Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

Insights from Dreamforce ‘15 Exceeds Expectations

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 17, 2015 1:11:38 AM

I recently attended my first U.S. Dreamforce, the annual salesforce.com event designed to showcase its products and services as well as those of its partners, and I was impressed. I was told that Dreamforce ‘15 would be big, and it was – just about every hotel, restaurant, meeting room in San Francisco seemed to have been taken over for the week, and still the company had to bring in a cruise ship to accommodate people and events. I was told it would be manic, and it was – more than 100,000 attendees, and buses and cabs blocking surrounding streets. I was told it would be busy, and it was – more than 600 conference sessions.  I was told it would educational, and it was – I gained many insights into new product developments, both from salesforce and several of its partners. Here are some of the key takeaways for my research practice.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Wearable Computing, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Text Analytics, omnichannel

New Generation of Recurring Revenue and Billing Inspired from Cloud Computing

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 22, 2014 10:59:07 PM

Much has been written about how cloud computing changes the way businesses source their software and services. For software companies, instead of being installed inside the company, software like business applications run on a computer installed at an external site. If the external site is not shared with any other business, this is called a private cloud; if it is owned and operated by a third party and supports more than one business, it is called a public cloud. In the case of public clouds, users access the applications via the Internet, and increasing they can do this while out of the office, using laptops or mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The main advantages of this model are that companies don’t need to invest in hardware or support staff to install and maintain hardware or software like these applications, the vendor handles system updates and users can work anywhere (including on the move) by logging in through a Web browser or an application designed specifically for mobile technology. Our research confirms that the overall importance is overall important in more than half (57%) of organizations.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

NICE Systems Closes Voice of the Customer Loop

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 4, 2014 8:35:24 AM

NICE Systems is best known for its suite of workforce optimization products [http://www.nice.com/workforce-optimization-lobby] that I recently assessed. However, after attending its user event last year, I wrote in 2013 that it was extending its portfolio and changing its focus to concentrate on packaged solutions that address specific business needs. Over the years the company’s portfolio has evolved through a combination of in-house development, acquisitions and partnerships. This approach  enabled NICE to build a broad portfolio quickly, but it also created challenges in integrating the separate products into a homogeneous whole. One of the key acquisitions was Fizzback, which gave NICE entry to the market for customer feedback and voice of the customer (VOC) software. In this context I was keen to learn during a recently briefing how the company is integrating these products into a broader VOC portfolio.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

InContact Advances Workforce Optimization for Contact Centers

Posted by Richard Snow on May 29, 2014 10:11:49 AM

InContact has cloud-based products that cover multichannel communications infrastructure (sometimes referred to as a “contact center in the cloud”) and workforce optimization. The channel management products were developed by inContact and through a partnership with Verint. InContact has been working to make Verint’s workforce optimization products available in the cloud while integrating the two sets of products. I met Kristyn Emenecker, inContact’s VP of workforce optimization, at the recent ICMI Contact Center Expo to find out how the recent announcement that it has acquired Uptivity, which also provides workforce optimization products in the cloud, will impact that partnership and the future direction for the products.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Contact Center Expo 2014 Highlights Cloud Computing and Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on May 15, 2014 9:36:11 AM

I recently presented at the 2014 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference and have a few insights I want to share. I was impressed by the two main keynote speeches. In the first Bill Rancic, an entrepreneur, author and TV personality, talked about “How to Succeed in Business and Life.” Bill is not in the contact center industry, but he reminded the audience that individuals and companies that succeed in life and business grab opportunities when they come along. He went on to say that consumers (which includes you and me) are changing the ways we conduct our lives and the ways we engage with each other and with businesses. As we all know, use of mobile devices has rocketed, as has use of the Internet and social media, and as a result people are less inclined to talk to each other directly, choosing instead to text, post comments to social media or use the increasing number of mobile applications available; when we do talk, it is now increasingly likely to include video. This change creates opportunity for companies; those that meet expectations about communicating in these ways can grab the attention of customers and generate more business. I couldn’t agree more, having written about these changes myself. Consumers have already made these changes, and companies need to act now to grab the opportunities.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Panviva Enables Smarter Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 8, 2014 8:38:41 AM

On its website Panviva describes itself as providing “business process guidance,” which is a phrase I was notfamiliar with. As I searched the site, I found messages such as”it’s all about customer experience,” “the right information for the right person at the right time” and “navigating complexity.” All of these describe issues contact center agents face on a daily basis, and I concluded that Panviva competes in a space I track. My benchmark research into the agent desktop and its impact on customer servicefinds that agents play a significant role in the customer experience, but many have to work with a desktop that impedes them in accessing systems and information, and some of the interactions they handle are complex.It was this perspective I brought to a briefing with Steve Pappas, Panviva’s SVP for North America.

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Topics: Customer Experience Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Mobile apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Business Process Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Performance Management (CPM)

OpenSpan Makes Smart Agent Desktop Simpler

Posted by Richard Snow on May 3, 2014 11:55:58 PM

My benchmark research into the smart agent desktop finds that in nearly two-thirds (65%) of companies, contact center agents have to access multiple systems as they try to resolve customer interactions. These range from channel management systems (such as telephone, email, text messages and social media) to business applications (such as CRM, ERP and knowledge management), performance dashboards and analysis, and messaging systems. Having to use all these systems leads agents to make mistakes, increases average handling times, produces data errors and reduces satisfaction for both agents and customers. The last two are especially important because the research shows that very satisfied agents twice as often as less satisfied ones meet important customer-related metrics such as customer satisfaction, net promoter and customer effort scores, and satisfied customers are likely to remain loyal, buy more and recommend the company to people they know. A smart agent desktop can alleviate these issues by making it easier for agents to access systems, navigate between them, enter data and view important information.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Mobile apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Force Optimization

NICE Delivers Customer Interactions with Next Generation Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 3, 2014 9:17:43 AM

In my research of NICE Systems for several years I have remarked often that its biggest challenge is to integrate all the products that now make up its Customer Interaction Management suite. Through acquisitions, in-house development and partnerships, this suite has grown to include interaction recording, quality management, workforce management, incentive management, interaction analytics, performance management, real-time guidance, customer feedback management, mobile access and Web-based customer service. The company still offers each of these applications separately, but increasingly NICE bundles selected products into what it calls “solution suites” for uses such as workforce optimization. It also configures these suites to meet specific business needs such as voice of the customer and operational efficiency. These bundles require integration, common administration and management capabilities, as well as standardization of the user interface. My latest briefing by NICE executives showed the company moving in these directions but still having more to do to meet the expectations of a new generation of users. Successfully integrating applications to become business-related solutions is critical according to our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization, in which nearly half (48%) of participants said that integration is very important; analysis show that they want systems to be easier to use, to provide a better user experience, to be less error-prone and to connect processes such as customer feedback and workforce optimization. Version 6 of NICE Customer Interaction Management moves in this direction, with an integrated portal into performance management, workforce management and contact management, unified administration capabilities and enhancements to the user interface.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Interactive Intelligence Advances Contact Center Software Portfolio

Posted by Richard Snow on Mar 20, 2014 9:22:43 PM

Building a contact center is growing in complexity as companies struggle to support customers’ ever-higher expectations. Customers now insist on engaging with companies through the channel of their choice, often from a mobile device, and at a time of their choosing. If they interact with a person, they expect that person to have the social and technical skills to resolve their issues quickly and effectively. If they use any form of self-service, they expect the technology to help rather get in the way of speaking with a person. And of course many disgruntled customers don’t hesitate to publish their views on social media.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Self-service, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Envision Takes Workforce Optimization to the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 28, 2014 11:41:08 PM

Envision has carved out a slice of the workforce optimization market by offering its suite of products as cloud-based services. In addition to core products such as interaction recording, quality assurance, workforce management, training, coaching and agent analytics, it offers speech and desktop analytics and customer feedback management through surveys and our part of my research agenda. Our last Value Index shows that this is a highly competitive market, and my benchmark research on next-generation workforce optimization reveals that various segments of the market such as call recording and quality management have high levels of penetration. I was therefore keen to understand where Envision’s latest release, Click2Coach Cloud, fits in this market.

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Topics: Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization