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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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