4 items tagged "SaaS"

  • Forrester’s Top Trends For Customer Service In 2016

    It’s a no-brainer that good customer service experiences boost satisfaction, loyalty, and can influence top line revenue. Good service — whether it’s to answer a customer’s question prior to purchase, or help a customer resolve an issue post-purchase should be easy, effective, and strive to create an emotional bond between the customer and the company. Here are 5 top trends – out of a total of 10 – that I am keeping my eye on. A full report highlighting all trends can be found here:

    Trend 1: Companies Will Make Self Service Easier. In 2015, we found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels, which are increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer harder questions whose answers they can’t find online. In 2016, customer service organizations will make self-service easier for customers to use by shoring up its foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy. They will start to explore virtual agents and communities to extend the reach of curated content. They will start embedding knowledge into devices — like Xerox does with its printers — or delivering it via wearables to a remote service technician.

    Trend 2: Field Service Will Empower Customers To Control Their Time. 73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service — whether on a call, in a chat, or while waiting for a service technician to troubleshoot and fix their product. In 2016, customer service organizations will better support customer journeys that start with an agent-assisted service interaction and end with a service call. They will explore lighter-weight field service management capabilities, which give customers self-service appointment management capabilities and allow agents to efficiently dispatch technicians and optimize their schedules.

    Trend 3: Prescriptive Advice Will Power Offers, Decisions, And Connections. Decisioning — automatically deciding a customer’s or system’s next action — is starting to be heavily leveraged in customer service. In 2016, organizations will use analytics in a much more prescriptive manner – for example to prescribe the right set of steps for customers or agents to more effectively service customers; to correlate online behavior with requests for service and prescribe changes to agent schedules and forecasts. Analytics will be used to better route a customer to an agent who can most effectively answer a question based on skills and behavior data, or to better understand customer call patterns and preempt future calls.

    Trend 4: Insights From Connected Devices Will Trigger Preemptive Service and Turn Companies Into Services-Based Ones. Companies use support automation to preemptively diagnose and fix issues for connected devices. For example, Tesla Motors pushes software patches to connected cars. Nintendo monitors devices to understand customer actions right before the point of failure. In 2016, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to transform companies from being products-based to services-based . Examples abound where companies are starting to monitor the state of equipment via IoT, and realizing new streams of revenue because of their customer-centric focus. To make the business model of IoT work, companies must keep a close eye on emerging interoperability standards: device-to-network connectivity, data messaging formats that work under constrained network conditions, and data models to aggregate, connect with contact center solutions, and act on the data via triggers, alerts to service personnel or automated actions.

    Trend 5: The Customer Service Technology Ecosystem Will Consolidate. The customer service process involves complex software that falls into three main categories: queuing and routing technologies, customer relationship management (CRM) customer service technologies, and workforce optimization technologies. You need to use solutions from each of these three software categories, which you must integrate to deliver quality customer service. We believe that the combination of: 1) mature software categories in which vendors are struggling with growth opportunities; 2) the rise of robust software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions in each category; 3) rising buyer frustration; and 4) the increasing importance of delivering simpler and smarter customer service makes for ripe conditions for further consolidation to happen in the marketplace, This consolidation will make it easier for buyers to support the end-to-end customer service experience with a single set of vendor solutions.

    Source: customer think

  • Four Drivers of Successful Business Intelligence

    BICompanies across industries face some very common scenarios when it comes to getting the most value out of data. The life science industry is no exception. Sometimes a company sets out to improve business intelligence (BI) for a brand, division or functional area. It spends many months or years and millions of dollars to aggregate all of the data it thinks it needs to better measure performance and make smart business decisions only to yield more data. In another familiar scenario, a team identifies critical questions the BI system can't answer. Again, months and millions go into development. But by the time the system goes live, market and/or company conditions have changed so much that the questions are no longer relevant.

    Building Better Business Intelligence Systems
    Today's challenges cannot be met by throwing more dollars into the marketing budget or by building more, or bigger, data warehouses. Ultimately, navigating today's complexities and generating greater value from data isn't about more, it's about better. The good news is that other industries have demonstrated the power and practicality of analytics at scale. Technology has evolved to overcome fragmented data and systems. We are now observing a real push in life sciences for a BI capability that's smarter and simpler.

    So how do we build better business intelligence platforms? In working with life sciences companies around the globe, IMS Health has observed a recurring journey with three horizons of business intelligence maturity: alignment of existing KPIs, generation of superior insights and customer-centric execution (see Figure 1).

    What does it take to advance in business intelligence maturity?
    No matter where a company currently stands, there are four fundamental steps that drive BI success: the ability to align business and information management strategy, improving information management systems integration and workflow, engineering BI systems to derive more value and insights from data, and making the most of new cloud computing technologies and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models for delivery.

    Step 1: Align Business and Information Management Strategy
    Many IT and business leaders recognize that the traditional "build it and they will come" mentality can no longer sustain future growth in agile and cost-efficient ways. To be successful, companies need to focus upfront on developing an information management strategy that begins with the business in mind. Through a top-down and upfront focus on critical business goals, drivers and pain points, companies can ensure that key insights are captured to drive development of commercial information management strategies that align with prioritized business needs. Leading organizations have achieved success via pilot-and-prove approaches that focus on business value at each step of the journey. To be successful, the approach must be considered in the context of the business and operational strategies.

    Step 2: Improving Information Management Systems Integration and Workflow
    Although technology systems and applications have proliferated within many organizations, they often remained siloed and sub-optimized. Interoperability is now a key priority and a vehicle for optimizing commercial organizations-improving workflow speed, eliminating conflicting views of the truth across departments and paring down vendor teams managing manual data handoffs. Information and master data management systems must be integrated to deliver an integrated view of the customer. When optimized, these systems can enable advanced BI capabilities ranging from improved account management and evolved customer interactions (i.e. account-based selling and management, insights on healthcare networks and relationships with influencers and KOLs) to harnessing the power of big data and demonstrating value to all healthcare stakeholders.

    Step 3: Engineering BI Systems to Derive More Value and Insights from Data
    Life sciences companies compete on the quality of their BI systems and their ability to take action in the marketplace. Yet existing analytics systems often fail to deliver value to end users. Confusing visualizations, poorly designed data queries and gaps in underlying data are major contributors in a BI solution's inability to deliver needed insights.

    By effectively redesigning BI applications, organizations can gain new insights and build deeper relationships with customers while maximizing performance. Effective BI tools can also help to optimize interventions and the use of healthcare resources. They can drive post-marketing research by unearthing early signals of value for investigation, help companies better engage and deliver value to their customers and contribute to improve patient outcomes. This information can advance the understanding of how medicine is practiced in the real world-from disease prevention through diagnosis, treatment and monitoring.

    Step 4: Making the Most of New Cloud Computing Technologies and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Models for Delivery
    Chief information officers (CIOs) are increasingly looking to adopt cloud technologies in order to bring the promise of technology to commercialization and business intelligence activities. They see the potential value of storing large, complex data sets, including electronic medical records and other real-world data, in the cloud. What's more, cloud companies have taken greater responsibility for maintaining government-compliant environments for health information.

    New cloud-based BI applications are fueling opportunities for life sciences companies to improve delivery of commercial applications, including performance management, advanced analytics, sales force automation, master data management and the handling of large unstructured data streams. As companies continue their journey toward BI maturity, getting the most from new technologies will remain a high priority. Leveraging cloud-based information management and business intelligence platforms will bring tremendous benefits to companies as approaches are revised amidst changing customer demands and an urgent need for efficiency.

    The Way Forward
    While each organization's journey will be unique, advancing in business intelligence maturity-and getting more value from data - can be achieved by all with these four steps. It's time for BI that's smarter and simpler and that realizes greater value from data. With focus and precision-and the support of business and technology experts-companies can hone in on the key indicators and critical questions that measure, predict and enhance performance.

    Source: ExecutiveInsight

  • How to Buy Business Intelligence Software

    When someone mentions Business Intelligence (BI), it’s possible that they’re referring to a number of different things. Generally, BI is a broad umbrella term that refers to software applications that are used to analyze raw data. Functions can include data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.
     
    Most importantly, BI tools can help improve your decision making, cut costs and identify new business opportunities. When companies are looking for a way to improve their reports, BI is the way to go.
     
    The problem is, with so many different software options available and every company using BI to fill a slightly different need, you need a way to really figure out how to buy the best BI system for your company.
     
    We interviewed representatives from three different companies to get their perspectives on the importance of business intelligence, how to find the right software and what factors to consider when making the decision.
     
    Why Do You Need BI?
    Let’s start with a bit of background on the evolution of the landscape of business intelligence software. As analytics have gotten more complex and data sets have gotten larger, companies have become far more reliant on their IT department to run complex reports that require training to complete. Because of this, a bottleneck begins to occur as the need for analysis starts to exceed the speed at which they can be completed.
     
    For growing SaaS companies, this problem is even more critical because most cannot afford a large IT department but still need the same level of analysis to track their metrics. The rise of business intelligence tools as a method of “democratizing information access” has given sales reps and analysts the ability to analyze data themselves. This allows anyone within the company to use numbers rather than just theories, to back up business reports and decisions.
     
    “The Business Intelligence and Analytics market is in the final stages of a multiyear shift from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to pervasive, business-led, self-service analytics. Organizations will continue to transition to easy-to-use, fast, agile, and trusted modern BI&A platforms deployed across the enterprise to create business value from deeper insights into diverse data sources.”
    —Rita Sallam, Research VP, Gartner
     
    As a group that is willing to embrace any tool that helps them do their job better, the next group of BI users are salespeople.
     
    How Do you know you’re ready for BI?
    Investing in a BI software is a big commitment, both monetarily and time-wise to train your reps to use the software. Before you start looking into what software to buy, you should be sure that your standard analytics software has reached these thresholds and is no longer powerful enough to give you the insights you need.
     
    For Catalant, a marketplace that connects businesses with independent experts around the world, a combination of factors convinced them that it was time to invest in a BI solution. Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops at Catalant, spoke to us about how Catalant reached a point where they wanted to scale the team and grow the business, and they wanted a reporting tool that would help rapidly onboard salespeople and act as an engine of scalable growth.
     
    “I think the biggest challenge for someone who is running an organization that is growing rapidly, is the requests for analytics start coming in hot and fast. If you’re not building for scalability in terms of automated reporting instead of building in Excel, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of trouble.”
    –Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops, Catalant
     
    Depending on how your company is structured, reaching any of these thresholds may be enough to warrant the need to consider a BI solution:
    • IT has become a bottleneck. You should not be limited by the speed at which your technicians can run analysis. If your reps find themselves waiting on reports to come through because your current solution requires a lot of IT expertise to use, it’s time to look for a faster solution that everyone can use.
    • You have too much data, but not enough information. Your analytics should be taking advantage of every aspect of the data you’re gathering to give you a full view of your company. If you find that you’re monitoring and gathering tons of data, but that you don’t know how to make sense of it or aren’t using it to find out what improvements are needed, you should be upgrading to a system that can make use of all your data.
    • You have data coming in from multiple sources, but joining them is a pain. It’s likely that you have more than one source of data input, depending on how your company is set up. Your analytics software should easily pool this data into one location and convert it into a format that’s ready for analysis. If you find yourself dreading joining data from different sources and wasting lots of time finding ways to do so, it’s time to upgrade.
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    • You’re wasting time modifying your software to prepare reports, rather than actually planning for the future. Your analytics software should be able to put together the reports you need to answer your business questions without much need for modification or programming. If you find yourself trying to create the reports you need instead of actually conducting the analysis, you should find a software that provides the reports you need.
    • Your competition always seems to be one step ahead and you can’t figure out why. In the competitive world of SaaS, if you start falling even a little bit behind, you’ll find that you’ll also start losing potential customers to competitors. If you start noticing that you can’t seem to scale fast enough to keep up, the right BI software can give you that edge to stay competitive.
    How Do You Find the Right BI Software?
    When looking for new software, the first thing that Brian Hernandez, Business Operations Manager at web and mobile analytics platform Amplitude does is to define his requirements.
     
    “I think about what problems we’re trying to solve and then put these together in a rank order in terms of what is most important in terms of capability. Once you develop the high level requirements, then you can go out and research what companies are doing this type of work.”
    –Brian Hernandez, Business Operations Manager, Amplitude
     
    The most important thing going into finding the right BI software is to have a plan. Every company will need BI for a different reason and will have a different use for it, but it’s crucial that you first have a full understanding of what business processes you hope to improve before you even begin your search.
     
    There are a couple things to consider when deciding what you want your BI system to do and how it can help improve your company:
    • Choose a business process that has a direct impact on revenue. You want to make sure you’re making an investment that will have direct returns. This process should also be standardized across the company so as to have the most impact.
    • Determine how you want information presented. Ultimately you want to present information in a way that your execs can use to easily facilitate confident and rapid decision making. Analyze how your company makes decisions and how you want information collected, analyzed and published to determine what sort of reporting to look for.
    • Make sure there’s a good onboarding process. Just as much as the BI system needs to fit your company, your team also needs to be properly and effectively trained in how to use it. Make sure to avoid any user resistance with an onboarding process that gives a thorough look into the software.
    How Do You Conduct the Evaluation?
    Now that you’ve got your high-level requirements and the problems you’re looking to solve, you need to start collating, then whittling down your list of potential software. It’s likely that as soon as you start your search, you’ll be quickly bombarded by marketing teams trying to reel you into buying their product. By keeping your goals front-of-mind and following these steps, you’ll be sure you’re making the best choice for the company and not just jumping at the best deal.
     
    Step 1: Collate A List of Possibilities By Use Case
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    To start putting together a list of potential software, you should be making your choices based on the use case each tool is best fit to address.
     
    Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that as your BI tool becomes more integral to your company, it will likely start addressing more than one use case so you should also be looking for BI product suites that support combinations of different BI styles.
    • Use Case: Quick Guided Analysis. This type of software is for the companies that want to give sales reps and analysts the ability to create recurring snapshots of performance without needing to constantly bug a developer every time a report is due. Some software may even allow for limited exploration of the data to do a bit of further analysis. However this software is limited by the need for a consistent set of accurate data, and end users can’t create their own data visualizations or bring in more data sources without the help of a developer.
    • Use Case: Guided Analysis with Integration. Similar to the previous case, this software also requires a consistent set of accurate data, but now comes packaged with the ability to integrate with multiple data sources or enterprise operations systems. This allows your team to use this BI system in tandem with other tools they may already be familiar with and comfortable using.
    • Use Case: Self-Service Analysis and Personalized Reports. This is the most flexible and powerful use case, but also requires your end users to be fairly self-sufficient. Users have the ability to bring in data from any source, do intensive data exploration and create advanced visualizations but require the proper training to fully utilize all the possibilities available to them.
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    Step 2: Whittle Down Your List Based on Features And Functions
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    With your list of potential software in hand, it’s time to start narrowing it down to the choices that not only fit your use case, but also offer the specific features and functions you’re looking for. For Catalant, real-time visibility was one of their deciding factors.
     
    “I think the key to having an effective sales strategy and the sales analytics to support that is having close to, if not real time visibility into the performance of your salespeople. Having this insight into the health of your funnel and into your performance across different segments will keep your company ahead.”
    –Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops, Catalant
     
    You can simplify the process of narrowing down your list by classifying each feature or function of interest as “must-have”, “nice-to-have” or “will-not-use”.
    • Must-have: This classification is very black or white. If a software doesn’t have this feature, then it’s immediately eliminated. Examples include: various data sources, web-based client user interface, dynamic in-memory connection to database.
    • Nice-to-have: These are the features that will set apart the good options from the great ones. They will help you tip the scales in favor of one option or another. Examples include: context-based filters, social interaction, performance monitoring.
    • Will-not-use: Often, the BI software you’re looking at will have a long list of features that you may never use. These can be ignored during your evaluation. Sometimes, too many features in this category may even make a software less attractive if you will find yourself cherry-picking the useful parts of a software.
    Step 3: Make Your Choice Only After First Using The Product
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    Even if you think you’ve found the perfect product, you should never make a purchase without first using the product. Ask for a demo or free trial version that you can use to get a feel for how the software works. This way you can have your sales teams use the product and get input from the people who will actually use it.
     
    For Amplitude, free trials really make products stand out during the evaluation process.
     
    “Sales cycles have been really quick for vendors that have been able to demonstrate value on our real data, as opposed to working out of a sandbox or dummy data,” says Hernandez, “We really appreciate when the company has minimized the time it takes for us to realize the value of their offer.”
    –Brian Hernandez, Business Operations Manager, Amplitude
     
    As a BI tool themselves, Clearbit has discovered the power of free product marketing.
     
    “We give free trials for everything we offer,” says Sornson, “This gives customers a chance to really use the product.”
    –Matt Sornson, Growth Manager, Clearbit
     
    The Right Software Can Make All the Difference
    For a company like Catalant, switching to a BI tool allowed them to focus on actually analyzing the data they were collecting, rather than wasting time trying to put together the reports.
     
    “When I think about how difficult it would be to do the things I can do with Slate in say, Excel, it’s mind blowing. It would normally take me probably two hours a week to marry our Salesforce data with non-Salesforce source data in Excel. With Slate, I can set it up once and have it run on a recurring basis whenever I need it.”
    –Jack Montgomery, Head of Sales Ops, Catalant
     
    Now that you have your BI software, it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t just magically fix all of your problems. In fact, you’ve only just taken the first step. Make sure that you’re implementing it correctly and taking the time to sufficiently train your end users so that everyone can realize the full value of your investment.
     
    Source: business2community.com, December 16, 2016
  • The acceptence of business cloudapplications is increasing

    Half of company offices say that they use application software from the Cloud. This means that the use of Cloud applications has risen by almost 20% over the last 24 months. The use of applications from the public Cloud is highest in the education sector by a considerable distance. Learning environments and student administration systems are largely Cloud applications, so penetration of Cloud applications is rapidly heading for 100% in this sector. The construction sector still seems to be the most reserved, with only 29% of locations using applications from the Cloud. This has emerged from an analysis by Computer Profile of 6,000 interviews conducted with IT managers from Dutch company offices with at least 50 employees. The Cloud definition used is based on applications from the public Cloud.

    SaaS development

    Segmentation according to extent (employee category) shows that the centre of gravity in the use of Cloud applications is amongst company locations with about 200 employees. The fact is that with 50 to 100 employees penetration is at 42.6%, with  100 to 200 at 52.7%, with 200 to 500 at 49%, with 500 to 1,000 at 48.5%, and 38% at locations with over 1,000 employees.

    Cloud applications are often HR and Office

    For each application listed by Computer Profile we asked whether or not it was a solution from the public Cloud, a hosted or private Cloud solution, or whether the application still operates on premises within one’s own organisation. If we look at the total of public Cloud solutions which we encountered, it emerges that the biggest share of current public Cloud applications is still an HR solution (26.2%). Branch-specific applications form about 24% of Cloud applications  (vertical 15% + e-learning 5%). The share that Office takes up from the Cloud has increased considerably in comparison with a year ago and forms the third biggest group of Cloud applications with about 23%.

    SaaS types
    If we look at the spread of public Cloud applications, we see that of all company offices (>= 50 employees) about 22% say that they use an HR solution from the Cloud. One year ago, that figure was still 18% and two years ago it was 14%. Office applications from the Cloud are used in over 20% of company offices, a strong increase as compared 12.5% in 2014 and 8.4% in 2013. This increase is accounted for mainly by the increased use of Office 365 from Microsoft. CRM software from the public Cloud is in use amongst 6% of the company offices in the 50+ segment. The majority are Salesforce.com applications followed by Microsoft CRM online and Oracle . Both document management systems and financial applications from the Cloud are found amongst about 6% of company locations.

    Suppliers of Cloud applications

    Microsoft is the most popular vendor of public Cloud solutions. Applications from this maker are used by 17.5% of all company offices. This comes about because Microsoft has several irons in the fire in the field of Cloud applications. The use of Office 365 continues to rise, but in addition Microsoft also supplies Exchange solutions from the Cloud, Share Point and Dynamics. Cloud solutions from RAET are used by 8% of locations and  Schoolmaster by 6.3%. All other vendors are found at no more than 6% of locations.

    Cloud vendors

    Source: computerprofile.com, December 23, 2016

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