by Michael Maoz | October 16, 2012 | 1 Comment
Next year at this time the supersonic leap from space will be remembered, while (unprompted) the name Felix Baumgartner will disappear. The huge team of engineers that made this possible is already unknown. The folks from David Clark who made his crazily-complex suit are unknown to begin with. They made this man’s life sustainable with layers of Nomex and Gore-tex, layered and shaped in deviously clever ways. Watching him fall from space made me think of decisioning making during IT staff meetings. It was ‘Tiger v Timid.’
Why do CIOs make mild decisions not wild and bold ones? Ask the boss. CEOs and Boards riveted on short term investor demands for more of a share and a higher price of a share can crimp innovation. It can certainly crimp taking chances or risking making new friends or upsetting the apple cart. (I love the expression, ‘upsetting the apple cart,’ because I have never seen one.).
How many CIOs are compensated for ‘innovation and risk taking?’ CIOs are compensated when the lights stay on, we are in compliance, we can report the numbers and the widgets all get ordered on time and paid for on time. And can they collaborate across an industry and tell their large software supplier: “No. This stuff is inferior and we won’t take it anymore.’ In the CRM space there is one vendor crushing all others, as in HR/HCM there is one vendor leading the way. And both got there because they created products for which the CIO becomes of second level importance. The line of business cares about the CIO because they need someone to complete the plumbing. But the Line of Business has already bought the shiny new kitchen and bath.
IT has been gutted of top-brain engineers, and first-class programmers have been reduced in number or gone to work for Google long ago. Why? Well, low pay, boring remits, lots of stress, lack of a compelling job path, and not enough reward for the challenges before them – few of which are exciting but many of which are difficult. Of course the top folks flee.
And in case anyone blame the CIO, we have to end with another classic adage, the origin of which I do not know: ‘The fish rots from the head.’ Great CIOs are largely found where there is inspired leadership that sets the CIO loose to make change happen.
How is your organization positioning the role of the CIO? Be honest, and show the facts. Congratulations Mr. Baumgartner. And the wonderful team that stood behind you, below you, and by you.
Category: Applications CIO Cloud Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Tags:
by Michael Maoz | October 2, 2012 | 1 Comment
Oracle OpenWorld (http://www.oracle.com/openworld/index.html) is happening right now. Wednesday through Friday are the big days for CRM practitioners, when the Oracle Customer Experience Summit will get going over at the St. Francis. Oracle also has the Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service Knowledge Zone for partners working on their systems. The Dynamics CRM User Group (http://www.crmug.com/) is meeting in a couple of weeks – and the customer world will be a lot smarter for it, as will Microsoft. SAP and Salesforce.com both have user groups and forums of their own.
A question begs: with all of the supposed transparency in the market, why do prospects for basic functionality in areas like a customer service desktop in a large, distributed contact center, for example, feel that they confront walls of ambiguity and poor articulation of capability, pricing, project resourcing, industry-capabilities, integration, best practices, ROI-determinations, and (especially) PITFALLS.
It is asking a lot from a vendor or for an integrator to lay bare the ‘gotchas’ that can derail projects or gum up the works in gaining project approval. It is also notoriously hard to discover that anyone before you has ever faced these challenges and failed, or struggled.
Weren’t the ‘new’ world of software and the new world of ‘outside-in’ co-creation and openness have supposed to eliminate or greatly reduce confusion? Judging by client questions over the past 12 months on Social practices for customer service, or on building a new-generation agent desktop with more intelligence and process capability, the answer is no. We are not seeing any greater level of candor or information availability than we were 12 years ago.
The easy stuff is still easy – basic Salesforce automation, for example. The difficult work – around process and technology – is still shrouded in Clouds. Maybe new Clouds, but to much the same end. We are waiting for a new page written by a few of the lead vendors – that could make the difference.
Now you can disagree – and we are betting many will. Do you think there is a new age of transparency in the Social and CRM area?
And if you are at OpenWorld – enjoy the show. Oracle has brought together an amazing array or technology.
Category: Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Sales Force Automation SFA Social CRM Social Software Strategic Planning Uncategorized Tags:
by Michael Maoz | September 27, 2012 | 1 Comment
The New York Times recently ran an article to point awareness to the severely depleted stock of the once fecund supply of cod, a staple food fish that is also the official fish of the American state of Massachusetts. In the brittle alchemy of association, we see the same thing happening to the Social Media vendors. These vendors are being gobbled up by the larger software vendors, who, in their astute attempts to confront what Clay Christensen described in 1997 as The Innovator’s Dilemma (When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail), are preventing the young companies to fully mature and show what can be achieved with Social Media.
What’s the problem with the rapid acquisition of the Social Media vendors? The problem is that the grand concept that all businesses had better convert the majority of their processes, internal and external, to social processes is only in the first five minutes of a 90 minute match. The change will be associated with far more disruption than most organizations realize. Super idea: dump those clunky call center agents, that most maligned of positions. Now what? Ah…. A key reason that they are such a challenged bunch is that the compensation is poor, the training is poor, the career path is severely limited, and many (if not most) do not work for the company that they are representing on the phone/chat/email. Yet now, through the hocus pocus of Social Media, we are expected to engage customers through Facebook and Twitter and on Forums. With which agents? Social media savvy agents are in demand, but their salary requirements are 100% or more of the average agent. And talented agents in this area are as rare as hens teeth. How is it that suddenly we will have budget? Is this going to come from Marketing? Ops? The CIO? Did anyone tell her/him? And what about compliance issues? And data privacy? And continuity with existing corporate policies? And capture of the experience in the existing CRM systems?
Thus far the bright crop of social media vendors is falling into the nets of larger vendors, where they are transformed into a part of a broader offering to respond to the need of an ‘end-to-end’ process. We are not seeing a company analogous in size and revenue to Siebel Systems or Salesforce.com emerge in this space even though the leading vendors in the space were established in the 2001 timeframe. The result: Social media and the collaborative enterprise as ideas are unstoppable, while at the same time organizations need to do their homework on measuring the impact of the social media program on their business functions. We must also be cautious in engaging the large enterprise vendors who have absorbed the new social media units, not because of anything organically wrong with the vendor, but because it was precisely in the freedom that the social media vendor had whilst independent to rapidly innovate that made them so attractive. Once inside the slower-moving (from an innovation perspective) large vendors, most bets need to be hedged until results are in.
Ah, and what about those cod – for the Ichthyologists out there: This fish was once so plentiful that it was confused as an acronym: ‘cod’ was synonymous with ‘catch of the day,’ as they numbered in the billions. Though in Spain they are baccala and in Iceland, Thorskur. They are a beautiful fish, and on the docks around Cape Cod in the 1960s boats would disgorge their holds and show off these fish with grey/green scales flecked with a rust-brown. Some weighed up to 50 kilos and would be over 60 cm. But today? The stock is depleted, and though there may be 200-300 million left, only 400 (yes, 400) have reached the age of 12, and none have been observed to have reached beyond they age of 13 years though they live to 25 years. If you are interested, see: http://nyti.ms/P8cNZh 24 September 2012, page A22, The Shocking News About Cod.
Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts and ideas – they are welcomed and refreshing.
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience IT Governance Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Twitter Tags:
by Michael Maoz | September 24, 2012 | 3 Comments
Dreamforce last week was a great place to run into tens of thousands of people working on aspects of customer engagement. Some were in marketing, some in the Social Media area, others in sales and others in customer service. The event is covered by multiple bloggers around the United States and requires no remarks from me. What is noteworthy is the trend in the marketplace towards a shift in where to engage customers. Most of the consultancies, integrators, and software solution providers advocate an intense focus on social media channels. Forget those tired and trodden customer service agents and that primitive toolkit of telephone, chat and email, they suggest. Go Social.
Back in the second half of the 1800s a 150 year migration away from the US East Coast into the middle of the country and then to the West began. The sarcastic subtitle to this phenomenon was ‘foul your nest and head out West,’ as it reflected the idea that there was an infinite “West” to migrate to. Don’t worry about where you are, or the quality of the environment, or sustainable living, because you can always migrate West. That captures the current abandonment of the world of the classic customer service contact center (phone/email/chat) in favor of pushing the engagement to Facebook and Twitter. Instead of a more engaged and informed customer service agent, let’s just leave them with the tools that they have and add engagement on social channels.
Think about this: the global consultancy firms first pushed the idea of outsourcing the customer service process to third party Customer Service agents. Then they suggested pushing everything else possible to customer self service. Now that the consumer backlash is married to technology change (angry customer meets social media), the focus becomes.. social media engagement. Most software vendors have let their core agent desktops age beyond the point of salvage, and they were the meal ticket for the large CRM consultancies. With no opportunity to revolutionize the nature of customer engagement via a new Customer Service Suite that includes collaboration with the customer and the employee, the future of the customer engagement console becomes a complex mishmash of bits sewn together.
How sustainable is a house of cards? There are so many incredibly exciting new CRM applications for social, mobile, customer engagement, and content delivery, yet at the same time the underlying desktop for the Cloud-based) customer service agent is in serious trouble for users in many industries (health insurance, telecommunications/media, utilities, government, travel/hospitality…).
Clients face terrific new opportunities, yet we need to be careful in not abandoning the core customer service agent abilities that make for a winning customer experience. Much of what inspired the “Social” revolution was the sorry state of customer service, which in turn, put simplistically, was a cost-cutting frenzy that put short term profit in reduced expenses over a long-term strategy of customer satisfaction. We did not want to listen to the customer’s voice, but we suddenly want to hear their complaints? The complaints that they have because you wouldn’t speak to them quickly, accurately, knowledgeably, politely? So many people say: I don’t ever want to speak with an agent. True. So why would they want to engage on Facebook or via a Tweet with the same uninformed, time-pressed person? And where does the history of this new interaction go?
There are so many challenges to the brave world of social media, and the biggest might be in not running away from the human element that, whether you call it a call center or a contact center or a customer engagement center, still requires human beings.
Thanks, as always, for your emails with examples of what you are doing – they are very helpful and occasionally inspiring!
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Twitter Uncategorized Tags:
by Michael Maoz | September 19, 2012 | Comments Off
Dreamforce isn’t Woodstock, nor is it CBGB, the old Bleeker Street joint where, if you were lucky a long time ago you were introduced to Talking Heads. Nor is it exactly Billy Graham-style enthusiasm. But it is a bit of all of these experiences wrapped around a technology theme. If you are attending Dreamforce, or if a colleague is, look closely at the success stories. Very closely.
Back in the late ’90s there was a similar near-intoxication with another CRM system. There is only one point to this: Depending on to whom you spoke – the person who purchased the system, or deployed the system, or used the system every day – you got a different story (sometimes a radically different story) about the level of success and satisfaction achieved.
Beauty and success are in the eye of the beholder, and it can happen that the person responsible for a ‘buy decision’ of a software system has too much at stake to be objective. The end user of the system is in the best position to serve as a fair and objective evaluator, but most often they are not the ones quoted in the Press or on vendor websites.
So here is the simple request: ask to speak to end users of the system that you hope to deploy. Not the vendor, nor the vendor partner, nor the video of the project manager or the consulting team or the CEO/CIO – leave that to the marketing teams. You want the name and telephone and email of someone using the system every day in the same context, industry, and integration set that you need – in your geography.
Enough about that! I see that about 200 of you plan to show up to my speaking session at Dreamforce this Thursday at 3PM – come on up before I get on stage, or hang out after and we can talk about things you are working on. If you forget where I am, there is a link: http://bit.ly/Pw7iFX , “Service Cloud: Service, Sales & Marketing the New BFFs.” I’m over in Moscone West, Room 3024. See you there!!!
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Uncategorized Tags:
by Michael Maoz | September 7, 2012 | Comments Off
If you are a practice lead at one of the world’s ESPs – external service providers – you are very happy that this blog has a minuscule readership. This is just among us, so you have no worry of it going viral or appearing anywhere. The message is: we are on to your inside joke of supporting your clients’ efforts to move into a new generation of software as a service (SaaS) and modern Cloud architectures. We get that ‘Social’ and Social CRM are aimed to transform your client’s business using yesterday’s thinking. Like you put yourself behind a Mosin-Nagant when you could step up to a Pro-Series 2000 HTR with parallax compensation. That is: old but very good technology and process at a time when things have changed.
Why change? The real sweet spot of your business is skimming off as much of the traditional spending on IT software and services and gear, and that is the big $3.5+ Trillion spent across the world. That number compares to just $5+ Billion spent on SaaS software, including Social. OK: we are in a world of transparency – is that so? Could you show us the numbers? How much have you – the partners and leadership – invested in retooling yourselves and your innovation centres and your consultants to understand the new social processes and the new Cloud infrastructure and the new metrics. I recently read a little-seen research piece on how to staff for the new Social rules in the customer service centre (if you are a Gartner client, http://www.gartner.com/resId=2111015 ) only after we failed to turn up any advice from any of the monster-size consultancies.
Net: isn’t it time to move beyond the fancy Marketing studies and high level thoughts about the impact of Social on the Customer Strategy? Isn’t it time to build aggressively so that you have a sound, scalable Cloud practice? Marketers need you. Customer Service organizations need you. There has to be a financial model that will get you to push off from the mooring of the status quo.
Category: Applications CIO Cloud CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | September 4, 2012 | 3 Comments
It would take Panglossian-scale optimism to say that the large enterprise application vendors or the consultancies that deploy their products are providing their clients a service in the CRM space for Customer Service contact centers. For all of the positioning, there is little fire for all of the smoke. With promises of new UIs and fewer clicks to get anything done (what, 100 separate clicks to turn a service request into a sales opportunity is too much for the average person?), to the PDF razzle dazzle of ‘collaborative interfaces’ – they all fall far short of current needs.
To a one, the large vendors with stacks – ERP, SCM, CRM…. are failing to keep pace with demand in the Customer Service area. Instead they are holding the shredded mast of Customer Experience solutions together with business intelligence, brittle procedural code, outdated interfaces, and Loyalty Marketing. Good, but far inadequate in the age of the Social Customer. Can you share that customer record in real time with the customer? Do you know their location? Their influence? Their current posts in Facebook or Twitter? Do you know what happened in the last sales experience or the marketing promise now that you are in a customer service issue?
Now turn from the software solution providers to the system integrators and consultancies. They are stuck with the aging produce that they deployed for you Circa 1999-2006. In their version of The Emperor’s New Clothes they have clients focused on social, social analytics, one-to-one marketing, Big Data, mobile and Cloud. These are all great – and a part of the Gartner Nexus of Forces, but what about the basics of updating the antediluvian Customer Service applications used to interact with the customer and foster loyalty? They are like the Great and Wonderful Oz. There is nothing behind the curtain.
As end consumers of technologies and solutions from the megavendors, how do you respond? Right now it seems to be a waiting game, during which we improve around the edges (or migrate to Salesforce.com, it seems).
Thank you for continuing to email me your experiences. They are better than fiction.
For any of you attending Dreamforce in two weeks, I’m speaking in the ServiceCloud track on Thursday at 3:00 PM: Service Cloud: Service, Sales & Marketing the New BFFs. I see some of you are already registered, so: see you then.
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Software Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | August 23, 2012 | Comments Off
It is a tough slog to read any of the journals or magazines that deal with customer excellence. We see vendors and pundits casting as atavistic mentions of CRM, that tarnished avatar. The new deity of hype is CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. It’s become the metalanguage used to describe the underlying object language: CRM. Except that it is lacking in concrete axioms that would be necessary to surface any truths. What the heck am I on about, eh?
CRM, though not a term invented or originally promoted at Gartner, has always been about the business strategy to create processes that will bind the customer to the business in ways that are mutually satisfying. For the business that means profit and growth, and for the customer that means the satisfaction of a need. Gartner has built a CRM framework over the past decade that assists clients in finding their own way to excellence. It includes eight building blocks, from Strategy down to Business Applications, with collaboration, change management, customer experience, process design, metrics, and technologies in between. Each building block has a set of disciplines. There are causal relationships that yield an effect – happy, satisfied customers and shareholders (or citizens or students..). Solutions are not cookie cutter, but wrapped around the DNA of the individual company.
Experience? Absolutely critical. Multi-disciplinary processes? These are the sine qua non of success. We have focused on customer experience as one of the critical components – specifically on the ‘before, during and after’ of an interaction – was there a flaw in billing or inventory, or a mismatch between promise and product? Did a partner mess up? Was service poor? Did we fail to spot an emerging need or fail to grasp the customer’s true intent?
There is a pent up anxiety about ‘relationship.’ Organizations that want the customer to have a great ‘experience’ without any context of ‘relationship’ would also have failed to grasp Woodstock. Experiences are contextual, and context is intentional even when the underlying reasons for the context are not all well understood by the customer. Does the customer know, exactly, why they are drawn to Facebook or Twitter? Or to Hollister and Sephora? Or to Carrefour or Tesco? Maybe not – but you need to. It is what makes the great great. Most magic is practice and discipline – AKA a lot of hard work. That is what our research helps with – from all levels, beginning with strategy and down into the most granular of tactics. And… thanks for your thousands of insights that inform our direction every year.
Category: CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Tags:
by Michael Maoz | August 21, 2012 | Comments Off
It’s been fun reading all of the back and forth generated from David Sack’s comments on Silicon Valley. I’m thinking: when I was younger and Sartre died, the famed French existentialist with the edgy quote in the title had tens of thousands of mourners at his funeral. They were protesting that he had died. That is how in vogue philosophy was until the 1970s. Compare that to 2012, and the dialogue doesn’t quite match La Nausée.
Building a sustainable startup has never been easy. When I was in graduate school in the early ’80s Boston’s Route 128 was crammed with startups. I was a part of three startups: Prime Computer, Scitex, and Point Information Systems. US, Israel, Germany/Ireland. None are here today. Each left DNA markers in later products for computer operating systems, digital imaging, and CRM applications. Even Wang and Digital and Data General and SUN came and went. But startups? A quick walk around a few blocks in Tel Aviv or Herzliah Pituah, Israel finds one tripping over Ginger Software and Soluto and Guester and Vaultive and Commerce Sciences and Watchdox and a dozen others. And that is before getting into nanotech and green technologies or biomed.
It’s hard to say when there was a cooler time for new technology stuff. Embedded sensors, visualization software, advanced analytics, social network computational software, Hadoop advances, new browser capabilities. It could leave anyone giddy. So much inspiration and aspiration and so little time.
Thanks for all of the thoughts sent while I was on holiday – though it’s crowded my inbox. I know it is summer because one of my favourite research pieces of the year was published and few have yet read it. If you are a client, take a look – it explains how to staff Customer Service organizations in a world of Social Media: The Social CRM Resource Planning Guide for Customer Service Organizations, http://www.gartner.com/resId=2111015 .
Keep your thoughts coming.
Category: Applications CIO CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Tags:
by Michael Maoz | August 8, 2012 | 1 Comment
Logical incrementalism is just about the most common pitfall to stymie innovation around the customer experience. The CIO, in an endeavour to make things better, cheaper and simpler, ties the company more deeply to a single vendor for each major application building block. Each incremental decision makes sense in the grander scheme: better integration, lower risk of a vendor disappearing or ending support, and a clear migration path. But what about the user experience? What about customer excellence? The reality as articulated from the mouths of end users in customer service centers across the world is that the software that they sit before each day fails them. Clunky. Non-intuitive. Lacking features for collaboration or social media. Rigid. No built in intelligence. Poor search capabilities for retrieval of relevant content. Slow. Business process flow absent.
What is happening? Isn’t there a revolution going on in Cloud Computing and Social Media and Big Data and Mobility? A Nexus of Forces? If so, then why are end users feeling so underwhelmed? At some point the CIO has to take responsibility. To fall under the spell of the large business application Scheherazades, who for One Thousand and One Nights spin stories of the next compelling version of the product coming right around the corner, is to sell your company, and your customers short. (If you are unfamiliar with the story of Scheherazade, or Arabian Nights, you are missing a wonderful chapter in literature – http://bit.ly/P4YA3A).
Efforts to modernize the contact center, for example, (or what we feel is a better approach – the creation of a customer engagement hub) are halting and expensive in large part because the major vendors who had focused on this space were acquired and their products lost development momentum and/or failed to make the transition to SaaS. It is that simple. Some companies that might have created revolutionary new customer service interfaces have found it more lucrative to focus on low hanging fruit like analytics, databases, and sales and marketing systems. Who can blame the vendors? Accept that it is more than a little bit of Mittäterschaft – we could demand better, but we don’t.
What continues to stand out is the relative absence of hard data regarding the efficacy of investment in business applications overall. When looking to invest in new classes of CRM-oriented software, whether it be desktop replacement or Social CRM tools, or business intelligence or real time decisioning, neither the line of business (Customer Support) or IT or the CFO or CIO or the vendors have a solid financial case in hand.
In the absence of compelling arguments, we go with what is in fashion – which is Status Quo at the core, and a few bright objects on the edges. Unless you work for Jeff Bezos or Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or Kathleen Taylor (Four Seasons) or Angela Ahrendts (Burberry) in which case you don’t come to the table without your facts straight on how each task you undertake ties back to a better customer experience. I could list 50 leaders like these who commit and recommit their organizations to excellence, and energize their IT staff – and everyone else – to better serve the customer. So we know it is within our grasps.
Let your software vendor know what you want, and how much you want it. Let everyone else know as well. It could make a difference.
Category: Analytics for Social CRM Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Networking Social Software Strategic Planning Vendor Contracts Tags: