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