Monday, May 24, 2010

IT Market Is Still Recovering, But Cloud Lingers Over Europe

Worldwide IT spending has rebounded strongly from the Great Recession, as many businesses take advantage of the general economic recovery to catch up with overdue spending on critical hardware infrastructure. Market data from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows capital spending on PCs, servers, storage, and network equipment soaring in recent quarters, producing strong year-over-year growth comparisons with the lowest period of the recession. Meanwhile, consumer spending on smartphones has continued to accelerate.

According to a new forecast from IDC, worldwide IT spending is set to increase by 3.8% this year at constant currency, to $1.47 trillion. Hardware will lead the way, with growth of 6.4% at constant currency, while software and services spending will increase by 3.1% and 1.5% respectively. Based on exchange rates from the first quarter of 2010, growth in U.S. dollars this year would be higher at 5.6%. This follows the decline in worldwide IT spending of 4.2% in constant currency last year (a decline of 7.3% in U.S. dollars).

In emerging markets like China and India, businesses and consumers are once again rushing to invest in new technology products and services to support their export-driven growth. In the U.S., government stimulus funding has provided a much-needed boost, which has trickled through to strong shipments of IT equipment. Additionally, U.S.-based IT firms received a boost from currency fluctuation in the first quarter of 2010, adding to the general sense of optimism which has accompanied recent earnings announcements.

One of those weak spots is Western Europe, where the current debt crisis in Greece has raised concern over the short-term prospects for the European Union. Even before that crisis reached its recent levels of alarm, the European economy and IT market were recovering sluggishly. IT spending in Western Europe is expected to be flat this year in constant currency, after plunging by 6.5% in 2009 (a decline of 13.5% in U.S. dollars). Representing almost a third of global IT spending, Western Europe is a hugely important market for technology vendors, and any further strains on the confidence of European businesses and consumers could cast a cloud over the outlook for the second half of this year.

Another weak spot for the global IT market is Japan, where the recovery in exports has not yet driven an increase in domestic consumption or investment. IT spending in Japan is expected to decline by 2.2% this year in constant currency, after the plunge of 11.1% recorded in 2009. Growth prospects elsewhere in Asia, though, are brighter; the IT market will increase by 13.7% in China, and by 13.8% in India. In 2011, worldwide IT spending is forecast to accelerate, growing by 5.5%, assuming a gradual recovery in Europe and Japan.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Consumer Survey Reveals the Customer Care Experiences That Most Impact the Relationship Between Cable Operator and Subscriber

CSG Systems International, Inc, a provider of customer interaction management and billing solutions, announced the results of its latest consumer survey, designed to poll end consumers on the service experiences that most impact the relationship between cable operators and their customers.

Survey results indicate delivering high-quality customer communications along with a positive customer care experience across all customer touch points can greatly improve the ability to retain and grow a customer relationship. However, the survey also illustrated that the threshold for poor customer service experiences is low, in many cases prompting a customer to label a cable operator as a poor customer service provider after only one negative experience.

Summary of Key Findings:

Customer Service Tipping Points

-- Respondents stated that it takes only two occurrences of bad customer service before they become likely to change their opinion of the service provider to one that has poor customer service. Respondents aged 24 to 29 are more likely to alter their opinion of a service provider with just one occurrence of bad customer service.

-- Top three bad customer service incidents chosen by respondents: 68% on hold for an extended period; 66% rude/impolite service representatives; 63% told issue is resolved when it isn't. (Respondents could choose more than one option).

-- A majority of respondents will switch to another service provider when bad customer service occurs more than 50% of the time, regardless of age and gender.

-- Friendly staff consistently ranked highest (77%) as a meter of good experience with a service provider, followed by fast, polite and courteous service.

-- More than 10% of respondents said they would write about a good customer service interaction on a social media site. This statistic nearly doubled for a bad customer service experience (i.e., a service disruption).

-- Speed of response (37%), faster service changes (36%) and fast resolution of issues (35%), most influence the decision to use online customer care channels.

A Variety of Channels Drive Customers to Learn About and Buy New Products and Services

-- Mail (65%) and email (46%) are the most preferred ways to learn about new product and service offerings, while telephone (41%), online website (37%) and mail (37%) are the most preferred ways to buy new product and service offerings.

-- SMS text messaging is an emerging method that customers prefer to learn (4%) and buy (3%) new services with 9% of respondents aged 24 to 29 choosing SMS. This age group prefers email as its communications and buying channel, with 58% of respondents choosing this as their preferred method.

-- Email is also the most effective communication channel (32%) for the respondents to take action on coupons and promotional offers, followed by chatting with a service representative online.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Employee morale and loyalty are vulnerable as companies ask over-stretched employees to do more with less

Companies should be careful that they are not paving the way for a mass exodus of talent once more favorable economic conditions return and the job market strengthens, says PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) following a new survey.

Managing Tomorrow's People explores the work aspirations and expectations over the next decade of 5,000 professionals worldwide. The results show that, while having vastly more responsibility with a salary to match is what the biggest proportion (44%) want from their careers, over a third (36%) now choose better work-life balance as their prime objective, other than salary.

Other than salary, the survey finds that people value flexible working arrangements by far the most (39%) followed by bonuses, paid academic training and exposure to advanced networking and social activities.

There are interesting regional differences. The appetite for flexible working arrangements is greatest in Western Europe and North America. Employees in Latin America have by far the greatest appetite for learning and development. The desire for exposure to networking and social activities is significantly higher in the ‘newer’ markets of Africa, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Asia Pacific. Only 9% of respondents globally said a good company pension plan was a prime attraction for them.

When they imagine their future working lives, more people picture themselves working in a virtual place, where employees log on from any location, than they do from centralized hubs in major city centers. Perhaps surprisingly, it is the 16-25 year old bracket alone where a majority imagine an ‘office block’ in a city centre as their future workplace.

Respondents were clear about their ideal future employer. Almost half say they want to work for a company whose values match their own. Exactly a third say that they themselves are their own ideal future employer and the remaining 20% want to work for an elite company that employs only the best.

Having a powerful social conscience intrinsic to the organization’s brand and a ‘green’ sense of responsibility was seen as important by 41% of respondents. (This figure was a high as 55% in Latin America). In CEE a higher proportion believed it will be more important to harness the power of social networking and one in four globally believed it was more important to understand emerging markets. From North America there was a significantly higher response to the importance of emerging markets than there was from Western Europe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vast Majority Of Tech Leaders See Economic Recovery Building in 2010

As business and political leaders continue to speculate whether the global economy has entered a sustained recovery, the DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey reports that the vast majority of technology leaders and VC’s believe that such an economic recovery has begun and will sustain itself during 2010.

When DLA Piper last conducted its Technology Leaders Survey, in October 2008, the turbulent financial markets weighed on the minds of respondents, and two-thirds of them predicted a recession lasting until late 2009/early 2010. Today, those same leaders are optimistic about our economic future:

-- 69 percent of technology leaders project that an economic recovery is at hand and that the recovery will be sustained in 2010.

-- According to these same industry leaders, improving economic conditions will bring about a recovery in the US IPO market in 2010.

-- However, almost a quarter (22 percent) of technology leaders have concerns about a relapse that would result in a double-dip recession.

-- Furthermore, the strong majority of respondents have concerns about US competitiveness in the global tech market due to overhang issues from government debt as well as government regulation, particularly in the areas of banking and capital markets.

-- The quality and costs of US higher education also continues to be a strong area of concern among technology leaders.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Latest Wave of Communications and High-Tech Corporate Investments In Customer Service Falls Short During Downturn

New Accenture research has found that communications and high-tech companies -- many of which are falling short in their customer service delivery--need to direct their investments at new levers that enhance the customer experience. These levers include social customer relationship management tools.

The research, entitled “Lessons from the Recession: Where Customer Service and Support Investments Yield Superior Returns for Communications and High-Tech Companies,” revealed that while more than half (60 percent) of the companies surveyed believe their recent actions to extend their offers and reduce costs had positively impacted the customer service experience they delivered, most of their business and residential customers receiving the service reported no visible or tangible improvements. The research also found that those customers who believe their service experience declined are more likely to stop or reduce the amount of business they do with their current vendors.

During such times, the research found, garnering customer loyalty is vital--but elusive. Ninety-two percent of enterprise customers and 81 percent of residential consumers who think the service and support they’ve received has improved said they are more likely to keep doing business with their current vendors. However, strong loyalty to communications and high-tech providers among all consumers is rare. Only 13 percent of residential consumers and 25 percent of enterprise customers said they were "very loyal" to their vendors.

In the investment arena, 61 percent of companies surveyed indicated they are making investments or acquisitions in the downturn to boost customer service capabilities. And they increased their customer service operating expenses by an average of 68 percent. The research also found that nearly 60 percent of consumers and enterprise customers who believe their service and support experience has declined are more likely to eliminate or reduce the amount of business they do with their current vendors.

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Satisfaction with Top 100 E-Retailers Rebounds to All-Time High

Satisfaction with Top 100 e-retailers rebounded from a dive this time last year, to an all-time high score of 78 points out of 100, a five point year-over-year increase. According to ForeSee Results’ annual Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index, consumers are more satisfied with their online experiences than ever before. Nearly every individual retailer registered a score that matched or exceeded previous satisfaction levels.

The research, which employs a unique, scientific methodology created at the University of Michigan, is based on surveys of more than 23,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail websites by sales volume, as reported in the 2010 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

For the sixth year in a row, Netflix leads the pack with a score of 87, up two points from last year. Amazon, just a single point behind, also maintains its second-place position for the sixth year running. In 2009, only five websites scored more than 80 (generally considered the threshold for excellence in studies using this methodology), but in 2010, a shocking 28 websites scored 80 or higher. Not a single e-retailer studied scored below 70 (usually the cut off for bottom performers), an unprecedented event in the research’s six-year history. Several companies made huge jumps in score, the most improved being (+12 to 75), (+10 to 73) and (+9 to 79).

The measured retail industries include:

-- Books/CDs/DVDs
-- Specialty (Non-Apparel)
-- Computers/Electronics
-- Food/Drugs
-- Mass Merchant
-- Apparel/Accessories
-- Hardware/Home Improvement
-- Housewares/Home Furnishings

The annual Top 100 E-Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results is a proven predictor of retail growth. The study quantifies that a highly satisfied online shopper is 73% more likely to purchase online, 47% more likely to purchase offline, 72% more likely to recommend, 53% more likely to return, and 67% more like to purchase again than a dissatisfied shopper. The study also shows that a one-point increase in online customer satisfaction (as measured by this study) translates to roughly $89 million in increased sales for a top e-retailer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 Survey Finds Most Companies Recognize the Importance of Customer Loyalty but Vary on How They Measure it, an online resource dedicated to enabling organizations to deliver world-class customer service and support, announced the results of a new Research Insight report on the topic of Effectively Measuring Customer Loyalty. surveyed its members - senior level service and support professionals - in April 2010 and nearly 50 people responded. Key findings include:

- 62% of participants reported that they do not measure customer loyalty in terms of customer profitability including revenue contribution, customer references and referrals

- 87% of respondents reporting using the Customer Satisfaction Index as a key benchmark

- 62% of participants reported they measure response and resolution time by priority

- 77% of respondents reported they are able to easily route customer requests to the best available resource who can respond immediately

The full report is available for free to all members. Visitors can also view and excerpt of the data at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Survey Reveals That the CFO Is Becoming the Top IT Decision Maker in Many Organizations

The CFO is increasingly becoming the top technology investment decision maker in many organizations, according to a joint survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF). According to the annual study, more IT organizations report to the CFO than the CEO or any other executive. Forty-two percent of IT organizations surveyed said that they reported to the CFO, and 53 percent of CFOs said that they would like to move to this reporting arrangement.

The joint study found that 42 percent of organizations said their IT organization reports to the CFO, 33 percent to the CEO, 16 percent to the COO, 2 percent to a chief administrative officer and 7 percent to other officers. This was fairly uniform across companies of all sizes, although the percentages reporting to the CEO in large organizations were higher, though the groups still reported to the CFO in greater percentages.

In 41 percent of organizations, the senior financial executives (mostly CFOs) who responded to the survey viewed themselves as being the main decision maker for IT investments. This response occurred in most situations where IT reports to the CFO, but it also occurred in other reporting models. In another 34 percent, CFOs are among the key recommending/sponsoring executives. Thus, in 75 percent of firms, the CFO plays a vital role in determining IT investment. In addition, 20 percent of CFOs have a minor role by providing some input, and in only 5 percent of cases does the CFO not participate in IT decision making.

However, this performance is often not achieved because of poor perceptions of IT, a parochial CFO or CIO perspective, or a failure to invest in the CFO-CIO relationship. CIOs must understand the impact their CFOs have on technology decisions in their organizations and ensure that they are providing the CFO with the appropriate understanding of technology, as well as communicating the business value that can be achieved.

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