Posts Tagged ‘Social CRM’

News Analysis: Verint Announces Intent To Acquire Kana For $514M

Verint Adds to Vovici and Contact Center Assets To Expand Customer Engagement Offerings


On January 6th, Melville, NY based Verint® Systems announced a $514M intent to acquire Sunnyvale, CA, KANA Software.  Verint is a software vendor with a core in analytical software.  Verint’s core offerings provide enterprise intelligence and security intelligence.  The acquisition is significant in the market because:

  • Big data and analytics meet customer experience. Verint expects to expand its customer engagement optimization offering with the acquisition of Kana.  Verint’s core capabilites, Vovici’s voice of the customer assets, and Kana’s multichannel customer experience solutions allow customers to move from data to information to insight to action or decisions.

    Point of View (POV):
    Bringing intelligence into customer experience adds context and relevancy. This combination is a key step in moving from systems of engagement to systems of mass personalization at scale.  Constellation expects more acquisitions that combine the 5 pillars of digital business – social, mobile, cloud, big data and analytics, and unified communications.
  • Verint gains key customers and industries. Verint’s key customer base of 10,000 customers gets 900 new customers in six key industires.  Kana’s base includes a variety of marquee brands and public sector agencies in the mid market to enterprise space.  Business service customers include Hyatt, Starwood, USPS, and Priceline.com.  Communications and media customers include O2, Comcast, Cox, Quest, Talk Talk Group, Telekom Austria, Telus, Time Warner Cable,  Tracfone, Virgin Mobile, and Vodafone.  Financial services customers include Admiral, Bank Leumi, Capital One, Chase, Citigroup, Domestic and General HSBC, ING, Barclays,  Standard Bank, and VHI.  Retail and wholesale clients include American Greetings, Avon, Carglass, Conrad, Foot Locker, Hanes More…

Event Report: CRM Evolution 2013 – Seven Trends In The Return To Digital Business And Customer Centricity

Market Leaders Refocus On Digital Business and Customer Centricity

The annual gathering of the industry’s top thought leaders, users, and vendors of CRM converged at the Marriott Marquis in New York this past August 19th to 21st.  As with any good conference, the speaker tracks and the corridor conversations provided a glimpse of where market leaders and fast followers planned to make their future investments and provided key insights for 2014.  After speaking with over 100 attendees, the following seven trends emerged from this year’s event:

  1. CRM is dead, well not really. While the term CRM is loosely used to define many things.  Leaders realize that CRM is the technology.  Customer experience is the business process and journey maps.  Customer centricity is a state of mind that’s required of management and leaders.  While customer experience is the new term du jour, all three elements (i.e. technology, business process, and people leadership) are required for success.  Front office is more descriptive than Tom Siebel’s legacy term of CRM.
  2. Customers seek outcomes not products or services. Customers no longer buy products.  Customers expect products to be bundled with services.  Services providers now seek to sell experiences.  Experience providers now sell access to outcomes.  This evolution of what customer’s want and what’s delivered continues to accelerate.  With hipsters and millennials short on cash, access, experiences, and outcomes have emerged as one market category to deliver for in this growing sharing economy.  However, not all customers seek just access. A movement to move too far, will result in a backlash from a majority of customers who seek ownership without the shackles of renting.
  3. Transformation projects now rally behind the shift from social back to digital business. The social business and social crm era focused on a key aspect of CRM – the relationship.  In the past, CRM excelled at management, poorly accomplished customer, and failed at relationship.  Looking back three years,  the rise of social ties back to the need to address relationships.  Now that social moves to the mainstream, market leaders refocus to digital transformation of customer centric initiatives.
  4. Funnels make no sense in an asynchronous world. Classic sales, marketing, and service funnels force fit customers into unrealistic models.  Entry points will ebb and flow as channels and context drive demand into a variety of use cases.  Design must account for this constant state of change.
  5. Big data provides relevancy and context. All the hype on big data continues to miss the point.  Customer centricity requires context.  Context creates relevancy based on a customer’s roles, relationships, products, services, location, time, sentiment, and intent.  Without relevancy, acquisition, targeting, and personalization will fail.
  6. Front office still needs back office integration. Integration with back office is required for customer experience.  A customer who makes an order for a product or service that’s out of stock and billed twice for something they did not receive will most likely be upset.  Customer centricity is both a front office and back office exercise.
  7. Identity plays a key role. Identity plays a multi-faceted role for each individual. The business implications of identity after authentication, authorization, access, and availability touch on commerce, work lives, personal lives, and engagement with each other.  Identity is a unifying factor in the current transformation to a digital world and required for customer centricity.

The Bottom Line: Business Leaders Must Embrace Customer Centricity In Order to Differentiate In A Digital World

More…

Monday’s Musings: Trends In The Top Software Insider Posts of 2012 (#softwareinsider)

Thank You For Your Support

SoftwareInsider.org generated almost 10 million page views in 2012 (see Figure 1).  This does not include syndication through Constellation Research, Forbes (discontinued in 2012), Enterprise Irregulars, Computerworld UK, and other great media partners.

Figure 1.  Software Insider Achieved 9.8M Page Views for 2012

Classic Posts Address The Key Fundamentals In The Disruptive Technology Shift

Four posts have made the all time favorite list and address the 5 consumer technology forces that influence enterprise software.

  1. Monday’s Musings: How The Five Consumer Tech Macro Pillars Influence Enterprise Software Innovation
  2. Research Report: The 18 Use Cases of Social CRM and The New Rules of Relationship Management
  3. Tuesday’s Tip: Understanding the Many Flavors of Cloud Computing
  4. Best Practices: Five Simple Rules for Social Business

2012 Top 40 Reflects A Broader Shift To Business Outcomes And Technology Adoption

Analyst Relations and the World of Influence - The top blog post of 2013 discussed the future of the industry analyst versus legacy analyst firms.

Consumerization of Technology and The New C-Suite – The impact of technology on the C-suite has never been greater.  As business strategy relies more on technology, CMOs, CFOs, and other line of business heads can expect to work more closely with the CIOs and CTOs.

More…

Event Report: Dreamforce X (#DF12) Emerges As The South By Southwest (#SXSW) For The Enterprise

Dreamforce Represents The Mecca For The “Art Of The Possible” In The Enterprise

Whether Salesforce.com’s flagship conference at Moscone Center was the most attended conference (~48,000) or the most registered for event (~90,000), matters not.  When examined in context of the magnitude of what was accomplished, the impact of this 10th annual event transcends attendance numbers.  Business folks and the converted IT brethren converged on the week of  September 18th, 2012, to see what the future could be inside the enterprise.  They left with inspiration and the gospel of what was possible, as told by those before them.  The event represented the intersection of where aspiration meets innovation for the enterprise.

Key takeaways from interviews with over 100 attendees reflect the following trends:

  • Attendee sentiment signals the return of the front office.  Prior to the coining of the CRM term, front office was the term which defined marketing, service, eCommerce, and sales force automation.  The move back to integrated customer experiences reflects a renewed interest in all the front office touch points and all the support in the back office required to support the customer experience.  Attendees walked in with questions about how to integrate their legacy ERP and expose their transactional systems into the front office.
  • Customers seek knowledge and case studies on business transformation. Delegations arrived to see how they could change their business.  Most came with both business and IT to learn from the best practices of others.  Almost every customer case study session was packed and common questions revolved around, “How did you do that?”
  • Product announcements and pre-announcements bring the enterprise closer to the consumer experience. Pre-announcement of Salesforce Identity for Winter 2013 will provide users with Facebook-like single sign on and identity management services.  The availability of the Touch Platform services will provide a write once, deploy anywhere touch based mobile UI Experience.  The pre-announcement of the Force.com Canvas provides a UI layer to run any other application within the Salesforce.com environment.  The App Exchange Checkout delivers out of the box billing for developers and improves the users app store experience.  Geolocation capabilities in the pilot of database.com in the Winter 2013 release will improve mobile experiences.  Chatter communities pilot in Fall of 2012 and pre-announcement addresses the issue of multiple group management.
  • More…

Press Release: Gavin Heaton Joins Constellation Research to Provide Digital Marketing Research and Advisory Services

Digital Media Luminary to Launch Constellation’s Newest Research Theme, Digital Marketing Transformation

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Constellation Research, Inc., the award-winning research and advisory firm focused on helping clients navigate emerging and disruptive technologies announced today the addition of esteemed digital media pioneer, Gavin Heaton to the research team as Vice President and Principal Analyst. Heaton will lead Constellation’s latest business-focused research theme, Digital Marketing Transformation. Heaton’s research, which focuses on the changing role and expectations of CMOs, the fusion of marketing channels and change-driven marketing innovation, expands Constellation’s ability to provide digital marketing research and advisory services to its early adopter clients worldwide.

Heaton’sresearch and advisory will enable clients to take advantage of the convergence of media, technology, brands, and business. Specifically:

  • Understanding where social media fits within the business landscape
  • Aligning business and online engagement strategies
  • Channeling the passion of employees toward the achievement of business goals

Heaton commented: “We are seeing a dramatic shift in the role of marketing. Advertising is under pressure, social is changing our customer relationships and the Consumerization of IT is changing the way we do our work. There has never been so much change or opportunity. I’m excited to help chart the course between marketing, technology, customers and vendors.”

 

Heaton has been at the forefront of technology driven marketing innovation for the past 20 years. Recently Heaton served as Social Media Director for SAP’s Premier Customer Network. He is also the co-instigator of the ground-breaking crowdsourced marketing book series The Age of Conversation.

“The move to digital changes how quickly, effectively, and relevantly we listen, test, engage, and anticipate,” says Constellation CEO, R “Ray” Wang. “Gavin is among a handful of people who not only understands this shift to digital marketing, but also brings a converged experience from agency, enterprise, and client side. Our clients expect an experienced and trusted advisor who can speak their language and translate to the IT folks. In fact, our clients seek outcomes, not technologies. Consequently, Gavin’s experiences take them one step further towards this objective. As Constellation builds out our business themed research, expect us to serving more and more of the C-Suite.”

DIGITAL MARKETING TRANSFORMATION

Digital Marketing Transformation is the newest business-focused research theme at Constellation Research, Inc. The C-suite is realizing the futility of remaining analog in a digital world. CMOs can no longer live in the campaign to lead process – CMOs must also involve themselves in big data and analytics, social and community building, reputation, and loyalty. The future is real time convergence and its name is digital.

COORDINATES

Twitter: @servantofchaos

Website: www.servantofchaos.com

Linkedin: au.linkedin.com/in/servantofchaos

Geo: Sydney, Australia

ABOUT CONSTELLATION RESEARCH

Constellation Research is a research and advisory firm focused on disruptive and emerging technologies. This renowned group of experienced analysts, led by R “Ray” Wang, focuses on business themed research including the Future of Work; Next Generation Customer Experience; From Data to Decisions; Matrix Commerce; Technology Optimization and Innovation; and Consumerization of IT and the New C-Suite.

Constellation’s collection of prestigious analysts bring real world experience, independence, and objectivity to client solutions that span cross-role, cross-functional, and cross-industry points of view. Clients join Constellation Research for a fresh and business focused perspective.

Unlike the legacy analyst firms, Constellation Research is disrupting how research is accessed, what topics are covered, and how clients can partner with a research firm to achieve success. Over 100 clients have joined from an ecosystem of buyers, partners, solution providers, c-suite, board of directors and vendor clients.

For more information about Constellation Research, visit www.ConstellationRG.com

***

Constellation Research, Constellation SuperNova Awards and the Constellation Research logo are trademarks of Constellation Research, Org. All other products and services listed herein are trademarks of their respective companies.

Trends: The Battle For CMO Mind Share

Marketing and Advertising Budgets Are The New Land Grab

Constellation Research, Inc. predicts that the global advertising market (paid search, display, and classified) will hit $125B by 2015.   While IT budgets continue to stay flat, marketing budgets are up.  Warc’s recent Global Marketing Index (GMI) entered positive territory in March 2012.  Consequently, the heat up in marketing and advertising market attracts not only start-ups, but also tech vendors looking to enter this lucrative market.

Solution Providers Rediscover The CMO Budget

In just less than 28 months, enterprise software vendors have bolstered their presence with Chief Marketing Officers mostly through acquisitions and partnerships.  The goal – capture budgets allocated for digital creation, marketing automation and revenue optimization, advertising, CRM and customer experience, analytics, and information brokering (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.  The Battle For The CMO Budget Comes From Six Fronts

Why the change? Marketing sits at the cross roads between the old analog world and the new shift to digital transformation.  With each big shift, organizations will change what technologies they invest in, who they decide to partner with, and how quickly they will make the shift.  This new battle for CMO mind share started when IBM purchased Unica for $480M in August 13, 2010 (Figure 2).  The frenzied activity by Adobe, Dell, Eloqua, Google, Hubspot, Kana, Marketo, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAS Institute reflect the desire to be top of mind among CMO budgets.

More…

Tuesday’s Tip: Why Context Matters – Forget Real-Time, Achieve Right-Time

The Real-Time Hype Is Filled With Flaws

The hype around big data, social media, and mobility has many folks imagining the real-time enterprise in the future of work, next generation customer experiences, matrix commerce, or the data to decisions journey.  While real-time theoretically leads to quicker information and faster response times, the reality requires closer examination for three reasons:

  1. Customers and employees only want engagement aligned with self interest.  Relevancy of information is required for customers and employees to respond.  Real-time interactions quickly evolve into noise.  Signal to noise ratios must be improved as garbage in will lead to massive garbage out.  In some cases, customers don’t want engagement. They just want the experience.
  2. No human can truly handle the volume and flow of real-time interactions. The proliferation of channels and data sources creates a data deluge.  Filtering is required in order to handle real-time.  Workers already inundated with email, sms, and chats, really just want to get work done, they don’t want to be bogged down with more interactions.
  3. Real time is not fast enough. Real-time is reactive not proactive.  Anticipation and prediction emerge as key requirements.  Reaction does not lead to a better customer experience or employee interaction.  Some customers want options to make the right decision.  The same customers may expect a system to remember a preference based on many factors including repetitive behavior.

Delivering Context Is The Secret To Right Time Success

Context provides the key ingredient in improving outcomes. Why? Context provides the relevancy required for not only anticipation, but also prediction.  For example, offering a premium channel upsell to an upset cable customer when their cable is down, may not be the wisest idea.  Unfortunately, this happens too often.  The customer is already upset that the issues have not been resolved and yet the company is still trying to sell instead of resolve an issue.  However, offering a free appetizer triggered by a location based service during the morning commute, may lead to higher sales as this is a right time anticipation of a dinner time offer .

The Bottom Line: Start With Seven Dimensions of Context Drivers.

More…

Monday’s Musing: Avoiding Social Media Fatigue Through Engagement

Social Media Moves From Ubiquitous Usage To Relevant Rationalization

Have we hit a social media plateau?  In recent client conversations on usage of social media, the trendsetters appear to be “socialed out”.   Most early adopters seem to be overwhelmed with their personal (Facebook, Google+), corporate (Yammer, Jive, Chatter, SharePoint), and professional (LinkedIn) social networks.  In fact, respondents feel that adding any additional network for anything social is quite overwhelming.  While early adopters are moving from ubiquitous usage to relevant rationalization, the majority remains in ubiquitous usage (see Figure 1).  Recent data on number of users at the Big 4 of social media show that we are in the middle of ubiquitous usage:

  • Facebook (901M users as of Feb 2012)
  • Twitter (500M users as of March 2012)
  • LinkedIn (161M users as of March 2012)
  • Google+ (100M users as of Feb 2012)

Early Adopters Facing Social Media Fatigue

As early adopters start rationalizing their networks, some are even pulling out.  From loss of interest in Google+, Empire Avenue, to even FaceBook, people have started to selectively choose networks to combat overload and social media fatigue.  The common theme – relevant rationalization by self-interest.   These trends parallel those for mail, phone, email, web and other disruptive technologies.  Going forward, users will move towards desensitization when the advertisers and companies abuse the channel by spamming users with an unwanted deluge of irrelevant offers.

The Bottom Line: Engage Users To Combat Fatal Fatigue In The Disruptive Tech Adoption Life Cycle

More…

Event Report: Lithium Network Conference 2012 #LiNC

Lithium Technologies Shows Continued Customer Momentum And Success In Social Marketing And Support
To the tune of over 500 customers and prospects, Lithium kicked off LiNC on May 2nd, 2012, at the always stunning Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.  Compared to previous years, the audience was not only bigger, but also more experienced and energized.  Rob Tarkoff (CEO) and Lyle Fong (Founder & Chief Strategist) kicked off the event with company updates, product road map highlights, and customer progress made over the past year.
Adding to the energy, four compelling case studies graced the morning and highlighted Lithium’s strengths in two distinct and advanced externally focused social CRM (SCRM) use cases: social customer support and marketing.  The wide range of proud customers and brands included Chris Blandy, SVP of Digital Media, Fox; Mark Nichols, Director of Customer Support, Skype; Andrew Leary, EVP & GM, Ipsos; and Steve Young, Sr. Director of Technical Services, Cisco.  During the event, several key announcements were made including:
  • Launch of a new product, Lithium Response. In a top secret OEM partnership, the team unveiled Lithium Response™ a product that enables brands to increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs and improving efficiency in the call center.  Key features include easier processes to turn community conversations from unstructured information to entries into the Lithium Tribal Knowledge Base (TKB), peer-to-peer support and gamification incentives to drive self-service customer resolution, cost effective social-web support, blended contact center capabilities, and mobile enablement.  The product is generally available (GA) in Q3.

    Point of View (POV):
    The OEM’d product comes from a little-known but powerful solution from a privately held, purpose-built social customer care platform.  The product maximizes agent efficiency via categorization, prioritization and queuing, and routing.  The system is smart enough to guide customers to self service by replying with relevant links to community content.  This platform has been battled test with complicated communication service provider (CSP) environments.  Adapted for the Lithium platform, customer can expect a rigorous enterprise class solution that lives up to Lithium’s standards.  Lithium Response™ also takes advantage of Lithium’s access to the Twitter fire hose.  The movement to address multi-channel customer support puts Lithium in unique league with vendors such as Genesys Labs, Kana, and Moxie Software, who can blend contact center and social support.
  • Delivers new release of social marketing. Building on customer feedback, the new Lithium Social Marketing Solution™ focuses on improving engagement.   New features include support for rich media interactions, ad hoc groups, streaming conversations, and a new ratings and reviews module.  A partnership with Shoutlet provides Facebook and Twitter campaign management.  Social engagement is updated to include photo sharing, inline-conversations, groups spaces, and adoption of commons social logins.  The new ratings and reviews module allows community driven content to be included via widgets.  New development tools on iOS improve customer experience in the mobile interface of choice.  The product is now generally available (GA).

    Point of View (POV):
    Customers showed significant interest in the new social marketing solution features.  The ability to improve ratings and reviews is much needed as this has become table steaks in communities and product catalogs.  What’s impressive is the new line of partnerships that align with Lithium’s core strategy.  Instead of building their own content publishing platform for campaigns, Lithium takes advantage of Shoutlet ability to place various types of content easily into the conversation. Partnerships with VMWare’s Socialcast unit allows Lithium’s Social Marketing Solution™ to integrate with internally focused collaboration tools to expedite the concept to product introduction process.
  • Begins concerted global expansion. Lithium announced new APAC headquarters in Singapore which add to its Sydney APAC presence.  Lithium also has a strong presence in EMEA with operations in Paris, Zurich, and London.

    Point of View (POV):
    As the market consolidates through attrition and acquisition, Lithium’s push to get more feet on the ground around the globe is much welcomed by customers.  Lithium needs to expand fast and put its $53M in funding to work to acquire long-term customers in expansion markets.
  • Ups the ante in partnerships and alliances. New partnerships with Ipsos and Geoffrey Moore provide access to market research.  Agency relationships include Sapient Nitro and Acquity group.  Lithium adds software partners such as Shoutlet and VM Ware.  Lithium’s approach is to find a small number but committed set of alliances and partnerships.

    Point of View (POV):
    Lithium’s partnership and alliance program traditionally was the weakest among the major SCRM players.  The addition of Ed Van Siclen, SVP of Global Alliances and BD, brings enterprise class partnerships to the Lithium’s arsenal.  As SCRM matures, key partnerships with major system integrators must be prioritized as well as carefully crafted agency relationships.  Software partnerships back to transactional systems such as ERP, CRM, and master data management will be key to long term success and enterprise adoption.  More importantly, continued alliances with other engagement applications will keep the innovation engine alive for existing customers as they focus on improving engagement.

More…

Quark Summary: What CFOs Need to Know About SaaS and Cloud Integration

Forward And Commentary

This document addresses many questions asked by CFO’s about cloud deployments and the top integration questions often asked by CFO’s responsible for key business initiatives that involve technology.

A. Executive Summary

Organizations have escalated their adoption of cloud computing and SaaS applications in the past 3 years. As part of the broader trend in consumerization of IT (CoIT), business leaders have slowly tipped the balance of power in determining technology acquisition. However, the proliferation of adoption has led to organizational chaos in data, process and meta data integration as users adopt and deploy the cloud in silos without considering the implications of organizational silos and services oriented architecture (SOA).  As cloud integration emerges as an enterprise-wide issue, CFOs must get acquainted with the cost-value equation of cloud and SaaS applications. Why? Cloud integration emerges as a key competency for successful organizations seeking to innovate while maximizing returns on investment. Consequently, CFOs should understand ten key points on why they must master cloud integration.

B. Research Findings

The rapid adoption of cloud computing by business leaders unfortunately creates a bespoke environment technically known as “best of breed cloud hell.” With so many disparate systems in a loosely federated model, data rapidly becomes siloed, business processes easily become fragmented, and coordination across functional fiefdoms quickly becomes difficult.  Consequently, cloud integration emerges as a key enabler in reducing the costs and improving the benefits of cloud computing. Recent conversations with 22 CFOs addressed these ten key questions:

  1. What is cloud integration?
  2. Why is cloud integration a growing competency for the CFO?
  3. Is cloud integration more or less expensive?
  4. Which integration approach is best in the long run?
  5. How does cloud integration mitigate project risk?
  6. What’s the business value for cloud integration?
  7. Will bring your own device (BYOD) policies require cloud integration?
  8. How can I support social media?
  9. Do big data and cloud integration go hand in hand?
  10. What kind of projects make sense for cloud integration?

More…

Event Report: Clarabridge Customer Connections 2012 #cbc312

Clarabridge “Turns Up The Heat” On Delivering Context For Customer Experience

CEO, Sid Banderjee, opened up Clarabridge‘s 4th annual user conference to 350 customers at the Doral Golf & Spa in Miami, FL on March 5th, 2012.  Clarabridge, a sentiment and text analytics software provider helps companies discern insight from their text based customer feedback and the growing plethora of social and mobile data points.  The goal – aggregation of insights from qualitative analytics that transform key organizational processes in customer experience, new product development, and employee satisfaction.

Clarabridge has shown success with a Global 1000 customer list that spans key verticals in technology/telco, retail/CPG, manufacturing, travel/hospitality, financial services/insurance.  Major clients include Bank of America, Best Buy, Cisco, Dell, Disney, Fidelity, General Mills, Hilton, IHG Hotels, Kaiser Permanente, Marriott, Siemens Sony, T-Mobile, United Airlines, Verizon, Visa, Walgreen’s, Walmart, and Zynga.

Some highlights from the event include:

  • Keynote from customer experience transformist Bruce Temkin. Bruce’s keynote discussed how organizations apply Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to augment customer experience.  Temkin highlighted his VoC Maturity assessment methodology that drills in on six key areas – detection, dissemination, diagnosis, discussion, designing, and deploying.  The key quote from Bruce was “Customer feedback is cheap, actionable insight may be valuable, but taking action on insight is precious. VoC programs are useless unless you act on what you find”
  • Best practices discussions from Global 1000 companies.Leading brands such as Acer, Best Buy, B/E Aerospace, Charming Shoppes, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Dell Inc, Expedia, Estée Lauder, Fidelity Investments, GE Appliances, United Airlines, Sage, Verizon, Vodaphone, Wendy’s, Walmart, and Zynga shared best practices.   Experiences from Wynn Parrish, VP Product Support of B/E Aerospace showd how customer management and warranty liability could be minimized.  Michael Silverman at Silverman research highlighted how Unilver uses VOC for internal employee programs.  One of the highlights was Jared Anderson (Best Buy) and Jonathan Sunberg’s (Confirmit) panel on voice of the customer at the leading edge/
  • Official details on the Clarabridge 5.0 launch. The launch of Clarabridge 5.0 provides the foundation for a customer insight data analytics hub (See Figure 1).  As part of the launch, Clarabridge Collaborate adds integrated notifications and alerts.  A new satisfaction scoring and sentiment transparency capability brings customer satisfaction scores into the equation to determine customer loyalty and retention programs.  Many attendees expressed interest in the new theme and event detection capabilities which provide custom categorization models to quickly surface new trends.  Last but not least, the natural language processing engine now supports Italian, Dutch, and Japanese.

Figure 1. Transforming Feedback Into Insight


More…

Research Summary: Best Practices – Three Simple Software Maintenance Strategies That Can Save You Millions

Forward And Commentary

Software ownership costs continue to escalate as vendors accelerate their efforts to capture support and maintenance revenues. Some vendors have gone to the extreme to eliminate third-party options for their customers. This best practices report examines three strategies to free up unnecessary costs to fund innovation and new projects.

A. Introduction

On average, IT budgets are down from 1-5 percent year-over-year, yet software support and maintenance costs continue to escalate ahead of inflation. Hence, continued pressure on IT budgets and a growing need for innovation projects have top business and technology leaders reexamining their software support and maintenance contracts for cost efficiencies.

Based on experience from over 1500 software contract negotiations, Constellation suggests three approaches to reduce the cost of software support and maintenance. Key strategies include third-party maintenance, shelfware reductions and unbundling maintenance contracts as part of every organization’s tech optimization strategy. Successful implementation can lead to savings from 10-25 percent of the IT budget, freeing up cash to fund innovation initiatives.

B. Research FindingsWhy Every Organization Should Consider Third-Party Maintenance, Shelfware Reductions and Unbundling Maintenance Contracts

Most organizations suffocate from the high and hidden cost of support and maintenance. On average, Constellation’s surveys reveal global IT budgets trending down from 1-5 percent year-over-year since 2008. Consumerization of IT, rapidly changing business models, and aging infrastructure have exposed the high cost of software support and maintenance. Because most organizations allocate from 60-85 percent of their budget to keeping the lights on, very little of the budget is left to spend on new projects (see Figure 1).

Organizations can unlock millions by considering third-party maintenance (3PM), reducing shelfware, and keeping support and maintenance contracts unbundled. Each strategy on its own creates opportunities to drive cost savings. All three strategies combined, provide a roadmap for funding innovation.

  1. Third-party maintenance (3PM) delivers the most immediate cost savings and opportunity for innovation. Third-party maintenance describes support and maintenance offerings delivered by non-OEM providers. These vendors can provide a range of options from basic break/fix to bug fixes, performance optimization, tax and regulatory updates, and customization support. Keep in mind, 3PM does not provide access to upgrades and future versions of the OEM’s product. One big driver is the lower cost of delivery, as much as half the cost of the original vendor’s pricing.  The report shows a survey of 268 respondents and why organizations choose 3PM and who the key vendors are.
  2. Reduction of shelfware remains a key pillar in legacy optimization strategies.  Shelfware (i.e. purchased software, not deployed, but incurring annual maintenance fees) is one of the biggest drains on operational expenses for enterprises. The simple definition of shelfware is software you buy and don’t use. For example, an organization that buys 1000 licenses of Vendor X’s latest ERP software and uses 905 licenses, becomes the proud owner of 95 licenses not being utilized. That’s 95 licenses of shelfware because the user will pay support and maintenance on the license whether or not they use the software or not.  The report details 4 successful and proven approaches.
  3. Unbundling maintenance contracts prevents future vendor mischief. About a decade back, vendors would offer support and maintenance as two separate line items on their contracts. Support would run about 5-10 percent of the license fee and so would maintenance. Keep in mind, average support and maintenance fees were under 15 percent back then. Unfortunately, many users have expressed a growing and concerning trend with support and maintenance contracts. Vendors concerns about support and maintenance contract retentions have led to new initiatives to consolidate contracts. At first glance, this may appear to be proactive and beneficial to customers, but the report details three rationales vendors provide and three strategies how to avoid bundling.

Figure 1. Visualizing the High Costs of Support And Maintenance

(Right-click to see full image)

More…