Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

Salesforce Brings Conversation and Customer Experience to the Forefront

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Dreamforce has become the largest enterprise software event for businesses in the United States, and it is evident why when looking at it this year. With over 170,000 business and IT professionals attending, Salesforce came to show off upcoming product announcements and innovations. This year's biggest focus was on Einstein Voice (a personalized and intelligent conversational assistant), integration with other platforms, and Salesforce Customer 360. The last of these is the start of an answer to a problem we have well documented; businesses struggle getting a full view of the customer and provide a frictionless response to issues and interactions. For the full breakdown of Dreamforce 2018, and my analysis of all the largest announcements, watch my hot take video.

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Topics: Customer Experience, digital technology, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Intelligent CX, Voice of the Customer, AI, Machine Learning, natural language processing, Robotic Process Automation, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SPM, CRM, Salesforce.com, Dreamforce

2018 Value Index for Contact Center in the Cloud Vendor Ratings

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insights gleaned from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research, we utilize a structured research methodology with evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to vendors in contact centers in the cloud. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). This research-based index is the first such industry undertaking to assess the full business value of software designed for enabling a contact center in the cloud. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool at https://www.ventanaresearch.com/value-indexes/inclusion.

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Topics: Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Experience, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization

Supercharging Customer Experiences Through Contact Centers in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 11, 2018 6:00:00 AM

An intensified focus on the customer is driving the trend toward enabling omnichannel support in contact centers, our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud has found. In my last analyst perspective I highlighted some key benefits of a contact center in the cloud. In this perspective, I want to elaborate on the finding that only about one-third (35%) of organizations participating in our benchmark research said their customers are satisfied with the way interactions are handled. Far more (47%) said their customers are only somewhat satisfied, which may not be good enough in a fiercely competitive marketplace. Not surprisingly, improving the customer's experience is the most common motivator (cited by 82%) for change in the technology being used.

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Topics: Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Experience, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization

Embracing New Channels Through Contact Center and Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 8, 2018 6:00:00 AM

To remain competitive, organizations must deliver the best possible customer experience through all channels of engagement. One technological approach to accomplish this is to enable a contact center to handle all the channels through which customer interactions with the organization are routed and acted upon. The contact center continues to need to handle telephony, of course, as this remains a channel that carries a significant portion of interactions. But new channels continue to be added to the interaction mix. With the advent of cloud computing, enabling systems and technologies to be managed on the Internet rather than on the premises of an organization, contact centers can be established and interaction channels can be added and configured far more easily.

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Topics: Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Experience, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization

AI in Business: Hypocrisy and Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 6, 2018 8:17:26 AM

We now are well beyond the year depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a cinematic perspective on the future of artificial intelligence in which HAL 9000, a computer, is able to simulate human behavior and control machines. Anyone reviewing the past two years of marketing around AI in the business technology industry can be forgiven for believing that we have arrived at the futuristic state Stanley Kubrick imagined. We have not.

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Topics: Analytics, business intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Internet of Things, Mobile, Big Data, Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Optimization, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization, digital technology, collaboration for business, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing

GDPR: Business or Technology Vendors Ready or Not?

Posted by Mark Smith on May 11, 2018 8:36:25 AM

We are have arrived at the May 25, 2018 date when the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) become enforceable, following what has been a two-year transition period. Companies were given this time to put in place reasonable measures and the systems necessary to support the legislation’s wide-ranging personal data privacy requirements, which apply to any organization with more than 250 employees that serves EU citizens. While this regulation will apply in the EU, it has implications for any organization in the world that provides services involving the personal data of any EU citizen.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Internet of Things, Mobile, Big Data, Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Customer Experience, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, digital technology, collaboration for business, Cybersecurity, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, mobile marketing, Sales

Beyond Digital Transformation: Effective Technology Innovation in 2018

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2018 12:55:31 AM

Advancing the potential of any business requires continuous improvement in the processes and technology that support it. Many companies have embraced attempts at a digital transformation, and it’s become a goal to which organizational resources and budgets have been dedicated around the globe.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Internet of Things, Mobile, Big Data, Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Optimization, Machine Learning, Customer Experience, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization, digital technology, collaboration for business, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Marketing Performance Management, Pricing and Promotion Management, Product Information Management, Office of Finance, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales

Broken Analytics and BI? Natural Language and Notifications Can Help

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 15, 2017 11:43:52 PM

If we look at the focus of technology vendors for analytics and business intelligence or business applications providers deploying these capabilities in the last five years, we see that they have elevated the importance on the value of visualization and dashboards. These promotions might be understandable, but will they make business and the people using them more intelligent?

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Topics: Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, data science, Mobile, Machine Learning, digital technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2017 2:02:52 AM

More than a year ago I wrote from personal experience about the challenges our firm encountered with Salesforce’s cloud computing systems and customer service and if we can trust them for business in the cloud. That perspective covered a range of issues that the behemoth cloud computing applications and platform company is facing regarding its service and technology. While Salesforce has shifted its customers like us and others to a different cloud computing environment, as it did in moving us off its #NA14 cloud computing instance, core challenges of its customer experience and billing processes persist. After the last customer experience incident, I contacted its executives about the need for operational improvement; it was clear in the dialogue that they saw some but not all of our experience as issues important to improving its customer processes. It was good to get some immediate attention, but my hope was to speak for all SMB companies in pointing out the importance of effective communications and escalating notifications and interactions when those customer moments go sour, so the customer isn’t forced to turn to social media to be heard. This was an area where Salesforce had significant room for improvement in customer engagement, reflecting a pattern we see in our benchmark research, which finds the most common challenges in almost half of organizations are integration of channels of engagement and managing activities as silos.

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Topics: Analytics, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Product Information Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Sales, Digital Commerce, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Performance Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration

Compensation Management Software Vendors Evaluated in Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on May 22, 2017 8:22:32 AM

Compensation and the processes and systems to support it are at the center of success in every organization, as I have noted recently. In our view, an investment in total compensa­tion management software is a strategic step toward advancing human capital management. Our benchmark research on this topic found some prog­ress in attitudes about mod­ern­izing compensation practices. Almost three-fourths (72%) of organizations said that it is important or very important to have a total compensation management system rather than a piecemeal approach. Moreover, nearly half (49%) told us they are confident or very confident that their organization currently manages its compensation processes effectively.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, HRMS, Learning Management, Payroll Optimization, Work and Resource Management, Workforce Management, Office of Finance, ERP and Continuous Accounting