Thursday, March 31, 2011

Harsh Reality for Contact Centers: Nearly 70% of Companies Report Agents Can’t Find Information Necessary to Resolve Customer Issues

A new survey reveals some of the most critical and costly challenges facing customer support departments, and the negative impact on customer service metrics. The survey results indicate that the biggest problems are caused by inefficient access to the information needed to solve customer issues, as data continues to proliferate beyond the traditional knowledge base and CRM.

The survey was conducted by Omega Management Group Corp. and Coveo, a provider of Enterprise Search 2.0 and Customer Information Solutions. Key survey findings include the following:

The Knowledge Base is No Longer Enough: In Some Companies, More Than 20 Systems Contain Customer Information

-- While nearly 70 percent of customer service organizations surveyed have invested in a knowledge base, that same percentage reports that the knowledge base does not contain the information necessary for agents to solve customer issues.

-- For companies with 251-500 agents, 83 percent cannot find the information in the knowledge base.

-- For companies with more than 10,000 employees, 43 percent report that information that contact center agents need to solve customer issues resides in more than 20 different systems.

Lack of Access to Customer Information Creates Contact Center Challenges

-- Seventy (70) percent of survey respondents indicated that they are facing significant challenges as a result of agents not being able to find necessary customer information.

-- Respondents listed case handling time (50 percent), customer satisfaction (49 percent), and first contact resolution (FCR) (49 percent) as the top three challenges.

The Costs of Inefficiency

-- Knowledge base operational challenges can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Thirty (30) percent of participants estimated the impact between $100,000 to $1 million per year, including six percent who put the cost at $1 to $5 million.

-- Nearly 48 percent of respondents said less than 10 percent of customer service interactions generate revenue through cross-selling and up-selling, showing a significant opportunity to change contact centers from cost centers to revenue producers.

Results were compiled from a survey conducted in February 2011 of managers, vice presidents, and C-level executives from the computer hardware & software, complex manufacturing, medical devices, and technology services industries, responsible for customer service and support operations.

More information on contact centers can be found at

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Survey Results: How Support Behaviors are Changing for Mobile and Social Media Environments

Just a few short years ago, the idea of a dedicated mobile support strategy seemed ludicrous for most people. Even the best smartphones were often crippled by low-resolution displays, limited functionality, and incompatible Web browsers. Users often struggled with all but the most basic document editing and e-commerce tasks, and many saw these devices as good for little more than checking e-mail and keeping their calendars up to date.

Today, the line between mobile devices and computers is blurring constantly. Newer smartphones have substantial memory and storage, greatly improved processing power, and increasingly serviceable Internet and applications capabilities. And with the advent of small, portable tablet devices such as the iPad, the capability gap between a mobile device and a laptop computer is smaller than ever.

The use in social media in support follows a very similar storyline. Chances are that a couple of years ago real support meant contacting a call center or a dedicated web site; Facebook or Twitter were websites your teenage children used, and getting support through social media seemed about as logical as embedding it in your favorite video game.

To gain insight as to how mobile and social media environments are impacting support environments, and Citrix Online sponsored a survey in late 2010 to assess the impact of mobile and social media environments on support, with over 200 responses.

Key points from the survey results include the following:

• Over half of respondents either have a support strategy in place for mobile environments, or plan to implement one over the next 12 months.

• Mobile support environments are growing rapidly, with the number of respondents supporting these poised to double by late 2011.

• Increasing use of mobile devices, a more distributed customer base, and resource pressures all serve as nearly equal factors in this growth, as well as Internet compatibility across mobile devices.

• 34% of respondents either support or plan to implement social media support channels, with another 34% currently undecided.

• Facebook and Twitter are the most common channels for social media support, with LinkedIn a distant third.

• The use of web chat as a live support channel will more than double over the next year, to include over half of all survey respondents.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Study: IT Shops Running Way Too Many Applications

Nearly two-thirds of enterprises are supporting more or "far more" applications than they actually need to run their operations, according to a survey by Hewlett-Packard and Capgemini.

Just 4 percent of the roughly 100 IT decision-makers polled consider every system they run to be "business-critical," according to the study.

The simple cost of retiring applications was the leading reason cited for keeping obsolete software in production, since most IT budgets are aligned around areas like maintaining existing applications and new projects, according to the study.

Smaller companies surveyed didn't have the same problems with excessive software. Almost 75 percent of small businesses said they have "just the right" number of applications, and another 23 percent said they don't have enough.

There was a wide disparity in application portfolio sizes as well. Eighty-four percent of smaller companies said they support fewer than 50 applications. Meanwhile, enterprises reported they handle up to 10,000 applications.

Bloated and redundant IT landscapes result from factors like mergers and acquisitions, coupled with a lack of formal processes for retiring software, the study said.

Its respondents were from companies of a variety of sizes and industries, with 63 percent in Europe and 37 percent in the U.S.

More information on IT can be found at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Study on Strategies for Project Recovery Reveals the Average Firm Risks Losing At Least $74 Million in Failed Projects Each Year

Revealing new data from a recent PM Solutions’ benchmark study shows that organizations have a lot at stake in insuring that their projects are successful. The study, “Strategies for Project Recovery,” finds that the average firm manages US $200 million in projects each year, and more than a third of those projects -- $74 million worth -- are at risk of failing. The good news is that when project managers take specific actions to overcome these troubled projects, they are successful at least 75% of the time, according to the study.

The study reveals that while there are many factors that enter into the success of project recovery efforts, the project manager is one of the most important. The full report identifies the major causes that put some projects in jeopardy of failure:

-- Requirements that were unclear, contradictory, ambiguous and lacked agreement;
-- Insufficient resources, conflicts, turnover;
-- Unrealistic schedules, too tight, overly optimistic;
-- Poor planning, based on insufficient data or details, poor estimates; and,
-- Unidentified, assumed, or unmanaged risks.

In addition, according to the survey, the most common obstacles that interfere with recovering failed projects are:

-- Getting stakeholders to accept the changes needed to bring the projects back on track-whether they are changes in scope, budget, resources, etc.
-- Poor communication and stakeholder engagement; lack of clarity and trust.
-- Conflicting priorities and politics.
-- Finding enough qualified resources needed to complete the projects.
-- Lack of a process or methodology to help bring the project back on track.

More information can be found at

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yankee Group Predicts Consumers Will Drive $2 Trillion Technology Market by 2014

Yankee Group predicts the growing deployment of wireless and wired connectivity globally is fueling a consumer revolution that will drive $2 trillion in technology spending by 2014. Ubiquitous connectivity, truly mobile devices, content in the cloud and a plethora of apps are enabling consumers to live, work and play on the go. In this new environment, consumers are the new power brokers: They decide which technologies and experiences succeed -- and which ones don't.

Yankee Group calls this the era of the connected user, and its new report "The Next Tipping Point: The Connected Experience," defines how the connected user experience is driving not only technology spending, but also technology innovation.

For the last several years, Yankee Group has been tracking the tipping point of ubiquitous connectivity--what it calls "Anywhere"--when a region's number of broadband lines exceeds its population. Today nine countries have passed that tipping point, and by 2014, 30 countries around the globe will be Anywhere. 

More information on the technology marketplace can be found at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Growing APAC Contact Center Market Employs a Record 3.16 Million Agents in 2010

The Asia Pacific continued to be a high-growth region for the contact center industry even during the global economic slowdown. As the effects of the slowdown started receding in 2010, spending on customer service resumed among enterprises. In 2010, to meet rising customer demand, the region recorded a 8.5 per cent growth in contact center agent seats, and by 2017, it is expected to have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5 percent.

Along with the number of seats, agent numbers have increased, even though the high degree of attrition continues to pose a major challenge in the industry.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Assessment of Asia Pacific Contact Center Market CY2010, finds that the region boasts 2.2 million agent seats in 2010 and estimates this to reach 4.2 million in 2017.On the other hand, the economic downturn has placed greater emphasis on cost efficiency, making low-cost regions such as the Asia Pacific the offshoring destination of choice among service providers. The key markets within the region include India, the Philippines, Malaysia and China. However, the level of competition is intensifying, with various Asian countries aiming for a competitive edge.

The availability of a labor pool with substantial English and regional language skills, at lower costs, boosts offshore demand from the United States, the United Kingdom and within the Asia Pacific. Moreover, with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as large enterprises increasingly focusing on customer service as a key differentiator, the market is poised for considerable growth.

The investment per seat is higher in markets such as Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, where costs and level of application sophistication are higher than those in China, India and other markets of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Markets across the Asia Pacific region witnessed higher adoption of the Internet protocol (IP) technology due to their enterprises' desire to virtualize multi-site contact centers. Alternative models such as the hosted contact center service also experienced higher uptake with the pay-per-use model emerging an attractive cost-cutting measure. Such models offer enterprises the flexibility and scalability they desire without a huge up-front investment. The SMB segments are most likely to drive adoption of such new business models.

From a solutions perspective, call center operators have started to explore integrated suites of quality monitoring, workforce management and analytics. Concurrently, more solution vendors are taking an integrated approach with their unified communications suites.

More information on the Contact Center market can be found at

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Cloud Survey Concludes 'Jury is Still Out' on Cost Benefits of the Cloud

Apptio, a provider of on-demand Technology Business Management (TBM) solutions, announced the findings of a survey conducted in partnership with the Worldwide Executive Council (WEC). The survey provides fresh insights into how CIOs and other IT decision-makers at large enterprise organizations are evaluating and implementing cloud technologies, with a focus on the specific financial metrics they use to rationalize their investment in cloud services.

While enterprise CIOs anticipate making a significant investment in private and public cloud technologies over the next twelve months, the survey reveals that the majority of IT decision makers often don't have the necessary metrics to build an intelligent business case for moving applications and infrastructure components to the cloud. Moreover, the vast majority of those surveyed indicated that they neither possess the ability to track utilization nor are they able to recover these costs via "chargeback" or "showback", further complicating their ability to calculate ROI for the business.

Key findings of the survey include:

-- 80% of respondents get some amount of their current server infrastructure delivered through a private cloud, however, nearly 90% report they are not charging end-users based on their private cloud consumption, representing a significant gap in financial transparency and accountability of IT service costs;

-- While a majority of IT executives (64%) believe that tracking utilization levels of virtualized and cloud infrastructures will be "important" or "very important" during the next 12 months, nearly 40% said they are not currently tracking utilization levels of virtualized and cloud infrastructure;

-- Almost 90% of IT leaders surveyed believe it will be either important or 'very critical' to improve IT services tracking in virtualized and cloud environments in the coming year;

-- 80% of IT executives surveyed believe metrics related to cloud would grow in importance over the next 12 months and almost 75% believe there is very high value in being able to accurately measure the COGS for their 'cloud-based' operations; and

-- Nearly one-half of executives surveyed (48%) report the cost of cloud services to their business units as a lump sum of all IT costs while more than 20% do not provide any reporting back to their business units. 

More information on cloud computing can be found at

Monday, March 7, 2011

Survey Shows Cloud Computing Elevating the Role of IT: Focus on Business Strategy and Innovation

CA Technologies released a study indicating that cloud computing is enabling a more central role for IT in shaping business strategy and driving innovation. The vast majority of survey respondents (96 percent) believes the primary role of IT has changed over the past five years, and 71 percent expect that trend to continue over the next two years. The study, which was conducted by IDG Research Services and sponsored by CA Technologies, polled 200 IT managers in the U.S. and Europe.

More than half (54 percent) of the respondents acknowledge the current value of IT is largely defined by its role as owner and operator of IT infrastructure; however, respondents believe within two years, the primary value of IT will come from managing the IT supply chain. Fifty percent of those surveyed indicate that an increase in cloud-based services, particularly those that were formerly managed in-house, has contributed to this evolution.

The survey results also indicate that IT professionals believe cloud computing accelerates agility (63 percent), innovation (58 percent) and collaboration with the business (57 percent). Respondents anticipate cloud computing will boost IT productivity (55 percent) and decrease the level of staff time/resources dedicated to IT support (40 percent).

This transformation will require a significant change in the organization's current skill set, including a demand for more business and management experience.

Additional findings include:

-- More than half (60 percent) of respondents said demand for personnel with expertise in cloud computing has increased in the last five years, and 63 percent expect demand to grow over the next two years.

-- Two-thirds (66 percent) cited the ability to manage service providers as the IT skill that is most likely to increase in importance over the next two years.

-- Seventy-two percent said their IT organizations are focusing more time on managing outsourced IT or cloud services providers now versus five years ago, including more time spent on vendor management.

-- Nearly 70 percent of respondents agree that an increasing number of CIOs and senior IT staff will have a business (as opposed to a technology) background in the future. 

More information can be found at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

90 Percent of IT Decision Makers Investing to Secure Computing Endpoints

IBM released results from a survey of nearly 300 information technology (IT) decision makers on their companies' endpoint security initiatives. The study revealed that 90 percent of business leaders are investing in resources to better manage the security of their endpoints, including servers, PCs and laptops. Over half of those surveyed are also extending security to smartphones and other instrumented devices, with plans to increase spending in this area.

The survey results indicate organizations today are facing an evolving landscape, with new computing endpoints being added to their network every day. Not only must they manage the security of PCs and laptops, but they must also keep up with demands to secure the influx of smartphones and other instrumented devices interacting with their corporate infrastructure.

Key findings include:

-- Although 73 percent of business leaders surveyed currently allow nontraditional endpoints, such as mobile devices or tablets, to connect to their corporate networks; 36 percent feel that these devices are not adequately protected and would like to see their companies invest more in managing the security of smartphones, POS systems and other smart devices.

-- Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed indicated that their company is planning to increase their investment in security to manage and protect nontraditional endpoints.

-- 80 percent of respondents expect their organization to add new endpoints to their network in 2011.

-- While the vast majority (72 percent) of respondents say that PCs and laptops are the endpoints which pose the greatest danger to their firm's IT security; smartphones and tablets are viewed as a growing threat.

-- 33 percent of all respondents acknowledged that the inability to have visibility into all of their endpoints is their greatest security concern.

More information can be found at