We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The vast majority of consumers calling into a contact center believe they know more about the products and services in question than the customer service agent answering their call.
  • More than three-quarters of consumers say they will only continue to buy from businesses that make interacting with their customer service organizations easy.

I recently read a report on a piece of research which revealed some interesting consumer perceptions about the state of the customer service industry.  According to the report, British Telecom and Avaya teamed up to do a market research study based on a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and the UK.  As we might expect, the study confirmed that the use of smartphone applications, video conferencing, and video and Web chat is rapidly on the rise with consumers interacting with companies to ask questions and resolve product and service issues.  However, of more interest to me is the fact that 80% of people think agents struggle to answer their questions and 85% believe they have been put on hold simply because the agents did not know what to say during their conversation due to a lack of information and/or proper training.  This leads me to believe that enterprise customer service executives and managers, as well as contact center providers, are not doing a good job of tapping into ‘big data’ in the customer’s enterprise or preparing their agents to do the job.  From experience, I know that the data exists in most enterprises, but apparently enterprises are not very successful in getting the data to the agents when they need it, or getting the customer to the proper agent on the first try. Continue reading “We Have Smart Consumers and Smartphones; Why Not Smart Contact Centers?”

Social Media Can Play an Important Role in Companies’ Collaborative Working Practices

Gary Barton
Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • In an increasingly global world and amidst a growing demand/need for flexible working patterns, collaboration tools become more important.
  • Companies deploying unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions should consider including social media as part of the ‘collaboration’ element.

Yahoo! chief Marissa Mayer has recently announced that the company is to end the practice of ‘remote’ working (i.e., home working) amongst its employees.  However, the Yahoo! chief was quoted as saying, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.  That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”  This brings in a slightly separate element to the efficiency debate.  This is not suggesting that home workers cannot produce as much ‘work’ as office workers, but that the collaborative creative process is harmed by not having employees grouped together in one location.  However, as flexible working becomes not only more in demand from employees, but also a reality for organisations with multiple offices or those seeking to reduce their office space due to economic pressures, collaboration tools become more important.  The nature of certain jobs (e.g., sales or field operatives) also means that some employees will always be remote workers. Continue reading “Social Media Can Play an Important Role in Companies’ Collaborative Working Practices”

Looking Back at MWC and the Importance of Partners

Kathryn Weldon
Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • The enterprise mobility ecosystem, from operators to IT service providers to platform vendors for mobility management and security, is dependent on partnering to help each vendor position itself as a full enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider.
  • In M2M, the fragmented ecosystem is often held up as an obstacle to growth.  Partnering helps some with this fragmentation and adds to interoperability and end-to-end solutions development.

At Mobile World Congress, enterprise mobility providers announced diverse kinds of partnerships.  Some key examples:

  • Siemens Enterprise is now offering AirWatch MDM;
  • BoxTone is taking on 3LM assets/partners to flesh out its portfolio;
  • IBM launched MobileFirst, its own complete end-to-end EMM solution, and partnered with AT&T for its network APIs to enhance developer options for B2C apps;
  • Red Bend and Samsung are collaborating in dual persona trials using Red Bend’s Type 1 hypervisor;
  • Good and BoxTone are partnering to be able to offer customers a more extensive portfolio for MDM, containerization and operations management. Continue reading “Looking Back at MWC and the Importance of Partners”

Healthcare Inches Into the Cloud

Amy Larsen DeCarlo
Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Recent research on cloud use conducted by IT provider CDW found that just 35% of the healthcare IT professionals surveyed are either implementing or supporting cloud deployments today.
  • Worries about security are keeping some health organizations on the sidelines; however, organizations in the industry are becoming increasingly receptive to the model, based at least in part on experience with on-demand storage and other services for personal use.

As adroit as the healthcare sector is when it comes to applying advanced medical technologies to improve diagnostics, treatments, and ultimately patient outcomes, the industry has a more awkward relationship with information technology in general and collaboration solutions in particular.  Though healthcare providers have often invested heavily in communications systems to streamline the information sharing process, many of these often proprietary implementations have fallen far short of expectations.  We can chalk some of the lackluster results to privacy and compliance issues that mandate organizations maintain tight control over information; however, there are also process and even cultural obstructions that are getting in the way of progress. Continue reading “Healthcare Inches Into the Cloud”

The Changing Face of Network Management

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • For vendor management platforms to be effective, they need to replace processes IT developed to get around shortcomings of previous platforms.
  • The management platform must provide all the tools needed for management at a low cost. The management platform isn’t a value add—it’s an integral part of the network buy.

I was talking to a friend who is neck deep in network management in a very large enterprise about some of the new technologies and features network equipment vendors are putting into their network management systems (NMS) with the lofty goal of providing a single pane of glass that has contextual views and workflows built-in. His response, after making a face like he just took a swig of sour milk, was “I’ve heard this all before and each time the platform was expensive and lacked the necessary features we needed. We ended up augmenting with other products. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

One part of the problem my friend faced was that network management products were long on promises and short on delivery. Device discovery was never 100% and network mapping sometimes resulted in impossible, Klein bottle style topologies which had to be corrected by hand. Another part of the problem was self-inflicted. His IT staff would use the CLI or custom built scripts to manage network elements which resulted in the NMS being out of date and constantly needing updating. A whole cottage industry developed to rationalize the NMS view of the network with reality but that’s because the NMS’s weren’t effective tools for IT. I think that’s changing. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Network Management”

RSA 2013: Innovating for Better Risk Management

Amy Larsen DeCarlo
Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Even with IT budgets extremely tight, security remains a funding priority for the enterprise in the face of a virulent threat environment, as was clear from the crowds at this year’s RSA Security Conference.
  • Security challenges associated with BYOD, virtualization, application layer attacks and the skills gap are driving organizations to focus on identifying vulnerabilities and prioritizing assets for better risk management.

Where there is a will, there seems to always be a way when it comes to IT security breaches.  At times, it seems as if the IT security industry and hackers are running on parallel tracks when it comes to innovating to prevent and launch attacks, with tenacious hackers too often getting the upper hand.  Yet, as the high attendance figures (approximately 24,000) at this year’s RSA Security Conference in San Francisco show, the enterprise is hardly ready to give up the fight.  Instead, vendors and managed security service providers (MSSPs) alike are continuing to come up with more advanced mechanisms to find and fix vulnerabilities and better mitigate risk to prevent exploits. Continue reading “RSA 2013: Innovating for Better Risk Management”