Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Survey Finds 78% of Consumers Want More from Their Social Network Experience

European research results announced by Critical Path, a provider of messaging applications, reveals a startling gap between what consumers want from their interaction with social networks and the services available today.

The average consumer has four separate address books across a number of services, including mobile phones and social networks such as Facebook®. The majority of people (68%) fail to update their address books with contact changes and 91% are frustrated with their out-of-date contact information.

Of the 3,000 consumers surveyed:

-- 75% found the task of updating their contacts across their social networks frustrating
-- 82% wanted a solution to synchronize their separate address books
-- 78% are looking for a simple, easy-to-use solution

Clear preferences for services were identified – a large majority wanted automatic updates from their friends using social networks and also wanted control over the type of updates they receive.

This research demonstrates the growing relevance of social networks and the importance consumers place on their online interactions. Operators have a clear opportunity to provide solutions to address these consumer frustrations and heighten their role and value in mobile social networking.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Survey Highlights Importance of Online Customer Experience

Tealeaf, a provider of online Customer Experience Management software (CEM), announced the results of the 5th annual survey of online consumer behavior, commissioned by Tealeaf and conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey found that 48% of U.S. online adults say that they are now conducting more online transactions than they did in the past given the current economic climate. However, 80% of adults who have conducted an online transaction in the past year experience problems when doing so in 2009.

This improvement over prior years may be attributed to a growing business focus on delivering better online customer experiences. While this reported decline in online transaction issues is good news, online customer experience is still very much a work in progress. The percentage of consumers affected by issues such as error messages (38%), endless loops (19%) and login problems (28%) is still extremely high. Further, the resulting business impact is significant, as 32% of those who experience issues when conducting transactions online would simply take their business elsewhere (to either an online or offline competitor) or abandon the transaction entirely.

The survey results also show that online adults are increasingly turning to social media to share their online experiences with others, while simultaneously becoming less likely to alert a company directly – a shift in consumer behavior which extends the business impact of customer experience issues beyond any single transaction.

The number of consumers who contact a company directly in response to online transaction issues declined:

- 26% of online adults who experience problems conducting online transactions then posted complaints on a company's Website in 2009, versus 32% in 2008.

- 38% of all online adults contacted a company's call center after encountering problems using the Website in 2009, versus 47% in 2008.

Meanwhile, 12% of online adults who encountered issues said they shared those experiences via blogs or social networks, twice as many as in 2008.3

Further, the survey reveals that these shared experiences are highly influential and should therefore be a real business concern. More than half (54%) of all online adults said social media content has influenced their online transactions, with 82% of those reporting that social media has influenced their choice of vendor.

Interestingly, the survey also found that online adults whose transactions have been influenced by social media content actually respond to positive reviews (26%) more so than negative ones (21%), so good online transaction experiences are amplified online just as much, if not more, than bad.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cloud Computing is Democratizing Computing Power and Traditional IT Barriers of Cost, Time, Quality, Scale, and Geographic Location

A new study, recently published by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company, revealed top performing companies that have adopted cloud computing have reduced IT costs 18% and data center power consumption by 16%. The survey revealed the top business pressures driving the adoption of cloud computing include:

-- Overall cost of IT infrastructure

-- Need to enhance competitive advantage

-- Lack of flexibility in the current IT environment

-- Need to support additional services or users

Survey results show top performing organizations shared several common characteristics, including:

-- 77% monitor cloud applications for efficiency and use

-- 75% have a cloud team or task force

-- 69% use a formal cloud evaluation process

-- 62% have a formal education plan for training cloud team

Cloud computing is changing the role of IT from predominantly one of maintenance to one of innovation enabler through the new service delivery model of cloud services. Consequently, top companies are realizing the critical need to establish a governance model around SOA architectures and cloud-based service delivery.

More information on cloud computing can be found at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Facebook Costs Companies 1.5 Percent of Total Productivity

An independent study by Nucleus Research finds that companies that allow access to Facebook lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity. Key findings of the study of 237 employees concluded:

- Nearly half of employees in the study and 77 percent of those with an account use Facebook during work hours

- Some employees use Facebook as much as 2 hours per day while
at work

- One in 33 employees use Facebook exclusively while at work

Of those using Facebook at work, 87 percent could not define a clear business reason for accessing the site. Further, the analysis reveals potential security concerns through email, as most organizations do not monitor and manage Facebook as closely as email. This creates an opportunity for Facebook users to circumvent controls and violate corporate communications policies.

The Nucleus analysis concludes that companies should evaluate their Facebook policy and the cost to the organization in allowing access to Facebook, as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5 percent gain in productivity.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Study Shows Improved Performance From Advanced Collaboration

Organizations around the world that deploy the most advanced Internet-protocol-based collaboration technologies achieve more than twice the return on their collaboration investment and perform better than their less collaborative peers, according to a new Frost & Sullivan study.

"Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration," sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, examines how professionals in businesses and government agencies get their work done by using advanced collaboration tools such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high-definition video.

The study found that businesses and government agencies deploying increasingly more sophisticated collaboration tools -- such as VoIP soft phones, immersive video and fixed mobile convergence -- saw a corresponding improvement in business results relative to the amount invested. The overall average Return on Collaboration (ROC) score was 4.2 -- meaning organizations received an average return of four times their investment in deploying collaboration technologies in terms of improvement across business-critical areas.

The study was undertaken as organizations around the world grappled with a challenging economy, and results showed use of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half (44 percent) of all organizations surveyed have deployed UC&C tools -- such as user presence on a device, document sharing, immersive video or Cisco TelePresence for near-lifelike visual communications, integrated voice, e-mail and instant messaging, and telephone features and management capabilities on mobile devices and the desktop.

The study also found that 40 percent of organizations that deploy UC&C plan to increase spending on this despite current economic conditions. In addition, more than 80 percent of organizations that have not deployed UC&C tools plan to deploy some form of them in the next two to three years.

The greatest impact of collaboration was where the largest numbers of people interacted for a common goal, including sales, research and development and marketing. By implementing more advanced UC&C tools, the study found, organizations could increase their return across all areas.

This finding suggests that teams using UC&C tools can benefit from a "network effect" -- a theory attributed to Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of Ethernet, that holds that the more users on a network, the more value is likely realized from it. While larger enterprises tended to receive greater collaboration returns, small and medium-sized businesses can increase returns by deploying progressively more advanced tools and expanding their reach beyond their organizations working with customers, partners and suppliers.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Despite The Recession, 94 Percent of Enterprises Continue to Invest in Online Communities and Social Media

A second annual survey of companies sponsoring online communities shows signs of increasing maturation as enterprises continue to invest in social media tools and online communities. According to the survey, conducted by Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research, 94 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to maintain or increase investment in their communities, while only six percent plan to decrease investment. However, while enterprises are effectively using these tools to engage with customers, partners and employees for brand discussions and idea generation, the survey also indicates that organizations continue to struggle with harnessing social media’s full potential.

Of the companies surveyed, a majority agreed that increasing word-of-mouth (38 percent), customer loyalty (34 percent) and brand awareness (30 percent) continue to be the top business objectives of online communities, followed by idea generation (29 percent) and improved customer support quality (23 percent). However, in the majority of companies surveyed, marketing continues to be the primary driver of online communities, resulting in a significant gap between community goals and the organizations’ capability to fully leverage these communities on an enterprise wide basis.

Several data points indicate continued maturation of the enterprise’s use of communities and social media. For instance, this year’s survey pointed to an evolution in the way in which companies are tracking and engaging with both active and inactive members. While the number of active users and their level of participation have been considered the top measures of success for an online community, this year survey respondents are paying close attention to non-active users or “lurkers” – people who observe the community, but don’t participate in the discussion. Thirty-two percent of respondents are capturing data on how these individuals derive value from the community.

Additionally, 20 percent of survey respondents have set up formal “ambassador” programs, which give outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community. Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents also indicated that more full-time people are being deployed to manage the communities.

According to the survey, the biggest obstacles to creating a successful community -- getting people to join (24 percent), stay engaged (30 percent) and keep returning (21 percent) -- can be easily remedied through partnering and new management practices. The study indicates that very few companies, however, are taking the steps necessary to overcome these challenges.

While 58 percent of respondents evaluated partnering with existing communities, complementary vendors or end users when developing their community, 55 percent of the companies that evaluated a partnership did not actually partner.

Furthermore, the survey also revealed significant gaps between community goals (such as generating word of mouth, customer loyalty and brand awareness) and how success is being measured. The top two analytics for measuring success are the number of active users (34 percent) and how often people post/comment (32 percent), indicating that participation is still considered to be the biggest measure of success. Potentially more useful analytics, however, such as increase in search engine rank and citations/links on other sites, are less often utilized, highlighting a mismatch between the desired outcome and how that outcome is measured.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gartner Says IT Organizations Will Invest More in Private Cloud Services than in External Cloud Providers Through 2012

While cloud computing services come in many forms, Gartner, Inc. predicts that through 2012, IT organizations will invest more in private cloud services than in offerings from public cloud providers.

Private cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to internal customers using internet technologies. This definition is very similar to Gartner’s public cloud computing definition, however the focus on internal is related to who can access or use the services in question and who owns or coordinates the resources used to deliver the services.

Gartner predicts that private cloud services will be a stepping-stone to future public cloud services. For many large organizations, private cloud services will continue to be required for many years, as public cloud offerings mature.

There are two characteristics that companies need to consider when investing in private cloud computing delivery, as opposed to public cloud computing delivery. First, private cloud services are implemented for an exclusive set of consumers (that is, only approved members can participate, and approval is contingent on some characteristic that the general public or other general businesses cannot gain easily). The access will frequently be controlled by a centralized organisation, such as a company's IT organization or an industry association, but this control is not essential to the concept of the private cloud. Second, they can be built on top of a public cloud infrastructure or in a hybrid model.

In addition, the scope of internal cloud services around intimacy and integration can be compared to external cloud services that are dependent on interface and independence from the organization. IT services used in the public cloud are standard across businesses, and not differentiators. These services are separated from the business – independent, not customized and not integrated. They focus on creating a self-service, easy-to-use, and are generally not end-customer facing. They are also a relatively static service.

Although some IT services are destined for the cloud computing delivery, others are destined for more integration and intimacy with the business. These services are business differentiators and tightly integrated with the business. They change often and are integrated and customised. They may incorporate a range of standardised cloud services (for example payment processing), but the resulting aggregate service will be enterprise unique and will not be typical to cloud services.

More information on the CRM industry can be found at