Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives provide unique fact-based insights and education on business, industry and technology vendor trends. Each Analyst Perspective presents the voice of the analyst, typically a practice leader and established subject matter expert,  reporting on new developments, the findings of benchmark research, market shifts and best practice insights. Each Analyst Perspective is prepared in accordance with Ventana Research’s strict standards for accuracy and objectivity and reviewed to ensure it delivers reliable, actionable news and insights.  

NewVoiceMedia Advance Cloud-Based Contact Center Technology

Recently NewVoiceMedia announced that it has raised $50 million to fund its growth. The company was founded in 2000 in the U.K., initially offering call management and routing as cloud-based systems. Until then, most companies built their contact centers using on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) or automated call distributor (ACD) call management systems, with on-premises call routing and business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM). Some companies offered off-premises business application services, and salesforce.com had just begun to push its CRM in the cloud offering.

My first direct contact with NewVoiceMedia was at the London Call Center Expo in 2011. There, to my astonishment, five minutes after stepping into its booth, I had been set up as an agent on its contact center in the cloud and was receiving support calls on my mobile phone. This was something that had taken days, if not weeks, on centers I had helped to build. Earlier this year, it went one step further, and using the latest versions of its products, it now can create a complete multichannel contact center in a matter of hours.

This new funding allows it to accelerate the company’s international expansion, develop its portfolio of true cloud solutions and strengthen its infrastructure, sales, marketing and professional services capability in North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA. All of these are important for the company to continue its financial success and compete in what is now a highly competitive market. At this year’s Contact Center Expo in San Diego, there were 16 vendors demonstrating contact center in the cloud services, and  several more were not at the show. Not all of them offer the same services, but all position themselves as offering contact centers in the cloud.

NewVoiceMedia now offers two products, ContactWorld for Sales and Marketing and ContactWorld for Service. These support similar capabilities that have been extended from the original call management and routing to include call recording, click-to-dial, pop-up screens, outbound caller identification, dynamic routing based on caller ID or CRM data, ContactWorld Connect and reporting. ContactWorld for Service also includes post-call customer surveys and has been expanded to handle multiple channels of communication. From day one, NewVoiceMedia has had a close relationship with salesforce.com so it not surprising to see that some of the latest funding came from salesforce.com. The two companies continue to work closely together to provide tight integration between the two products, including Salesforce1 mobile integration, and joint sales efforts, which going forward are likely to help it win more sales.

vr_CCC_actions_to_improve_customer_interaction_updatedOur benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows that two of the biggest problems companies face in providing consistent multichannel customer engagement are that communication channels are managed separately (by 47% of companies) and there is little coordination between business units (in 33%).Our research on the contact center in the cloud also shows that a large percentage of companies plan to address these issues by adopting applications in the cloud (63%) and communications technology in the cloud (44%). There is no doubt in my mind that consumers will keep changing their communication habits, so more companies will need to ensure they provide superior multichannel customer engagement. This will expand across the enterprise, and more business units will need integrated management of multiple types of interaction. This demand is beyond the capability of on-premises centers and bodes well for companies that offer cloud-based services. The latest round of funding should help NewVoiceMedia invest in new product capabilities that meet market expectations and expand its global presence. If you want to examine contact center in the cloud applications, take a look at NewVoiceMedia.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director


Ventana Research Rates Total Compensation Management Software in 2014 Value Index

Now available from Ventana Research is our Value Index on Total Compensation Management for 2014.  Total compensation management directly addresses one of an organization’s largest investments – employee pay. As such it is a critical activity for supporting other human capital management and talent management processes.

VR_TCM_VI_2014Our Value Indexes are informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. For each we perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. In this case the resulting index gauges the value offered by each vendor and its products in supporting total compensation management, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and managing its largest controllable expense.

Total compensation management has evolved significantly over the four plus years in which we have published a Value Index on the topic. From both conversations with reference customers for this report and analysis from our benchmark research on this topic we conclude that it is still evolving as practice in organizations today. The research shows that spreadsheets are still the primary tool for compensation planning in one out of four (26%) organizations and used often by an additional one-third (35%). But it also shows that others use stand-alone compensation management products and still others have integrated the process and technology within a human capital management application suite. Regarding the latter our benchmark research shows that three in four (76%) participating organizations said that it is important or very important to have compensation management and talent management systems integrated; in addition lack of integration to talent management is the most widespread impediment to successful compensation management, selected by two-third (66%) of participants.

For compensation management to be fully effective in today’s organizations it also must include several next-generation technologies in use in other parts of human capital management. The most important of these is analytics that help managers make better compensation decisions. The increasing importance of compensation analytics is evident in our human capital analytics benchmark research, which reveals that the metric most often used by executives (75%) today is compensation.

Mobility and collaboration are becoming important to total compensation management.  Mobile capabilities are found in six of the compensation management products we reviewed for the Value Index; our human capital analytics research reveals growing adoption: one-third  of companies are using mobile technology for these analytics today, and more than half (52%) intend to use it. Collaboration, though less widely adopted, is important in larger organizations to enable managers in various roles to comment on the correct total compensation for their employees.

The 2014 edition of the Total Compensation Management Value Index evaluated both products that are part of a larger suite of talent management products, which was the most common type, and others that stand alone. In general, we find several benefits to a suite. Among them are analytics integrated with other talent management applications, a common user experience and centralized administration, which make ownership and adoption somewhat easier for the customer.

TCM_2014_Weighted_OverallAmong the compensation management products we evaluated, all cover core compensation management of salaries or hourly wages as well as merit pay, bonus pay and some kinds of incentive pay. Functionally, the differences among the nine products appear in areas such as support for complex plan rules, the number of geographies covered and the ability to support various types of compensation plans (for example, focal vs. anniversary plans) as well as the implementation of next-generation technologies. Some products offer more effective application management tools and better product documentation for support and business case development. While we recognize that some organizations may need only basic salary or hourly wage capabilities, we believe that many organizations with 1,000 or more employees will require more advanced functionality.  Therefore we based our overall assessment partly on the array of capabilities that comprise total compensation management.

Based on these evaluation criteria, the top vendor in our 2014 Total Compensation Management Value Index is SAP SuccessFactors, followed closely by PeopleFluent. This finish mirrored the ratings in the 2012 Total Compensation Value Index. Eight of the nine vendors in this year’s Value Index we rated Hot; this close grouping indicates the general maturity of this market. In this year’s Value Index following the two leaders are those also rated Hot who are: Oracle, Towers Watson, beqom, IBM, Decusoft and SumTotal Systems, and then ADP who was rated Warm. Two new vendors to this Value Index are Decusoft and Towers Watson, and then beqom who was previously known as Excentive.

In today’s competitive business and employment environment, more companies see compensation as a differentiator for their employer brand and want technology that can help them advance their compensation programs to attract and retain top talent. Next-generation technologies such as mobility and analytics enable employees to understand the total value of their compensation packages. As compensation plans become more complex, the need for capabilities like integrated budgeting and modeling become greater so finance departments can ensure that plans adhere to budgets. Furthermore, integrating compensation and performance management, as well as other key talent management applications, helps businesses judge and motivate their top performers. If these critical issues affect the performance of your own business, I urge you to utilize our 2014 Total Compensation Management Value Index for insights on how to address them most effectively.

Regards,

Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director


Oracle Customer Experience in the Cloud

vr_NGCE_Research_01_impetus_for_improving_engagementOracle has a large and diverse set of products and now has most of its business applications operating in the private and public cloud. However, some recent acquisitions have enabled it to focus on cloud-based-products for managing the customer experience. Our next generation customer engagement research has found that customer experience is the top impetus for improving customer engagement as found by almost three quarters (74%) of organizations. Oracle has created a customer experience suite that includes marketing, commerce, service, sales, CPQ and social cloud. In particular the acquisition of RightNow has become the foundation of Oracle Service Cloud.

Service Cloud is a collection of products built on a common platform : Web Customer ServiceCross Channel Contact CenterKnowledge Management and Policy Automation. Each of these also has several components; for example, Web Customer Service is made up of Web self-service, Social self-service, E-mail support, Live chat, Virtual Assistant, and Smart engagement.  Self-service enables companies to build self-service Web pages which can be accessed on a laptop or a mobile device and can have embedded access to live help (a chat session) if customers need it. Virtual Assistant goes one step further and uses a rules-based engine to initiate a chat session based on the customer’s profile and data entered into the website, in order to provide more contextual responses. It can also be set up to automatically send a link to a document or send out a survey. All three cases make engagement more proactive and potentially more relevant to the customer.

Social self-service supports Facebook-like capabilities that enable companies to collaborate with customers, share information, or create and operate a closed social forum to, for example, gain input for product improvement initiatives. Live chat and Oracle RightNow Cobrowse Cloud Service provides extensions to Virtual Assistant and allows the agent and the customer to browse Web pages together. E-mail support provides standard email management capabilities but is linked with Virtual Assistant to provide more personalized responses; it also includes escalations and workflows to ensure that any required actions are carried out. Smart engagement pulls many of these capabilities together so companies can build guides that walk users through resolving issues, modifying the steps in real time as data is entered.

Oracle has built most of these capabilities on the original RightNow products. According to Oracle, customers can choose only those they need, which means customers and prospects have to understand exactly their business needs and carefully evaluate which products meet vr_NGCE_Research_09_plans_for_customer_engagement_systemsthose needs but there are so many products making it hard to find what you are looking for and understand all the capabilities. And Customer Service is only one-quarter of the customer experience portfolio. Cross Channel Contact Center is not a contact center in the usual sense. Its focus is systems to manage the operations of a contact center, as opposed to managing communications. Cross-Channel Contact Center does include integration capabilities to these technologies; it can, for instance, collect records of interactions that can be used in subsequent analysis and processes. It consists of nine components: Case Management, Guided Resolution, Social Engagement, Customer Engagement, Analytics, Telephony Control, Unified Agent Desktop and Mobile Desktop. Case Management is not for managing service cases but provides intelligent management of interaction queues; for example, it uses rules to route interactions to the agent mostly likely to meet a customer’s expectations. Guided Resolution enables development of scripts and prompts to guide agents through the process of resolving issues. Social Engagement allows companies to monitor social media activities and proactively reach out to help customers find information or resolve issues. Customer Engagement is what many people think of as customer feedback management; it uses rules to solicit customer feedback. Analytics provides canned reports and analysis, and capabilities that allow users to build their own to gain insights from a variety of customer data including across channels of interactions. Telephony Control provides integration with on-premises or cloud-based telephony management systems so that agents can manage calls from their desktop. Unified Desktop has development and integration tools so that companies can build a unified desktop that enables agents to access systems from a single desktop. Finally Mobile Desktop untethers the desktop from a laptop and allows any authorized user to access contact center systems from their smart devices. Mobile was one of the top areas planned for improving customer engagement (41%) as is analytics (38%) that can operate across channels.

Knowledge Management basically supports the end-to-end process of managing creation, distribution and access of content so the same content can be used by all the other systems, and Policy Management basically supports the end-to-end process of managing a company’s policies.

vr_NGCE_Research_08_systems_to_improve_customer_engagementThe Oracle CX portfolio consists of many products that support a very wide range of capabilities. It is true that customer experience management is not simple and requires multiple capabilities. My benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that to improve customer engagement companies have invested and today use a variety of systems; chief among them are CRM (48%), performance management (44%), business process management (43%) and Web-based self-service (39%). The same research also shows more companies looking for cloud-based systems (29%) and mobile systems (63%). My concerns about the Oracle portfolio is that it might be too broad and too complex for any but large organizations to understand; smaller companies with fewer resources might get lost trying work out exactly what they need. This is most likely a consequence of Oracle having to bring together various products from acquisitions. I suspect the same is also true in the naming of some of the products. For example, Web Customer Service doesn’t adequately reflect the capabilities it supports and Cross Channel Contact Center isn’t what many companies think of as a contact center. Companies that make the effort to work through these concerns will find many capabilities that are required to support what I call the omni-customer experience in which customers find it easy to engage with the company and receive personalized, contextual and consistent responses no matter what channel they use or who they interact with. Oracle has a robust portfolio of applications and technology for customer experience, just might take you a little longer to assess the portfolio and approaches.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director


 

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