7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 4: How Is The Customer Service Technology Ecosystem Changing?

Kate Leggett

Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Part 3  reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.

Let’s now focus on how the customer service ecosystem is changing.

  • The customer service vendor landscape is consolidating. Nice Systems, Oracle, salesforce.com, and SAP are just a few examples of leading customer service solution vendors that have aggressively acquired other vendors in order to support consistent, effortless multichannel customer service experiences. For example, in 2011, Oracle acquired InQuira, a leading knowledge management solution. In 2012, it acquired RightNow Technologies, a cloud CRM vendor that emphasizes customer experience and contact center technology. RightNow had gone through its own series of acquisitions prior to this, acquiring Q-Go, a natural-language search vendor, and HiveLive, a social media monitoring vendor. These acquisitions are happening because customer service leaders want a simpler, single-vendor technology solution to manage, instead of having to buy, integrate, and manage disparate systems from a number of vendors.
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Haste Makes Waste — Take Your Time When Selecting Business Applications

Jost Hoppermann

When my teenage son is interested in purchasing a mobile phone, some PC equipment, or a games console, he will typically spend weeks gathering the necessary information to arrive at a well-informed decision. He once told me that he feels this is necessary to make the best use of his savings — a trait that I do not always observe banks around the world exhibiting.

Recently I had a phone call with a few people from the business side of a medium-size bank somewhere in the world. Their challenge? They wanted to use the best method to find the mobile banking application most suited to their bank. Their real challenge? They had no time to make a deeper assessment of their individual business and technology situation and only wanted to get proof that their approach would be the right one. They wanted a clear recommendation within a few days.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. When I know nothing about a bank’s business environment, its supporting application landscape, and its underlying technology, I am very reluctant to offer more than a long list of business applications, regardless of whether the topic at hand is mobile or cross-channel solutions, core banking, or something else. This is in line with a research report about best practices for banking platform transformation that Forrester published some time ago. At the time, we identified a few key reasons common to major banking platform transformation failures. One of those reasons: ill-designed shortcuts.

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Key Findings From Our Site Search Market Overview

Anjali Yakkundi

Although often overlooked, site search plays a vital role in your digital customer experience strategy. It helps improve customer self-service, increase sales conversion rates, and increase page views and site traffic. Accordingly, organizations are revisiting their site search technology decisions. They need site search tools that deliver more personal experiences to customers in ways including contextual results pages, promotions, recommendations, and dynamic browsing and navigation structures.

Our recent site search market overview  examined 14 site search solutions, including commercial solutions from Adobe Systems, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apptus Technologies, Attivio, Coveo Solutions, EasyAsk, Google, HP Autonomy, Mindbreeze, Nextopia, Oracle, SDL, and SLI Systems. We also looked at the open source solution Lucene/Solr. Some of our biggest findings were that:

  • Search is more than processing queries. As site search technology has matured, vendors have started to branch out beyond core query processing to support overall trends like browsing and navigation, content presentation, customer self-service, product recommendation, merchandising, and local search.
  • The search vendor market is consolidating. As search technology has matured and moved into adjacent areas, the vendor search landscape has matured and consolidated, with many independent vendors getting acquired like Fredhopper (acquired by SDL), Omniture (Adobe),  and Endeca (acquired by Oracle). Other vendors have shifted focus; IBM has focused the Vivisimo product, for example, more on big data concerns. Despite this, some stalwarts and independent vendors remain on the market (e.g. Google, Coveo, Attivio).
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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 3: What Are The Problems Caused By Current Customer Service Technology?

Kate Leggett

I’m back from maternity leave, so youll be hearing more regularly from me now . . .

. . . So, to continue my series on customer service — its value, the challenges in getting it right, and what you can do about it from a technology perspective — here is a quick recap of my two older posts, and a new one from today. Enjoy.

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Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology  and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Let’s now focus on the tactical outcomes of suboptimal customer service technology.  Customer service organizations are struggling to:

  • Provide standardized customer service across communication channels. Transactional data and customer history are often inconsistent and not reliably available to agents across communication channels.
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Why It's Important To Start Every Big Data Project With A Question

Martha Bennett

During a recent webinar on big data, several listeners wanted to know what the biggest stumbling blocks and reasons for failure were when it comes to big data projects, and what they could do to avoid them. Given the amount of resonance, in particular the top issue I cited, I thought I’d share it in this blog post. Please let me have your views and comments.

There are clearly many reasons why projects struggle or fail, and big data projects are no exception. What can put big data initiatives in a league of their own, though, is the level of (typically unrealistic) expectations often associated with “big data” technologies. Based on many conversations with clients, consultants, and conference delegates over the past couple of years, I find three key issues are being mentioned time and again. These are:

  • Not starting the project with a question
  • Underestimating the technical skills and expertise required
  • Creating another data silo
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What Is The Key To DAM Success?

Anjali Yakkundi

In a world with increasing numbers of rich media assets and a diverse set of distribution channels, more and more organizations are taking a closer look at rich media management options. Despite this increased interest, most organizations I talk to have relatively nascent digital asset management (DAM) initiatives. To better help organization create mature and successful DAM strategies, I’m currently updating our 2011 report on DAM best practices. So far, the most successful organizations we spoke with said success was based on three main components:

  • Selecting the right technology vendor. Too many organizations we speak with treat DAM like a series of widgets. Certainly, customization often cannot overcome a misaligned DAM technology so feature functionality is important. But successful organizations look beyond a list of features. Instead, they look at criteria like vendor momentum, product road maps, enterprise customer references, integration strategies, vendor stability, upgrade path, and vendor strategic vision. You’ll have a long-term relationship with whatever vendor you choose, so make sure it has the features to get you by today, and a vision that will set you up for success in the future.
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Deutsche Telekom Ought To Play A More Central Role As Energy Sector Ecosystems Manager

Holger Kisker

By Dan Bieler and Holger Kisker

At its annual Energy Analyst And Sourcing Advisor Event in Berlin, Deutsche Telekom/T-Systems re-emphasized its commitment to service the energy sector with a dedicated offering. Over the past three years, Deutsche Telekom has spent significant resources in building up expertise to become a platform and service provider for the utility sector. Our main observations during the event were that Deutsche Telekom:

 

 

  • Achieved a major breakthrough to offer cloud-based SAP IS-U for SMBs. D-Telekom/T-Systems is bringing a brand new cloud solution to the market that is based on SAP’s market-leading industry solution IS-U, but is not limited to it. Additional solution components like a CRM module, marketing communication, and some in-house developed energy data management and portal make up for an end-to-end solution for utilities, delivered in a single comprehensive cloud service. The whole solution is licensed, with pricing based on metering points, including the SAP software license, which is a major breakthrough to reduce technical and commercial complexity for utilities companies.
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App Dev Pros Have Been Using Metrics For The Wrong Reason: Control. It's Time To Use Metrics To Validate And Improve Delivery!

Diego Lo Giudice

Within the modern applications era, regardless of whether new software applications are being developed and delivered for mobile, tablets, or the Web, the truly successful app-dev leaders will be those who focus on delivering constant value and incremental improvement to their business. That is a totally different perspective from “I need to keep control of my team’s productivity to make sure that we stick to our estimated costs, scope, and project dates.” Of course, the interest in cost is never going away, but app-dev leaders today have a great chance to enhance their conversation with executives and business stakeholders and add value to the conversation.

However, as the recent research I just published, Agile Metrics That Matter, proves, while some of the most advanced Agile teams do use new progress, quality, efficiency, and value/benefits metrics (these to a lesser degree), some software development industry luminaries have worked and are working on new methods to measure value in software development. But it’s still early days!

I’d like to summarize here some good old practices on establishing metrics that count together with some of the new findings of the research:

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Influence Forrester’s Future Banking Apps Coverage

Jost Hoppermann

Forrester’s latest survey on financial services architecture shows that financial services firms in general, and banks in particular, put a high priority on a few selected topics (see the figure below). Our banking-specific research for AD&D professionals has focused on topics like banking architecture, banking platforms including core banking, Internet and mobile banking (to be published soon), and multichannel enablement. Forrester’s more industry-neutral research has covered aspects such as analytics, business intelligence, big data, customer relationsship management and other, less industry-specific, areas of business applications.

We have also started preparing a report about the key building blocks of today’s risk management solutions. However, my recent discussions with Forrester clients have covered plenty of additional topics, including anti-money-laundering, branch apps, private wealth management, lending in retail/consumer banking, corporate/commercial lending and its syndicated flavors, mortgages, trading, and treasury, just to mention a few.

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What's Next For Digital Customer Experience Tools?

Anjali Yakkundi

Many enterprises we’ve spoken with have discovered that great digital customer experiences matter to their customers and ultimately have tangible bottom-line benefits. If you’re involved in delivering and executing great digital customer experiences, you’ll want to access Forrester’s new TechRadar report that digs into the diverse, rapidly evolving technology ecosystem that supports this strategic business imperative. My colleague David Aponovich recently wrote about the importance of these technologies. When sourcing these technologies, keep some of these key findings in mind:

  • Delivering contextual experiences is the holy grail for most organizations. This deeper level of personalization something organizations continue to strive for in order to deliver more relevant, adaptive, and predictive experiences to the customer. Technologies supporting contextualization dominate this TechRadar’s Growth phase.
  • Organizations need technologies that create business value out of a glut of data. The reality is that good content strategies rely on data to provide customer insights. Companies that effectively harness customer data, product data, social media data, and other information to create and deliver contextual cross-channel experiences will experience brand differentiation, customer loyalty, improved online metrics, and cross-channel revenue growth.
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