Forrester's Top 15 Trends For Customer Service In 2012

With 2012 still bright and full of hope for most of us, what are the key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as you plan for success this year? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. Get my full report here.

Leaders Will Empower Their Agents To Deliver Optimal Service

Trend 1: Organizations Will Internalize The Importance Of The Universal Customer History Record

Customer service agents must have access to the full history of a customer’s prior interactions over all the communication channels — voice, electronic channels like chat and email, and the newer social channels like Facebook and Twitter — to deliver personalized service and to strengthen the relationship that customers have with companies. In 2012, vendors will continue to add  the management of social channels to their customer service products. Companies will slowly continue to formalize the business processes and governance structures around managing social inquiries and move this responsibility out of marketing departments and into customer service centers.

Trend 2: The Agent Experience Will No Longer Be An Afterthought

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Forrester's Latest Global IT Market Forecast Shows Slower Growth Of 5% In 2012, With Better Growth In 2013

We have just published Forrester's current forecast for the global market for information technology goods and services purchased by businesses and governments (see January 6, 2011, "Global Tech Market Outlook For 2012 And 2013"), and it shows growth of 5.4% in 2012 in US dollars and 5.3% in local currency terms. Those growth rates are a bit lower than our prior forecast in September 2011 (see September 16, 2011, “Global Tech Market Outlook For 2011 And 2012 — Economic And Financial Turmoil Dims 2012 Prospects"), where we projected 2012 growth of 5.5% in US dollars and 6.5% in local currency terms. I would note that these numbers include business and government purchases of computer and communications equipment, software, and IT consulting and outsourcing services equal to $2.1 trillion in 2012, but do not include telecommunications services.

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From The Coal Face: Real World IT Service Management And ITIL Adoption Sound Bites

Remember 2011? It seems a long time ago already.

At the start of August, I wrote a speculative blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community which was somewhat of a personal plea for anyone involved in IT operations, IT service delivery, IT support, etc. to “give back” to the larger community. This highlighted (or reminded us of) the need for the creation of lower-level, more granular, and ultimately more practical best practice information that is freely available to IT service management (ITSM) practitioners; as a quick start mechanism and/or to prevent the continued reinvention of the wheel by organizations wishing to better themselves. It all looked good with over three thousand unique views on the Forrester Blog site alone.

In late October (yes, I know I am slow), I published ITSM Practitioner Health Check: The ITSM Community Strikes Back with an associated survey hoping that hundreds if not thousands of ITSM practitioners would offer their views as to where we, as a community, need most help. The results?

ITSM Practitioner Health Check: initial results

Firstly, I need to temper my expectations: the survey was open for two months and plugged by many on Twitter and by organizations such as the itSMF UK, the SDI, and Hornbill but still only 149 people started the survey. Why did I say “started,” because only 76 completed the two “meaty” questions.

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MDM In 2012: What Was, What Will Be . . . And What Won’t Be

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2012, I’d like to reflect on what was accomplished during the past year in the “trusted data” areas of master data management (MDM), data quality (DQ), and data governance and consider what we might expect in the year to come. I also hear quite a bit of noise from vendors and analysts alike about what they want the MDM market to be in 2012, so I wanted to share my thoughts on what’s real and what (in my opinion) remains hype. 

I also just completed Forrester’s December 2011 Global MDM Survey of 274 MDM professionals. While the majority of those results will be shared in the annual MDM Trends research that I’ll be publishing later in Q1, here’s a taste of some of the intriguing results.

Let’s first reflect on what I’ve witnessed from my clients MDM journeys throughout 2011:

  • Data governance remained a challenge. In the abovementioned MDM survey, only 20% responded that they have a high or very high level of data governance maturity, indicating that significant work remains. But on the positive side, I’m witnessing increasing business sponsorship and prioritization, which has helped many organizations pilot programs to cut their teeth and build some repeatable processes, foundational policies, and early measurements to start building a case to increase data governance investment and momentum.
  • Multidomain MDM hit its stride. User interest in multidomain MDM strategies has finally caught up with vendors’ product capabilities and messaging. In Forrester’s MDM Survey, 47% responded that the scope of their MDM programs include more than two data domains to master, while another 9% are focused on dual-domain solutions (e.g, customer and product).
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Software Requirements Are Where We Define Value

Revolutions take two forms. The most familiar kind is the noisy, conspicuous, disjunctive event that marks a clean break from the past. Yesterday, George III was our monarch. Today, he's not. The other kind of revolution is a more gradual and subtle event, when multiple forces pointing in the same direction push people into a new world. The shock of Pearl Harbor, the power vacuum left by a devastated Europe and Japan, a reinvigorated economy, and an aggressive superpower adversary made Americans feel, for the first time, that they needed to be far more deeply involved in international affairs than ever before. Without any formal declaration, Americans became internationalists after 1945.

Something like that second kind of revolution has happened with software requirements. Over the past decade or so, organizations grew increasingly worried about the problems that took root in bad requirements. The problems took many forms (portfolios filled with applications no one was using, users unhappy with the software that complicated their lives more than helped them, ideas that no one vetted carefully, etc.) and arose from just as many sources.

All of these discontents pointed in a common direction: Take requirements more seriously. In Forrester's Q1 2011 Application Development And Delivery Organization Structure Online Survey, "improvements of requirements" appeared at the top of the list of initiatives that would improve software development the most.

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New Year's Resolution for I&O Professionals: Lead Consumerization From The Front

Step into my office, fellow I&O professional, and join me on a brief but rich journey of imagination. Imagine you're a business jet sales sales rep. Now imagine that this morning you went to the garage where you keep your company car and for the second time in a month, the key fob won't open the doors and you have no other way in. You have a big airplane deal on the table with the head of an investment bank in the city in 1 hour, and it's a 50 minute drive. Just then…as if to mock your dilemma…a voice from the car says "I'm sorry Dave, you do not have access to this car. Would you like to request access from the car's owner?" "IT'S MY CAR", you shout! You think of your boss and what she's going to say: "You should have allowed more time, Dave. Remember, YOU are responsible for your quota. Everyone has the same challenges. It's up to YOU to think ahead."

After an hour, the door unlocks and the car's voice apologizes. "I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, Dave. The motor pool coordinator forgot to add your name to the list of sales reps with company cars after the sales re-org last week. It has been fixed now." $%&#! you yell. You missed the client meeting and the deal, and you will also now miss your quota. To make sure it NEVER happens again, you start making other transportation arrangements. In fact, you think the new Land Rover Evoque fits your style and perhaps you don't need the company car after all. You're being paid on results, and excuses -- no matter how legitimate -- don't count.

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Bottom-Up Innovations That Change How IT Does Sustainability

There is still another quiet day or two on the fresh page of my calendar, before the new year really gets going. Schools are still playing Bowl games, and the tree is still up (if brown-ish), so it must still be the holiday season.

And I have three topics I want to discuss before the 2012 agenda kicks into gear. These aren't really on the mainline IT-for-sustainability topic, but rather observations on changes underway in the IT industry, which may have some implications for companies' or individuals' sustainability efforts downstream.

Have you heard of Kickstarter? This is social media meets venture capital meets (very) early-stage entrepreneurs, tech and otherwise. Pretty much accidentally, I was pinged by and ended up contributing to two different projects which I will mention below. But check out the overall story at Kickstarter; it looks to me like a revolution-in-the making in terms of how new ideas will get funding and build community (increasingly those are one in the same).

The first project that found its way to my inbox is called Twine. It's . . . how to describe it? It's a little box that connects things to the Internet. Along with some software rules, the Twine box links internal or external sensors (temperature, moisture, motion, open/close, and the like) to the Internet via an email, text, or tweet.

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Exploring Social Computing Possibilities With Singapore Public Sector CIOs

Several months ago I hosted a roundtable discussion with public-sector CIOs from multiple Singapore government agencies. We focused specifically on social computing — how it will alter the way public-sector agencies interact with constituents and each other. While the focus was on Singapore, the key takeaways are universal, hence my interest in sharing the findings here.

In the midst of discussing the usual suspects — concerns about security, privacy, risk management, audit, and compliance — we came to a consensus on some key points:

  • Clearly identify what services or information constituents actually want, not what the agency wants to deliver. A poorly implemented social computing app risks becoming a glorified suggestion box, or worse — “next-generation knowledge management.” In other words, a costly solution looking for a problem. Focus instead on how to actively engage users — using advanced analytics and business intelligence (BI) to deliver value. In some cases, it is as simple as asking instead of assuming.
  • Combining formal and informal data will be a major challenge.The more effective agencies are at encouraging voluntary, “opt-in” style usage, the more challenging it will be to segregate user-provided information and data from more formal, agency-provided data that must be rigorously maintained and secured. Take this information “sourcing” issue into account when documenting data management policies.
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The Top Thirteen Customer Management Trends For 2012

What are the key trends that CRM trends that business and IT professionals need to pay attention to in setting their plans during 2012? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research and recommendations for how to compete in The Age of the Customer will be published in late January.

1. Customer experience management will move beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations will move beyond empty goals like becoming “customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization.

2. Brands will embrace the experience ecosystem. Firms will move to break free from their organizational silos, invest in understanding customer moments of truth through journey-mapping, and embrace the concept of the “customer experience ecosystem” — one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.

3. Experience management will emerge as a management discipline. There is increasing acceptance of the idea that customer experience management can be thought of as a discipline — a set of sound, repeatable practices such as those are defined in Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Framework.

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Social Media Analytics: Revolutionizing Marketing Campaign Management

Social media are the intelligence powering modern marketing. Not only is the Twittersphere dominated by marketers keen on the promotional power of social channels, but it seems everybody in the marketing profession everywhere is obsessed with this new world of ubiquitous chitchat.

Everybody comments on social media analytics, so what I’m saying here isn’t news to most of you. But I recently stopped to ponder what’s truly disruptive about social media’s role in the modern economy. And then it hit me. From the dawn of marketing, we’ve always hunted and gathered customer intelligence, using massive amounts of sweat equity to bag the beast. Before social media emerged, market research was almost always labor-intensive. No matter who you were — enterprise, agency, consultant, analyst, etc. — you had to put your nose to the proverbial research grindstone. You conducted panels, surveys, focus groups, interviews, field studies, usability testing, case studies, literature searches, and the like. Most of the intelligence-gathering burden was on you, with the subject of your studies — the customer — either putting in less effort or not having to lift a finger at all.

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