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