Beware the Cloud Service Provider Shell Game

Jerry Caron
Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud services imply a new type of sales and support ecosystem that is still very complex and relatively unstable at the moment
  • This should not put buyers off, and should be welcomed—but all customary, cautionary warnings apply

The dynamics of cloud services have caused a fair bit of healthy upheaval in the way technology and software suppliers deliver and support their goods. In fact, that would be an understatement. Beyond the obvious difference between a network-based infrastructure or a software service versus goods sold or licensed for installation on-premise, there is a fundamental shift in the go-to-market plan for suppliers that takes the notion of so-called co-opetition to an entirely different level. Continue reading “Beware the Cloud Service Provider Shell Game”

Big Data, Big Risk

Michal Halama
Michal Halama

Summary Bullets:

  • Big data solutions are improving management information
  • Big data market growth means buyers need help to recognize where management information is decisive

Organizations in all industries have come to use measurement of more and more aspects of markets and the workplace to provide management with data to make informed decisions. In many cases, the more information, the less room for error, and management decisions improve. For instance, trivial matters or decisions that need to be made innumerable times so that only machines can make them efficiently. Continue reading “Big Data, Big Risk”

High Definition Voice, a Boon to the Contact Center – Really?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As VoIP and SIP become commonplace in the contact center environment, high definition voice is a potentially appealing enhancement to improve agent/customer communications, which some believe would result in shortened call times and therefore reduced phone bills.
  • However, with complaints about customer service escalating, there seem to be more pressing customer service issues to tackle that cannot be solved by simply broadening the bandwidth of the voice connection in order to improve audio quality.

Recently I have been reading and hearing a great deal about how high definition (HD) voice is, or soon will be, changing the world of voice services. The major cellular carriers are planning to introduce HD voice on their mobile phone connections in the coming year, the new Apple iPhone 5 has HD voice capabilities, audio and videoconferencing providers are already offering HD voice as an enhancement to their teleconferencing portfolios, and several landline carriers (at least those outside the U.S.) are providing HD capabilities on their public phone networks. However, for HD voice to really make a difference the connection must be HD quality (between 50 Hz on the low end and 7 kHz or higher on the high end) from end-to-end, as opposed to standard voice lines that transmit between 300 Hz and 3.4 kHz. Therefore, it is not likely that customers calling into a contact center today can be connected via an end-to-end HD voice connection and that HD voice will improve the quality of the conversation between customers and agents. Continue reading “High Definition Voice, a Boon to the Contact Center – Really?”

Contact Center Investments Make Good Cents

Jerry Caron
Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:                

  • Customer service in general and contact centers in particular play a crucial role in the health and image of virtually any business
  • The contact center market is stepping up with innovations to meet growing demands, and IT departments and business leaders should carefully examine their level of investment given the importance

The annual global spend on advertising, or customer acquisition, is roughly $500 billion. The customer relationship management (CRM), or cross-selling, market stands at approximately $50 billion. The contact center slice of the pie is $9 billion. These figures were trotted out at last week’s Genesys G-Force conference in Barcelona by the company’s top sales executive in an effort to make the case that perhaps enterprises need to adjust their priorities a bit. That Genesys—one of the contact center market leaders—would make that argument is hardly surprising, but given the irrefutable influence that customer service in general and contact center activities in particular have on brands, the fundamental point sits on a solid foundation despite the self-serving platform upon which is was delivered. Continue reading “Contact Center Investments Make Good Cents”

Device Specialization Portends Further BYOD Frustration

Brad Shimmin
Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Vendors Amazon, Samsung, Google, Apple, and even Microsoft are rushing to either fill or invent gaps remaining within the iPad-dominated tablet marketplace with an array of device sizes, media capabilities and increasingly improved access to enterprise collaborative services.
  • This will leave IT professionals to expand management policies through separate, pure-play mobile management solutions. Thankfully, though collaboration players themselves are seeking to do more than simply support mobile devices.

Like many, I tuned in for a few moments to watch last Thursday’s special news conference put on by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, where the outspoken entrepreneur unveiled a new array of portable media devices, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD family of tablets. I was heartened to see the company directly responded to Google’s recent market bombshell, the Nexus 7 tablet, with a number of device sizes and features tailored to those who prize both high speed (dual-band WiFI and 4G LTE) as well as high (ok improved) audio and video fidelity. This is a good thing specifically for the Android market and broader tablet industry. At least it will make for a very interesting, more competitive holiday season, especially once Apple’s mid-sized device hits the streets. Continue reading “Device Specialization Portends Further BYOD Frustration”

Impatient Customers and Stiff Competition Make Website Optimisation a Must for e-Commerce

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • E-commerce should be at the heart of modern retail solutions
  • Optimisation and monitoring tools are critical for modern websites hosted in multiple locations

The importance of e-commerce to modern businesses is a ‘no brainer’. Internet sales in the UK, for instance, account for around 9% of all retail sales (excluding fuel), and the value of all Internet transactions was GBP 489 million per week during April 2012, according to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) – values that will be much higher at peak points such as Christmas. The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) report for August 2012 notes that year-on-year growth of Internet sales in the UK slowed to its lowest point since monitoring began in 2008. However, the value of online sales still rose by 4.8% during August, or 12 times the rate of growth for in-store sales. Continue reading “Impatient Customers and Stiff Competition Make Website Optimisation a Must for e-Commerce”

What Does VMware Mean to You?

Jerry Caron – Senior Vice President, Analysis

Summary Bullets:                

  • VMware’s VMworld was a hit again, pulling in partners and customers alike
  • The buzz around VMware is about much more than simple virtualization software

I did not attend last week’s VMworld in Las Vegas, hosted of course by VMware, the virtualization software market leader. I wish I had, though. While timing and location prevented my own pilgrimage, Current Analysis was very well represented as were a who’s who of technology-market partners and a robust contingent of IT executives and managers. The reason why this event has become so important for so many is simple, but also profound: Certainly VMware caught lightning in a bottle with its virtualization software, but the company is also leveraging this rather arcane solution as a platform to help solve myriad other IT problems, both with and without partner support. Continue reading “What Does VMware Mean to You?”

UCaaS for SMEs: Best Practice Examples, But Alternatives Should Be Considered

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Major competitors should be able to offer unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS)
  • Providers should work with customers/channels to create longer-term contracts that provide revenue stability with keener pricing as a reward for commitment

UCaaS is a much-hyped proposition/delivery model at the moment. The term is usually used to group together hosted IP voice alongside features such as instant messaging, audio/Web/video conferencing, email, fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) services such as single number dialling and collaboration services such as shared applications. The focus on a pay-per-use delivery model is understandable. UC remains a challenging sell, with northern European users in particular remaining sceptical. UC does not always deliver cost savings so much as gains in productivity, which can be hard to prove as return on investment. Thus a ‘no upfront invest, no fixed term’ message is very attractive and has encouraged many users, particularly SMEs, to take the plunge.   Continue reading “UCaaS for SMEs: Best Practice Examples, But Alternatives Should Be Considered”

Keep Flexible to Keep Customers

M. Halama
M. Halama

Summary Bullets:

  • Automation jeopardizes flexibility when needed by clients deploying new technology
  • Smaller services deals expose buyer shortcomings that need early due diligence and lifelong flexibility by providers.

The cloud brings exciting innovations that increase the potential of, and customer choices for, unified communications and workspace services. With that fresh potential comes the possibility of clients making more errors in buying decisions and specifications. Service providers and third parties are also likely to make genuine mistakes when advising clients on strategies that exploit new technologies. Continue reading “Keep Flexible to Keep Customers”

Cloud-based Contact Center Services: Is Three Nines Enough?

Brian Riggs
B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based contact center service providers offer comparatively limited reliability guarantees
  • IT buyers should carefully weigh their options to find the most reliable options

Summarizing his experience at Enterprise Connect, my colleague Ken Landoline said (in effect) that at the event it was impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting a provider of cloud services of one sort or another, and that lately providers of cloud-based contact center services are gaining in number. Interactive Intelligence has long had a cloud-based contact center service on offer. InContact specializes in cloud-based contact center services and has been seeing rapid growth as it expands its operations and signs up new partners. A dozen or so service providers are in various stages of releasing cloud-based services based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center. Continue reading “Cloud-based Contact Center Services: Is Three Nines Enough?”