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Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series 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.
Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.
Part 5 categorized technologies based on their ecosystem maturity.
So what does this all mean?
Many companies are focusing on delivering differentiated customer service experiences to their customers. But enhancing the quality of service delivery is a really difficult proposition given the complexity of the contact center technology ecosystem. Here are five recommendations to help you out:
Technology improvements are lowering the infrastructure and price barriers to using videoconferencing, making it available to more people and generating new applications. Employees want desktop videoconferencing because they don’t have to get up and go somewhere, reserve a room, ask for permission, deal with chargebacks, or ask for help to use it. Based on rapid adoption over the past three years we anticipate that within the next three years more than half of information workers will use desktop videoconferencing at least occasionally for work.
There are four major categories of solutions: consumer applications, unified communications (UC) clients, video pure plays, and webconferencing.
On September 10, the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) hosted an interactive panel discussion to educate solution providers, vendors, and the broader records management community on an opportunity to help shape the future of records management (RM) inside government. A follow-up activity to the August 2012 Presidential Directive on RM, this panel is a call to action to software vendors, consultants, and subject matter experts who care about moving the records profession in public sector out of the “mental model” of paper.
Important links include: the agenda (PDF) and the two-part event recording, hosted on the NARA UStream External Engagement channel, and the RFI (closes October 4, 2013).
My take? If you are a software vendor, consultant, records management practitioner, or a software developer looking for inspiration, listen to the videos. There is some important stuff there, with the US federal government demonstrating some true leadership in rethinking the oft-maligned records management software system. What does NARA want? Fresh systems, more automation, and a readiness to divorce from the construct of paper that has limited our progress in tackling e-records.
The discussion and sense of urgency here supports the trends and we’re seeing here at Forrester in this area. (See recommended reports and blog links at the bottom of this post.) Our research shows that RM programs today struggle to get consistent user adoption, align related initiatives (like RM, archiving, and eDiscovery), capture new content sources like social and mobile, and get over fear of the cloud.
The future of online advertising is absolutely mobile, says Forrester Principal Analyst and Research Director Melissa Parrish. The problem is that mobile advertising today is just a compact, less complex version of traditional web advertising. That’s why many advertsiers say that it’s not as effective. Something has to change to make mobile advertising more effective. That something, says Melissa, is that mobile advertising must be driven by the user’s in-the-moment context. In this episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, Melissa analyzes the mobile mindshift and the current state of mobile advertising.
Ok, confession time: Those who know me well know my upbringing holds a deep dark secret. Yes, I was born in West Virginia, and grew up in Kentucky. Yes, my dad worked in the coal mines (OK, he was an electrical engineer, and only went down below once every couple of weeks . . .). On finding out my origin story, my college roommates took to calling me “hick” (I think they still do when I go back for reunions). I gotta say, it still amazes me how quickly y’all zips right back into my patois when I’m around like-minded individuals. But I gotta tell ya, there’s a lot to like about where I grew up: horses, bourbon, and basketball come to mind. And then there are the feuds and rivalries: UK versus IU (we don’t acknowledge Louisville); Maker’s Mark versus Jack Daniel’s; Hatfields versus McCoys. Where I grew up, we don’t mind a good brawl every now and then . . .
And that’s exactly what I’m seeing in our 2013 Forrsights Developer Survey when it comes to how developers prioritize the mobile platforms they develop for. In the survey, we asked all developers about the types of application development technologies they’ve worked with in the past 24 months. Of the 1,611 North American and European developers we surveyed, 478 (just under 30%) indicated that they had worked with mobile apps or mobile web sites. We then asked those developers a variety of questions about how they are using mobile technologies. One question we asked them was how they prioritized their development efforts across different form factors and operating systems (see Figure 1). The overall data is interesting, but so is the data inside the top-line stats:
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that big data is only about analytics for business intelligence. Big data is the fuel, and predictive analytics the engine, that will power the next generation of predictive applications, as I wrote in a prior post (Predictive Apps Are The Next Big Thing In App Development). Sure, there are absolutely many exciting use cases in traditional business intelligence. But the same knowledge, insight, and predictive models gained from big data analytics can transform boring business and consumer apps with the ability to design and develop predictive apps. What are predictive apps?
Predictive apps anticipate user intent and provide the right functionality and content on the right device, at the right time, for the right person by continuously learning about them.
A Home Depot Example Of A Predictive App
Let’s say your toilet is leaking. You go to Home Depot and buy a tank repair kit. You get it home and realize that you need a special screwdriver, so you make a second trip to Home Depot. You go home and find that the screws you tried to reuse were stripped after years of decay. You make a third trip to get the screws. Finally, you can fix the toilet successfully — but it took you three trips to Home Depot. Multiple trips to Home Depot stores is pain point for many customers.
Ok, so NASA failed an audit. Don’t we all? I think it is important to understand the government’s cloud computing adoption timeline before passing judgment on NASA for failing to meet its cloud computing requirements. And, as someone who has read NASA’s risk management program (and the 600 pages of supporting documentation), I can say that this wasn’t a failure of risk management policy or procedure effectiveness. Clearly, this was a failure of third-party risk management’s monitoring and review of cloud services.
The Cloud Is Nebulous
Back in 2009, NASA pioneered cloud technology with a shipping container-based public cloud technology project named Nebula -- after the stellar cloud formation. (I love nerd humor, don’t you?)
Photo Source: NASA
During 2009, NASA, to determine if current cloud provider service offerings had matured enough to support the Nebula environment, did a study. The study proved that commercial cloud services had, in fact, become cheaper and more reliable than Nebula. NASA, as a result of the study, moved more than 140 applications to the public sector cloud environment.
In October of 2010, Congress had committee hearings on cybersecurity and the risk associated with cloud adoption. But remember, NASA had already moved its noncritical data (like www.nasa.gov or the daily video feeds from the international space station, that are edited together and packaged as content for the NASA website) to the public cloud in 2009. Before anyone ever considered the rules for such an adoption of these services.
Microsoft’s Surface generation 2 announcements today show that they are firmly committed to the hardware business for tablets and PCs, not just Nokia Windows Phones. See my colleague JP Gownder’s blog post for his take on how Microsoft will need to update branding and go-to-market to succeed.
As with the original Xbox bet more than a decade ago, Microsoft will persevere in creating premium, fully controlled hardware and service experiences. This will create more and more contrast with low-end Windows devices from many OEMs. I predict that Microsoft will eventually anoint a handful of OEMs, two to four, as premium providers — which means that Microsoft will have to create a premium Windows label or branding to distinguish these premium hardware offerings from the budget offerings that many buyers will still focus on.
The details of the new Surface devices — better performance, battery life, kickstand, displays, and more — and the range of new accessories — such as dock, battery and backlit keyboard covers, and more — are proof of an expanding hardware ecosystem. The Surface Remix, a musical controller that magnetically clicks in like the TouchCover, is a very creative and novel addition to the possibilities of mobile devices.
On September 23rd, Microsoft launched its next generation Surface and Surface Pro devices with a splashy media event in New York City. The improvements to the hardware and software of both models are largely incremental – though that doesn’t obviate the value of these releases, since gradual innovation has long been an industry hallmark, particularly for Microsoft.
WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN:
Let's start by looking at what didn't happen:
First, the struggling Surface (which runs Windows RT 8.1, though this fact is downplayed) hasn’t disappeared from the lineup, despite poor uptake and Microsoft’s $900 million financial write-down last quarter. It's been given a sucessor, the Surface 2.
Second, despite the hype around 7" and 8" Windows 8.1 devices (for example, from Acer today... and many other OEMs in coming months), Microsoft hasn't chosen to enter this market. Given the popularity of smaller tablets, this qualifies as a bit of a surprise.
Third, there was no radical rethinking. No crazy, innovative, out-of-the-box disruption. That's not necessarily bad, but it's noteworthy.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the remote and beautiful country of Iceland. After a 5-hour flight and a brief history lesson, I was amazed to learn that in addition to its unique local attractions — geothermal springs, volcanos, aurora borealis — Iceland possesses a wealth of natural resources.
View of the run off from Ljósafoss Hydro-Power Station, located on the River Sog by Lake Úlfljótsvatn’s outflow
Straddling the North American and European tectonic plates, Iceland’s geological conditions supply its inhabitants with an abundance of natural resources ideal for renewable energy generation. Over the last century, locals have learned how to harvest these resources, constructing geothermal and hydroelectric power generation facilities and providing the country with 100% renewable, carbon-free electricity. With the current cost-prohibitive, technologically limited methods of electrical interconnection, Iceland’s public utilities have been investigating alternative ways to export their energy surplus in the form of finished products.