As many of you know, Forrester conducted a joint research study earlier this year, in conjunction with the US chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF-USA). The report is finally now available to the deserving. Forrester clients can download it using the normal access methods. Members of itSMF-USA will receive their copy from itSMF-USA. If you contributed, but do not fall into either category, Forrester will be sending you your copy.
You can read a few of the finding in my original post announcing the completion of the study. An example of the findings is the level of satisfaction with service desk solutions. While satisfaction in general is higher than one would think, a SaaS model has proven especially satisfactory:
Please let me know if you are having difficulty obtaining your report. Thank you again for all the participation that led us to these findings! We look forward to next year’s study!
Today, the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service.
Companies know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that it’s critical to their company’s success, and 63% think its importance has risen. Yet companies struggle to offer an experience that meets their customers’ expectations at a cost that make sense to them, especially in these economically challenging times.
The end result for companies is significant: escalating service costs, customer satisfaction numbers at rock-bottom levels, and anecdotes of poor service experiences amplified over social channels that can lead to brand erosion.
Mastering the customer service experience is hard to do. Focusing on the end-to-end experience can help you move the needle in a positive direction. In this 10-part blog series, I will outline one tip each day that you should think about.
Tip 1: Do you know how your customers want to interact with you?
Customers know what good service is and demand it from each interaction they have, over any communication channel that they use. Forrester’s data shows that in general, customers still prefer to use the phone, closely followed by email and web self-service. That being said, customer demographics affect channel preference with the younger generation more comfortable using peer-to-peer communication and instant service channels like chat. Its important to understand the demographics and communication preferences of your customers.
Recently, two top-tier American universities announced plans to launch new global satellite campuses. Yale University will partner with the National University of Singapore to set up a joint campus in Singapore, and MIT, which already has a global campus in Abu Dhabi, is partnering with the Skolkovo Foundation to develop a graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia. Yale University and MIT are not the only universities to expand globally. In fact, having a global satellite campus (or even multiple global satellite campuses) is a growing trend among universities trying to remain competitive in an increasingly global world (see the “flight map” figure below).
The expansion of universities poses a huge opportunity for technology vendors who are already accustomed to “going global.” Technology vendors can offer universities a way to bridge the geography gap through technologies such as intercampus networks, videoconferencing, and content-sharing platforms that allow students and faculty at global campuses to stay connected with the home campus. However, vendors need to be aware of the many challenges that are inherent in education ICT. To learn more about the global campus phenomenon and how vendors can seize this opportunity, check out my latest report, "Opportunities In Education’s Global Expansion: Tap Global Enterprise Experience and Local Expertise."
Whether or not IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders believe they are well-positioned to support customer growth, the business does. Their expectations are high, and they firmly believe that technology's ability to serve and support customers is most valuable, even more so than cost savings. To deliver on these ambitions, I&O leaders must follow suit and build a customer-obsessed organization that takes an outside-in view from the customer's perspective — not inside-out from the data center.
While this transformation will be anything but easy, there are invaluable lessons to be learned from those who have already taken on the challenge of rebooting their people, process, and technology to become more customer-centric. Lessons from companies like Fidelity, where Wilson D’Souza, Senior VP of End User Computing, and George Brady, Executive VP of Distributing Hosting For Fidelity Technology Group, have applied these “rebooting” principles to improve associate experience. In preparation for their upcoming keynote at next week’s Infrastructure & Operations Forum, I recently spoke with Wilson and George about the importance of building customer-centric infrastructure:
Why is the concept of "customer-centricity" so important to Fidelity's business?
Serving our customers has been at the core of Fidelity’s business since our founding 65 years ago. Our goal is to provide the best customer experience and outcomes in our industry. We believe that customer experience results achieved are a function of the technology environment we provide our associates.
That was my thought as I sat down to a lovely banquet dinner to kick off the Low-Carbon Earth Summit (LCES) in Dalian China a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be on the keynote agenda at this conference and was sharing dinner with local dignitaries from Dalian and some sustainability luminaries from around the world.
My fellow keynoters hailed from Germany, Brazil, China, Switzerland, and the US. And one of the topics over dinner was the coming round of sustainability conferences, COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, next month; the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January; and Rio+20 in Brazil next June, all part of what the UN has dubbed its "Sustainable energy for all" initiative.
Which got me to thinking: Is it sustainable for all these experts to be flying around the world attending sustainability conferences? The "industry" of creating more sustainable business, home, and public environments should be a role model.
All of us involved in improving sustainability should take a look at our travel schedules and see if cutting one or more of those long-haul flights can be part of our "carbon diet" for the coming year.
And we should pay attention to technology-enabled alternatives, like the VERGE virtual conference run a few months ago by my friends at GreenBiz. Videoconferencing, webcasting, and other technologies can help habitual conference-goers like myself to separate participation in an event from travel to the event.
When will our IT Support people learn (or be taught)? Listening to a family member talk about the issues they’re having with their corporate laptop and how IT Support has responded has made me both angry and embarrassed to be associated with the IT Support community.
Sorry for the potentially gross generalization, I do know that there are a great number of excellent IT Support people out there who bend over backwards to help their internal customers; with “customers” the key word here. However, like many other internal functions, IT Support can forget that they are dealing with internal customers or the internal consumers of IT services (OK, they can only forget if they knew it in the first place). They forget that it is not about the IT, that it has to be about the people and the business.
So what happened?
It started with a virus (where was the corporate antivirus when it was needed?). The IT Support first contact response was “Bring it into the office tomorrow. You will be in breach of contract if you don’t.” Say what? Is that how we treat our “customers”?
Anyway, two days later the laptop is handed back with an older version of IE and no shortcuts to anything other than Office. “There was no time to do more” the IT Support response. The “customer” response: “I'm giving up on my work laptop and using my own” and I&O continues to encourage its own downfall.
Now that you’ve settled into your latest position as the head of Hewlett-Packard, we wish to make a request of you. That request is, “Please take HP back to the greatness it once represented.” The culture once known as “The HP Way” has gone astray and the people have suffered as a result. Those people are of course the vast collection of incredible HP employees, but also its even vaster collection of customers. They (ahem, we) once believed in the venerable enterprise that Bill Hewlett and David Packard conceived and built through the latter half of the 20th century.
HP became renowned for its innovation and the quality of its products. While they tended to be pricey, we bought HP products because we knew they would perform well and perform long. We could count on HP to not only sell us technology, but to guide us in our journey to use this technology for the betterment of our own lives. We yearn for the old HP that inspired Steve Jobs to change the world – and he did!
We need not remind you of what transpired over the past decade or so, but we do have some suggestions for what you should address to restore the luster of HP’s golden age:
Commit to a mission. HP needs an audacious mission that articulates a purpose for every employee, from you and the HP board all the way down to the lowest levels. Borrow a page from IBM’s Smarter Planet mission. While it sometimes seems over the top, that’s the whole point. It is over the top and speaks to a bold mission to create a new world. Slowly but surely, IBM is making the planet smarter. Steve Jobs got Apple to convince us to Think Different, and we did. What is HP’s mission?
Cloud-based alternatives to message archiving are an increasingly attractive option for enterprise buyers. Budgetary constraints, coupled with increasing compliance regulations and eDiscovery needs, are compelling companies to search for message archiving solutions that offer a broad set of functionality at an attractive price. With today’s extended enterprise, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is top of mind as companies look to garner the cost-saving benefits and deployment advantages that this model can deliver. Strong adoption is well on its way. Among organizations rolling out message archiving in 2011, over one-fifth plan to implement a cloud-based solution, and I expect this number will only grow in 2012. For an evaluation of key vendors and key market shifts, Forrester clients can access the market overview on SaaS-based message archiving that we published last month.
A cloud-based solution is a viable solution for many, but message archiving professionals shouldn’t see these offerings as a panacea. Before embarking on taking message archiving to the cloud, make sure you’ve done your homework on vendor and contractual issues and continue to address the strategy, policy, and process challenges as you would with other in-house alternatives. Whether you’re rolling out your first message archiving solution or are planning to carry over your legacy application, make sure you're taking the necessary precautions to make sure that your implementation is a success.
I love the idea of the Edmonton’s Planning Academy, which offers planning courses to anyone in the city. What a great way to get citizens involved in the complex challenges of city planning! It made me want to live in Edmonton. OK, so maybe I’m kind of addicted to school, and taking classes (corporate learning programs, continuing studies programs and even the Red Cross have seen me in their classrooms in recent years). But really, this one looks so cool I had to write about it.
The City of Edmonton’s Planning Academy’s goal is to “provide a better understanding of the planning and development process in Edmonton.” And, it grants a Certificate of Participation following completion of the three core courses and one elective. These three core courses include:
There are four main categories of MFT solutions available in the market today, including:
Robust, general-purpose solutions. These are products that provide comprehensive MFT features based on enhanced FTP capability in the areas of security, administration, and governance support. One example in this area is IBM Sterling Connect:Direct, which has a long history in providing MFT support. Many other vendors, including Axway, Ipswitch, and Tibco, also provide products in this category.
High-speed solutions. A small number of vendors provide MFT products specifically designed to support high-speed file transfers. Tibco's RocketStream and GroupLogic's MassTransit are leading examples of this type of product.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solutions. Several vendors, including Accellion, Adobe, Aspera, Cyber-Ark Software, IntraLinks, Ipswitch, Liaison Technologies, ShareFile, and Smith Micro Software, offer MFT solutions hosted in the cloud.
Ad hoc and email-based solutions. Vendors including Ipswitch, Smith Micro Software, and YouSendIt provide MFT solutions based on commonly available email systems such as Microsoft Outlook.