Wednesday, April 28, 2010

H-P Agrees to Buy Palm for Nearly $1 Billion

Hewlett-Packard Inc. agreed to acquire Palm Inc. for nearly $1 billion in cash, ending months of speculation about the fate of the troubled wireless handset maker. H-P said it will pay $5.70 per share in cash for Palm, representing a premium of 23% over the closing price of Palm's shares on Wednesday. Palm has been the subject of takeover rumors for weeks, as slow sales of the company's latest smart phones have depressed the stock's value and made analysts question the company's future. Palm developed its own mobile operating system called webOS and has launched two handsets -- the Pre and the Pixi -- on the new platform.

Source: WSJ

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Perception of Data Security at Odds with Reality

Nearly three-quarters of organizations believe they have adequate policies in place to protect sensitive, personal information, yet more than half have lost sensitive data within the past two years -- and nearly 60 percent of those organizations acknowledge data loss as a recurring problem, according to findings of a global study released by Accenture.

The study -- which surveyed more than 5,500 business leaders and 15,500 adult consumers in 19 countries -- reveals a startling difference between organizations’ intentions regarding data privacy and how they actually protect sensitive personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, race, National ID/social security number and medical history.

Fifty-eight (58) percent of business respondents have experienced at least one data security breach over the past two years, yet 73 percent said their organization has adequate policies to protect the personally identifiable information it maintains.

While 70 percent agreed that organizations have an obligation to take reasonable steps to secure consumers’ personal information, there are discrepancies in their commitments for doing so:

-- Forty-five (45) percent of respondents were unsure about or actively disagreed with granting customers the right to control the type of information that is collected about them.

-- Forty-seven (47) percent were unsure about or disagreed with customers having a right to control how this information is used.

-- Nearly half also did not believe it was important or very important to: limit the collection (47 percent) or sharing (46 percent) of sensitive personal customer information; protect consumer privacy rights (47 percent); prevent cross-border transfers of personal information to countries with inadequate privacy laws (47 percent); prevent cyber crimes against consumers (48 percent); or prevent data loss or theft (47 percent).

The study revealed that the biggest causes of data loss are internal -- problems presumably well within an organization’s ability to detect and correct. For instance, business or system failure (57 percent) and employee negligence or errors (48 percent) were cited most often as the source of the breaches; cyber crime was cited as a cause of only 18 percent of security breaches.

While many organizations believe that complying with existing regulations is sufficient, it appears that compliance alone may not be enough to protect sensitive data. For instance, 70 percent of respondents said they regularly monitor privacy and data protection regulatory compliance requirements, yet data breaches have occurred in 58 percent of organizations polled.

The study also identified significant differences in terms of attitudes and policies regarding data privacy and protection between organizations that had not experienced any data-security breach in the past two years and those that had. Specifically, respondents in organizations that did not have a data-security breach:

-- were more likely to know where personal information on customers and employees resides within their organization’s IT enterprise (75 percent versus 66 percent); and

-- were more likely to feel an obligation to control who has access to personal data (72 percent versus 60 percent).

More information can be found at

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Study Shows High Anguish And Anxiety With Computer Tech Support Due To Long Lag Time, Lack Of Ready Resolution

Nearly two thirds (64 percent) of consumers say their computer has caused them anxiety due in large part to frequent slowdowns and lengthy boot-up times, and more than 40 percent who use an outside computer support service are not happy with it or feel it costs too much. Despite this widespread computer-related stress and frustration, 94 percent depend on their computer in their daily lives, and 78 percent consider themselves computer-savvy.

The report released by the CMO Council's Customer Experience Board shows that so-called Computer Stress Syndrome is prevalent and caused by many factors:

  • Top sources of frustration with the tech support experience are long wait times, inability to fix problems and the cost of the service

  • Seventy-five percent are experiencing hours or more of downtime per year, and 40 percent are experiencing days or more

  • Top five impacts of computer failure include increased stress levels, interrupted work or play time, valuable lost data, dropped connections, and difficult online purchasing

  • Consumers use a variety of factors in order to evaluate and rank outside support services. Top factors in their decision include the cost of the service (43 percent), the skill of support technicians (40 percent), time to issue resolution (31 percent), 24/7 staff availability (27 percent), and wait times for service calls or appointments (20 percent).

    In part, the problem of Computer Stress Syndrome may be exacerbated by the fact that many consumers are trying to cut costs by dealing with support issues by home-grown means. Almost two thirds are trying to fix problems themselves, asking a friend or family member, or doing nothing. And cost is the biggest consideration in evaluating alternatives.

    More information on techical support services can be found at

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Great Online Customer Service Is Worth USD $17.3 Billion per Year

    According to a new Ovum survey commissioned by STELLAService, the value of great online customer service in 2010 is USD $17.3 billion. The survey derived the dollar impact of great customer service by consumer category (i.e. financial services, healthcare, utilities, brick and mortar retailers, online retailers, etc.). It determined that the total value of great customer service across all consumer categories is USD $268 billion per year. On average, the survey found that Americans are willing to spend approximately 9.7% more for great customer service.

    The survey, however, paid particular attention to the way in which great service impacts the buying decisions of online consumers. It was concluded that consumers in the online retail category are willing to pay an even higher premium for great service (10.7%) than they would in most other categories. Based on the average amount spent by online consumers each year, the survey found that $17.3 billion of value can be created in 2010 by Internet retailers that offer excellent customer service. Due to the seemingly distant and remote nature of online shopping, it makes sense that consumers would pay a higher premium to have the comfort and peace of mind that they will be taken care of in the case of a serious question, concern or problem.

    More information on service and support can be found at

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending to Grow 5.3 Percent in 2010

    Worldwide IT spending is forecast to reach $3.4 trillion in 2010, a 5.3 percent increase from IT spending of $3.2 trillion in 2009, according to Gartner, Inc. The IT industry will continue to show steady growth with IT spending in 2011 projected to surpass $3.5 trillion, a 4.2 percent increase from 2010.

    Worldwide computing hardware spending is forecast to reach $353 billion in 2010, a 5.7 percent increase from 2009. Robust consumer spending on mobile PCs will drive hardware spending in 2010. Enterprise hardware spending will grow again in 2010, but it will remain below its 2008 level through 2014. Spending on storage will enjoy the fastest growth in terms of enterprise spending as the volume of enterprise data that needs to be stored continues to increase. Near-term spending on servers will be concentrated on lower-end servers; longer-term, server spending will be curtailed by virtualization, consolidation and, potentially, cloud computing.

    Worldwide software spending is expected to total $232 billion in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase from last year. Gartner analysts said the impact of the recession on the software industry was tempered and not as dramatic as other IT markets. In 2010, the majority of enterprise software markets will see positive growth.

    The infrastructure market, which includes all the software to build, run and manage an enterprise, is the largest segment in terms of revenue and the fastest-growing through the 2014. The hottest software segments through 2014 include virtualization, security, data integration/data quality and business intelligence. The applications market, which includes personal productivity and packaged enterprise applications, has some of the fastest-growth segments. Web conferencing, team collaboration and enterprise content management are forecast to have double-digit compound annual growth rates (CAGR), in the face of growing competition surrounding social networking and content.

    The worldwide IT services industry is forecast to have spending reach $821 billion in 2010, up 5.7 percent from 2009. The industry experienced some growth in reported outsourcing revenue at the close of 2009, an encouraging sign for service providers, which Gartner analysts believe will spread to consulting and system integration in 2010.

    Worldwide telecom spending is on pace to total close to $2 trillion in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase from 2009. Between 2010 and 2014, the mobile device share of the telecom market is expected to increase from 11 percent to 14 percent, while the service share drops from 80 percent to 77 percent and the infrastructure share remains stable at 9 percent of the total market.
    Worldwide enterprise network services spending is forecast to grow 2 percent in revenue in 2010, but Gartner analysts said this masks ongoing declines in Europe and many other mature markets as well as an essentially flat North American market.

    More information on the IT market can be found at

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    2010 Service and Leadership Trends in Customer Support recently conducted a new survey designed to capture Service and Leadership Trends in Customer Support. Sponsored by Citrix Online, the survey assesses the state of customer service issues in the customer support industry: How our customers and agents are doing, how we are managing people and measuring performance, how effective our training and coaching is, and how we are using technology to get closer to customers. It is meant to be a snapshot of what we in the support industry fundamentally do and how well we do it.

    Key findings of the survey include:

    Support really does make people happier. Support transactions have a measurable impact on customer frustration levels – close to 85% are frustrated before the transaction, but more than 60% are not frustrated at all afterwards. Likewise, over a third of support operations deliver customer satisfaction levels in excess of 90%, while fewer than 15% deliver less than 80%.

    Training helps, but only the right kind. Training has a measurable impact on customer satisfaction levels, but only when (a) you train both supervisors and frontline staff and (b) your training approach includes accurate call simulations and measurable performance objectives. There is also a correlation between the amount of training you do and how satisfied your customers are.

    Agents do well – with the right tools. Over 80% of respondents rate their agents as being confident, and the vast majority report good relationships between agents and their managers. The biggest challenges remain access to problem-solving technology, as well as communications and people issues on both the internal and external side.

    Performance evaluation is an art and a science. Metrics, customer feedback, and the old standby of what the boss thinks all remain a big part of how agents are evaluated. Session monitoring, surveys, and coaching are less frequently used, showing a trend toward less labor-intensive approaches for performance evaluation.

    Remote support is here to stay. The era of blindly troubleshooting customer issues over the telephone has gone the way of the 8-track tape. An overwhelming majority of respondents now use remote support tools, in operations of all sizes, particularly for remote access to customer systems. Other features such as file transfer and remote diagnostics are popular as well, while sites using these tools for live collaboration and escalation remain in the minority.

    To get the full results of the survey, click here.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    CEO Confidence Declines Slightly

    The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, which had increased in the fourth quarter of 2009, decreased slightly in the first quarter of 2010. The Measure declined to 62, down from 64 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

    CEOs' assessment of current economic conditions is slightly less favorable, with 71 percent stating conditions have improved compared to six months ago, down from 75 percent last quarter. However, in assessing their own industries, business leaders' attitudes improved, with 59 percent claiming conditions are now better, compared with 54 percent last quarter.

    Looking ahead six months, CEOs are slightly less optimistic. Approximately 52 percent of business leaders expect economic conditions to improve in the next six months, down from 58 percent last quarter. Expectations for their own industries are also less optimistic, with 42 percent of CEOs anticipating an improvement in the months ahead, down from 45 percent last quarter.

    More than 30 percent of CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, up significantly from less than 3 percent a year ago. The proportion of CEOs who anticipate a decrease in hiring plummeted to 22 percent from 86 percent a year ago.

    On a separate question, regulation and litigation are major obstacles to hiring new workers. Health care costs were second on the list, closely followed by wage and salary costs. Other fringe benefits are of lesser concern when hiring new workers.