Monday, November 29, 2010

$8.6 Billion per Year Wasted on Inefficient Software Licensing Practices

1E, a software and services company that improves IT efficiency, released new research outlining major trends in software management and distribution.

The Help Desk Efficiency report found that three-quarters of respondents have unused software on their PCs -- averaging three to six applications per user. A leading industry analyst firm estimates that 22 percent of all IT spending is on software, which is $726 billion annually worldwide. Knowing that a single piece of software can cost upwards of several hundred dollars with licensing and support, these findings indicate that a significant percentage of IT software spending is currently being wasted.

While industry analyst firms estimate that IT departments spend on average $12,000 per user per year, more than one-third of respondents to the Help Desk Efficiency Report say they are receiving little or no value from the money their IT department spends on them.

New software requests are a common occurrence, with more than one-half of respondents requesting one or more software applications in the last 12 months. Disturbingly, 62 percent of users have waited up to a week or longer to receive their requested software. This data shows that the impact on user productivity is clearly too great.

Slow and inconsistent delivery of new software is not by chance. The research indicates that the process for requesting new software is fragmented and manual -- with 73 percent of users still initiating requests by phone or email. 1E estimates that deploying user self-service tools to automate software requests could collectively save organizations $8.6 billion per year in IT help desk costs.

Commissioned by 1E and conducted by Vanson Bourne, an independent research company, the report includes responses from 1,000 business users across the United States and United Kingdom.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top Ten Retailers for Customer Service Released as Holiday Shoppers Hit Stores

With millions of Americans beginning to flood stores and websites in search of holiday deals, the NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Retail Federation, has announced the top 10 retailers for customer service selected by shoppers in the sixth annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey. The survey, which asked 9,291 shoppers which retailer provides the best customer service, was conducted by BIGresearch.

According to shoppers, the top ten retailers for customer service, in alphabetical order, are:

-- JCPenney
-- Kohl’s Department Stores
-- Lands’ End
-- L.L.Bean
-- Newegg
-- Nordstrom
-- QVC
-- Zappos 

More information on customer service can be found at

Friday, November 19, 2010

CIOs Are Change Agents for a More Collaborative, Virtual Workplace

Cognizant, a provider of consulting, technology, and business process outsourcing services, announced today the results of a research report, “Next-Generation CIOs: Change Agents for the Global Virtual Workplace.” The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research across Europe and North America and wrote the report, in cooperation with the Cognizant Business Consulting practice.

The report reveals the CIO’s role in restructuring how work is done throughout the organization. Among the more than 400 survey respondents, mostly CIO, CEO, vice president, and director-level, those who are moving toward more virtual, collaborative teams are benefitting from increased innovation, more effective talent recruitment and retention, and higher productivity. One in six said their companies are already seeing these results, and another one-fifth expect to garner benefits within a year.

The CIO should spearhead the transformation to a more virtualized workplace, according to 45 percent of respondents. Only CEOs ranked higher, with 47 percent, indicating the CIO is a strategic enabler who, alongside the CEO, can align IT capabilities with business needs.

Key findings include:

-- Virtual team structures are fostering more productive relationships with internal and external partners.

-- Organizations that have embraced virtual teams benefit from increased innovation and competitiveness, but often lack methods to measure the quantitative impact on the bottom line.

-- CIOs have a unique enterprise-wide perspective and are familiar with the people, tools, technologies, and techniques needed to create a corporate culture of virtual teams. 

More information on virtual workplaces can be found at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Research Examines Transformation of Customer Contact Centers

Empirix Inc., a provider of service quality assurance solutions for new IP communications, announced the results of an industry survey, conducted by Opus Research, about the adoption of online tools into enterprise customer care programs. A majority of respondents believe that improved customer service through new community-building and collaboration platforms and tools will help them gain a competitive advantage. However, concerns over issues such as network complexity and performance have impeded the adoption of these resources. In fact, 45 percent of respondents claim they do not use social media to communicate with end-users.

In "A Survey of Multi-Channel Customer Care" conducted among 985 respondents earlier this year, Opus found that social networks and Web chat were already employed more than 45 percent of the time to find and purchase by products and to get technical support. Use of the application programming interfaces (APIs) which enable enterprise IT departments to gain access to the cloud-based cash registers, product reviews, marketplaces and message exchanges operated by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google is growing exponentially. Both of these sets of findings provide dramatic evidence that companies have to offer their customers and prospects rapid access to a broad set of services in order to meet their expectations.

Key findings include:

-- Transformational times in the Contact Center - Contact center personnel are increasingly engaged in multi-modal, multi-channel and social interactions. Though most believe they are doing an excellent job in meeting customer requirements, nearly 40 percent admit they are on par with their competitors, and only 8 percent feel confident in their leading position in the marketplace. A majority of the executives realize that improved customer service will help them gain a competitive advantage through new communication platforms and tools (e.g., social media).

-- Nearly half of respondents already incorporate social media - Facebook, blogs and Twitter lead the way; Facebook alone has become another viable marketing channel and also helps organizations boost their search engine optimization.

-- Social nets and "cloud-based" apps are in the mix - The majority of organizations surveyed already treat e-mail and Web chat as customer-facing channels, and deployment plans will move outbound alerts, home agents and screen sharing into the mainstream.

-- Facebook and Google Apps are on par with Unified Communications (UC) stalwarts - Cisco and Microsoft OCS dominate UC discussions, but, according to the survey, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Apps are establishing presence "inside the firewall," showcasing the growing need for UC assurance.

-- More video and mobile apps are coming this year - Organizations are anxious to reach their "anywhere/anytime" customers and prospects, adding another layer to the already complex network.

-- Performance monitoring and testing gain importance - Respondents indicate they are monitoring in order to "improve customer service" and "success rates," both of which create a better customer experience.

-- Overall impressions of social media - Most organizations have not made social media channels a priority (33 percent); however, 31 percent have deployed social media platforms as a low-cost way to communicate with customers and almost no organizations believe that social media for customer care is merely a "fad."

More information on contact centers can be found at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Survey Finds Executives Still Cautious About Long-Term Economic Outlook; Projecting Modest Growth Over Next 12 Months

Optimism among senior executives about the future of the economy increased slightly in the last three months, as companies anticipate continued growth but face challenges adjusting to the new post-recession marketplace. Measuring the economic assumptions of more than 400 executives across six functional business roles, the latest Business Barometer released by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) shows that sentiment among business leaders is improving due to a positive outlook for sales, IT spending and emerging market growth.

One of the more significant signals from CEB's Q4 Business Barometer is the continued increase in the number of executives who expect rising cost pressures. Overall, 68 percent of executives expect greater cost pressures (up from 63 percent in Q3). Specifically, 74 percent of executives surveyed expect higher core input prices and 69 percent expect higher labor costs (up from 70 percent and 67 percent in Q3 2010 respectively). In addition, half of executives anticipate that energy costs will increase.

Senior executives also have a moderate outlook when it comes to their company's hiring practices. While 65 percent of executives expect hiring volume to improve, only 50 percent of executives now expect total headcount to improve (a slight increase from 48% in Q3).

Areas for Optimism

Despite these challenges, executives are feeling optimistic in a number of key areas that point to a steady improvement in the business landscape. Most notably, growth expectations for emerging markets are increasing. While 32 percent of executives see strong growth prospects in the U.S. and Europe, in contrast a startling 71 percent of executives anticipate accelerating growth in emerging economies (compared to 59 percent in Q3).

CEB's Q4 Business Barometer also indicated an improvement in the overall sales outlook with more than two-thirds of sales executives expecting sales to new and existing customers to rise in the year ahead. Fewer expect to rely on customer discounts compared to the last quarter (77 percent compared to 80 percent in Q3 2010).

Compared to Q3 2010, sentiment among IT executives has continued to increase with 56 percent saying they expect higher discretionary spending (up from 54 percent in Q3 and 47 percent in Q2 2010) and 60 percent saying they expect software spending to increase.

Additional notable findings from CEB's Q4 Business Barometer include:

-- Finance executives continue to expect increases in the number of M&A deals this year (up to 53 percent compared to 51 percent in Q3) although are not yet as optimistic as they were in Q2 (63 percent expected an increase in new deals).

-- Executive sentiment about consumer confidence remained unchanged since last quarter, with only 39 percent of executives anticipating that it will rise in the year ahead.

-- Outside of increased spending in IT, finance executives expect declines in CAPEX for facilities and manufacturing equipment as well as R&D spending, with only 43 percent of executives planning to increase their spending in that area (down from 52 percent in Q3 2010).

-- Seventy-three percent of human resources executives believe unemployment will remain high or grow higher. In relation to current employees, 47 percent of executives believe employee engagement will increase and 48 percent believe unwanted turnover will rise.

-- Sixty-seven percent of supply chain and operations executives expect an increase in the number of orders their company will receive in the next year and 63 percent anticipate higher production levels (which is only slightly down from 67 percent in Q3). 

More information on IT can be found at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Emerging technology trends increase risks of protecting corporate information

An increasingly mobile workforce, cloud computing and social networking all pose significant threats to organizations’ information security programs, according to the 13th annual Ernst & Young Global Information Security Survey. The report indicates that while there is a commitment to protecting data, organizations still face advanced, persistent threats that jeopardize the traditional corporate umbrella.

The report is based on a survey of nearly 1,600 senior executives in 56 countries and takes an in-depth look at the challenges organizations face when it comes to current trends, new technologies used by their workforce and the difficulties of trying to protect information while operating in a virtual business environment. As these changes bring new risks, the survey also examines how organizations are adapting and addressing their information security needs. The results show that 60% perceive increased risk from the use of social networking, cloud computing and personal mobile devices at work. Additionally, 64% of respondents see data protection as one of the top IT risks that has escalated in the current environment.
Additionally, businesses no longer view information security management programs as insurance policies to be used only in the event of a disaster.

Managing the mobile workforce
The proliferation of a mobile workforce has put employees on the front line of information security. According to the survey, respondents view the most serious risk associated with mobile computing as the potential loss of business information; 52% see the use of personal devices as the main cause of data leakage. In addition, 53% of respondents indicate that workforce mobility is a considerable challenge to delivering information security solutions effectively. The majority of respondents (92%) also view employee awareness of security as a challenge, as the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce change the way companies support and protect the flow of information.

Information security at a cost
Overall, organizations recognize the risks that come with emerging technology trends and are taking steps to protect information with stronger information security programs. In fact, half of those surveyed plan to increase their spending on data leakage/data loss prevention efforts over the next year.

But, while spending will increase to protect data, many organizations still feel pressured to reduce IT spend in other areas, leading them to look externally for efficient solutions. Despite an unproven track record, 45% of organizations are currently using, evaluating or planning to use cloud computing services within the next 12 months. The risks associated with cloud computing include data leakage, with 52% identifying it as the largest associated risk, followed by 39% who cite the lost visibility of company data as an increased risk of cloud-based solutions.

However, most respondents (85%) indicate that external certification of cloud service providers would help to evaluate security controls and increase trust.
Evidence also suggests that few organizations have fully assessed the risks associated with social networking. Just one-third report that social media presents a considerable information security challenge and only 10% say examining new and emerging IT trends is a very important information security function.

Plugging the leak
The focus in information security is shifting from a technology-only approach to a technology and people approach, as information security becomes an expanded function of which all employees are aware of and have a responsibility to adhere to. Without clearly defined and communicated security policies on the use of new technology, organizations’ exposure to risk will increase.

More information on technology trends can be found at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Businesses out of touch with automated customer service hell

Businesses are out of touch with the frustration customers experience from automated customer service systems and are jeopardizing their loyalty as a result, according to Ovum.

In a new report, the independent analyst states that businesses need to utilize automated and voice recognition services for phones to stay competitive due to increasing call volumes. However according to its findings, when evaluating their systems, most businesses focus on how they help them to save money and not the customer experience, making them unaware of the high level of frustration they can cause.

Daniel Hong, Ovum analyst and author of the report, said: “There is significant customer frustration when it comes to automated self-service and voice recognition systems. In fact in a recent Ovum survey, one third of respondents said they found it the most challenging aspect of customer service.

“Businesses need to optimize their use of automated and voice recognition services to stay competitive, but there is a fine line between providing cost-effective customer service and actually turning customers off your company. Just a two to three percent increase in automation rates can cause customer frustration and potentially increase customer turnover.

“But many businesses do not realize that their automated systems cause this level of frustration. They are not aware of what their customers are actually experiencing because they are measuring their systems by how much money they are saving them. This is a vulnerable position to be in because frustrated customers are unlikely to be loyal and could be defecting to the competition.”

According to Hong, the most successful automated services are those that are measured on the task completion rate (TCR) as this gives businesses an insight into both efficiency and effectiveness and a better understanding of the customer experience.

He added: “Businesses are under extreme pressure to improve customer retention, reduce costs and do more with less and automated customer service plays a key role. However, getting the system right is paramount to customer loyalty and unless they have an insight into what their customers are experiencing they will not be able to address and reduce frustration.”

More information on customer service can be found at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seven Major Projects CIOs Should Consider During the Next Three Years

With the IT industry on track to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent for the next five years Gartner has identified seven business and IT issues that CIOs should act on during the next three years. The seven issues include:

IT/OT Alignment- Inadequate software management of operational technology (OT) systems will result in a major business failure of a top Global 100 company by 2013.
Executives are realizing there are cost savings and management efficiencies to be gained by integrating the IT and OT groups together. Although efforts to integrate groups are challenging, benefits from streamlined budgets, coordinated planning, consistent technology architectural decisions and maximizing technology purchasing power make for extremely compelling cases for IT and OT group integration.

Business Gets Social -Through 2015, 80 percent of organizations will lack a coherent approach for dealing with information from the collective.
Today, social media is changing the way business is conducted. Understanding the power of communities, the multiple personas of their members expectations, their aspirations and how to interact with them will become essential skills for business in the 21st century.

Pattern-Based Strategy- Through 2015, pattern-seeking technology will be the fastest-growing intelligence investment among the most successful Global 2000.
A Pattern-Based Strategy provides a framework to proactively seek, model and adapt to leading indicators, often-termed "weak" signals that form patterns in the marketplace. It will allow IT leaders to seek-out patterns amidst the burgeoning information sources and model future possibilities.

Cloud Computing- By 2016, all Global 2000 companies will use public cloud services.
Cloud computing represents a shift in the relationship between the providers and consumers of IT-based solutions. It constitutes the basis of a discontinuity that amounts to a new opportunity to shape the relationship between those who use IT services and those who sell them. Gartner said worldwide cloud services revenue (including public and private services) is forecast to reach $148.8 billion in 2014.

Context-Aware Computing- By 2016, one-third of worldwide mobile consumer marketing will be context-awareness-based. Context-aware computing will foster people to be more digital with the assets they have available. Context-aware computing is taking advantage of location and time and is a new era of augmented reality. More than $150 billion of global telecom spending will shift from services to applications by 2012, and the global market for context-aware services will amount to $215 billion.

Sustainability- By 2016, sustainability will be the fastest-growing enterprise compliance expense worldwide. As long as the current science surrounding climate change remains credible, organizations should anticipate that the current focus on energy, water and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will continue, and this will draw attention to other environmental issues, such as resource depletion, species extinction, bio-diversity and environmental justice. There will remain many hard trade-offs between an organization’s financial and operational performance and that of its environmental performance. Information systems will be critical in the role -- from governance, risk and compliance, through corporate social responsibility systems, to enabling new and more-sustainable business models.

New Realities of IT: Balancing Cost and Innovation with Risk and Governance- Innovation accomplishments will be among the top-three selection criteria for new CIOs by 2016.
With the recent global recession, innovative thinkers must find new ways to create growth -- in revenue, jobs and industries --- in this new business climate. Cost and value optimization must remain a top priority, while the search for growth continues. Regulatory and corporate demands for greater attention to risk have already begun to emerge. Gartner also foresees a new emphasis on business change governance.

Future Trends
Beyond 2020, Gartner analysts forecast that two emerging trends will become $1 billion markets. First, human augmentation, a technology that focuses on creating cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human body is slowly but steadily becoming a reality and enhancing peoples’ lives. The second trend is wireless power devices. By 2011, there will be more than 1 billion PCs and 5 billion mobile phones in use in the world, and based on the levels of demand Gartner foresees cumulative sales from wireless power products surpassing $1 billion by 2020.

More information on the service and support industry can be found at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gartner to CEOs: Seize the iPad Opportunity Now

The Apple iPad and its ecosystem are likely to disrupt existing technology use profiles and business models, and CEOs should ensure that its potential is being seriously evaluated inside their organizations, according to a new report from Gartner Inc.

Gartner forecasts worldwide media tablet sales to end users to reach 19.5 million units in 2010, driven by sales of the iPad. Media tablets are poised for strong growth with worldwide end user sales projected to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010, and surpass 208 million units in 2014.

Unless there is a self-evident case to the contrary, Gartner recommends that IT organizations should provide at least "concierge"-level iPad support for a limited number of key users, and prepare a budgeted plan for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011.

Gartner also recommends that CEOs ask their marketing and product development teams to present a creative briefing as soon as possible, detailing how iPads could be used by the company and its competitors, because the iPad has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business models and markets of many enterprises.

According to Gartner analysts, the iPad is not a notebook replacement for most users, but a valuable companion device. As it is much less intrusive in face-to-face environments than conventional notebooks, it is well suited to a sales or information-sharing environment. It also makes electronic media consumption effortless and casual, thereby increasing consumption.

As use of the iPad grows, examples are emerging in industries and professions including consumer applications (such as a personal stock portfolio review), book and magazine publishing, architects and realtors sharing plans in the field, finance specialists sharing quotations with prospects, and salespeople looking to demonstrate interactive presentations. Interest from the healthcare sector is high, but the inability of the device to withstand sanitization or operate inside a sealed pouch is a limitation.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Strategic CIOs Struggle to Achieve Ambitions

The CIO Executive Council surveyed members about the advancement of the CIO role and found it is significantly affected by an IT executive’s relationship with other C-suite leaders and business stakeholders. Eighty percent of those surveyed aspire to be strategic IT leaders and 44 percent of CEOs want them to follow that path. Yet only 21 percent of respondents identify themselves in this role.

Time management is difficult for CIOs trying to expand their role while running IT. While more than 90 percent say they want to focus on business strategy, improving IT operations and systems performance is taking most of their time.

CIOs may be bogged down with day-to-day operational issues due to a lack of appropriate staff to delegate to. Fifty-three percent list developing leadership depth in their staff as the top issue impeding the advancement of their role. And 62 percent say that their top staff-improvement priority is training employees to partner better with business stakeholders. Training staff to understand the business better was a close second.

Having relationships with stakeholders also goes a long way toward building a CIO’s reputation and credibility. Respondents say meeting with stakeholders (more than 70 percent) and creating quick wins for business partners (more than 60 percent) have the most impact.

More information can be found at