Customer Intelligence Research Blog

Press Releases

December 16, 2015: Verizon Reduces Customer Effort and Costs with IBM and Journey Analytics

Verizon Reduces Customer Effort and Costs with IBM and Journey Analytics

Verizon Wireless is a wireless communications company that connects people and businesses with advanced wireless technology and service available. The company launched one of the first 3G wireless broadband network in North America and the first tier-one wireless provider to build and operate a 4G LTE network. Serving more than 135 million subscribers and operating in more than 1,700 retail locations in the United States, while offering global voice and data services in more than 200 destinations, Verizon is the nation’s largest wireless company. The company is wholly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and headquartered in New Jersey.

Business Driver for Investment

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon’s wireline services[1], FIOS[2] fiber optic service and its wireless subscription services for mobile phones and devices were all part of a self-service solutions business unit that provides support to customers via interactive voice response (IVR), mobile, and online channels.Customer Analytics, Journey Analytics

Call volumes from the company’s FIOS subscribers were growing so fast the call center struggled to handle all of them efficiently, cost-effectively and with the right level of customer satisfaction.  In 2008, with 1.9 million wire-line customers, the volume of calls continued to grow until it reached 60% of all customer service calls per month while the cost of servicing calls had risen to $15 each. This triggered the business need to reduce customer service and support calls without negatively impacting service levels.

Consider that for telecommunications companies, an 18 month contract for smart phone service averages about $110 per month. In every customer service and support interaction, whether online, phone, or email, there is potential to retain or gain approximately $2,000USD annually. For Verizon Wireless, with 135 million subscribers, just a one-half of one percent (0.005%) increase in customer churn or retention is worth an estimated $1.3B in revenues.

Vendor Selection

Verizon considered a variety of software vendors—those with advanced analytical tools or turn-key solutions for the customer service and support functions. Overall, this telecommunications provider wanted a solution that would resolve their current call center issues and then expand to an enterprise level with big data analytics. Ultimately, IBM was selected for several reasons:

  • Telecommunications sector expertise
  • Big data and advanced analytics domain knowledge
  • Attractive engagement model bundled with tools and professional guidance

“Everyone says that their solution is the best for “next best action” or real-time decisioning” which involves statistical modeling, ingesting data in motion, streaming analytics etc.… Different products have strengths in certain areas, but need to stretch to accomplish all that is necessary.”— Associate Director, Verizon

While several executives from the IT department were involved in building the business requirements and vetting the various options, the final decision to invest was made by the president of operations and the chief financial officer. Further analysis is available in our latest Galaxy study: How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.

©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be re-purposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com. For information on licensing, reprint or purchase of research, please contact ZGR@HypatiaResearch.com

[1] Between 2005–2010, Verizon divested wire-line operations in several states in order to focus on its wireless, FiOS internet and FiOS TV businesses.

[2] Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service that operates over a fiber-optic communications network to more than 6 million people in 13 states. (2014 statistics)

November 20, 2015: Customer Analytics and Journey Design: Show Me the Data-Driven Results

Customer Analytics and Journey Design: Show Me the Data-Driven Results

With (24.5%) of global respondents indicating that building a business case to justify investment in additional software to senior management is the top challenge they face, followed by lacking budget or appropriate tools to analyze customer information and to create or enhance existing journey design at (18.5%), Hypatia Research Group acknowledges the nascent nature of applying customer analytics to multi-channel customer journey enrichment.

Customer Analytics and Journey Design: Show Me the Data-Driven Results

Source: ©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Noteworthy is that global businesses are doing a better job at measuring return on investment and benefits realized from customer engagement programs. More than fifty-three percent (53.4%) are consistently able to achieve this goal, while another twenty-one percent (21.2%) accomplish this at least fifty percent (50%) of the time. Lack of consensus on which performance metrics to use and lack of processes in place on how or when to measure are just some of the reasons businesses are unable to calculate ROI consistently. Verizon Wireless demonstrates an enviable ability to optimize customer journey design through embedding and operationalizing customer analytics in an omni-channel customer interaction environment.

Verizon Reduces Customer Effort and Costs with Journey Analytics

Verizon Wireless is a wireless communications company that connects people and businesses with advanced wireless technology and service available. The company launched one of the first 3G wireless broadband network in North America and the first tier-one wireless provider to build and operate a 4G LTE network. Serving more than 135 million subscribers and operating in more than 1,700 retail locations in the United States, while offering global voice and data services in more than 200 destinations, Verizon is the nation’s largest wireless company. The company is wholly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and headquartered in New Jersey.

Business Driver for Investment

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon’s wireline services[1], FIOS[2] fiber optic service and its wireless subscription services for mobile phones and devices were all part of a self-service solutions business unit that provides support to customers via interactive voice response (IVR), mobile, and online channels.Customer Analytics and Journey Design: Show Me the Data-Driven Results

Call volumes from the company’s FIOS subscribers were growing so fast the call center struggled to handle all of them efficiently, cost-effectively and with the right level of customer satisfaction.  In 2008, with 1.9 million wire-line customers, the volume of calls continued to grow until it reached 60% of all customer service calls per month while the cost of servicing calls had risen to $15 each. This triggered the business need to reduce customer service and support calls without negatively impacting service levels.

Consider that for telecommunications companies, an 18 month contract for smart phone service averages about $110 per month. In every customer service and support interaction, whether online, phone, or email, there is potential to retain or gain approximately $2,000USD annually. For Verizon Wireless, with 135 million subscribers, just a one-half of one percent (0.005%) increase in customer churn or retention is worth an estimated $1.3B in revenues.

Vendor Selection

Verizon considered a variety of software vendors—those with advanced analytical tools or turn-key solutions for the customer service and support functions. Overall, this telecommunications provider wanted a solution that would resolve their current call center issues and then expand to an enterprise level with big data analytics. Ultimately, IBM was selected for several reasons:

  • Telecommunications sector expertise
  • Big data and advanced analytics domain knowledge
  • Attractive engagement model bundled with tools and professional guidance
“Everyone says that their solution is the best for “next best action” or real-time decisioning” which involves statistical modeling, ingesting data in motion, streaming analytics etc.… Different products have strengths in certain areas, but need to stretch to accomplish all that is necessary.”– Associate Director, Verizon

While several executives from the IT department were involved in building the business requirements and vetting the various options, the final decision to invest was made by the president of operations and the chief financial officer. Further analysis is available in our latest Galaxy study: How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.

©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be re-purposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com. For information on licensing, reprint or purchase of research, please contact ZGR@HypatiaResearch.com

[1] Between 2005–2010, Verizon divested wire-line operations in several states in order to focus on its wireless, FiOS internet and FiOS TV businesses.

[2] Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service that operates over a fiber-optic communications network to more than 6 million people in 13 states. (2014 statistics)

November 10, 2015: Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Customer Analytics Galaxy Evaluations

Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Customer Analytics Galaxy Evaluations

Founded just sixteen years ago in 1999, Salesforce.com has become a driving force in software innovation. With more than 16,000 employees, the company poCustomer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Designsted $5.37 billion in total revenue in Fiscal Year 2015 (ended January 31, 2015). Fueling the company’s rapid expansion and growth are several factors:
  • Strategic acquisitions in customer-facing software and consulting services: Activa Live Chat, Buddy Media, EdgeSpring, Exact Target with Pardot, Heroku, JigSaw Data Corp., ModelMetrics, Radian6, RelateIQ, and Social Studio;
  • Development of the AppExchange which allows customers to select from thousands of business apps;
  • Ability to scale through more than 900 partners in its worldwide ecosystem;
  • Early adopter of providing software delivery via a flexible, online subscription model.

An intuitive graphical interface, ease of use, and design by and for a marketing function is unique.  Several Galaxy Leaders also offer robust solutions, but the purpose-built design inherent in this offering sets it apart.  At the center of Marketing Cloud and Journey Builder is customer workflow automation based on a single data source that facilitates real time interactions based upon this holistic information.

Bottom line: organizations are able to bring in any data model, schema or attributes from any source and key system to match existing or customizable fields. With Journey Builder, the concept of ‘journey’ operates separately from the concept of “workflow”. To read more of Hypatia Research Group’s evaluation of Salesforce Marketing Cloud see:  How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.  ©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved. For information on licensing, reprint or purchase of research, please contact ZGR@HypatiaResearch.com
October 20, 2015: Hypatia Research Group Presents Complimentary Webinar “Best Practices in Customer Engagement and Loyalty” Hosted by CRMXchange

Hypatia Research Group Presents Complimentary Webinar “Best Practices in Customer Engagement and Loyalty” Hosted by CRMXchange

Research Reveals Customers Prefer ‘Blended’ Over ‘Siloed’ Multichannel Experience

Industry analyst and market research firm announces a webinar scheduled for Thursday October 29th entitled “Best Practices in Engagement and Loyalty” hosted by CRMXchange with support from Bright Pattern, InContact and SparkCentral.

Webinar:  Best Practices in Customer Engagement and Loyalty
When: Thursday October 29th, 2:00 pm EDT
Registration Link: http://www.crmxchange.com/roundtable/engagement/oct2015.asp

Hypatia’s primary research finds that enterprises now interact with and support their customer in ways that are constantly becoming more varied and increasingly complex. Customers, already suffering from extreme information overload, are receiving more than 10X messages per hour than just five years ago. Getting and keeping them engaged now requires a team of professionals rather than just one very overworked marketing specialist as customers expect that brands will interact with them through ANY channel of preference with both historical and contextual awareness.

HRG_Multichannel_Engagement_2015

©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

According to Leslie Ament, “Our analysis shows that 70% of global organizations now offer customers the option of interacting independently through various channels due to customer demand, preference and expectation of anywhere, anytime, and any channel of support. However, the proverbial Achilles Heel in offering an Omni- or Multi-channel customer experience is when companies continue to offer this via a siloed approach rather than as a “blended” experience.  Providing customers a truly seamless, ‘blended’ experience should be an organizational goal for all customer-centric companies.”

REGISTER NOW to hear Leslie Ament, Senior Vice President, Research & Principal Analyst, Hypatia Research Group as she discusses best practices and trends in global multi-channel engagement that foster customer loyalty and enhance ROI.

Attendees will learn:

  • How companies are increasing customer engagement through services and tools such as mobile, chat, SMS messaging, screen sharing, co-browsing, and video;
  • The changing priorities and return on investment from responding to customers via social media;
  • How to identify the best people and information resources to respond more quickly to customer inquiries;
  • Why “guided intelligence” reduces customer effort while increasing agent productivity.

Hypatia Research Group surveyed more than 1000 global organizations and only respondents with direct accountability for selection or use of software and services for customer service & support functions were utilized for this primary research.

About Hypatia Research Group

Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group delivers high impact market intelligence, industry benchmarking, best practice, and vendor selection research for how businesses use technology and service providers to capture, manage, analyze and apply customer and market intelligence to enhance performance and accelerate growth. Coverage includes: Customer Analytics, Advanced Analytics, Customer Intelligence, Customer Management (CRM), Social Media, Text Analytics, Digital Marketing, Information Management, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and GRC. Since 2001, clients have relied on Hypatia for industry insight, expertise and independent market research for guidance in assessing various technology and service options.

About CRMXchange

Founded in 1995, CRMXchange has long been recognized as a premiere destination on the Internet for the exchange of information and ideas on customer relationship management, sales, contact center, and telemarketing issues. Today, the site offers a wide variety of resources for CRM professionals. Through nearly a decade-long partnership with industry leaders and analysts, CRMXchange has developed unique insights into the kinds of business intelligence and professional development programs required for successful contact center operations. And as pioneers of the Internet, CRMXchange understands the profound role the Web can play in the all-important arena of peer-to-peer communication. Known by our audience as the “event site,” CRMXchange has gained a reputation as experts in the hosting and marketing of webcasts and other online events.

Contact:

E: Research@HypatiaResearch.com

O: 781-862-5106

October 13, 2015: Enterprise Customer Analytics Effectiveness: Key Factors to Consider

Enterprise Customer Analytics Effectiveness: Key Factors to Consider

CRM analytics is often acknowledged as a type of business intelligence that most often provides historical reporting in the form of dashboards, operational reports, sales forecasts and/or account segmentation among others. While historical reporting, queries, and data visualization is highly useful in illustrating what has occurred and in certain instances can be used to perform “what if” planning scenarios, it is not based on advanced analytical techniques such as predictive modeling. In addition, CRM analytics is often based on customer information residing in a system or multiple CRM systems of record, thus, financial information and purchase history along with other relevant customer information may be lacking unless it is ported into a customer information hub or business intelligence application for analysis. (Click here for more on “Realizing the Downstream Benefits of Effective Customer Data Management”)

In contrast, customer analytics is often utilized for in-the-moment or near-real time decision support for marketing, merchandising, Ecommerce, customer service and support, and sales when analysis of multivariate dimensions are required. For example, multiple dimensions such as time-frame (duration), product/service purchase history, industry, company size, household income, education level, geography and purchase amount (market-basket), can be used to define certain performance metrics such as customer lifetime value or limits on customer acquisition costs. In addition, trade promotions, customer service guidance, fraud alerts, customer identity authentication, and affinity marketing along with cross-sell/up-sell offers are largely dependent on advanced analytical techniques. In short, customer analytics combined with appropriate algorithmic models, business process rules and workflows has the potential to enhance engagement by being contextually relevant, in the moment and in the channel of customer preference.

Customer Information Lives Throughout and Beyond the Enterprise

In today’s Omni-channel, customer-obsessed marketplace, businesses need to embrace the reality that customer information does not only reside in a CRM system–it lives throughout and beyond the enterprise.  The proliferation of customer interaction channels serve as a catalyst for investment in multi-channel software solutions. From mobile phones, tablets, computers, in store, catalogue, SMS, social networks, and online forums, customers are able to interact with businesses when they want, how they want and for any reason. Converting both unstructured (contextual) and structured (data) information into actionable insight and responding to customers according to their preferences with customized information is a challenge for most organizations. However, enabling technologies based upon advanced analytics combined with customer engagement solutions such as digital marketing, contact center, sales and/or Ecommerce solutions may provide support for overcoming this challenge.Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design

Five Primary Types of Advanced Analytical Techniques

Through the lens of customer engagement, the practical applications of these five types of techniques should be viewed as:

  • Descriptive-Who is the customer?
  • Diagnostic-Why are they engaging with your brand?
  • Predictive-What are they likely to want?
  • Prescriptive-How best should your brand engagement with them?
  • Cognitive-When the customer engages with your brand, your brand knows why, what they likely want, and how best to engage with them based on numerous previous experiences.

There are software vendors that offer solutions with templates and features that facilitate creating specific types of models such as customer retention for retail and telecommunications, or identity fraud for banking or medical claims management. Operationalizing analytics by embedding models within customer engagement workflows facilitates brand consistency and optimizes personalization through automation. Evaluate how, and if this might shorten time to value when implementing customer analytics, customer journey design and customer engagement programs. (See Galaxy Vendor Evaluations Chapter Three)

Evaluate how, and if this might shorten time to value when implementing customer analytics programs.

Summary

  • Enterprise customer analytics differs most from CRM analytics in that five primary types of advanced analytical techniques are utilized in addition to business reporting such as historical, operational, sales forecasting, and/or account segmentation;
  • Enterprise customer analytics is dependent on numerous information sources from multiple channels, legacy systems of record, devices, cloud, and streaming data–inclusive of interactional and transactional information as well as externally purchased third-party data;
  • Expertise is advanced analytics combined with well-defined goals, an operationally executable plan, clear definitions for measurable performance metrics and cross functional resources able to execute on this plan are critical to success.

For business return on investment justification, case studies and a Checklist for Success  see our latest study:  “How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design Processes: Benchmarks, Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.” ©2015-2016 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be re-purposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

October 1, 2015: Hypatia Research Announces: "How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design Processes: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations"

Research confirms that the ability to effectively map and engage with customers during multi-channel journeys is dependent on real-time analysis of numerous information sources

Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group announces publication of a new primary research study entitled “How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design Processes: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations“. This fifty page study with twenty-five figures provides end-user organizations with best practice benchmarking, vendor evaluations and an analysis of how, why, and when companies invest in Customer Analytics and Journey Design (CEA&JD) software, what tangible benefits are possible, and which metrics can be used to measure an organizational return on investment (ROI). In short, our research provides actionable insight that companies may use in compiling a vendor short list, request for qualifications and best practice terms of engagement with software vendors and providers of services.

In this age of digital engagement, interaction, and commerce, analysis of customers’ interactional and transactional behaviors with the goal of creating actionable business insights are essential in designing effective, frictionless multi-channel customer journeys. According to the report’s author, Leslie Ament, SVP and Principal Analyst, “Business intelligence and dashboards are great tools for serving up historical or near-real time guidance and trends, however, transforming massive amounts of customer information (structured and contextual) into actionable insights and utilizing this insight to engage with customers in the moment is THE challenge for organizations of all sizes, across all industries and within all geographies.

GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations 2015-2016

Ament continued, “Our research demonstrates that enterprise-level Omni-channel customer analytics, similar to Big Data Analytics (BDA), encompass numerous information sources, multiple technologies (software and hardware), nimble business processes and specialized human expertise in advanced analytics.

Research Approach

Hypatia Research surveyed more than 1000 global practitioners and executives directly involved with creating customer insights, utilizing customer insights and applying customer insights to engage with customer in order to accelerate growth, provide service and support, retain customers, prevent customer migration and/or acquire customers.

Only the 566 respondents that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of enterprise Customer Analytics, Customer Insights, Customer Engagement and Journey Design Process software were utilized in our analysis of how, why or when organizations:

  • Invest in customer analytics & journey design software solutions—and how much is budgeted through 2018?
  • Measure productivity and effectiveness of customer analytics & journey design initiatives and how often?
  • Prioritize specific customer analytics & journey design initiatives against software selection criteria??
  • Commit a percentage of company revenues to customer analytics & journey design program investment?
  • Realize a return on investment (ROI)?
  • Evaluate and ultimately select specific CEA&JD vendors or consulting firms?

 Evaluation Methodology

Our due diligence included a 1) vendor briefing, 2) product demonstration and 3) customer reference interviews. In certain cases, customer references were obtained without vendor involvement through our professional network.

Survey Respondent Profiles

Over 566 global respondents with functions primarily in merchandising, marketing, customer service and support, operations, business analysts and IT completed our survey. Company size encompassed: large enterprise with revenues greater than $2b (54%), mid-market (44.6%) and small enterprises with less than $100m in revenues (1.4%). Roles included:

  • 42.1% C-Level / EVP
  • 26.9% Director / Manager
  • 18.7% GRC Supervisor / Team Lead

Geographic breakdown: (47%) North America, (33.9%) EMEA, (18.7%) Asia Pacific and (0.4%) South America. Industry breakouts are: Retail/CPG (22.3%) financial services (14.1%) manufacturing (11.7%) and consumer good & electronics (10.2%) comprised the largest industry sectors representation followed by telecommunications and media (7.4%).

About

Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group delivers high impact market intelligence, industry benchmarking, best practice, maturity model and vendor selection research for how businesses use software technology, professional services and management consulting providers to capture, manage, analyze and apply customer and market intelligence to enhance corporate performance and to accelerate growth. Coverage includes: Customer Management (CRM), Business Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Big Data Insights, Customer Analytics, Social Media, Text Analytics, Digital Marketing, Information Management, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and GRC. Since 2001, clients have relied on Hypatia for industry insight, expertise and independent market research for guidance in assessing various technology and service options.

For advisory, licensing or further analysis on this topic by company size, industry, job function or geography, please contact Research (at) HypatiaResearch (dot) com or call 781-862-5106

September 28, 2015: Customer Analytics: The Delta Between a Right Versus Left Brain Approach

Customer Analytics: The Delta Between a Right Versus Left Brain Approach

Have you ever sat in a cross functional business meeting attended by line of business functions (sales, marketing, customer service, finance, and/or merchandising), members of the IT department AND business analysts, data scientists and data engineers–and desperately wished for a Star Trek type of universal translator*? Oh, and did I mention the discussion centered on scoping out business requirements for improving customer journey workflows with a goal of increasing revenues AND reducing customer effort that involve one or more of the following enabling software applications:

Customer Analytics

  • Customer Engagement & Interaction;
  • Customer Service & Support;
  • Digital Marketing;
  • Ecommerce & Merchandising;
  • Finance; and/or
  • Enterprise Resource Planning.

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, the human brain consists of the right brain and the left brain. The shapes of these two parts are similar, but differences have been gradually found in their functions. The left brain is also referred to as the digital brain. It controls reading and writing, calculation, and logical thinking. The right brain is referred to as the analog brain. It controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic senses.

Whether by training, professional experience or simply genetics, many employees drawn into marketing are right brain dominant while those in IT/IS related functions are often left brain dominant. While most people use both sides of their brains everyday, how information is received, processed and articulated is often guided by dominance in one of these hemispheres. An exception to this are those highly trained in mathematics and music who tend to “parallel” process information using both sides of their brains. (Note: Parallel processors are not superior, we are just different.)

Why is all of this relevant to a discussion on business requirements gathering for selecting software, designing workflow processes and closed-loop metrics and milestones for assessing return on investment? With all of the current discourse on topics such as; digital transformation, moving to the cloud, listening to the “voice of the customer” and advice on how to become more “customer-centric” by using customer analytics to proactively anticipate customer desires, it is crucial that companies realize that definitions for customer analytics and key performance metrics are not always consistent across industries, functions or geographies.

Customer Analytics

For example most of us recognize that 2+2=4. However, when assessing campaign return on investment, the marketing function often uses a “campaign uplift” metric, typically defined as the difference in response rate between a segmented group and a randomized control group, thereby isolating the effect of a marketing campaign and measuring its effectiveness. In short, what is measured is the incremental effect of a campaign rather than the “lift“, which is defined as the overall response rate.

Customer analytics, generally defined as a process by which information (data and unstructured content) from customer behavior (both interactional and transactional), is used to support key business decisions through the use of market segmentation and advanced analytics. (Descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, prescriptive and cognitive analytics or computing. See Delivering Big Data Analytical Insights for more on this.)

Organizations utilize customer analytics in order to measure, analyze and make decisions regarding:

  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Up-sell, Cross-sell & Affinity Opportunities
  • Customer Retention Rates
  • Customer Migration/Churn Rates
  • Customer Demand for Products or Services
  • Ecommerce, Merchandising & Brand Extensions
  • Product Innovation
  • Trade Promotions

Important? Of course. Notice that some of the decisions listed above involve functions other than marketing? Finance, merchandising, IT, business analysts, decision scientists, demand and supply chain as well as product management and research & development should have input into some of these decisions. For example, when analyzing the success and return on investment from trade promotions, finance is likely to use activity based costing** (ABC) rather than campaign uplift metrics. As for “customer lifetime value”, should the company define it as net profits over the expected customer lifetime or simply customer lifetime revenues? What about customer profitability (CP) defined as per quarterly or annual campaigns or by year over year revenues? Alternatively, some companies mistakenly calculate (CLV) as the total revenue or even gross margin associated with a customer.

Defining metrics is as important as defining precise measurements for recipes (if wrong, a soufflé will not rise), for mixed drinks (shaken not stirred), drug compounding formulas, ingredient ratios for rocket fuel formula ( Big Bang Theory: The Staircase Implementation), and for customer analytics. Otherwise, a trade promotion run by marketing will seem to be a huge success based solely on campaign ‘lift’ metrics while in the finance department, it will be calculated as a huge loss leader program ($$ lost) without any upside from market-basket additions.

Our Assessment

Companies that seek to become customer-centric by focusing their business processes on retaining existing customers and acquiring new customers by making it easy for those customers to do business with them, need to start by standardizing and integrating more than their numerous (and siloed) software systems and data models. Effective utilization of customer analytics requires standardizing basic definitions of performance metrics across all functions prior to making critical business decisions. Bottom-line: Before attempting to digitally transform into a customer-centric organization, acquire a universal translator to help remove the delta.

©2015 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. Upcoming “How Customer Analytics & Insights Enrich Journey Design Processes: Benchmarks, Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.” No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contactResearch@HypatiaResearch.com.

* The universal translator (also referred to as a “UT” or translator circuit) was a device used to decipher and interpret alien languages into the native language of the user in real-time. It operates by scanning brain-wave frequencies and using the results to create a basis for translation.

**CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) defines ABC as an approach to the costing and monitoring of activities which involves tracing resource consumption and costing final outputs. Resources are assigned to activities, and activities to cost objects based on consumption estimates. The latter utilize cost drivers to attach activity costs to outputs.

September 10, 2015: Overcoming Challenges to Social Community Investment

Overcoming Challenges to Social Community Investment
For most mid-size to large businesses, a Facebook or Twitter presence alone is an insufficient strategy for achieving either competitive gain or any notable return on investment. While a Facebook presence is good for visibility and to give people a public place to comment or praise a company’s products, it lacks the features needed to have a multi-faceted, rich community with members-only forums, web casts, video- and photo-sharing forums, blogs, member libraries, content rating, and integration with other parts of the company’s Web site. That creates a few major hurdles that anyone looking to implement it in his or organization may have to overcome such as:

Top Drivers for Investment in Social Community Networks – ©2011-2015 Hypatia Research Group

Top Drivers for Investment in Social Community Networks – ©2011-2015 Hypatia Research Group

Lack of tangible business objectives: Social media consultants and software makers shared that customers commonly come to them with only a vague idea of what they want to do with social media and little to no business case to justify it. This is reflected in the nearly 20% of survey respondents that give their main reason for investing in social media as “customers expect it.”

Cost: Social community platforms aren’t cheap. Depending on the level of social media expertise in the organization, the cost may include considerable service work including upfront planning, operational execution, and the implementation itself. These services may be provided by a software provider, a consultant, or other third party firm. Even pressing existing employees into social media service incurs a cost to other projects that are put on hold due to resource constraints.

Establishment of enterprise-level standard ROI Metrics: Debate over how to measure ROI in social media continues to rage among marketing and customer service professionals. Many even question whether financial ROI is the right metric to use at all, suggesting that non-monetary benefits be used instead. Hypatia believes that it is critical to calculate some form of financial ROI from social media initiatives. Without tangible ROI, organizations find it difficult to decide which, if any social media product or service is worth the investment.

Limited support from management: Is it surprising that a project without a solid business plan, requires significant investment, and offers soft rather than hard metrics to justify return on investment would lack the backing of upper management? Most seasoned executives are familiar with social media. They know that many organizations have a Twitter and Facebook presence and that their kids’ likely have Facebook pages. However, without clear business objectives and plans to operationalize social media, a project isn’t likely to get a lot of respect from the C-level executives. Alas, it is the CEO, CFO, COO, CIO or CTO who holds the purse on social media projects nearly half the time at mid-sized and large enterprises.

Balancing cost vs need for expertise: Social media often requires a great deal of expertise and staff time. Hence many organizations are compromising with a hybrid option for staffing social media — some services from the software vendor and/or consultant, some existing staff, and maybe a temporary worker or two to get things going. Hybrid hiring is an optimal one for a tight budget, balancing the need for external expertise in an area that is new and untried, with the need to use existing staff and contractors wherever possible to avoid cost overrun.

Things to Consider
The social media suite, or social community platform, is an integrated collection of social media components that encompass four main categories of functionality: sales and marketing, customer support, product ideation or mass feedback mechanisms, and reporting/analysis tools. They are aimed at the organizations that want more than a Facebook page for their company, and which likely intends to create social initiatives in two or more of the business processes above.

Despite the clamour around Facebook and Twitter, they are not great community platforms for companies that want to cultivate influential members, create loyalty programs, integrate social users with transactional data, put out polls, do crowd-sourcing for product concepts, create a user knowledgebase, provide an entertaining blog, or let users view a web cast.

Of course, like any enterprise software, social media platforms are not inexpensive. They can range from $5,000 to $20,000 per month for the software alone. If services are included, it brings the cost up significantly, to $20,000 to $50,000 a month for a mid to large organization.One SaaS social community application with all the basic bells and whistles was priced at $100,000 to $125,000 annual for an average configuration plus services.

There are many cheaper alternatives to commercial social media platforms – often utilized by small and mid-sized companies. But even then, organizations should evaluate the need to invest in consulting services for strategizing, planning, implementing, and managing a social community.

©2010-2015 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. “Benchmarking Social Community Investments & ROI: Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluation Guide”. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

August 21, 2015: Verint's Acquisition of Telligent Extends Multi-channel Customer Engagement

Verint’s Acquisition of Telligent Extends Multi-channel Customer Engagement

Earlier this week, Verint® Systems Inc.(NASDAQ: VRNT) announced that it has extended its customer engagement optimization portfolio with the acquisition of Telligent®, a market-leading, enterprise-class community solution. In our global studies, we have assessed that many organizations offer customers the ability to interact via multiple channels, however, most of this interaction is siloed and without context. For example, a customer may send a text or twitter message to a brand, only to have them respond with a URL to contact for further interaction rather than through the channel selected or preferred by the customer.

Moreover, when the customer does go online to the URL provided, s/he finds themselves interacting via self-service chat, and the offshore agent doesn’t have a clue what the customer needs and more importantly, doesn’t know:

  • What this customer purchased recently;
  • How many times they have attempted to contact the brand; or
  • What the issue at hand really is.

Bottom-line: the customer has to start all over with their request. A lot of customer effort exerted in a highly commoditized global multi-channel world where a company’s major competitive advantage is how they treat their customers. And for the record, less than 20% of of over 500 global brands surveyed by HRG provided their customers with “blended channel interaction” engagement opportunities. Since 2006, we have defined this as blending the “interactional” customer behavior with “transactional” or purchase-based actions across ALL customer channels of engagement. Our assessment is that:

“Verint’s addition of Telligent, enables brands to create and utilize actionable intelligence across customers’ omnichannel experiences to include voice, chat, email, mobile, web self-service, and now customer and employee communities.” –Hypatia Research Group.

We first evaluated Telligent in 2010 for one of our first GalaxyTM benchmark studies entitled, “Benchmarking Social Community Investments & ROI: Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluation Guide”. “Social media software was HypatiaResearch_EntSocMed2011_Coverdeveloped to facilitate online conversations between businesses and their customers, partners, and future-stakeholders as well as to provide outlets for customers to share information with each other. Hypatia reviewed nearly two dozen enterprise-level social media platforms vendors. Each offers various tools that enable organizations to create a variety of social venues for customers to utilize on either a corporate web site or on public networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, etc… A majority of these social media tools address at least two or more of these four business areas:

  • Customer Service & Support;
  • Product Innovation & Ideation;
  • Branding, Marketing & Commerce;
  • Customer Analysis, Profiling & Segmentation prior to engagement.”

Our Analysis:
“Social media is not something that marketing and business executives can afford to ignore. The public is using social media to share opinions, take part in surveys and discussion threads, post videos of their activities, and tune into podcasts and webcasts on various topics. Many use social media tools to research products and services before they make the purchase. But organizations struggle with the decision of what social media to leverage, how to “do” social media, and how much to invest in something that may not wind up contributing to the bottom line.
Managers planning to launch a social media initiative should perform the same due diligence recommended for any major software or business undertaking. Namely, they must do a need assessment, looking at the pain points throughout the organization that could be addressed through social media, as well as a list of the options — both social media options and others — that could address those pain points.

Before deciding on critical issues such as which projects to roll out first, what software products to buy, and how large the budget for it should be, management also needs a list of requirements for the project, an inventory of existing staff and IT resources, and a plan to address potential needs in the future — such as integration of social media with CRM, e-commerce or supply chain management applications, wireless support for mobile phones, and the type of IT and social media expertise that may be required.

While social media may be an investment that companies need to make just to stay competitive, it should not be made in the dark, especially given the huge range of software and services options on the market and the time that will be invested in planning, implementing and managing the community.”

©2010-2015 Hypatia Research Group. All rights reserved. “Benchmarking Social Community Investments & ROI: Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluation Guide”. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

August 8, 2015: Presenting at CRM Evolution and CRMXchange: Customer Analytics Insights and Engagement Best Practices

Presenting at CRM Evolution and CRMXchange: Customer Analytics Insights and Engagement Best Practices

On August 18th and October 29th, Hypatia Research Group will present best practices, benchmarks and research analysis from our latest primary research studies. At CRM Evolution 2015, Leslie Ament, SVP & principal analyst will share:

Why Big Data Insights are Necessary for Effective Multi-channel Customer Engagement: Customer Analytics Insights and Engagement Best Practices
Hypatia Research Group researched how Big Data insights affect multi-channel customer engagement bHRG_CustAnalJourney_cover_2015Best practices. Using case studies and survey analysis, this session shares strategies for creating innovative multi-channel customer engagement programs by developing alignment between IT, marketing, operations, and other line-of-business functions. Attendees learn how IT, marketing, and line-of-business professionals view accountability for the results of these programs; why collaboration is necessary for success and how to effectively collaborate; goals for leveraging Big Data for customer engagement excellence and innovation; metrics for assessing tangible returns on investment; and which best practices are applicable.

With CRMXchange, Ament will reference recent HRG research which reveals that 70% of all global organizations now offer their customers the option of reaching them via multiple channels and discuss how companies are optimizing engagement through services and applications including mobile, digital, WebRTC, screen sharing/co-browsing and video.

Best Practices in Customer Engagement and Loyalty: Why Effective Multi-channel Interactions Require Contextual & Historical Awareness
Leslie Ament, Hypatia Research Group Senior VP and Principal analyst, will be presenting a round-table webcast on the customer experience website CRMXchange The webcast, Best Practices in Customer Engagement and Loyalty is scheduled for October 29. The focus will be on how companies are meeting customers’ expectations of being able to communicate via any channel of preference, while maintaining both historical and contextual awareness throughout all of their interactions.

She will also explore best practices and trends that contribute to customer loyalty. For those interested in participating in this event, please contact info@crmxchange.com. Hosted by CRMXchange (http://www.crmxchange.com).

July 12, 2015: Customer Analytics: All About That Big Insights Data-Bass!

Just about every day we read about Big Data Insights, Analytical Insights delivered as a Service, the Internet of Things (IoT) and disruptive technologies and the impact it will have on business and our daily lives. Our research provides best practices and specifics on the how, when, why, and where this will occur especially in the areas of customer engagement and interaction, eCommerce, and operationalizing voice of the customer and business analytics.

Voice of Customer Analytics: All About That Big Insights Data-Bass!

In a previous study1 of the Fortune 500, “Delivering Big Data Analytics Insights: Why Choose Between Accuracy, Agility or Speed to Insight,” we found that organizations prioritize their investment by the following business initiatives2. Not surprisingly—all relate to revenues, customers and products:

  •  Increase top line growth via accurate, real-time decision support (49.9%)
  •  Increase sales & marketing effectiveness (40.9%)
  •  Refine corporate strategy decision making processes via data-driven insights (40.5%)
  •  Proactively uncover potential issues, makes course corrections and resolve customer complaints to better manage enterprise risk (29.8%)
  •  Product innovation, ideation and design enhancement initiatives (32.5%)

Based on our comprehensive analysis of 1000+ organizations, our assessment is that enterprise VOC should be viewed as a subset or business application of big data analytics (BDA). A comparison of the data sources utilized for both BDA and VOC are very similar percentage-wise (+/-5%).

Voice of Customer Analytics: All About That Big Insights Data-Bass!

Bottom-line: It’s all about that Big Insights Data-Bass! (Figure 25)

Figure 25: Comparison of Information Sources Utilized: Big Data Insights and VOC*

Big Insights Data-Bass, Customer Analytics, VOC

Source: ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings”

*Multiple responses possible: Will not = 100%

Due Diligence: Kick the Tires
Hypatia Research Group briefed more than twenty vendors and even more end-user organizations while researching this study. Regardless of which VOC vendor(s) a company considers, thoroughly understand its software capabilities; consulting services and/or training offered, its terms of service; and its underlying infrastructure. We urge potential purchasers to evaluate vendors against enterprise-level business requirements.

While B2C sectors gain the clearest VOC benefit, the fact remains that most companies, regardless of its industry, have a sales cycle and concerns about customer onboarding, retention, product or service quality, customer satisfaction or loyalty and profitability. Structured VOC programs provides companies the opportunity to track their progress, using key performance indicators, with baselines and milestones in a way that may not have been possible in the past. Ultimately, the brass ring is for organizations to turn transform these customer insights into repeatable business processes– either manual or automated—designed to address customer issues rapidly. Tangible benefits captured from among the 500+ companies researched included:

  • Enhanced customer engagement or experience levels
  • Reduction in customer churn rates
  • Increase in customer retention or satisfaction levels
  • Decrease in product or service quality complaints
  • Better customer service via first call resolution
  • Expansion of product innovation opportunities
  • Improved brand reputation

Although there may be challenges on a micro-level to choosing a VOC vendor(s), we believe that the vendor landscape currently represents a strong opportunity for companies of any size. The number of VOC solution providers is quite large and this study focuses primarily on software solutions, software with consulting services, managed services and/or SaaS companies. Some target low-end capabilities with trial versions, others offer capture of text and/or data from multiple sources, analytics and reporting capabilities. In today’s software landscape, even small businesses can start conducting customer trend and pattern analysis in order to improve its sales, customer satisfaction, product quality, employee productivity or its profitability levels.

More importantly, a previous barrier to entry for most companies —expertise, cost and time of deployment — is alleviated by software + services, on demand subscription or managed services delivery options. These include easy and flexible set-up from multiple data sources. To be sure, companies should work toward using more consistent taxonomies within their company (that is, referring to specific items in a consistent way) in order to take the most advantage of VOC initiatives. But such a concerted effort offers a clear payoff in terms of customer insight quality.

Ultimately, Hypatia believes that customers will continue to select enterprise-level VOC solutions and services as an effective method for capturing, managing, analyzing and applying key customer insights that have the potential to enhance both business operations as well as the quality of customer engagements. As with most enabling technology usage—the people, business processes, and metrics utilized are often equal to or more important than the software itself.

Source: ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | “Operationalizing Enterprise Voice of the Customer: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings”. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing. For advisory services or assistance with vendor selection, requirements gathering or business process mapping, contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

[1] Companies with greater than $4.5 billion in revenues[2] Multiple responses possible: Will not = 100%
June 5, 2015: Customer Identity Authentication & the Voice Biometric Imperative
In Data Security, It’s a Numbers Game
Requiring multifactor authentication makes it harder for hackers to access information

In 2014, 783 major data breaches in the United States potentially exposed hundreds of millions of customer records to hackers, according to information compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Many of them “could have been avoided with multifactor authentication,” Loeser states without hesitation.

In a recently published primary research study, “Customer Identity Authentication: Reducing Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk” Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research, called multifactor authentication “a highly necessary component in protecting customers from fraud as well as for managing business risk.”Customer Identity Authentication & the Voice Biometric Imperative, Voice Biometrics, Multifactor Authentication

When it comes to multifactor authentication, it’s important to determine which deployment methods and factors will best suit your organization. That is why, companies should seriously evaluate HRG’s analysis of customer identity authentication & the voice biometric imperative.

No matter which option the company chooses, though, Hypatia Research’s Ament recommends “assiduous back-end integration and cross-organizational design.” Then, she recommends, “authentication methods should be deployed consistently across channels and modes. Customers don’t care that companies have selected different tools for the e-commerce and contact center channels”, she points out.

Vendors evaluated in Hypatia’s primary research study include:

©2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. “Customer Identity Authentication: Best Practices in Avoiding Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk“–A Practitioner’s Guide & Vendor Selection Criteria. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing to Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

June 1 2015: Customer Identity Authentication: Reducing Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk

Customer Identity Authentication: Best Practices in Reducing Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk
A Practitioner’s Guide & Software Selection Criteria

Customer Identity Authentication in the age of digital interaction, customer engagement and commerce is a highly necessary component in protecting customers from fraud as well as for managing business risk. While many organizations often consider a certain percentage of fraudulent transactions as an acceptable (risk calculation) cost of doing business, the bigger issue is how to prevent fraud and identity-theft related losses while enhancing the trust, quality and security of the customer experience.

Two distinct – and possibly conflicting – motivations overshadow the discussion on customer identification authentication (CIA). On the one hand, organizations want to improve customer service, which means dealing with contact center queries quickly and efficiently. On the other, organizations want to improve risk management. That means limiting to as small a percentage as possible fraudulent attempts at credit card purchases, identify theft, prescription drug misuse, or other crimes. These two motivations overlap sometimes as well: organizations strive to assure customers that their call-center processes keep personal information safe and secure.

Organizations increasingly face problems with the way they current conduct CIA, however. In today’s call center, CIA involves a variety of options. One option is passwords, which can be hacked or forgotten. Another option is knowledge-based authentication (KBA), in which customers respond to questions that only they know the answer to. These can be static (i.e., pre-determined) or dynamic (i.e., generated at the time from background information).

Another option: ANI, or automatic number identification. If someone calls in on a number not already associated with the account, the call is flagged as a risk – even though it may be an actual customer calling in from a mobile phone, a hotel room, or an office. These are all fairly established methods. Another option is out-of-band authentication (OOBA); for more on this option, see case study two, “E-Commerce Vendor: The Value of Out-of-Band Authentication.”

Accuracy, Security, Cost & Customer Effort
The problem: all of these either take too long, or cost too much, and or are intensely disliked by customers (for instance, the answer to the question “who’s your favorite author?” might not be the same in 2015 that it was in 2010). The authentication process can take from 30 to 120 seconds, while customers’ preferred waiting time is just 60 seconds. In addition, we estimate that it costs 50 cents to authenticate each customer in the contact-center environment. Furthermore, industry estimates peg the percentage of calls because of “account lockouts” – that is, failure of passwords or challenge questions – at anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of calls, averaging one per hour per customer service agent.

Figure 1: Percentage (%) of Contact Center Fraud Detected in Near Real Time

HYP_CIA_ROI

©2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

For many years, vendors have promoted biometrics as a way to ensure authentication of a customer. These methods – which include fingerprint scanners attached to USB ports; retina scans using cameras, again attached to USB ports – tend to be both expensive and or inconvenient. While they are occasionally used in high-end security facilities and law enforcement, they have failed to gain traction in the part of the marketplace where cost is crucial, such as office workers. However, they are still viable in high-cost transactions, such as corporate wire transfers, or in law enforcement identification scenarios.

There’s one more option, which we’ve chosen to focus on in this report: voice. Voice-based customer identification authentication is becoming not only more popular with customers for its ease of use, but also more cost-effective for brands to utilize, thanks to several technological trends:

Advanced Analytics & Algorithms. A few years ago, algorithms required anywhere between 100 and 200 kilobytes of data to create a viable voiceprint. Now that amount is down to 5 kilobytes.

Processors. Systems use algorithms to match the speaker’s voice to voiceprints on file. Today’s faster processors make the analysis to confirm various aspects of the voice faster than ever before.

Storage: Cloud & On Premise. While organizations store voiceprints in databases that also have improved performance, what’s more important is that, with the cost of cloud and hard disks going down, the cost of storing an expanding library of voiceprints is less than ever before.

Smartphones. This is the big change. In addition to the voice quality on most wireless networks improving, smartphones are now ubiquitous. That means that whenever customers (or employees) want to access personal information, they carry with them a device that can transmit their voice clearly and effectively.

That’s why voice-based customer identification authentication is increasingly becoming the method of choice for a variety of industries. A voice print maps both physical and behavioral characteristics. Physical characteristics contribute to a print based on the shape of the vocal tract, the mouth, and the nasal passages. Behavioral characteristics include pronunciation accents, emphasis, speed, and gender.

Vendors evaluated in this study include:

  • Aspect
  • Authentify
  • Genesys
  • Nice
  • Nuance
  • SpeechPro
  • Verint/Victrio
  • Voice Biometrics Group
  • VoiceVault

It’s simpler than other authentication methods, such as passwords and PINs. It’s also faster and less intrusive. It can have a strong impact on operational efficiency, by reducing the time and cost of authentication, as well as the time and cost of fraud investigation.HRG_CustIdenAuth_Cover_2014

The results from organizations that have already adopted it are encouraging; one telecommunications company [Vodafone] calculated that it has reduced its average hold time by 24 seconds; another [T-Mobile] has said it has increased customer satisfaction by 20 percent.

In this report, we’ll look at the various aspects of voice-based CIA, including:

• The state of the market, including industries committed to it;
• Major software vendors providing CIA solutions & technology;
• Results of Hypatia Research Group’s global survey focused on customer identity authentication;
• What to consider in the purchase and deployment of CIA technology;
• Other deployment issues to consider;
• Customer usage and return on investment assessments.

©2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. “Customer Identity Authentication: Best Practices in Avoiding Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk“–A Practitioner’s Guide & Vendor Selection Criteria to Reducing Identity Theft, Fraud & Risk. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing to Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

May 25, 2015: Social Analytics & Intelligence for Customer Service Excellence!

Social Analytics & Intelligence for Customer Service Excellence!

Providing social customer service and support in today’s multi-channel environment is by no means an easy task. Driven by high volumes of online user generated content, social intelligence is a phenomenon searching for pragmatic, actionable business use cases with clear justification of return on investment. Some software vendors offer sentiment analysis to classify and prioritize customer conversations by topic, issue or sentiment prior to agents opening their work-queue. Others deploy text analytics and business process rules to route these conversations by urgency, issue, topic and/or suggested corrective action or opportunity to the appropriate agent based upon expertise in handling certain issues.

Most importantly, organizations want to know, how do we harness this exploding phenomenon of user-generated content, commonly known as “social media” in order to supply superior customer service and support? The complexity of harnessing this rich treasure-trove of customer information in today’s highly commoditized global marketplace presents challenges as well as opportunities for businesses seeking to foster higher levels of customer intimacy in order to engage, retain and to realize full customer lifetime value.

Hypatia Research defines social customer service and support technologies as a subset of multi-channel customer service and support business processes, best practices and performance measurements that are supported by enabling technologies. This may include the monitoring, categorization, sentiment and trend analysis, text analysis, correlation discovery and root cause analysis of all types of unstructured social media and/or user-generated content from multiple customer conversations both private and public. In short, social CS&S helps organizations uncover customer intelligence for guidance, decision-support and/or corrective action deemed most advantageous in meeting customer service business objectives and/or corporate goals.

Creating social intelligence is one step in the process of leveraging this knowledge towards customer service and support excellence. This leverage should involve multiple best practice approaches that are based upon an organization’s industry, size, geography, culture as well as customers’ expectations for various types and levels of support (see Figure 8 below) such as; Self-service Support, Automated Assisted Support, Preemptive Support, Proactive Support, and/or Prescriptive Support.

Regardless of the flavor of social customer service and support level deployed, executives cited “the ability to respond to customer requests for support, service or information promptly” as the highest reason for investment in social intelligence tools.

Figure 1: Five Flavors of Social Intelligence for Customer Service & Support
Social Analytics & Intelligence for Customer Service Excellence!

©2013-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Timely Corrective Action Prevents Churn
Our research of 526 organizations, (based on survey respondents that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of social analytics and intelligence software) shows that return on investment from customer service and support initiatives is higher than other business use cases. In fact, one-third (35%) of customer service and support executives realize greater than 5% return on investment–defined as a percentage of total annual marketing spend. Another 15.5% realize between 3%-5% return on investment. (See Figure 9 below). Only 13.2% cited lack of tracking or knowledge of return on investment.

Examples of customer service and support requests via social channels might include:

  •  Posts and tweets on poor cell phone reception issues where consumers chose not to call a 1-800 number;
  • Tweets to cosmetics companies to find out if lipstick, foundation or skin moisturizer contains gluten or other allergens;
  • Consumers in a retail or grocery store requesting coupons mistakenly left at home;
  • Mobile phone users discussing service plans in online community forums—and then seeking advice of others as to satisfaction levels with competitive plan offerings.

Figure 2: ROI: Social Media for Customer Service & Support
Social Analytics & Intelligence for Customer Service Excellence!

©2013-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Just imagine if a valued consumer tweets “OMG! I forgot my 10% discount coupon for Lancôme at home” and an agent from L’Oréal proactively sends a link for a similar discount coupon to the consumer’s twitter address for mobile download while Lancôme does not respond at all within the next twenty-four hours? There is a tangible business risk for organizations that are slow to adopt social channels as means of interacting and engaging with consumers—as well as a corresponding opportunity for those that do.

Bottom-Line: Customer service and support is where corporate rubber meets the road in regards to what the brand promises and what the brand delivers. From an engagement vantage point that extends from pre-sales through post-sales, customer care professionals are in a unique position to drive conversion rates via multiple interactions. Organizations that adopt social media tools for customer service, combined with best practices for rules-based business process workflows, are empowered to utilize their social channels as decision support and customer engagement for value creation. Ideally, social analytics software tools should help organizations measure the effectiveness of social media on customer service and support initiatives—but, insofar as measuring a tangible ROI—software alone is just a major part of an overall strategy, operational plan and solution.

Operationalizing the value derived from social media channels does require the ability to map a best practice customer journey by specific priority, topic or issue. Realizing concrete benefits from social investment also requires the ability to configure these business process workflows according to customer-centric policies as defined by internal stakeholders such as the Chief Customer or Chief Marketing Officers.

Bottom line: Our assessment is that organizations should take a balanced approach to enterprise social business. “Know when to listen, know when to analyze, know how to influence, and when to act and engage.”

About Hypatia Research Group
Hypatia takes an end-user approach to business and technology research. Similar to Consumer Reports , our industry experts are objective in providing end-user organizations with independent primary research assessments as decision-support in evaluating various enabling technologies, service providers and consulting firms. To maintain its independence and impartiality, Hypatia Research does not engage in syndicated research sponsorships , accepts no outside advertising, provides no free samples, and utilizes proprietary research techniques to evaluate vendors.

Why this focus on actionable insight? Knowledge for the sake of knowledge without a purpose is outside our mission. Since 2001, Hypatia’s tagline has been calculating results. Our research methodology, a hybrid approach that combines qualitative and quantitative input from end-users, benchmarks the business return on investment realized by organizations of all sizes. http://www.HypatiaResearch.com
Social Analytics & Intelligence for Customer Service Excellence!
Research Methodology & Respondent Profiles
Hypatia Research Group interviewed and surveyed executives from more than 500 global enterprises that utilize Social Analytics and Intelligence platforms, tools, and services across numerous industries. Questions were designed to determine the following in regards to current use of social business practices:

MARKET Research Approach
Hypatia Research applies a hybrid methodology [quantitative & qualitative] that evaluates the Market-drivers, Actions, Responses, Knowledge, Enablers, and Technology enablers (MARKET) that influence corporate behavior in specific business environments. These terms are defined as follows:

Survey Respondent Profiles
Company size segmentation encompassed upper mid-market ($750M-$2B) and large enterprise with revenues at >$2B. Respondents came from a range of industries, with the largest sectors being manufacturing (14.9%), professional services (13.7%), financial services (12%), retail (11.5%), healthcare providers (10.2%), and consumer goods (7.9%).

Responding executives held customer-focused job functions within corporate strategy, consumer insight, customer analytics, product marketing, customer service, merchandising, and Web analytics with roles at the manager, director, VP and C-level.

©2013-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC | “Exploiting Social Intelligence for Customer Service & Support Excellence: GalaxyTM Software Evaluations“. All Rights Reserved. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management. Permission to link to this research must be requested in writing to Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

May 18, 2015: What Has NOT Changed in Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutions.

What Has Not Changed in Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutions?

The GRC market is still highly fragmented. In too many instances, enterprises are still using GRC applications as departmental solutions to solve a specific issue relating to governance, risk, compliance, or security.

There’s a logical reason for this. Frequently, enterprises deploy a GRC solution to solve a specific problem. They’ve flunked an audit. They’ve discovered a security breach. They’re subject to a new regulation. (In short, they react.) Facing this urgency, they turn to a solution that’s simple and inexpensive to deploy. Short-term problem solved.

The problem with that strategy is that every department in an enterprise can benefit from the operational insight that GRC applications can provide. Tackling GRC on a departmental basis solves that department’s problem, but it doesn’t provide the enterprise-wide insight that helps companies understand where its capability gaps are. Nor is it particularly easy to integrate or aggregate the information to develop a consistency view for analysis.

The basic problem is a lack of collaboration, which leads to a lack of visibility. The legal, human resources, and finance departments are all separate and using different tools. No one’s interested in the needs of the other divisions, and everyone mistrusts the other’s data. That means at the top, there’s no transparency into the overall risks.

In a way, the single-minded focus on a specific department is understandable. Enterprises may still rely on the innumerable industry-specific or vertical solutions available because those soluEnterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutionstions tend to relate to specific regulations, whether FISMA (financial services), HIPAA (health care), or PCI (retail). At the same time, enterprises can also deploy industry solutions relating to specific scenarios, such as third-party (example: supply chain) GRC for retail and manufacturing, or security for the banking industry.

Enterprises aren’t solely to blame for this attitude. For vendors, it’s easier to sell to a specific department leader or executive, rather than trying to navigate a labyrinthine organization, trying to understand who has influence and who doesn’t. When we asked vendors to whom they sell, the answer spanned multiple positions: CIO, CFO, chief compliance officer, corporate counsel, risk management, as well as human resources and operations. It doesn’t matter how it happens, but the result is too many point solutions that don’t integrate.

Our assessment is that most (not all) of what happens in a company relating to GRC is horizontal, rather than vertical. Information technology, security, human resources, finance, and risk have ramifications in every enterprise. To comply with some of the regulations in Sarbanes-Oxley – one of the big drivers of GRC deployment a few years ago – enterprises must prove that only certain people had access to data, and that the same person did not control multiple aspects relating to finance (i.e., segregation of duties). This may apply not only to the finance department, but also to high-level executives in each division.

Consider this; there are more than 30 different potential GRC categories. One alternative to an enterprise-wide solution is to license, deploy, manage, train, and upgrade 30+ different point solutions every time an industry or financial regulation changes. Hypatia does not believe that this kind of fragmentation increases a company’s security or decreases its risk. Although it does add several layers of complexity to the compliance efforts involved. In short, our recommendation is that an enterprise-level solution with one-to-three specialty point solutions is optimal. Ten or more different GRC point solutions are not.

Finally, there’s another factor that supports the argument of an enterprise-wide solution. The things that really haven’t changed: the plethora of new risks and regulations enterprises face. The faster companies can respond to these demands, the better. Maintaining a single repository for all GRC-related issues provides an advantage in that response time. Information needs to be shared quickly with the right functions/roles, and with the right guidance for taking action on alerts, outliers, or anomalies aligned with an organization’s tolerance for risk.

Converging Trends

Three converging trends further complicate companies’ efforts toward insightful and accurate GRC deployments:

  •        First, complexity of compliance increases not only because of new governmental regulations, but also because different regions or departments may have divergent or even conflicting requirements.
  •         Second, GRC applications themselves are changing, with eGRC applications adding more IT-GRC capabilities, and vice versa.
  •         Finally, advances in technology such as cloud, service-oriented architectures and master data management affect business processes and data integration, key elements of GRC efforts.

In addition to the fragmentation among the vendor’s offerings, our research reveals a high level of fragmentation among users’ perception and understanding about GRC, and particularly the importance of having an integrated GRC strategy.Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutions

To gauge the understanding and penetration of GRC solutions within a selection of global companies, Hypatia Research surveyed 664 global executives directly involved with GRC processes, audits and decision-making on the following facets of their deployments, among others. The entire 60 page primary research study is available for purchase at: “The Convergence of Enterprise GRC: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings

The Convergence of Enterprise GRC: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings” ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management.

April 24, 2015: Highlights of SAP CRM Insider: All About Customer Engagement & Commerce

Highlights of SAP CRM Insider: All About Customer Engagement & Commerce (CEC)

Rather than focusing on the intangible “customer experience” when addressing customer interactions via various touch-points, SAP has chosen to get tangible with their CRM offering by focusing on customer engagement & commerce.  In emphasizing multichannel engagement AND linking it with commerce, SAP brings to market a “rubber meets the road” solution in which a highly fragmented and often unpredictable customer journey may be tracked, analyzed, refined and re-purposed for personalized engagement with individual customers or segments of customers with conversion as the end game. SAP refers to this as “real-time individualization”, although as early as 2006, Hypatia defined this as “precision marketing”.

In short, SAP brings to market the combined synergies of Hybris (commerce), HANA (enterprise analytics), KXEN (decision science) and CRM (comprised of sales, service & support and marketing functionality); effectively bridging the front office to back office. In other words, interactional behaviors, transactional purchase history, customer journey touch-points (online, social, mobile, digital, direct etc…) and engagement are all captured, analyzed, and served up to provide intelligent guidance™  to call center agents, sales professionals, post-sales field support, marketers, billing and others along the entire customer life-cycle.

Figure 1: Information Integration, Analytical Sophistication & Speed Improves Performance

Customer engagement, customer analytics, Big Data analytics insights

©2015 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved.

Most CRM vendors do not currently offer commerce as an integrated part of their solution, although several do have partnerships with established API connectors. In adding commerce to its customer engagement portfolio, SAP has packaged a compelling solution with the means to analyze, refine, re-engage and tie customer journey processes to tangible metrics such as actual sales, cost reductions, customer acquisition and retention metrics to return on investment.

This is not to say that implementation and deployment of Customer Engagement & Commerce will be a walk in the park. With this solution comes the opportunity to improve or innovate current customer interaction and engagement processes that reach across the customer life-cycle from first point of contact to post-sales relationship–and we all know change (transformation) is challenging. Investment in the software itself along with professional services, and consulting is not insignificant either.

However, if I were still in a CMO role, I would seriously consider CRM solutions that provide tangible customer engagement metrics over fuzzy, feel good customer experience metrics every day of the week. And I’m sure most C-level executives and their boards of directors would agree.

©2015 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved. Intelligent Guidance™ by Hypatia Research Group, LLC.

April 20, 2015: Delivering Big Data Analytics Insight: Why Settle for Accuracy, Agility OR Speed?

Delivering Big Data Analytics Insight: Why Settle for Accuracy, Agility OR Speed? (Why Not All Three?)

Exploiting the value inherent in the analysis of continuously increasing volumes of Big Data is not new. For at least the last ten years, companies within industries such as financial services, insurance, consumer goods, entertainment, travel and hospitality have engaged marketing services providers to guide them in understanding, profiling, targeting and influencing customers to purchase their goods and services.

The upside to this arrangement is the ability to source unique expertise (such as data scientists, statisticians, and data modelers or data engineers) on a project or managed services basis without high investment in personnel, infrastructure (hardware or software) or integration of this enabling technology. Typical projects run from six weeks to six months depending upon the goals, project scope and execution plan. Key models or analytical insights collected from across a variety of sectors might be repurposed on various customer projects resulting in lower project fees . All of which may be viewed favorably by those in roles such as COO and CFO.

However, keeping analytical domain expertise in-house empowers companies to rapidly discover and apply unique insights created from proprietary and public information sources while the opportunity is viable. It is this speed to insight that is at the root of value creation in a Big Data Analytics environment.
Questions we recommend organizations ask themselves include: How many queries, accurate analytical models and reports does it take to support critical business decisions in minutes rather than weeks? How much is this worth to your business?

Research Approach
Our analysis of 436 Fortune 500 executives that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of Big Data Analytics (BDA) or business intelligence software provides contrarian insight into how and why large organizations:

  •  Invest in Big Data Analytics software solutions
  •  Utilize a wide variety of informational sources
  •  Measure productivity and effectiveness of BDA initiatives
  •  Seek high accuracy and reliability of results
  •  Realize downstream business benefits
  •  Prioritize software selection criteria

This study provides end-user organizations with an analysis of why companies invest in Big Data Analytics solutions, what tangible benefits are possible with BDA, and what metrics can be used to measure the ROI of a BDA initiative. In short, our research provides actionable insight that companies may use in compiling a vendor short list, request for qualifications and best practice terms of engagement with software vendors.

Assessment:

Enterprises are still in a nascent maturity level in their ability to rapidly perform and exploit the intelligence derived from analysis of Big Data in-house. Of the thirty point five percent (30.5%) of companies citing more than five years’ usage of Big Data Analytics, a full eighty nine point three percent (89.3%) of these early adopters cited engaging with managed service providers rather than create in-house competencies.

Our assessment is that this is partially a result of:

  •  Shortage of expertise available
  •  High barrier to investment: software and hardware
  •  Limited access to, or ability to fully use all information sources desired
  •  Sophistication level of software and hardware available
  •  Demand for Big Data insights in near real-time
  •  Uncertainty in cost of ownership versus potential return on investment

Figure 1: Usage of Big Data Analytics Initiatives

HYP_BDA_usage_2015
©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

However, early results from our research demonstrate that successful organizations do benefit from significant double-digit downstream business benefits as well as operational cost take-outs. In years one through four, between sixty nine to eighty four percent of organizations realized between twenty to fifty percent annual return on investment (ROI); top performers cited attaining an ROI of greater than fifty percent on an annual basis.

A deeper analysis shows that these top performers benefit from greater sophistication, maturity of experience, and discipline in employing BDA processes in ways that impact the business. Rather than taking an opportunistic or laboratory approach, these companies are more likely to create corporate, operational or tactical objectives, align performance metrics with goals, and prioritize their focus on specific business use cases.

Driven by the convergence of business at speed of light requirements—such as ever increasing competition for market-share and share of customer, combined with proactive management of enterprise risk and optimization of spend intelligence—an inflection point will soon be reached. We estimate this will occur within the next three years at upper mid-market and large enterprise organizations. For more on this topic see ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved. | “Delivering Big Data Analytics Insights: Why Choose Between Accuracy, Agility OR Speed?”

March 27, 2015: Highlights of Microsoft Convergence 2015 Conference

Highlights of Microsoft Convergence 2015

Microsoft has evolved significantly in the last three years–and its all good for customers (B2B) and consumers (B2C) alike. Not many large software vendors produce as large a portfolio of offerings for both businesses and consumers–and until recently–that had been a challenge for Microsoft.

To be fair, my assessment is that it would have been a challenge for ANY large software provider during the last 3-5 years during which consumer and business requirements continued to cross-pollinate the expectations for each segment.

In Q4 2014 we published a primary research study entitled “Next Generation CRM: All About Business Process Excellence” where we stated:

“Along with ERP systems, CRM software has become one of the few successful enterprise software mainstays.   There’s only one problem: it’s still a silo at many organizations. It’s hard to exchange information with other applications. If enterprise vendors knew how companies were actually going to use products like CRM, they would have built them with better application programming interfaces (APIs). CRM vendors focused on solving one problem – the lack of a great customer database – and accidentally created another one: how to make that information seamlessly available to other applications, and make information from other applications seamlessly available.” According to the report’s authors: “Customer information, after all, doesn’t just live in a CRM application; it lives throughout & beyond the enterprise.”CRM+BPM-cover-2014

At this year’s Convergence Conference, Microsoft unveiled a roadmap for all things that “touch” the customer or customer engagement strategies to be specific. Sessions I attended focused on:

Customer engagement software-which encompasses:

  • Enterprise Marketing
  • Service & Support
  • Sales & Lifecycle Management
  • Business Analytics (PowerBI)
  • CRM Data Integration

Significant is that Microsoft Dynamics now provides customers with a fully integrated (converged) suite of products to enhance customer engagement via multiple touch-points and to do so with enterprise-wide intelligence supported by Microsoft’s Business Analytics platform (PowerBI and Azure Data Services)–which Hypatia has referred to in previous research as “Intelligent Customer Engagement“. For example, its enterprise marketing offering characterizes customer intelligence as residing in:

  • Systems of record: Accounting, Enterprise Resource Management (ERP), and Point of Sale (POS)
  • Systems of engagement: Marketing Automation (online, digital, offline) Marketing Resource Management, Marketing Analytics, Mobile, and Social
  • Systems of intelligence: Predictive Marketing & Lead Scoring and Location-based Engagement
  • Systems of Knowledge: Parature’s integration with Dynamics CRM for knowledge management

Designed for increased productivity and exploration, PowerBI Visualizer serves up multidimensional data charts, superimposed data charts, geo-location charts, tree-maps, and live dashboards that can be queried in real-time using natural language questions. (via Ask.com)

According to Robert Stutz, Corporate Vice President, Dynamics CRM

“We have delivered PowerBI Connectors for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics Marketing for out of the box integration. Sales, service and marketing professionals can analyze data with interactive dashboards and reports in Power BI, resulting in faster insights and decision-making for sales professionals”. –Robert Stutz,

Our assessment: Microsoft delivered on its road-map and product strategy promises. There are a few features and functionality that are still on the 2015 road-map and not yet generally available, but the “architectural bones” are in process–so its all good for customers (B2B) and consumers (B2C) alike. Moreover, CRM is no longer a siloed application solely as a result of software design. If CRM usage remains “siloed” by role or function at organizations, it will be the result of cultural issues or resource constraints–not the software. ©2015 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved.

 

March 23, 2015: Leveraging Content to Enhance Customer Engagement

Leveraging Content to Increase Customer Engagement

Digital content management is not a new technology category. But as the types of content and distribution channels have multiplied, so have the challenges involved in digital content and asset management. Now, organizations are pushing out ever larger quantities of marketing, sales and customer support content to their public, and the number and types of publishing channels, such as wireless devices, RSS, podcasts and video, continue to proliferate.

Customers, already suffering from extreme information overload, are receiving more than 10X messages per hour than just five years ago. Getting and keeping them engaged now requires a team of professionals rather than just one very overworked marketing specialist.

These realities are driving the need for companies to streamline the management and repurposing of all product, service and brand-related content. In response, vendors are beefing up their solutions with capabilities that allow organizations to more easily repurpose and distribute rich media, social media, foreign language support, wireless access, video, trigger surveys, games, webcasts and more.
Thus, we determined to focus primarily on the business pain companies experience in “Leveraging Content to Increase Customer Engagement” or (CCM) for short—Customer-facing Content Management.HRG_LevContCustEng_2015E

Many Customer Content Management (CCM) solutions provide a wide variety of features, including support for mobile devices, workflow to handle content creation and distribution, rules engines for personalization, content analysis tools, and enterprise search tools that utilize taxonomies for categorization of metadata in order to locate content more easily.

MARKET Research Approach
Hypatia Research applies a hybrid methodology [both quantitative & qualitative] that evaluates the Market-drivers, Actions, Responses, Knowledge, Expertise, and Technology enablers (MARKET) that influence corporate behavior in specific business environments. These terms are defined as follows:

  •  Market Pressures — external forces that impact an organization’s market position, competitiveness, or business operations
  • Actions — the strategic approaches that an organization plans in response to industry pressures
  • Responses—how organizations invest and overcome business challenges.
  • Knowledge & Expertise—competencies, skills and processes required to execute on corporate strategy.
  • Enabling Technology— the key functionality of technology solutions required to support the organization’s enabling business practices

Hypatia Research, LLC defines customer content management (CCM) as an integrated suite of content management and customer engagement technologies designed to maximize the value of content created for marketing, sales, customer support or other customer-facing needs. CCM applications help organizations optimize the value of customer content by streamlining content creation, distribution and reuse, and by employing dynamic personalization to provide Web visitors with content based on their individual traits and perceived needs.

CCM is a category that has emerged over the past few years in response to the realization by businesses that the number one reason that prospects and customers visit a web site is to obtain content, all sorts of content. They come looking for product information, which could mean videos, or FAQs, or social forums, as well as support help, product updates, informational pod casts, e-commerce catalogues, photos, blogs and articles. They expect to be able to access this content and make transactions not only from the Web but from mobile devices, kiosks and email. The businesses that market to these customers and prospects want to know more about them. How old are they, where do they live, what sites are leading them here, what content do they like, what influences them to purchase or recommend certain products or brands?

Market Pressures and Vendor Landscape
Over the past two to three years, this convergence of capabilities has attracted a number of vendors from several different content management categories to the new CCM space. Hence CCM products are coming from content management vendors who are adding multi-channel and multi-format support, as well as customer focused technologies such as behavior tracking and analysis, mobile support, and content personalization. At least two dozen of the vendors in other types of content management have evolved unified CCM platforms, combining the functionality of several categories into one.

To create CCM suites, a half dozen or so of CCM vendors have acquired smaller CCM players to fill in gaps in their product line. Adobe, Oracle (FatWire) and SDL (Alterian) are all examples of this. Other vendors, such as EpiServer and Ektron, have been building functionality into their systems over time and eventually merged in order to compete in this crowded vendor marketplace. There are also several open source products on the market, with commercial vendors who provide customization and other technical support services, and often a commercial, enterprise version with more functionality.

Benchmarks and Measures of Customer Engagement
Our research revealed that corporate executives cited the following metrics as important for measuring the success of their customer content management efforts:

  •  Increase in repeat visits by customers who access content;
  • Capture of customer information such as product likes and feedback;
  • Conversion rates for visitors who purchase (or donate for non-profits) after accessing content.

Estimating total ROI eludes many organizations. One third of all companies reported not tracking return on investment from investment in CCM. On the other hand, 48% overall reported getting an ROI of at least 2% of their annual marketing budget from CCM investments. The longer the organization has had a CCM implementation, the more likely they were to track ROI and to report higher ROI.

The Galaxy Leaders
All of the aoftware leaders in the Hypatia CCM Galaxy evaluation chart offer full featured CCM suites and services for both strategic and technical/implementation needs, and most also partner with outside services providers for Web design, customer engagement strategy and/or marketing optimization. Companies were placed on an X/Y axis of maturity and vision. The leaders were typically in business for many years (some since the late 1990s), have large customer bases in several industry verticals, and also have a strong product vision.

Our Assessment:
Organizations recognize the need for more dynamic and personalized Web content to attract customers, but are often struggling with multiple content creation and management systems. For many organizations, just getting everyone onto the same content management system is an enormous task, and goals such as visitor behavior tracking and personalization of content are goals likely to be met in the future.

Because of that, not all organizations are going to be able to do a complete migration to a single CCM system, but will attempt to add capabilities to their legacy system while waiting to evaluate CCM platforms.

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March 10, 2015: Customer Engagement: What Do Customers Want & Expect?

Customer Engagement: What Do Customers Want & Expect?

We were recently asked to provide comment (for an industry publication) on the types of software gaining traction among marketers and if, (not how) this software impacts the customer experience. I would assert that all investment in customer engagement solutions should reduce the customer’s effort, be seamless, and encourage interaction via all preferred channels while providing stakeholders analysis of (dashboard/reporting) and multichannel visibility into customer preferences and behaviors. Moreover, I would encourage organizations to use this customer analysis and insight to:

  •     Improve enterprise level operational business processes (from communications, pricing, marketing and billing to services);
  •    Predict and guide marketers, sales professionals and call center agents on the next best action for customer engagement or offer management;
  •    Transform into a truly customer-centric enterprise.

HRG defines a business as customer-centric when its corporate environment organizes its offerings, operational processes, pricing models, and customer engagements & interactions around the requirements, preferences and future desires of its customers. Our assessment is that getting from point A to Z still challenges many organizations.

Q: What are the types of software gaining traction among marketers, and if this software impacts the customer experience?

According to Leslie Ament, SVP Research & Principal Analyst at Hypatia Research Group, “Multichannel customer service and support, inclusive of mobile and social is now a must-have for any B2C or B2B2C product or service company. Our research on “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer” reveals that 70% of global organizations now offer ​customers the option of interacting through multiple channels due to customer demand, preference and expectation of anywhere, anytime, and any-channel of support. Keep in mind, the proverbial Achilles Heel in offering a multichannel customer experience is when companies continue to offer this via a siloed approach rather than as a “blended” experience. Providing customers a seamless, blended experience should be an organizational goal for all customer-centric companies.”

Figure 1: Ease of Customer Interactions & Communication by Channel: 526 Global Respondents

Q: Are CMOs leaning toward best of breed or integrated enterprise solutions for this type of technology?

Ament continued, “This depends on numerous factors and is not limited to the ones listed here:

  •    What solutions are currently in use and will best of breed or point solutions integrate easily with newer solutions?
  •    How “married” is the culture to some of these solutions?
  •    Is there appetite to rip out existing applications, systems or tools and to deploy an enterprise solution?
  •    Initial cost and future total cost of ownership?
  •    Expected return on investment?
  •    Requirements? Is the organization challenged and actively seeking a technology solution to specific problem(s) or determined to attain certain milestone goals?
  •    Size of organization, industry, culture and customer install base?

“My assessment is that there should not be a one size fits all approach, but rather a serious evaluation of what an organization needs to accomplish with investment in any type or category of software, Ament concluded.”

February 24, 2015: Social Analytics & Intelligence for Brand Reputation & Risk Management

Social Analytics & Intelligence for Brand Reputation & Risk Management

Companies are eager to monitor and/or explore trends, as well as to benchmark the rise in positive or negative sentiment against public relations communications, customer service or product quality issues, product launches or share of brand voice. Moreover, various approaches to creating intelligence out of social media analytics in this fragmented market landscape continue to influence the maturity level of adopters. For example, early adopters such as media and advertising agencies are more likely to select software products that measure consumer perception, and share or volume of voice along with cause and effect of communications or brand campaigns.

Alternatively, organizations that seek to leverage SA&I solutions on an enterprise-level for multiple business initiatives tend to have greater motivation to develop discrete multi-phase business objectives, key performance metrics, and operational execution plans before engaging with a vendor or provider of services.

Finding Business Value

Initially, L’Oreal evaluated external partners such as social media, digital marketing and media agencies that offered managed services in regards to providing stakeholders with relevant insights assembled by topic. Each vendor was approaching things a bit differently at first which made selection of a single external partner unrealistic. In addition, it was determined that internal domain expertise would empower them to utilize data more effectively than outsourcing to an agency.

The company quickly found that the high volume and velocity of conversations made it impossible to handle this manually even with additional resources allocated to finding, managing and analyzing topics and issues of relevance. For the first two years, L’Oreal employees used “training wheels” in the form of free tools and then migrated to a more robust software solution capable of managing social requirements across several geographies. At this point, classification of topics aided in “finding relevant needles in the haystack.”

In order to successfully break down internal silos and create truly collaborative cross-functional teams, top management support is essential. As with all new tools, a lot of people want to not only play with them, but retain ownership of the business benefits. At present, only three objectives are measured in order to enable the line of business executives to take action effectively. In 12 months L’Oreal expects to significantly reduce agency costs and has plans to realize significant return on investment by using social customer intelligence to dynamically adapt creative content online in real time interactions with customers with the goal of influencing their purchases more effectively.

Measuring Business Benefits

There are measures available, and it’s important to track what can be tracked, in order to be able to prove the business case for social investment. While there is no single metric or set of metrics that can determine the success of investment in each and every situation, there are a number of benchmarks available for evaluating how social solutions add value to business goals. Communications, brand, public relations and risk management executives cited measurement of the following metrics and reporting timeframes a priority in measuring the success of their programs. Most considered monthly and quarterly reporting a gold standard in assessing trends (moving the dial) or correlations both prior to and after campaigns.

  •  Brand sentiment or campaign impact: positive, neutral, mixed or negative with historical analysis (37.5%)
  •  Capture of customer information such as product likes, design suggestions, merchandising feedback (35%)
  • Propensity to recommend brand, product or service: Influence or Klout Reports (32.5%)
  • Share of voice by time-frame or (SOV) by historical analysis to be of high importance (25%)
  • Customer Activation: Follows, tweets, likes, community or forum joins (25%)

Media Influence, Cost Avoidance & Risk Management

Social media presents an enormous opportunity to exploit social media to expand brand reach, brand frequency, enhance category dominance and to influence brand champions. Monitoring trends via social media empowers companies to rapidly take corrective action to protect brand reputation as well as to manage risk. While Figure 7 below demonstrates tangible return on investment, the following two examples illustrate the potential business benefits as well as the possibility of significant financial forfeiture. For example, early warning trend analysis for car design defects via social media had the potential to save automakers up to $1.5M per day in warranty claims. This calculation of cost avoidance excludes the hypothetical outlays associated with medical and liability claims arising from auto accidents caused by design defects. (Disclosure: the breaks on this author’s Toyota RAV4 failed to work properly on ice and caused a three car accident. Our auto insurance was due to nearly double until we successfully contested the traffic ticket using a recall letter received three months AFTER the accident.) Had Toyota acted upon social intelligence, much of its brand supremacy might have been retained. As it stands, Toyota is still trying to recover its brand equity and rebuild consumer trust.

Figure: Return on Social Investment from Brand, Reputation & Risk Management

HRG_SocialBrandRisk_ROI_2013.jpg

©2013-14 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

As early as 2006, social conversations about the risks of a GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug Avandia began to significantly increase in online forums and blogs well before a larger scale medical analysis showed a correlation between use of the drug and higher heart-attack risk. According to a 2010 report by Wool Labs, patients expressed concerns about the drug’s side effects years before the Food and Drug Administration restricted its use in late 2010 because of an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Using a newly developed Patient Sentiment Index (PSI) the authors calculated that sentiment was negative but not irreversible in 2004. Even in 2006, intervention could have had at least some impact. However, with the FDA’s decision not to recall Avandia in the first half of 2010, “there is anger now directed at the FDA, industry and GSK. But patients are also now very entrenched in their decisions and seem closed to any new arguments to sway them otherwise.”

Hypatia Research Group recommends organizations supplement their traditional media, brand and reputation management initiatives with social media outreach and analysis of trends, share of volume and voice, campaigns and other metrics that align with corporate goals. Ideally, social leverage for media, brand and risk professionals should be operationalized (i.e. create a closed-loop feedback process) and simultaneously focus on outreach, analysis, influence and intelligence gathering.

Insofar as converting context into actionable insight, most organizations are largely in the early adopter stage in exploiting an enterprise, customer centric approach to social media. However, our assessment is it will take time for organizations to fully process what is feasible in regards to capturing, managing, analyzing and above all, creating social intelligence in order to take action on this user-generated content.

To Everything There is a Season and a Purpose

Few social software solutions actually provide line of business managers—rather than IT—the ability to create rules-based routing of customer conversations that are prioritized and categorized by predefined issues. In short, what makes social media conversations truly actionable?

  •  Will guidance provided by trending data or simple sentiment analysis provide enough intelligence for business process innovation?
  • Is discovery correlation, text analytics or predictive analytics required to take action based on certain customer profiles or clusters?
  • If an organization wishes to give preferential treatment to customers with high influencer scores or annual customer profitability levels, what is required? For example, routing higher value customers to the top of the action queue while known ‘complainers’ are given lower priority.

Operationalizing the value derived from social media channels does require the ability to map a best practice customer journey by specific priority, topic or issue. Realizing concrete benefits from social investment also requires the ability to configure these business process workflows according to customer-centric policies as defined by internal stakeholders such as the Chief Customer or Chief Marketing Officers.

Bottom line: Our assessment is that organizations should take a balanced approach to enterprise social business. “Know when to listen, know when to analyze, know how to influence, and when to act and engage.1”

1 Influenced by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, Know when to walk away and know when to run.”

©2013-14 Hypatia Research Group, LLC |Excerpted from; “Using Social Intelligence to Enhance Customer Centricity“: A Practitioner’s Guide for Marketing, Sales & Customer Care Executives“.  All Rights Reserved.

February 18, 2015: HP Predictive Analytics with Distributed 'R' Language Launch

HP has announced the launch of HP Haven Predictive Analytics, a program used to speed up the statistical analysis and machine learning processes that allow companies to interpret vast sets of data.

Even though R has limited value when it comes to working with extremely large volumes of data, many analysts and data miners rely on it, points out Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group. Despite its weaknesses, she states that it has the ability to modify algorithm options to fine-tune analyses; contains a variety of available algorithms; and can automate repetitive tasks. “HP’s offering should enable fans of R to expand their use of a familiar tool to big data analytics projects without fear of crashing systems,” Ament says.HypatiaResearch_BDInsights_Cover_2013

The offering, available through the Vertica Web site, operates on an open-source platform and has available enterprise support from HP. It is priced per node.

“In order to attain the promised boost in performance by splitting tasks between multiple processing nodes, which is necessary with large data sets,” Ament says, “buyers will need to purchase enterprise support from HP, priced per node. This approach to big data analytics may be attractive to data scientists loyal to R, but will obviously come at a price which each organization will need to evaluate for themselves.”  See more actionable intelligence on Big Data Analytics Insights.

February 12, 2015: Social Intelligence for Product Innovation

Achieving Customer Centricity: Leveraging Social Intelligence for Product Innovation

Whether one subscribes to the 4 P’s[1] of market planning —product, place, price, and promotion, or the more recent 7 P’s[2] of marketing, —product, price, place, promotion, physical presence, provision of service, and processes, it is evident that “product” is the first P of priorities listed.  Moreover, the latter 7 P’s are acknowledged as the standard modern marketing mix most relevant in service industries; however, they may be beneficial to any customer centric business model where meeting the needs of customers is of highest priority.[3]

HYPATIARESEARCHGROUP_CUSTCENT_TIME2ENGAGE_COVER_2013

All those involved in product innovation, service extensions, or lifecycle management, from the executive level to individual contributors rigorously pursue answers to the following questions:

  • What does the client/consumer want in regards to our company’s product/service?
  • What needs does it address?
  • What features should it have in order to meet these needs?
  • Any capabilities/features/functionality that we have not yet addressed?
  • How and where will the customer use it?
  • Is the appearance important to the customer?
  • What size(s), color(s), and so on, should it be?
  • How will it be named and branded given our current portfolio of offerings?
  • Is it significantly differentiated versus the competition?
  • Are we able to position the product/service in a superior manner to the competition?
  • What is the most it can cost to provide, and still be sold sufficiently profitably?
  • Have we included pricey features that the customer will not actually use?
  • Will the customer have a positive experience with our product/service?
  • Etc…

Incorporate Social into Product Design Cycles

Not surprisingly, corporate executives surveyed shared that their top three priorities for measuring the success of their Social Analytics and Intelligence efforts were, in order of importance:

  • Capture of customer information such as product likes, design suggestions, merchandising feedback (35.9%)
  • Propensity to recommend brand, product or service: Influence or Klout Reports (33.3%)
  • Brand sentiment or campaign Impact: positive, neutral, mixed or negative with historical analysis (33.3%)

Figure 5: Top Priorities for Social Intelligence Initiatives

HYP_Top5_socialPriorities©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group, LLC.  All rights reserved.Multi-response answers—will not equal 100%

Customer, Community and Content

Social media presents an enormous opportunity to exploit social media for product innovation! Exploring peer-to-peer forums or communities (public and private), contact center conversations, social networks and blogs all offer a rich trove of material for analysis. Hypatia Research Group recommends organizations supplement their customer advisory boards with social media with the goal of utilizing this channel as part of their voice of the customer[4] initiatives. Ideally, social processes for product innovation professional should be operationalized with a focus on intelligence gathering, prototype testing (via private[5] social community networks or forums), and feasibility analysis.

  • Listen to relevant information sources
  • Analyze for trends, product likes, design and merchandising suggestions and all types of feedback relating to product or service offerings
  • Innovate and enhance product/service offerings, streamline product portfolio planning and manage product lifecycles with input from social channels.

[1]   E. Jerome McCarthy proposed a four Ps classification in 1960. As a framework for fine-tuning the marketing mix, the P’s—product, place, price, and promotion—have served consumer marketers well for half a century.

[2] ©2004 Entrepreneur Media Inc. authored by Brian Tracey, “Million Dollar Habits: Proven Power Practices to Double and Triple Your Income”

[3] ©2013 Harvard Business Review. Advocates shifting 4 P’s to 4 S’s—products to solutions, place to access, price to value, and promotion to education—SAVE, for short.

[4] ©2010-2014 Leslie Ament, Hypatia Research Group. “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Maturity Models, Best Practices,  Benchmarks & 2014 Galaxy Vendor Evaluations”

[5] Hypatia Research POV: We encourage use of private social networks for product innovation, lest the competition benefit from social investments.

February 3, 2015: Achieving Customer Centricity: Should We Invest in a Software Solution or a Managed Services Provider?

Customer Centricity: Should We Invest in a Software Solution or Engage with a Managed Services Provider?

Increasingly, making the transition from a ‘we make it, they buy it’ or ‘push marketing’ culture into a customer centric organization is a highly desirable goal for many companies. Our research reveals that razor-thin margins, commoditization of products, customer demands and global competition continues to fuel this cultural and operational approach.

HRG defines a business as customer-centric when its corporate environment organizes its offerings, operational processes, pricing models, and customer engagements & interactions around the requirements, preferences and future desires of its customers. However, getting from point A to Z still challenges many organizations. Some turn to software vendors (most of whom we have written about in our primary research studies), while others engage with managed services providers. Partnering with MSPs enables organizations to rapidly acquire domain and functional expertise lacking in-house without increasing head count and the costs associated with additional hires.  There are pros and cons to each approach (internal versus external). See how FirstSource supports multiple clients via outsourced managed services offerings:

Firstsource: Multichannel Voice of the Customer as a Managed Service

Firstsource (NSE: FSL, BSE: 532809, Reuters: FISO.BO, Bloomberg: FSOL@IN) is a provider of customer-centric Business Process Management (BPM/BPO) solutions to the world’s leading organizaHRG_VOCGalaxy_cover_2014tions – across the Telecommunications & Media, Banking & Financial services, Insurance, Healthcare and Publishing industries. Founded in 2011 originally as InfoTech Upstream Ltd, the company has focused its efforts on the development of in-depth business domain knowledge and insight that may be leveraged to convert complex business processes easy, efficient, and effective.

Utilizing a “right-shore delivery model”, the company serves more than 100 global clients – from multiple delivery centers and in various languages and is supported by 31,000 global staff located in India, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, the USA, Ireland and the UK.

“Before getting into this space, take the time to learn what the output is. How many information source channels will need to be analyzed? Have a well-thought out strategy before selecting a technology vendor. Most companies can provide basic tools, but be sure to have a central team with the expertise to effectively leverage what the enabling technology supports.”

–Aparajita Gupta, Vice President, Service Excellence, Firstsource

As the company is responsible for handling interactions across multiple channels for its customers, it wanted to ensure agents offered high quality services across all of them. After reviewing performance levels and customer feedback, Firstsource discovered that some of their clients’ business processes were not working for some of their most valued customers. NOTE: This feedback came to Firstsource directly from their client’s customers. More…

Excerpted from ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: 2014 Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings” 

January 19, 2015: Where Does CRM Go From Here?

Great article published by CRM Magazine–and thanks to Marshall Lager for doing the heavy lifting!

We ask the experts where the industry is headed in the new year.

“My assessment is that ‘more scientific’ is highly relative, depending on the perspective of an audience or role,” says Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group. “From the line-of-business perspective, [marketing] has certainly become more data-driven, with marketers and others relying on dashboards, lead scoring, and metrics such as customer annual value or lifetime value to inform their marketing strategy and planning cycles.”HypatiaResearch_BDInsights_Cover_2013

At the heart of any modern marketing application, though, is the intelligent use of customer data—the more the merrier. “Multisource information gathering and big data insights will have a positive impact on marketing,” Ament says. “More information often translates into higher model accuracy and confidence levels when analyzing large amounts of information.” Research by Hypatia shows that larger enterprises ($2 billion–plus in revenue) use more than eight information sources when analyzing enterprise data, and rely on this information for a variety of business purposes—marketing being one of them. “In short,” Ament says, “big data analysis techniques may very well improve personalization, accuracy, relevancy, and results for marketers if performed effectively.”

This also points to a change in priorities for marketers, with a shift from tactical goals to strategic ones. “In the recent past, marketers often focused on personal major business objectives, such as number of newsletter clicks, downloads of collateral, social community or Webinar registrations, or conference attendees,” Ament says. “Now that budgets and resources are tighter, we see that marketers are better at justifying their contributions to the organization at a more strategic level. Our research shows that marketers are much better at tracking metrics that align with corporate or business unit goals, such as customer retention, share of wallet, increase in profits, customer engagement and cost reductions.”

January 12, 2015: Customer Engagement Intelligence Doesn’t Reside Only in a CRM Application

Customer Engagement Intelligence Doesn’t Reside Only in a CRM Application: It Lives Throughout & Beyond the Enterprise

When customer relationship management (CRM) software first debuted, it was a miracle. For the first time, companies didn’t have to build a database of prospects and customers to track their preferences and purchases. There it was, efficiently organized. With analytics, companies could see who patronized them the most, and who generated the most profit. That’s why, along with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, CRM software has become one of the few successful enterprise software mainstays. There’s only one problem: it’s a silo. It’s hard to exchange information with other applications. If enterprise vendors knew how companies were actually going to use products like CRM, they would have built them with better application programming interfaces (APIs). CRM vendors focused on solving one problem – the lack of a great customer database – and accidentally created another one: how to make that information seamlessly available to other applications, and make information from other applications seamlessly available. Customer information, after all, doesn’t just live in a CRM application; it lives throughout & beyond the enterprise.

CRM+BPM-cover-2014

Aggregating customer data with other applications is not an idle desire: CRM information – those purchases and preferences – has inestimable value. Whether transactional, interactional, historical or behavioral, it can drive insight into marketing, into customer service, into manufacturing, and into logistics. Considered holistically, rather than as a silo, the data in a CRM application can trigger greater insights into which products and services are successful and which are not; which products and services should be tackled next; the potential volume of sales based on stated customer interest; and more.

By suggesting that CRM stop being a silo, we’re not talking about a wholesale reconfiguration of CRM. But think of the CRM application as just one big data mart. It contains lots of information about customers. Just as with any database, companies can analyze that information and leverage the multi-channel intelligence it may contain–social, mobile, structured and unstructured. But then what? How do those insights then drive other activities within the company and without by engaging customers?

That’s where business process management (BPM) comes in. Aggregating BPM and CRM makes both more valuable. By taking a holistic viewpoint, companies can create workflows that trigger responses to customer requests faster than ever before. BPM adds the ability for companies to leverage insight based on both external and internal content and/or data residing in CRM systems, and then take action based on that information. Hypatia Research Group has identified five major categories wherein companies can derive this insight—which represent the maturity levels for software combining both CRM and intelligence-driven BPM. As illustrated in the figure below, maturity levels for software that incorporates CRM and BPM starts simply and becomes more sophisticated.

FIGURE 1: MATURITY LEVELS FOR SOFTWARE INCORPORATING CRM AND BPM

Next Generation CRM

Source: ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group. “Next Generation CRM: All About Business Process Excellence.” All Rights Reserved.

Alerts. Employees shouldn’t have to wait to query an application to get information. The system should be smart enough to alert employees when a prized customer (or even a prized prospect) updates information. Furthermore, the source of alerts should go come from beyond the CRM system as well – from social media, from technical support systems, from Web site downloads; in short, from any self-service interaction a customer takes.

Rules. A company with 10,000 customers may not be able to respond to all the alerts a system might create. That’s where rules come in. A company may want to set up a system whereby the customers representing the highest revenue get unresolved questions addressed within four hours. Ditto for prospects representing high potential revenue, while sales or support staff might respond to customers who have made lesser financial commitments within a longer window. The concept of rules can be wonderfully flexible: a company may set up a rule to offer free shipping for a 24-hour period or for certain levels of purchase, and then reconfigure them based on response.

Decision trees. Think of a decision tree as a more-complicated set of rules, an aggregation of if/then/else programming that allows companies to make more granular decisions about handling customer queries, purchases, and complaints. The important facet to remember about both rules and decision trees is their flexibility. For the highest level of agility within BPM and CRM, companies must be able to respond to changing business conditions and adjust their decision tree accordingly. That also means the ability to adjust the decision tree must be simple enough to be intuitive for the highest number of employees.

Advanced analytics. Companies can use the aforementioned capabilities can be used to address the needs of individual customers, but in addition, they must also be able to identify macro trends representing consolidated patterns of activity. For instance, are certain groups of customers delaying purchases? Or are they responding beyond expectations to a new offer? That in turn may trigger the need for increased manufacturing output. Is social media abuzz with comments? The ability to analyze unstructured and structured data together is the basis for big data, a key technology for tracking customer sentiment. Identifying these patterns requires not only applying business intelligence to the CRM database, but enabling the company to channel that information to other related systems.

Guided IntelligenceTM. The goal is to create an aggregated BPM/CRM system that is greater than the sum of its parts, one that allows the input and output of information in a virtuous circle, so that CRM data informs BPM data and vice versa. The result is a more-intelligent system that gives companies the ability to enhance one of the key competitive differentiators: the customer experience. Being smarter about customers not only increases customer engagement, but it has the potential to increase revenues from customers not only satisfied but delighted with the service they’ve received.

To better identify the CRM and BPM vendors that understand and support the importance of the aggregation of both kinds of software, Hypatia Research Group has evaluated a handful of vendors for consideration. For each vendor, we have compiled an overview of their business; a description of their software’s features; and a customer case study. We then provide a summary and recommendations. Source: ©2014-2015 Hypatia Research Group. “Next Generation CRM: All About Business Process Excellence”. All Rights Reserved.

December 22, 2014: What Verizon & Comcast Should Learn from Sky Italia

Customer Service & Support: What Verizon & Comcast Should Learn from Sky Italia

I’ve been without Verizon On-demand, TV menu, and other cable services for almost 2 weeks now.  Multiple chat sessions, phone calls and emails have only resulted in my spending nearly 4 hours unplugging and re-plugging my cable and router connections and re-booting the cable box while a customer service agent goes through a canned checklist of things to investigate.  Verizon assessed the issue as either a bad cable (although the second floor TV works fine if a bit slower than usual) or a bad box. Did I mention that this repair call was scheduled 10 days in advance and that according to my contract, Verizon does not have to adjust my bill (provide me with credit) for these lack of services for which I have already paid?

I requested they send me a new HD cable box and the agent said unless I remove the cable box from the second floor and plug it into the main floor to see if it worked, they would not send me new one. However, if while moving the second floor box, it becomes damaged or is configured differently than the one on the main floor when I connect it, I would be responsible for the repairs and/or equipment. Oh, and if the issue is a bad cable, I am responsible for the house-call and new cable installation since it is out of warranty.

Moreover, every time there is a storm, or rain, or snow, I lose dial tone and the ability to make phone calls on my LAN line. Verizon does not know if this is connected the the TV issue or not and suggested that my Panasonic phone might be at fault–even though it is located inside the house and works fine in good weather. On a positive note, the agent I spoke with  (on a day when my phone was working) was VERY polite, but was not authorized to provide me with what I requested/needed. He was also not able to schedule service within 48 hours–which would have been a very welcome level of service.

So, here I sit waiting for the repair person to make his/her house-call between 1PP-5PM. In contrast to Verizon and Comcast, (I had Comcast many year ago and dumped them for Verizon.) see how Sky Italia works hard to ensure their customers’ continued loyalty. (I’m now evaluating other options for service in the USA so suggestions are welcome! Send them to: Research@HypatiaResearch.com.)

Update: Verizon sent a text message today stating the repair person would arrive between 2:30-3:30PM. The repair person called at 4:45PM and said he would arrive in 30 minutes. Guess someone did their holiday shopping instead of showing up on time?

Sky Italia: Transforming Customer Engagement with Enterprise Voice of the Customer Solutions

Founded in July of 2003 by Rupert Murdoch, Sky Italia, is acknowledged as revolutionizing media entertainment in Italian television by combining the best deal of programs and events, national and international, with innovative technologies. In fact, Sky was the first Italian television to broadcast in High Definition, to provide its subscribers with a Personal Video Recorder, MySkyHD, Sky OnDemand (an advanced on demand service), and Sky Go and to provide a wide selection of channels and on-demand content on the move, via tablets, PCs, Mac, and smartphones.

An estimated 4.73 million Italian families have chosen to subscribe to Sky which translates into a television audience of approximately 15 million viewers. This media company offers more than 170 channels and pay per view – including 62 in High Definition and one in 3D – and more than 80 audio channels and digital radio-thematic. Has given rise to new format, involving big-name entertainers and talent, and has gradually increased its commitment in the original production and investment in technological innovation.HRG_VOCGalaxy_cover_2014

On the Road to Customer Centricity
Not content to rest on its past success, the company’s CEO Andrea Zappia decided to launch a new department and appointed Susan Wakefield to head it as director of customer experience. For nearly two years, she and a cross functional team studied various performance metrics, how to best align and measure these key performance indicators in regards to quantifying customer relationships, lifetime value, preferences, potential new products or services etc…

From an organizational perspective, Sky Italia differs from many companies outside of EMEA. In fact, this fairly new customer experience team resides within the operations group and is considered part of the media company’s change management initiative in transforming Sky Italia into a customer centric organization by influencing all departments that touch the customer at various points of engagement.

For example, the customer experience (CX) team is separate from the marketing & insights functions which report into Marketing. Conversely, the CX function reports directly into Operations, and the group is divided into two teams—CX analysis & CX projects. Comprised of four fulltime analysts and support personnel, the CX Analysis team is responsible, amongst other things, for the analysis of customer verbatim and the providing of actionable insights to the business. Another of their roles is to supervise the handling of the close-the-loop calls proactively made to all heavy detractors and the insertion of any additional feedback into the analysis loop.

Bottom line: business owners are responsible actioning and executing the recommended business process improvements.

Operationalizing Voice of the Customer Insights
Having determined which touch-points within the customer’s journey would be most informative for measuring customer engagement, potential for greater share of wallet, commitment or dissatisfaction with its brand or services, Sky Italia focused on these six areas—which extended across functions and departments.

  • Sales to consumers: The journey from initial contact to conversion.
  • Installation scheduling and completion for consumers: The process from start to finish.
  • After receipt of first bill: Were services as described and billing correct and easy to understand.
  • Two months after installation: Survey of six questions is sent to ascertain if service and options are clear and easily understood and if information is easy to find online.
  • Inbound calls to call center and back office performance: Were interaction and issue resolution professional, timely and accurate?
  • Random sampling of customers to elicit input at various customer touch-points and journeys to discover any insights or issues to resolve.

Sky Italia is able to receive multi-source and multi-channel input from clients, analyze and categorize the information by issue and sentiment (positive, negative or neutral), and take deep dive analysis to uncover root cause or correlations among entities, issues or circumstances. Comments received are fed into the existing enterprise Customer Relationship Management (Siebel CRM), in parallel so that agents are able to rapidly respond to issues. In addition, analysts have visibility to review and analyze comments prior to sending alerts to appropriate team members.

Becoming customer centric at Sky Italia meant that strong governance processes were required to be put in place as well as involving the Human Capital Management (HCM/HR) department or the personnel officer to insert NPS as an additional key performance indicator (KPI) in employee incentive programs. Culture changes necessitated educating the entire organization. For example, does the legal department even think about consumers when creating legal documents? Are they easy for consumers to understand? Is the language clear without multiple pages of “fine print”? Being customer centric at Sky Italia is not just the call center’s responsibility. Everyone from sales, installation to billing and marketing needed put the customer at the center of their work-day–customer service & support especially.

Lessons Learned & Results
One of Sky Italia’s major findings was that their education and information sharing processes with customers required improvement. Support for walking clients through a technology upgrade process earned them less than satisfactory feedback. For example, a significant number of customers believed that Sky Italia merely provided installation, upgrades and billing and then walking away once they signed up. The company quickly realized that while the existing customer engagement processes make perfect sense from an internal perspective—customer perception was altogether different. It became readily apparent that customers receiving upgrade or updated instructional information for the first time were confused and not fully satisfied with the level and type of communication they received.

To its credit, Sky Italia moved quickly to correct this perception by improving their communication and education materials making them more customer friendly in tone and style. Simple things such as instead of “We provide XYZ during the trial period” a more customer centric tone such as “Welcome to our trial period during which you may sample XYZ at your leisure” was used. Additionally, the CX projects team kept track of language and ensured that all definitions and words are used consistently across all touch-points.

Moreover, Hypatia recommends that companies should learn how to do journey mapping according to each enterprise’s customer priorities and key customer engagement processes, and align them with metrics that will lead to actionable insights rather than more reports or dashboards. For Sky Italia, this meant creating journey mapping and measuring the customer life-cycle according to five key journeys.

1) Decision—sales through conversions
2) On-boarding—welcoming and educational processes
3) Resolution—of technology or administrative problem via all channels
4) Evolution—upgrading technology or service packages
5) Re-evaluation—downgrading or customer churn

Developing measurable metrics or scores along with closed loop processes around these five journeys was critical in empowering Sky Italia to enhance their customer engagement processes through a fluid horizontal flow that puts the customer at the center of each and every process, interaction, communication or touch-point. Moreover, HCM involvement facilitated changes in employee payment plans so that customer-facing KPI’s would be part of every employee performance review, bonus, and commission or incentive program. Customer-centricity and employee compensation packages would be intertwined.

In short, the company redesigned the business so that vertical business processes (i.e. in silos where sales only cares about conversions and commissions, installation doesn’t care about education or about the hand-off to billing, and call center agents don’t care about what comes after a successful resolution of an issue handled) were effectively transformed to enterprise level, horizontal customer-centric business processes.
Early results of Sky Italia’s enterprise VOC initiatives include:

  •  Substantial reduction in calls relating to confusion about first bill received.
  •  Significantly higher rates of upselling, capturing greater share of wallet from customers who understood the service and product options more clearly.
  • Additional revenue from install base customer recommendations.
  • Lower churn rates from customers that subscribe to premium channels

Excerpted from ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: 2014 Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings”

Update: Sky has created Europe’s leading entertainment company after completing the acquisition of Sky Italia and a majority interest in Sky Deutschland.

December 11, 2014: Where & When Do Companies Need Governance Risk & Compliance Solutions?

The simple answer: everywhere. In the 21st century, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) has created a drumbeat of urgency and uproar for companies of any size. More simplicity – you can break down the whole concept of GRC to a handful of questions:

  • What did you do?
  • When did you do it?
  • Did you do it properly?
  • Can you prove it?

But something so fundamentally simple doesn’t account for the increasing Sturm und Drang regarding GRC since the turn of the 21st century. There are other reasons that account for the attention paid to GRC, such as these increasingly important aspects of business and technology:

Globalization. Ironically, globalization has complicated business by expanding choices for where and with whom you do business. That, along with the Internet, has also expanded the number of potential competitors a company has in any new business venture. Calculating the odds for success (or failure, that is, risk) brings more variables than ever before.

Scrutiny. From Enron and Worldcom to the mortgage meltdown, government entities are paying infinitely more attention to the way companies conduct business. The bigger a company gets, the more impact it has on both its market and the economy, and both the public and private sector are struggling with how to govern this. The result: new laws, new policies, new audit requirements.

Capability. Talk about the law of unintended consequences—when companies started eliminating paper-based processes, they replaced them with systems that could automatically answer the first two questions above. It’s (purportedly) easier to electronically monitor corporate activities, so those who have oversight – whether internal superiors or external regulators – are asking to see the digital equivalent of the paper trail. The result is an ever-increasing need for monitoring, tracking, analyzing, and auditing business processes. That’s where GRC comes in.

Clarifying GRC Definitions
For clarity’s sake, let’s define the points along the continuum in the context of how companies do business.
Governance. Corporate governance outlines the basic structure of the organization: who’s in charge, who’s responsible, who’s accountable, and what are their responsibilities? It also encompasses policies and procedures to ensure business processes are handled correctly. For instance, a company may have a policy stating that checks in excess of $20,000 must be signed by two executives, one of whom has a specific rank such as controller. This is to ensure that no one person can commit too much of a company’s financial resources. There may be a policy that no customer can submit an order if its account is 90 days past due.

But governance spans far beyond financial and accounting procedures. All contracts outline policies and procedures for each of the parties, whether it’s a distribution agreement or a service-level agreement. Governance oversees whether the commitments in those contracts has been fulfilled.

Applied to information technology, it outlines the basic structure governing the organization’s data: who can access it, how it’s protected, and how it’s secured. For instance, an employee’s salary may only be visible to themselves, their supervisor, and a member of the human resources department. It’s up to IT to make sure such private data is not inadvertently accessed. That’s the strict definition of IT governance.

What makes the concepts of corporate governance and IT governance confusing is that increasingly, companies are using electronic forms, workflow routing, and other capabilities to capture information relating to governance. It has becomes IT’s responsibility, as the master of all things digital, to oversee the systems that collect and analyze the information. It’s still corporate governance, even though IT is handling it. As we’ll show, Hypatia believes these two processes are so close that it’s logical and prudent to combine them.

Risk. Since long before technology was so completely entrenched in corporations, executives have been concerned about risk management. Deloitte Consulting defines six different kinds of business risk (see table 1: Categories of Business Risk) and they frequently involve the kind of heads-down qualitative analysis that only people can do. For instance, where might weak points exist in your supply chain? What’s your contingency plan if a shipment of components arrives from Asia with quality issues?

As noted in the definitions, many of these have a technological component, a process that compiles the information for assessment and subsequent analysis by a tool such as business intelligence software. In this scenario, technology is responsible for the quantitative aspects so that others can discern the qualitative aspects. For instance, analytics may reveal that a company has only 60 percent chance of making an international investment profitable; only a person can determine whether that probability is high enough to warrant the commitment.

Risk Categories Definition
Strategic risk: The risk that the organization is unable to implement appropriate business plans, strategies, decision-making or resource allocation, or to adapt to changes in its business environment.
Competitive risk: The ability to build or maintain sustainable competitive advantage in a given market or markets.
Financial risk: The risk associated with managing the organization’s assets and liabilities, both on-and off-balance sheet
Legal & regulatory risk: Risk that business activities are impeded through non-compliance with, or changes in, the domestic or international regulatory or legal environment
Operational risk: The risk resulting from management and operational processes, technology, human performance, or external events.
Reputation risk: The risk associated with the impact an activity may have on the organization’s image in the community, public confidence or its brand.

How Hypatia Defines Enterprise GRC Solutions
Hypatia Research defines converged GRC solutions as a continuum of people, process, and technology. The spectrum extends IT GRC solutions on one side to enterprise GRC (eGRC) solutions on the other. At the extreme end of the IT side of the spectrum lie highly automated digital controls for managing data access. At the extreme end of the enterprise side of the spectrum lays the element of business risk, which combines human elements such as instinct and experience with metrics for decision-making. In between, the solutions overlap, incorporating capabilities such as assessment; auditing; compliance with industry, partner, and government regulations, as well as internal policies; and workflow, all of which combine elements of human and digital analysis.

Figure: Hypatia’s Five Enterprise GRC Maturity Levels

HRG_GRC_MaturityLevels_2014

HRG_GRCSoftware_Galaxy_Cover_2014

Governance, risk, and compliance follow the traditional structure of contemporary business in that they have elements of people, process, and technology; there is a continuum that combines all elements of Governance Risk and Compliance. At one end, people analyze risk and develop governance structures based on their skill and experience and that of their employees (example: you may have a database that tells you what percentage of your bank’s loans were given without down payments, but a human would have to determine whether that was too high a risk or not).

At the other end of the spectrum, technology oversees compliance and governance through means of access, data protection, and

security. Along the continuum, processes driven by technological alerts and reporting ensure that supervisors are aware when employees are abiding by rules and regulations. Those supervisors can act on anomalies based on either their own knowledge or an indication from the system that compliance is in jeopardy. For more information on vendor evaluations, best practices, maturity models, and derivative reports by country, size, industry or function, or for vendor selection advisory, please contact research@HypatiaResearch.com.

Excerpted from our comprehensive 58 page primary research study: “The Convergence of Enterprise GRC: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings” ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management.

December 8, 2014: Want Social ROI? Time to Design a Virtual Social Loyalty Program

Want Social ROI? Time to Design a Virtual Social Loyalty Program

This bears repeating—a virtual social loyalty program. One that will enable brands to engage more intimately with their customers, facilitate loyalty, expand social influence towards conversions to commerce and fuel product innovation. Customers will tell your company what they want to purchase, when they want to purchase and how they want to purchase if you are listening and analyzing their conversations to create customer intelligence.

Wait say brands! We have already invested in a social community with managers to engage with our customers and retained bloggers to help influence the online communities. How is this different and why the urgency? As the number of users on social networks continue to grow—48 million joined Facebook in the last three months alone—advertisers will continue to increase their spending accordingly making it harder for brands to stand out, differentiate themselves and retain customer loyalty. Know this—genuine peer to peer influence with authenticity will always have more impact on commerce than paid advertising or search.

Social Champions: The New BFF for Sales & Marketing
Engaging with prospects and customers via today’s multi-channel environment is increasingly complex. Consumers are constrained by time, over-loaded with information, and tightening their wallets. Likewise, companies are resource-constrained in navigating micro-channels of audiences for various products and services. Prioritizing opportunities presented takes time and effort unless repeatable processes to triage and engage with customers are employed. As one end-user articulated:

“How much of your day do you spend on each social media platform? I’m finding myself getting overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes to be ‘engaged’. Any tips?” –S.P, Social Media Strategist & On-line Community Manager at a Jewelry Retailer

Enter brand advocates and social champions, a type of corporate “Best Friend Forever” if you will. Harnessing the expanded network influence of loyal, key customers is an effective way to augment sales and marketing efforts to engage with as well as to influence prospects and customers. Whatever metrics, methodologies, or criteria one uses to identify and score customer as a) champions and promoters, b) best customer$, defined by annual spend or c) most loyal customers, defined by frequency, (Klout, Net Promoter and Customer Commitment or Customer Engagement Index scores are popular, but not necessarily applicable to all companies), it is important to fully understand the dimensions and logic behind each—and to align them with corporate objectives.

“On average, each mobile phone customer that is retained or migrates represents an estimated $2,000 annually to telecom providers. Social champions can be the difference between capturing, retaining, or losing consumers.” –Hypatia Research Group

Effective Best Practices
Some organizations advised by Hypatia Research Group have had success in offering small discounts, advance notice of sales, coupons, or loyalty program upgrades (i.e. advocate to champion) to these brand ambassadors complete with swag or rewards when their followers convert to paying customers. We encourage brands to make these incremental thank you gestures rather than out right fees for promotional services which might be perceived as bribes by others and thus lacking in authenticity. (Example: retained bloggers or those that provide online product reviews for monetary compensation). Other techniques include…for more primary research with charts and figures, see the full report. “Want Social ROI? Time to Design a Virtual Social Loyalty Program“.

Endnotes:

1 ©2013 Hypatia Research Group. “A Social Analytics & Intelligence Vendor GalaxyTM Evaluation Study: Converting Contextual to Actionable Insights Plus Maturity Models
2 ©2011 Hypatia Research Group. “Benchmarking Social Community Investments: Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations
3 Facebook Inc. –Its recent advertising windfalls nearly tripled on a 72% increase in revenue in its first quarter, and surpassed Wall Street expectations.
4 Anachronism: Use of term “Best Friend Forever”—a term which gained popularity from the 1980s onward

December 1, 2014: Financial & Industry Regulations (GRC) Sprout Like Mushrooms After a Rain

Where do companies need enabling technologies to support compliance efforts? The simple answer: everywhere. In the 21st century, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) has created a drumbeat of urgency and uproar for companies of any size. More simplicity – you can break down the whole concept of compliance (the ‘C’ in GRC) to a handful of questions:

  • What did you do?
  • When did you do it?
  • Did you do it properly?
  • Can you prove it?

But something so fundamentally simple doesn’t account for the increasing Sturm und Drang regarding GRC since the turn of the 21st century. There are other reasons that account for the attention paid to GRC, such as these increasingly important aspects of business and technology:

Globalization. Ironically, globalization has complicated business by expanding choices for where and with whom you do business. That, along with the Internet, has also expanded the number of potential competitors a company has in any new business venture. Calculating the odds for success (or failure, that is, risk) brings more variables than ever before.

Scrutiny. From Enron and Worldcom to the mortgage meltdown, government entities are paying infinitely more attention to the way companies conduct business. The bigger a company gets, the more impact it has on both its market and the economy, and both the public and private sector are struggling with how to govern this. The result: new laws, new policies, new audit requirements.

Capability. Talk about the law of unintended consequences—when companies started eliminating paper-based processes, they replaced them with systems that could automatically answer the first two questions above. It’s (purportedly) easier to electronically monitor corporate activities, so those who have oversight – whether internal superiors or external regulators – are asking to see the digital equivalent of the paper trail. The result is an ever-increasing need for monitoring, tracking, analyzing, and auditing business processes. That’s where enabling technologies that support GRC standards comes in.

Compliance. This is the area that has received the most attention recently, and is probably the catalyst (or culprit) behind the fact that there are so many vendors claiming to be part of the GRC marketplace. There are horizontal government regulations relating to financial and accounting activities, such as Sarbanes-Oxley. There are vertical government regulations relating to specific industries, such as the medical industry’s HIPAA and HITECH, or those in the energy industry overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). At the same time, there are frequently industry regulations to which companies must adhere, such as ITIL, CoBit, and ISO 27001.

As if those weren’t enough, multinational countries just deal with regulations enacted by other countries, or those from individual states. It seems as if they sprout like mushrooms after a rain. Just as with the other two categories, this category incorporates elements of people, process and technology. Dealing with industry-specific data involves human expertise, while compiling results for auditing is a process, while a database can store the regulation’s contents.

How Hypatia Defines Enterprise GRC Solutions
Hypatia Research defines converged GRC solutions as a continuum of people, process, and technology. The spectrum extends IT GRC solutions on one side to enterprise GRC (eGRC) solutions on the other. At the extreme end of the IT side of the spectrum lie highly automated digital controls for managing data access. At the extreme end of the enterprise side of the spectrum lays the element of business risk, which combines human elements such as instinct and experience with metrics for decision-making. In between, the solutions overlap, incorporating capabilities such as assessment; auditing; compliance with industry, partner, and government regulations, as well as internal policies; and workflow, all of which combine elements of human and digital analysis.

Figure 9: Elements of Governance Risk and Compliance

GRC_ProcPeopTech_2014

Source: ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved

HRG_GRCSoftware_Galaxy_Cover_2014

Governance, risk, and compliance follow the traditional structure of contemporary business in that they have elements of people, process, and technology; there is a continuum that combines all elements of Governance Risk and Compliance. At one end, people analyze risk and develop governance structures based on their skill and experience and that of their employees (example: you may have a database that tells you what percentage of your bank’s loans were given without down payments, but a human would have to determine whether that was too high a risk or not).

At the other end of the spectrum, technology oversees compliance and governance through means of access, data protection, and security. Along the continuum, processes driven by technological alerts and reporting ensure that supervisors are aware when employees are abiding by rules and regulations. Those supervisors can act on anomalies based on either their own knowledge or an indication from the system that compliance is in jeopardy. For more information on vendor evaluations, best practices, maturity models, and derivative reports by country, size, industry or function, or for vendor selection advisory, please contact research@HypatiaResearch.com.

Excerpted from our comprehensive 58 page primary research study: “The Convergence of Enterprise GRC: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings” ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this research study may be repurposed, distributed, translated or published in any format without the express written consent of the Hypatia Research Group, LLC and its management.

November 24, 2014: Voice of Customer for Real-time Customer Engagement

Using real-time Voice of Customer for real-time customer engagement.

In the last 8 weeks I’ve attended a dozen or so webinars presented by software vendors and their clients.  ‘Death by webinar power-point?’ Not really.

One of the things I love about my profession is that I’m constantly learning—as a perpetual student of business strategies, behaviors, processes, technologies, organizational practices and use of key performance indicators and metrics that correlate to business results.

What I have learned is that very few of these technology organizations ‘walk the walk’ in utilizing voice of the customer feedback even when it is handed to them on a silver platter. On nearly every webinar, I asked one or two simple questions hoping for a real answer from the presenter.

Now everyone knows that producers of webinars have prepared ‘seed questions’ in hand in case no one asks a question during the Q&A. Moreover, vendors typically have certain questions they want asked so that they have some input or control over the presenter’s messaging. To my surprise, several of these presenters asked and answered ‘seed questions’ ONLY. This was very apparent from the way Q&A questions were phrased. (We recommend using no more than 5 seed questions to our sell-side clients)

However, ignoring questions asked by attendees sends the message “We don’t really care what you are interested in. We are only interested in pushing out our messages, i.e. what WE think YOU should want to know.” By the way, our research consistently shows that pull marketing campaigns result in higher ROI than push campaigns.

HRG-SocialPushvsPull_2013

My assessment: Companies who ignore informational requests during a webinar are missing a truly unique opportunity to further educate and engage customers…and isn’t that why the webinar was produced in the first place?

Leslie Ament, SVP Hypatia Research Group

November 18, 2014: Customer Data Doesn’t Just Live in a CRM Application; It Lives Throughout the Enterprise
November 5, 2014: Operationalizing Enterprise Voice of the Customer--High Rewards for...

Operationalizing Enterprise Voice of the Customer: High Rewards for Addressing Challenges

Much has changed since Hypatia Research Group published the first industry analyst research on Voice of the Customer (VOC) software, services and technologies back in 2011. Leading vendors that supported unified VOC analysis via multichannel or Omni-channel VOC capabilities were comprised of IBM , Allegiance, Attensity, Confirmit , SandSIV (formerly CustVox), Questback (acquired Globalpark), SDL (which acquired Alterian), and Vovici (acquired by Verint ). Now, support of multichannel VOC is considered table stakes in this 2014 GalaxyTM evaluation study. Vendors such as Aspect, iPerceptions, Medallia, InMoment (Mindshare rebranded after its acquisition of Empathica), NetReflectorNICE (acquired Fizzback), OpinionLab, and Walker Information have compelling multichannel offerings that vary based on specific business applications. (See chapter three, vendor landscape)

What has changed significantly is the volume and number of data sources and channels, inclusive of mobile device, kiosk, POS and tablet that are able to feed into the analysis of contextual VOC information via enabling VOC software, services and technologies. While our evaluation of VOC has always included both contextual information (qualitative) as well as structured information (quantitative), the sophistication, complexity, and expertise required to design an effective enterprise-level VOC program is lacking in most organizations.

In fact, our research supports our prediction that several acquisitions of VOC software solutions—either by consultancies, marketing agencies, or other software firms will likely occur in the next few months. (Also, see the November 3, 2014 announcement on Publicis Groupe Is Acquiring Sapient For $3.7 Billion –one of the many acquisitions we forecast for the digital marketing landscape as well.)

Figure 1 illustrates how organizations plan to source expertise and/or develop enterprise VOC programs. As the top priority action, nearly one-fourth will turn to consultancies or agencies, 10% will rely on the professional services or consulting team of their VOC software provider, and nearly 10% plan to hire expertise directly to set up and run the programs with internal resources.

HRG_VOC_ACtionsPlanned_2014

Voice of the customer (VOC) is a market research technique defined as the process of capturing a customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions. Ideally, Voice of the Customer analysis produces a detailed set of customer wants and needs that is prioritized by company objectives or strategic goals. Additionally, VOC typically consists of both qualitative and quantitative research processes. we found that the majority of VOC initiatives are designed to address enterprise-level operational business process improvements for multiple business issues* relating to:

  • Brand Reputation & Risk Management (72.4%)
  • Customer Engagement, Loyalty & Advocacy (65.3%)
  • Product Pricing, Quality, Innovation & Ideation (54.1%)HRG_VOCGalaxy_cover_2014
  • Customer Service & Support (52.2%)
  • Customer Experience & Engagement Management (49.1%)
  • Customer Analysis, Profiling & Segmentation (47.5%)
  • Sales & Marketing (44.1%)

Our Assessment:
The cost of not investing in enterprise VOC—either through investment in software, services or both—is very high if your competition is using it effectively and your organization does not. Since 2006, we assessed that global marketplace realities such as low cost country sourcing, product commoditization and multi-channel competition impel organizations to invest in improving the level of engagement and experience they provide to customers. All things being equal, an organization’s key differentiator is the quality and ease of doing business with the company brand at each point of a customer journey—from initial contact to post purchase engagement. (Figure 2: Investment in VOC Software Solutions Forecast to Increase)

Whether an organization has point solutions, outsources to a services provider, or creates an internal customer intelligence/VOC center of excellence team, the need to select, integrate (inclusive of processes and best practices) and utilize various enabling technologies to capture and leverage holistic analysis of customer feedback and interaction experience exists. Organizations that seek to become truly customer-centric no matter the channel or process of customer interaction with a goal of growing and retaining customers as well as share of wallet should review our research findings as part of internal due diligence.

*Multiple responses possible: Will not equal 100%

October 28, 2014: IBM Watson Analytics Will Not Replace Decision Scientists

#IBMInsight Day One: IBM Watson Analytics

Today at IBM Insight (formerly known as IBM Information on Demand) several announcements regarding official launch of new solution/product offerings were made.  Some of these included:

  • IBM Cloudant Local
  • IBM DashDB
  • IBM DataWorks

While Watson Analytics was not one of these, having been launched previously, I did see a live demoperformed during the keynote by the ever-dashing Marcus Hearne and always eloquent Bob Picciano.

Significant progress in commercializing Watson Analytics is evident. Dashboard presentation and data visualization are intuitive and attractive. Time spent on data quality or consistency issues are reduced via automation (as Marcus emphasized “Not all data is really useful”) leaving users with more time for actual analysis. IBM aims for Watson to appeal to data scientists and analysts in addition to business functions without significant analytics expertise such as marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources.

While the results of integrated natural language processing (NLP) query capabilities (which enable search via typical word formats–keyword, Boolean, and text questions etc…) are nicely displayed in real-time via data visualization, I’m not yet convinced that line of business roles will readily adopt Watson without knowledge transfer and training in how to surface insights.  Here’s why:

  • Uncovering insight requires that users know what to search for;
  • Line of business users need training in order to understand options on what they might require andhow to phrase a search;
  • Phrasing queries to perform root cause analysis, multiple correlation or multivariate analysis is not generally a part of line of business vocabulary. This is a different way of thinking and not intuitive for those who don’t eat, dream, or use analytics  on a regular basis;
  • Searches, such as “Who are my best customers?” or “In which regions do customers buy two or more types of insurance policies r#WatsonAnalyticsather than one?” will bring back the information as requested. However, this information can also be retrieved via a transactional system or business intelligence tool (finance, enterprise resource planning, etc…) from IBM or another software provider.

Moreover, knowing what types of customers andwhy these customers purchased multiple policies and in what time-frame these purchases were made might reveal highly valuable insight. In fact, discovering correlations or predicting causal models could empower this fictitious insurance company to rapidly act on this insight in ways that would greatly benefit its top or bottom line. Examples of taking action include engaging intelligently with specific customers or micro-segments of customers based on their likelihood to purchase A) an upgrade on home or mobile telecommunications services, or B) products that are complimentary to those bought previously, or C) a subscription renewal based on propensity to churn.

That stated, there is a nice feature whereby users can combine certain stock (out of the box) queries such as “Customer Lifetime Value” (the metrics behind this definition are pre-configured by IBM) to another variable or search query such as “with highest profitability in European countries”. Watson Analytics will then present the results for each country with a confidence level and the three or four largest criteria (variables) that contribute to the highest profitability in each country by percentages. This approach could be very useful to line of business professionals in planning campaigns, tracking product/service sales, understanding customer segments etc….

I do see great value in using Watson Analytics to reduce the time spent creating or refining data models and algorithms for business analysts, decision scientists and others adept at data manipulation and interpretation. For example, queries performed with multiple elements (criteria or variables) show the confidence level and percent correlation for each in Watson Analytics which is very beneficial to those who refine models. Impressive also is the decrease in time that will be spent on readying large volumes and types of information for analysis (data refinery as a service built-in), so that more effort can be spent on speedily uncovering and creating real insight. (See Delivering Big Data Insights: Why Choose Between Accuracy, Agility or Speed?“)

Perhaps IBM has plans for educating line of business professionals to speed adoption of Watson via 1) a professional services offering, 2) a LARGE library of pre-configured queries just for LOB roles, and/or 3) online tutorials or certification program. If so, I’m all for it.–Leslie Ament, SVP & Principal Analyst

October 26, 2014: Enterprise Governance, Risk & Compliance Software

GRC in 2014: Still Fragmented After All These Years

Since Hypatia Research Group first covered the governance, risk & compliance software market in 2011, much has changed. Much hasn’t. (See “Enterprise Convergence of GRC 2011: Best Practices, Benchmarks & Vendor Evaluations”.)

The market for governance risk and compliance (GRC) software is still a maelstrom, the kind of maelstrom that engenders confusion among both customers and vendors. Some vendors offer GRC for the enterprise, known as eGRC, focusing on strategic and operational risk management. Others offer what’s known as IT-GRC, focusing on monitoring access and communications for compliance.Hypatia_GRC_softwaregalaxy_cover_2011

The fact that both branches of GRC use technology to automate highly complex processes is confusing. The fact that many vendors offer capabilities that overlap into both areas is confusing. The fact that many vendors offer limited pieces of the GRC puzzle is confusing.

In 2011, we saw this highly fragmented, sometimes confusing market for enterprises, with most split along two lines: GRC for IT, focusing on security and data access, and GRC for the enterprise, focusing on risk management and compliance. At that time, we strongly urged that enterprises look for applications that integrated these two capabilities in order to develop a holistic view of their enterprise, one that would provide both insight and consistency across multiple areas.

The good news in 2014 is that enterprises have begun to see the value in GRC applications. (See “The Convergence of Enterprise GRC: Benchmarks & Vendor Galaxy Rankings” ©2014 Hypatia Research Group, LLC). The bad news is that the market is still fragmented; many vendors are still enticing enterprises with point solutions that solve pressing problems, but not long-term ones. In fact, this narrow focus on GRC can actually present challenges later.

To get a sense of current attitudes toward GRC, Hypatia Research Group evaluated over 20 GRC vendors, and interviewed users of these applications. We also surveyed 664 end-users of GRC software, and the results were stark: while just 30 percent had been utilizing GRC software for more than five years, another third have only been doing so for less than five years, and still another 30 percent still perform GRC processes manually using spreadsheets or other home-grown solutions. That represents significant room for expansion.

Usage Moves from Reactive to Proactive
But in our research into the applications themselves, the news is heartening. We found a number of applications that subscribe to our viewpoint that integration – not only between internal modules, but among external data sources – is imperative. Several vendors impressed us with a number of state-of-the-art features indicating forward-thinking insight about user needs; many have a strong sense on how their applications will accommodate cutting-edge technology such as mobile devices, social media, and big data.

Still, one thing has not changed with this updated research. Hypatia Research Group’s assessment is that enterprises will gain the most value from GRC applications that provide more than just a sense of insurance. Too often, enterprises invest in and deploy GRC applications as a reaction to a mandate: comply with this regulation; adhere to this service-level agreement; assure the access protection of this data.

Instead, GRC applications have the potential to help enterprises be proactive – to identify potential problems before they manifest themselves; to understand risks before they’ve invested too many resources; to prevent adverse events before they cause damage to revenues, reputation, or both.

Challenges Continue
This capability is not without its challenges. GRC applications that provide that kind of enterprise-wide insight tend to be far more expensive than counterparts that focus on narrow areas. They require a high-level of collaboration among executives from multiple departments – finance, information technology, operations – all of whom may have different agendas; or, more commonly, already-installed applications that work fine for their needs but not for the greater good of the enterprise.

As we noted in 2011, not since ERP applications became popular has there been an application that so intensely requires equal attention paid to people, process, and technology. Like ERP applications, GRC applications can be time-consuming, though with the increasing availability of cloud solutions, enterprises can derive the benefits of GRC sooner. In a world of ever-changing and ever-increasing regulations, having a service provider updating regulatory issues via a subscription or library – in the same way that a security provider updates malware definitions – can be helpful.

In addition, the topic itself covers so many areas, many of which overlap, hampering companies’ efforts. Governance covers not only how data is accessed, protected, and secured, but also involves adherence to everything from partnership contracts and service-level agreements, to internal policies. Risk covers investment in new products, geographic expansion, and exposure to lawsuits and reputation damage. More at: https://hypatiaresearch.com/grc-2014-still-fragmented/

October 12, 2014: What I Hope to Learn at Dreamforce 2014: #DF14

Dreamforce is the ultimate destination for everyone from users of software, business and management consultants to producers of software. From apps to applications and systems, as well as those who advise on how best to transform organizational business processes by taking advantage of what software may offer.

A quick review of the Cloud Expo reveals Accenture, CapGemini, Ernst & Young, Deloitte Digital, IBM GBS, NTT Group, PWC, SapientNitro, and Tata Consulting will exhibit along side large software vendors such as SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, Avaya, and smaller vendors as Brainshark, Confirmit, CustomerMatrix, Cloudingo, Enkata, FreshDesk, Influitive, InteractiveIntelligence, Qualtrics, Radius, RedSky, ServiceMaxServiceSource, ScoutAnalytics, Scribe, Spanning, Tibco, TerraSky, Spanning, and VocalCom.

Some folks attend for the eminent speakers, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Mark Andreessen, Al Gore, Klaus Schwab and the ever fashionably attired Marc Benioff (did you see his cool sneakers last year?).  Others attend for the ‘rad’ music concerts–check out Bruno Mars,Will.i.am, Neil Young along with other groups featured.

My goal is to stay up to date on all of the research areas we cover from Analytics, CRM (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Support) , Data Integration, Digital Marketing, Identity Access Management, Information Governance, Risk and Compliance, to Social Intelligence and Voice of the Customer–in the Cloud, SaaS, On-premise delivery and managed services.

You will find me at nearly all of the product keynotes (unfortunately, some overlap), and then some. Care to schedule a demo? Send an email to Research@HypatiaResearch.com or my twitter account: @Hypatia_LeslieA and we will try to get calendered either during or in the weeks after the conference.

Oh, by the way, although I majored in music, (musicologists analyze orchestral scores etc…now I research and analyze the potential for business return on investment from the use of software and related services)   I’m not related to Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and cannot score concert tickets for anyone including myself.

Hope to see everyone there!

Leslie Ament

October 8, 2014: Next Generation CRM: All About Business Process Excellence

Study Illustrates Best Practices, Maturity Models and Vendor Evaluations

___________________________________________________________________________

Boston, MA—October 8, 2014

Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group announces a new primary research study entitled “Next Generation CRM: It’s All About Business Process Excellence”.  This twenty-five page study with several figures provides end-user organizations with best practices, vendor evaluations, business return on investment case studies and an analysis of how and why companies invest in customer relationship management (CRM) and engagement software solutions, and what tangible benefits are possible. In short, this research provides actionable insight that companies may use in compiling a vendor short list, request for qualifications and best practice terms of engagement with software vendors and providers of services.

Co-author and senior analyst Howard Baldwin noted, “When customer relationship management (CRM) software first debuted, it was a miracle. For the first time, companies didn’t have to build a database of prospects and customers to track their preferences and purchases. There it was, efficiently organized. With analytics, companies could see who patronized them the most, and who generated the most profit. That’s why, along with ERP software, CRM software has become one of the few successful enterprise software mainstays.”CRM+BPM-cover-2014

According to Leslie Ament, SVP of research and principal analyst, “Customer data, after all, doesn’t just live in a CRM application; it lives throughout the enterprise and beyond in partner, third-party, social and online information. Our assessment is that an integrated BPM/CRM system that is greater than the sum of its parts, one that allows the input and output of information in a virtuous circle, so that CRM data informs business process management (BPM) data and vice versa should be a goal for companies of all sizes and industries. We know that a more-intelligent system gives companies the ability to enhance key competitive differentiators: the customer experience. Being smarter about customers not only increases customer engagement, but it has the potential to increase revenues from customers who are delighted with the service or product they’ve received.”

Research Approach

Hypatia Research surveyed 800 global executives directly involved with enterprise customer engagement initiatives, software usage and selection criteria. Only the 500 respondents that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of CRM software were utilized in our analysis. Research due diligence also included a 1) vendor briefings, 2) product demonstration and 3) customer reference interviews. In certain cases, customer references and product demonstrations were obtained without vendor involvement through our professional network.

 About

Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group delivers high impact market intelligence, industry benchmarking, best practice, maturity model and vendor selection research for how businesses use software technology, professional services and management consulting providers to capture, manage, analyze and apply customer and market intelligence to enhance corporate performance and to accelerate growth. Coverage includes: Customer Management (CRM), Business Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Big Data Insights, Customer Analytics, Social Media, Text Analytics, Digital Marketing, Information Management, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and GRC. Since 2001, clients have relied on Hypatia for industry insight, expertise and independent market research for guidance in assessing various technology and service options.

For advisory, licensing or further analysis on this topic by company size, industry, job function or geography, please contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com or call 781-862-5106.

October 3, 2014: Converting Customer Voices into Operational Customer Insight

Converting Customer Voices into Operational Customer Insight Many organizations are in “listen”, “dashboard visibility”, “categorize” or even “scenario scoping” mode, but at best, utilize VOC information sources in a siloed approach by job function or role which is a good place to start. However, this often leads to too many VOC approaches being utilized at the same time in various departments across the enterprise in a “let’s toss spaghetti at the wall and if it sticks, it is done” manner. This adds significantly to the challenge of how to interpret and operationalize this disparate customer intelligence.HRG_VOCGalaxy_cover_2014 Our assessment is that top performers spend anywhere from six months to two years planning how to best optimize VOC investment at an enterprise level by prioritizing why, where, how and who will be accountable for creating actionable insights and then operationalizing them with the wherewithal to measure performance and apply new insights when appropriate. For example, customer satisfaction and loyalty surveys are largely quantitative in nature, and are analyzed and reported on via numbers or percentages. Contextual information such as survey verbatim, online content and emails between organizations and their customers are seldom analyzed or even shared with the same job functions/roles that perform quantitative customer satisfaction and loyalty survey analysis. In addition, mapping unique customer identities from quantitative data with unstructured information is either performed manually or is semi-automated and difficult for many organizations lacking in specific VOC domain expertise and/or multi-channel journey mapping techniques. We see a major shift in organization moving budgets and accountability for VOC programs from marketing, consumer research, and market research to the operations department. Conversely, we also see many instances where customer service and support now report to the operations rather than the marketing function—which underlines the importance of customer-centricity as an enterprise business mandate rather than just the marketing teams’ responsibility. Our Assessment: The cost of not investing in enterprise VOC—either through investment in software, services or both—is very high if your competition is using it effectively and your organization does not. Since 2006, we assessed that global marketplace realities such as low cost country sourcing, product commoditization and multi-channel competition impel organizations to invest in improving the level of engagement and experience they provide to customers. All things being equal, an organization’s key differentiator is the quality and ease of doing business with the company brand at each point of a customer journey—from initial contact to post purchase engagement.

Sept. 12, 2014: Hypatia Research Group Publishes 2014 Update of Operationalizing Voice of the Customer

Much has changed since Hypatia published the first industry analyst research on Voice of the Customer (VOC) software, services and technologies back in early 2011 when leading vendors were capable of supporting unified VOC analysis of data (structured) and context (unstructured) captured from multichannel information sources. Now, support of unified VOC analysis via Omni-channel information sources is considered table stakes in the evaluation of twenty-three vendors. Lexington, MA (PRWEB) September 17, 2014 Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group announces publication of a newly updated primary research study entitled Operationalizing Enterprise Voice of the Customer (VOC): Best Practices, Maturity Models and GalaxyTM Evaluations. The study Illustrates Best Practices, Maturity Models and 2014 GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations.HRG_VOCGalaxy_cover_2014 Much has changed since Hypatia published the first industry analyst research on Voice of the Customer (VOC) software, services and technologies back in early 2011. At that time, leading vendors were capable of supporting unified VOC analysis of data (structured) and context (unstructured) captured from multichannel information sources. Now, support of unified VOC analysis via Omni-channel information sources is considered table stakes in our evaluation of twenty-three vendors. According to Leslie Ament, SVP of research and principal analyst, What has changed significantly is the volume, variety, speed, and number of information sources or channels that now feed into VOC analysis via enabling software, services and technologies. While our evaluation of VOC software has always included both contextual information (qualitative) as well as structured information (quantitative), the sophistication, complexity, and expertise required to design an effective enterprise-level VOC program is lacking at a majority of organizations globally. This sixty page study with twenty figures provides end-user organizations with best practice benchmarking, vendor evaluations, business return on investment case studies and an analysis of how and why companies invest in voice of the customer (VOC) software solutions, what tangible benefits are possible, and what metrics can be used to measure the ROI of an enterprise VOC initiative. In short, our research provides actionable insight that companies may use in compiling a vendor short list, request for qualifications and best practice terms of engagement with software vendors and providers of services Research Approach Hypatia Research surveyed 1100 global VOC practitioners and executives directly involved with enterprise voice of the customer processes, software usage and selection criteria. Only the 498 respondents that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of enterprise VOC software were used in our analysis of how, why or when organizations:

  • Invest in VOC software solutionsand how much is budgeted through 2016
  • Measure productivity and effectiveness of VOC initiatives and how often?
  • Prioritize specific VOC initiatives against software selection criteria?
  • Commit a percentage of company revenues to VOC program investment?
  • Expect a return on investment (ROI)?
  • Evaluate and ultimately select VOC vendors or consulting firms?

Research due diligence also included a 1) vendor briefings, 2) product demonstration and 3) customer reference interviews. In certain cases, customer references and product demonstrations were obtained without vendor involvement through our professional network. Respondents operate primarily in North America (35.7%), with healthy representation from Asia Pacific (34.7%), Europe (28.8%) and Middle East (1%). Among the 498 respondents, the organizations were divided among SMBs (4.1%) with revenues under $100 million, mid-market (34.3%) and large enterprises (61.5%) with $2 billion or more in revenues. Both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) industries were equally represented. About Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group delivers high impact market intelligence, industry benchmarking, best practice, maturity model and vendor selection research for how businesses use software technology, professional services and management consulting providers to capture, manage, analyze and apply customer and market intelligence to enhance corporate performance and to accelerate growth. Coverage includes: Customer Management (CRM), Business Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Big Data Insights, Customer Analytics, Social Media, Text Analytics, Digital Marketing, Information Management, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and GRC. Since 2001, clients have relied on Hypatia for industry insight, expertise and independent market research for guidance in assessing various technology and service options. For advisory, licensing or further analysis on this topic by company size, industry, job function or geography, please contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com or call . Contact: Zvi Ruder, SVP Operations & Intellectual Property Licensing Hypatia Research Group ZGR(at)HypatiaResearch(dot)com

July 20, 2014: Joining Editorial Board of Journal of Applied Marketing Analytics etc...

Coming from Confirmit’s Annual User Conference and IBM Analyst Summit on Big Data Analytics, we have processed many customer interviews, product demonstrations in addition to our recent analysis of our global voice of the customer survey data. It now seems apparent that our first study on “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Bencharks, Best Practices and Maturity Models” back in 2011 foreshadowed the importance of analyzing both structured and unstructured customer information ahead of the market and perhaps, laid the groundwork for some of the current interest in Big Data Analytics & Insights, Customer Engagement, and Customer Experience software solutions we presently see in the market landscape. We are excited to announce two new primary research studies this Summer (more on this in our newsletters), and are looking forward to the Fall conference season. Moreover, in addition to my role here at Hypatia, I’m honored to share that I’ve been invited to join the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Marketing Analytics. Submissions for articles or research papers are welcome. Feel free to reach out with report topic suggestions, introduce us to a new customer or update us with your successes.

May 1, 2014: How to Get Value From Industry Analysts

We were recently invited to take a survey–and it wasn’t one of ours!  Our input was solicited by a third party who said they were working on behalf of multiple technology vendors we cover who wanted to know:

• How well we thought their analyst relations professionals performed in keeping us informed?

• Does Hypatia Research Group recommend software vendors and consultancies to our end-user clients?

• What could vendor-side analyst relations teams do to improve their interactions with us?

Since we are typically VERY candid during briefings and interactions, we were surprised by this feedback. So, in the interest of transparency, here are our observations and suggestions:

Most analyst relations professionals on the vendor-side do a good job of keeping us informed, arranging briefings for product updates and demos (we encourage software demonstrations).

Proactive engagement never hurts. Check our research agenda once per quarter and if you see a study aligned with your offerings reach out and schedule an update. Our receipt of current information prior to publication will serve to enhance your position in our research.

Expect all interactions with us to be a give and take. If you are able to send us a briefing presentation a day in advance, our interactions will be much richer than if we are seeing it for the first time during our call.

• We brief 50+ companies per quarter and have the ability to aggregate this information and combine it with the end user research we do to create insight.  As a result, we are able to advise on mergers and acquisitions, alliances, partnerships, features, functionality, product road-maps, geographic launches, positioning, demand generation, best practices and benchmarks, market sizing and thought leadership decisions when engaged. Case in point: After our unique (HRG was the first industry analyst firm to cover enterprise level VOC software technologies) study on Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Galaxy Vendor Evaluations launched in late 2010, four of the vendors we evaluated were acquired within one year.

Value-add and strategic analyst relations professionals are worth their weight in gold.  We advise software vendors against using public relations agencies or media professionals to handle both media and analyst relations. Why? Your organization will benefit more from what I and my team might provide by interacting with experienced analyst relations professionals. Value-add AR pros know how to solicit and leverage our information for your organization’s benefit in ways most media professionals have never been trained to do. This is especially true for an outside agency who is not fully integrated within your company.

• We regularly assist end-users with request for information (RFI), quote (RFQ) and business requirements gathering processes for vendor selection.  We also recommend vendors based on our clients’ requirements. This is why we always ask to view software demonstrations–our reputation is on the line.

More questions on how to interact? Please call or email me directly at LA@HypatiaResearch.com

We invite all of our subscribers to suggest report topics for the latter half of 2014 and early 2015. To receive a copy of our agenda, or to suggest a research topic, simply send an email to: Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

April 9, 2014: Announcing Enterprise Convergence of GRC Software Solutions: GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations

HRG Urges Companies to Move from Reactive to Proactive Risk Assessment Boston, MA-April 9, 2014– Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group announces publication of a new primary research study entitled “Convergence of Governance, Risk & Compliance: 2014 Galaxy TM Vendor Evaluations“. This sixty page study with twenty figures provides end-user organizations with best practice benchmarking, vendor evaluations and an analysis of why companies invest in governance, risk, and compliance software solutions, what tangible benefits are possible, and what metrics can be used to measure the ROI of an enterprise GRC initiative. In short, our research provides actionable insight that companies may use in compiling a vendor short list, request for qualifications and best practice terms of engagement with software vendors and providers of services. Visit our E-store for further information. According to co-author and senior analyst Howard Baldwin, “Hypatia Research Group’s assessment is that enterprises will gain the most value from GRC applications that provide more than just a sense of insurance. Too often, enterprises invest in and deploy GRC applications as a reaction to a mandate: comply with this regulation; adhere to this service-level agreement; assure the access protection of this data.” According to Leslie Ament, SVP of research and principal analyst, “Our assessment is that GRC applications have the potential to help enterprises be proactive – to identify potential problems before they manifest themselves; to understand risks before they’ve invested too many resources; to prevent adverse events before they cause damage to revenues, reputation, or both. Based on our research into the global GRC market through survey and customer ROI evaluations, Hypatia Research believes that the GRC software segment has a great potential to benefit not only ease in passing audits, but to support corporate performance management goals.” Research Approach Hypatia Research surveyed 664 global GRC practitioners and executives directly involved with GRC processes, audits and decision-making on the following facets of their deployments. Our analysis of those that actually utilize, recommend, influence, hold budget or veto power over the purchase of enterprise GRC software provides contrarian insight into how and why large organizations:

  • Invest in GRC software solutions-and how much is budgeted through 2016
  • Measure productivity and effectiveness of GRC initiatives and how often?
  • Prioritize software selection criteria?
  • How are specific GRC initiatives prioritized?
  • What percent of company revenues are committed to GRC, and when is ROI expected?
  • Which vendors and consulting firms were evaluated?

Survey Respondent Profiles Respondents operate primarily in Europe (41.5%) with healthy representation from Asia Pacific (32.4%), and North America (26.1%) regions. Among the 664 respondents, the organizations were divided among SMBs (8%) with revenues under $100 million, mid-market (34.6%) and large enterprises (57.5%) with $2 billion or more in revenues. More demographic information at: Convergence of GRC. About Industry analyst and market research firm Hypatia Research Group delivers high impact market intelligence, industry benchmarking, best practice, and vendor selection research for how businesses use technology and service providers to capture, manage, analyze and apply customer and market intelligence to enhance performance and accelerate growth. Coverage includes: Customer Management (CRM), Business Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Customer Analytics, Social Media, Text Analytics, Marketing Automation, Information Management, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and GRC. Since 2001, clients have relied on Hypatia for industry insight, expertise and independent market research for guidance in assessing various technology and service options. For advisory, licensing or further analysis on this topic by company size, industry, job function or geography, please contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com or call 781-862-5106.

March 28, 2014: Highlights of SAP GRC Summit & IBM Smarter Counter Fraud Launch

Technology conference season continues in full force, so we plan to share highlights of new offerings, recent acquisitions, and insights. First up is #SAPGRC2014 Summit and IBM Smarter Counter Fraud launch in NYC this month. Having returned from both the SAP GRC Summit in Orlando and IBM’s launch of Smarter counter fraud portfolio of offerings in NYC (with linkage to IBM’s GRC software Open Pages and Global Business Services), I reflected on the two unique paths each company created in approaching customer demand for Governance, Risk, Compliance and Fraud solutions. Our assessment is that if a customer has both of these vendors on its short list for GRC, the requirements document (RFQ) may need more stakeholder input or granularity in order to generate a more realistic vendor response to current business issues. For example, #SAP developed its GRC suite to include a robust fraud management component, while #IBM created an entire eco-system named Smarter Counter Fraud which is an integrated offering designed to identify and mitigate multiple phases of enterprise fraud. IBM’s GRC software and business services solutions are a complimentary offering that is aligned with this counter fraud ecosystem. For the rest of this analysis…sign up for our newsletter!

January 21, 2014: Complementary E-Book

Customer Centricity: A Time to Listen, A Time to Engage Hypatia Research Group surveyed thousands of global companies and distilled the most important lessons into four easy to digest (and easy to act upon) chapters. Chapter 1 – Leveraging Social Media to Drive Product Innovation Chapter 2 – Social for Brand Reputation and Risk Management Chapter 3 – Customer Service & Support in the Social Age Chapter 4 – Social for Customer Advocacy and Engagement This research report was finalized in December 2013, and is something that SAP licensed to share with all Socially Forward-Thinking friends – including you. Download Chapter One compliments of SAP. [1] “Exploiting Social Intelligence for Customer Service & Support Excellence“, ©2013 Hypatia Research Group. For advisory, licensing or further analysis on this topic by company size, industry, job function or geography, please contact Research@HypatiaResearch.com or call 781-862-5106.

January 10, 2014: New Year, New Research Agenda

Best wishes to all as we dive into 2014. We are very excited to announce our new research agenda for the first half of this year and invite all of our subscribers to suggest report topics for the latter half of 2014 and early 2015. To receive a copy of our agenda, or to suggest a research topic, simply send an email to: Research@HypatiaResearch.com. Since 2001, Hypatia Research Group has focused on benchmarking and assessing business return on investment for how organizations use technology and service providers to capture, manage and apply customer intelligence to enhance profitability and to accelerate growth. Our research coverage encompasses the following topics: We look forward to hearing from you! Research@HypatiaResearch.com