interested. Other regions reported similar results; Asia Pacific took the top spot, with 52 percent of firms not interested.

    -- Latin America is a hotbed of activity around unified communications. Overall, 88 percent of Latin American firms responded that they have an existing implementation or interest in unified communications.

    -- Product localization preferences are mixed. The strongest preferences for IT products in local languages are in Latin America (52 percent) and Emerging Asia (39 percent). However, respondents were split in Emerging Asia, with a high percentage (41 percentage) also reporting a strong preference for products in English.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Worldwide IT Spending on Pace to Decline 6 Percent in 2009

    Worldwide IT spending is on pace to total $3.2 trillion in 2009, a 6 percent decline from 2008 spending of $3.4 trillion, according to Gartner, Inc. Continued weak IT spending because of the economic situation combined with the effect of exchange rate movements has resulted in Gartner lowering its 2009 forecast from its 1Q09 projection. In March of this year, Gartner had forecast 2009 IT spending to decline 3.8 percent.

    All four major segments of IT -- hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications -- will experience declining revenue, something that did not happen in the 2001 downturn. The computing hardware segment will experience the steepest decline in 2009, with spending projected to decline 16.3 percent. The software segment will show the slightest decrease in 2009, with spending forecast to drop 1.6 percent.

    More information on the IT industry can be found

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Large and Medium-size Businesses Anticipate IT Growth

    Large and medium-size businesses are increasingly planning to invest in IT products and staff as confidence among IT decision makers begins returning to the corporate sector. However, earlier signs of IT investment among small businesses have slipped. In the government sector, federal government IT decision makers are showing an even higher leap in confidence.

    Sentiment remains stable across the broader IT marketplace, according to the latest CDW IT Monitor, with gains in some areas balanced by uncertainty among the small business and local government sectors. The overall CDW IT Monitor score across both corporate and government sectors remained flat at 69 for the third consecutive reading.

    Signs of anticipated growth in investment that first appeared in the April CDW IT Monitor are now becoming much more visible. Eighty-three percent of medium-size businesses expect to purchase new software in the next six months and 28 percent of large businesses expect to hire additional staff in the next six months, both up five percentage points since April. Additionally, 52 percent of federal IT decision makers anticipate budget increases in the next six months, an increase of 17 percent since April and the largest leap in the government sector to date.

    However, this rising sentiment is not shared by all sectors. After signs of increasing confidence earlier in the year, fewer small businesses and local government organizations anticipate budgets to improve. Only 21 percent of small business IT decision makers and 17 percent of local government IT decision makers expect IT budgets to increase in the next six months, down eight and six percentage points, respectively, since April.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    IT Salaries Fall - Demand Down for IT Professionals

    Janco released its 2009 Mid Year IT Salary Survey which shows that overall pay has declined for IT Professionals in the past 18 months. Janco also found that demand is down for IT Professionals. The most striking observations are:

    --Many companies have instituted hiring and spending freezes in addition to laying-off of staff. This has been augmented by extensive outsourcing, bonus reductions, and elimination of IT contractors -- which has decreased the demand for IT professionals and in some cases lowered wages, with higher priced positions being eliminated.

    ---Layoffs have focused on middle management and IT support staff.

    ---Many mid-sized enterprises have stopped hiring all together.

    ---There are over 200 IT professionals in the Metro New York are who earned well into six figures that are looking for work due to mergers, bankruptcies, and layoffs

    --Companies are continuing to reduce the benefits provided to IT professionals. Though benefits such as health care are available, IT professionals are now paying a greater portion of that cost.

    --Flexible hours and work schedules are now not as available as they were before the recent economic conditions changed.

    --With outsourcing, lower bonuses, and the recent layoffs there has been a slight decrease in the mean compensation paid to IT professionals. In addition, with the fall in the Janco Benchmark it is shows that hiring "new staff" has significantly declined.

    --There now is a surplus of seasoned IT professionals available. For the second time in less than ten years, retirements are being put off because of the downturn in the stock market and the resultant reduction in savings available to support IT professionals as they retire. Added to this is an influx of retirees who are looking to get back into the job market due to of the massive reduction in their investment portfolio.

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Recession Causes Rising IT Project Failure Rates

    Recession-related IT budget slashing and layoffs are taking their toll on IT project success rates, according to the results of the latest CHAOS Summary 2009 report from The Standish Group. The Boston, Mass.-based IT project management research and consulting firm surveyed 400 organizations and found a decrease in IT project success rates and an increase in IT project failure rates during the past two years. Specifically, 32 percent of IT projects were considered successful, having been completed on time, on budget and with the required features and functions. Nearly one-in-four (24 percent) IT projects were considered failures, having been cancelled before they were completed, or having been delivered but never used. The rest (44 percent) were considered challenged: They were finished late, over budget, or with fewer than the required features and functions.

    The last time The Standish Group released its CHAOS findings, in 2006, 35 percent of projects were successes, 19 percent were failures and 46 percent were challenged.

    Staff reductions within and outside of IT departments are also adversely affecting project success rates. With project managers and business stakeholders taking on more work due to layoffs, they have less time to devote to each project, to go to meetings, to help with requirements planning and to do all the other activities that promote project success.

    Source: CIO Magazine

    More information on the IT industry can be found at

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Survey Reveals Lack of Understanding by Business Executives of the Value of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity to Organizational Success

    There is a significant disconnect between information technology (IT) and business executives when it comes to disaster recovery preparedness, according to the results of a new State of Disaster Recovery survey. While both sets of executives share same views on the importance of information availability to the business, survey data reveal a split in how to achieve the goal of minimizing downtime when an unplanned IT outage occurs.

    In the survey commissioned by SunGard Availability Services and conducted by Harris Interactive(R), both IT and business decision-makers say information availability is important to the success of their business (83 percent of IT, 78 percent of business). However, fewer than half of business executives say disaster recovery and business continuity are important to business success compared with a large majority of IT executives (74 percent of IT, 49 percent of business).

    The lack of business understanding about the value of disaster recovery is clearly exhibited in executive views on funding levels. IT decision-makers were significantly more likely to say insufficient funding is among the biggest obstacles they face in developing an effective disaster recovery plan for their companies (42 percent of IT to 32 percent of business).

    IT executives were also more likely to say they have inadequate resources (25 percent of IT to 11 percent of business) to make disaster recovery plans effective -- and believe investing in disaster recovery and business continuity are more important in the current economy because their companies can't afford the risk of any unexpected downtime (33 percent of IT to 18 percent of business).

    The gap in support for funding disaster preparedness may be the result of business decision-makers being less knowledgeable about their company's disaster recovery plans. For example, business executives were significantly more likely to say they are unsure as to how frequently their firm's disaster recovery plans are tested (30 percent compared to 5 percent of IT) or what their plan includes (41 percent compared to 4 percent of IT).

    Despite insufficient funding being the biggest challenge companies face in developing an effective recovery plan, just one-fifth of respondents (17 percent of IT, 19 percent of business) say their company currently uses a third-party provider to manage disaster recovery systems. But more than half of the survey respondents that use a third-party disaster recovery offering believe those offerings are more cost effective and provide better solutions.

    Contributing to the stress on IT operations is the pressure to keep unplanned IT downtime at low levels. About two-thirds (66 percent) of IT executives say the amount of downtime tolerated has grown shorter over the last two years. About 50 percent (54 percent) of IT decision-makers report their organizations can tolerate downtime of only five hours or less.

    When asked to give their company a letter grade on their company's ability to access business-critical information after an unplanned outage, 30 percent of IT executives chose a "C" or "D" -- which compares to only 22 percent selecting those grades in the survey done in 2007.

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