Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gartner Identifies Top Vertical Industry Predictions for IT Organizations for 2013 and Beyond

Gartner, Inc. has revealed its top industry predictionsfor IT organizations and users for 2013 and beyond. Analysts said that social networking, mobile communications, the cloud and information are pressuring enterprises worldwide to make fundamental changes in business processes and that industry decision-makers should use Gartner's predictions to understand and respond to this Nexus of Forces.

CIOs and other IT and business leaders can use Gartner's predictions and recommendations to better understand the forces that are changing their world and develop strategies to address the requirements of a fast-changing business environment. The top industry predictions include:

-- By 2016, three automakers will have announced concrete plans for upcoming automobile launches that will offer autonomous vehicle technology.

-- By 2015, nontraditional money creation and exchange will enable 125 million more people to participate in the mainstream global economy.

-- By 2016, patients will be harmed or placed at risk by a medical device security breach.

-- By 2016, national governments will require institutions to surrender student records for a redesigned, cost-cutting curriculum based on big data analysis.

-- By 2015, natural-language processing (NLP) use among large healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) in English-speaking countries will quintuple, fueled by documentation, coding, quality reporting and research.

-- By 2015, to avoid becoming simply transaction factories, successful payer organizations will turn to information integration as their competitive differentiator.

-- By 2016, half of U.S. utility customers will have access to standardized energy usage data, but only 20 percent will use it.

-- By year end 2014, pay-as-you-drive insurance will rise significantly to account for 10 percent of overall annual auto insurance premiums.

-- By 2017, more than 50 percent of the media sold to advertisers by agencies will be priced based on performance.

-- By 2014, less than 2 percent of consumers globally will adopt Near Field Communication (NFC)-based mobile payments.

-- More than 50 percent of government shared-service organizations that provide cloud services by 2015 will discontinue or downscale them by 2017.

-- By 2015, 50 percent of Tier 1 consumer goods manufacturers will invest in technology startups to maintain access to emerging business-to-consumer (B2C) technology.

-- Through 2014 enterprise software spend will increase by 25 percent from current figures as a consequence of the proliferation of smart operational technology (OT).

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Private Software Firms See Strongest Revenue Growth Since Recession Began, Expect Big Job Gains

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced the results of the 2012 SoftwareBenchmarking Industry Report, which finds that private software companies are experiencing the largest revenue growth since 2008 and expect strong job growth. The report – which was developed by SIIA partner OPEXEngine, an aggregator of financial and operating benchmarks for small and mid-sized software companies – surveyed private and public U.S. firms with up to $350 million in revenues.

The 2012 Report identifies significant revenue growth rates, strong job creation and high expectations. According to the report, participating private software firms achieved an average revenue growth rate of 37 percent in 2011 – 10 percent beyond the growth rate achieved in 2010 – and they anticipate further gains in 2012. Importantly, companies say they plan to increase employee headcount in 2012 by an average of 27 percent – the highest hiring expectation since the recession. 

Key findings from the 2012 Software Benchmarking Industry Report include:

-- Private firms expect to increase headcount by an average of 27 percent. Firms with revenue under  $10 million and between $10 and $20 million anticipate the biggest hiring gains at 38 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively.

-- Private software firms achieved an average revenue growth rate of 37 percent in 2011, compared to 28 percent in 2010.

-- Private companies in the $20-$40 million range had the highest revenue growth rate (46 percent).

-- 80 percent of private software companies surveyed expect 20 percent or greater revenue growth in 2012, while 30 percent expect higher than 50 percent.

-- Revenue growth rates were higher for the West Coast companies – almost 50 percent versus 36 percent for the East Coast companies. 

-- In terms of operating expenses, East Coast companies spent 66 percent of what West Coast companies spent.

-- Employee productivity on the East Coast was 5 percent higher than on the West Coast.

-- East Coast companies anticipate a 35 percent growth in headcount during 2012, compared to 26 percent for West Coast companies.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Survey: More Companies Planning To Give Back To Employees This Holiday Season Than Last

The scrooge economy appears to be loosening its grip, as CareerBuilder's annual study shows companies plan to offer more perks (bonuses, parties, gifts) than last year. The national study was conducted by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2012 and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

Bonuses: Forty-six percent of employers expect to give their employees holiday bonuses this year, up from 40 percent last year and 33 percent in 2010.  Nearly one in five of them (19 percent) plan to provide a larger bonus than last year.
Parties: Six in ten (60 percent) employers are throwing a holiday party for their employees this year, up from 58 percent last year and 53 percent in 2010.  Forty percent of workers say they plan to attend.

Gifts: Thirty-six percent of employers plan to give holiday gifts, up from 30 percent in 2011 and 2010. 

Twenty-three percent of workers plan to buy holidays gifts for co-workers this year and 22 percent are buying for their boss. The majority (81 percent) of workers who plan to buy gifts expect to spend $25 or less for each holiday gift they buy for the office. Thirty-eight percent plan to spend $10 or less and 10 percent plan to spend less than $5.   

When asked to share the most memorable gifts received from co-workers, workers reported:

-- CD of the co-worker's recorded songs

-- Dolphin oven mitt

-- 4 rolls of toilet paper

-- A harpoon

-- Can of wasp spray

-- Jar of sand

-- Homemade pickles

-- Conch shell

-- Lava lamp filled with fake fish

-- Expired body lotion

-- Book about kittens

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Six Best Practices for Moving to a Culture of Extreme Collaboration

CIOs and business managers will fail in their efforts to improve business performance outcomes through business process management (BPM) if they cannot overcome major barriers to cross-functional communication and collaboration, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said that business leaders can avoid this failure by embracing extreme collaboration (XC), a new operating model and an extreme style of collaboration. Gartner has identified six best practices for moving to a culture of XC:

Foster the Use of Virtual, Web-Based Collaboration Spaces in People's Daily Jobs
Gartner believes that one way to spur novel forms of collaboration is to select an activity currently handled through traditional methods, such face-to-face meetings or email, and encourage it to take place in a virtual, likely Web-based, collaboration space instead. These environments are easily accessed and almost always available. Virtual environments used to host such spaces can range from process collaboration environments to social networks or on-premises collaborative and social media tools.

Exploit the Value of Near-Real-Time Communication Addiction
The surge in real-time, or near-real-time, communication activities, such as texting, tweeting or updating Facebook, is not just a fad and businesses should embrace and encourage such behavior. Establishing real-time communication habits in the workplace enables a freer flow of information and more proactive notifications, so that people can respond more quickly to unexpected events and business disruptions. This can address the common problem of information being constrained and delayed through formal communication channels that run up and down the organizational hierarchy, or through defined email and need-to-know distribution lists. Real-time communication can break entrenched behaviors of relying on the management hierarchy to distribute information appropriately and, thereby, help overcome some of the communication-related problems associated with organizational politics.

Use Crowdsourcing and Popular Social Media Tools to Facilitate Dynamic Communities and Collaboration
One good way to kick-start the mind-set for extreme collaboration is to host a "tweet jam" to trigger a dynamic community to brainstorm on a problem. This involves simply setting a time and topic, and encouraging people to participate and get working. Unlike a conversation in a meeting room, all communication is captured so there's a clear record of what was discussed, who contributed ideas, and which participants excelled at facilitating discussions and problem-solving. Crowdsourcing is also proving to be very effective for bringing together people — who often didn't previously know each other — to tackle shared problems. Although not XC, per se; crowdsourcing is another style of collaboration.

Change Reward Systems to Encourage Collaboration
Today's dominant performance management methods are ineffective for process-centric organizations, because they discourage collaboration by rewarding individual efforts to deliver specific, one-time outcomes, rather than rewarding collaboration and team efforts. Enterprises that embrace XC reward influence collaborative behavior that contributes to resolving complex problems, in addition to rewarding individual deliverables. They design performance evaluations and incentives to foster teamwork and reward exceptional collaborators. The use of collaboration technologies also makes it easier to track collaborative behavior and tie it directly to outcomes achieved.

Use Social Network Analysis to Measure the Collaborative Behavior of Teams
Another way to measure and reward collaborative behavior is to track how people interact. Social network analysis (SNA) and some social media monitor people's social network influence. An XC culture is built on openness, trust and mutual respect and SNA is a technique to help process owners and business process improvement (BPI) leaders identify strong social networks where a foundation of trust and respect exist. Once such networks are identified, organizations should try to leverage these relationships by asking these groups of individuals to pool their collective strengths to address some critical, cross-boundary process performance challenge. Other social, mobile and cloud technologies will also provide new ways to track how and where people have collaborated and to measure what happened.

Plan Group Events to Kick-Start Real-Time Communication and Collaboration
A few simple steps can help force people out of their "comfort zones" to experiment with new ways of collaborating and interacting, including:

-- Designating mobile-video attendees at meetings. 
-- Use game play to spur new forms of collaboration and creative interaction. 
-- Consider turning off email for a defined time period. 
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Consumers Defect in Growing Numbers But Majority Say “You Could Have Kept Me,” Accenture Research Finds

In 2012, one in five consumers switched companies they buy from, including wireless phone, internet service, and retailers, according to new research by Accenture. This marks a five percent increase in switching over 2011 levels. However, the eighth annual Accenture Global Consumer Survey also found that the majority (85 percent) of consumers say the companies could have done something differently to prevent them from switching. 
The survey, which polled more than 12,000 consumers in 32 countries, found that among those consumers who would have stayed if their provider had acted differently, two-thirds (67 percent) pointed to having their customer service issue resolved during their first contact as a factor. More than half (54 percent) might have remained loyal if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider. The survey revealed that, of the ten industries covered, the largest rises in switching were among wireless phone providers (26 percent of consumers switched in 2012, up from 21 percent in 2011); internet service providers (23 percent switched, up from 19 percent in 2011) and retailers (22 percent switched, up from 16 percent in 2011).

Broken promises are a top area of frustration for consumers, according to the survey:nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents indicate it’s extremely frustrating when a company delivers a different customer service experience from what it promised upfront. Seventy eight percent of consumers say they are likely to switch providers when they encounter such broken promises. Other frustrations that make consumers more likely to switch include:

 -- Having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason (selected by 65 percent of consumers)
-- Dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65 percent)
-- Being on hold for a long time when contacting customer service (61 percent)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ventana Research Releases Agent Desktop Benchmark Research

Ventana Research has released its latest Benchmark Research, The Unified Agent Desktop and the Customer Experience. The research shows that the primary channel for customer service remains interaction with agents in contact centers. Currently, fewer than half (47%) of participating organizations said that their customers are satisfied with their customer service or how their contact centers handle interactions. This has led nearly three-quarters (74%) of participants to say that improving customer service is very important while just over one-half(53%) feel that improving contact center performance is equally as important.

The real challenge lies in providing every agent with a unified view of customer data. If an agent has to scour multiple sources of data to resolve conflicts or provide service, they risk the loss of the customer’s confidence, or worse the loss of the customer altogether. As technologies continue to advance, the need to implement a unified desktop becomes increasingly more important. Participants hoping to improve response time while enabling customers to communicate through more channels will need to better align their planned technology investments with these goals. Based on the research a unified desktop is currently used in just 28% of participant’s contact centers. While 23% plan to implement within the next 12 months, another 23% have no intention of investing in a unified agent desktop.
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