Has The Age of George Jetson IoT Time Come? Alex Was the Star of CES

Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is the software that allows owners to control compatible devices with their voice. From the various  reports it was estimated there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at CES. And the Amazon / Alexa logo was everywhere at CES.

Is the Age of George Jetson here? In a smart home, everything from the the HVAC to the TV to window shades can be controlled. However it’s not easy to really have a whole house of Artificial Intelligence (AI) controlled devices. Why? Many of the IoT-enabled devices don’t talk to other devices if they are made by different manufacturers. Opps! The IoT world awaits THE killer app, like Apple Homekit or Google Home. We are still waiting for them to provide all encompassing, unified smart “home.”

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker controlled with your voice. It connects to the Alexa Voice Service to provide information, news, play music, report on sports scores, deliver weather reports… The uses for AVS and Alexa are limited only by your imagination.

When something is connected to Alexa, the device instantly becomes pseudo-interoperable. Interoperable technology is not an evolutionarily stable strategy for most IoT manufacturers. Interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged to do something.

What CES showed us is that voice control seems to be the unifying app for IoT. And Alexa is the biggest name in voice control. Smart devices are generally controlled with apps. If there is an app to control the smart device, the app allows AVS to directly control the smart device. So you could say, “Alexa, tell Crestron I’d like to turn the lights on in the bedroom” (for your Crestron) or “Alexa, I would like to turn the heat on the downstairs thermostat to 70 degrees” (for your Iris Smart Home System). It’s easy to see the value of voice control in so many ordinary situations. What’s interesting about AVS is that even though Crestron and Iris have nothing to do with one another, you can control them both with your voice.

Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests instantly. Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services through machine learning, regular API updates, feature launches, and custom skills from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK.) The AVS API  is a programming language agnostic service that makes it easy to integrate Alexa into your devices, services, and applications. And it’s free.

And you can create meaningful user experiences for an endless variety of use cases with Alexa Voice Service (AVS); Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service. AVS includes a full range of features, including smart home control, streaming music content, news, timers… and can be added to any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.

But while Alexa has a head start, Google Home, an Echo competitor, is very likely to quickly catch up. Google Home though, works with a completely different set of protocols and has different “awake” words. These are command words that make it pay attention and carry out the request. It seems that we may need to learn to speak to different systems in different ways – perhaps we’ll need lessons in Alexa speak and Google speak as well as and Siri and Cortana speak!

So is the Age of George Jetson here yet? Sort of. What will be interesting is to see if there is a start-up that will pull all of this together so that us regular humans don’t need to become AI experts to connect and use the technology.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications

 

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Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M: Will It Remain Free?

As most acquisitions start out with the “ideal” that the product will remain pristine and nothing will change – it will be interesting to see if the acquisition of Trello by Atlassian will be the norm or the exception. From a business point of view Atlassian paid $425M, so they will want their investment to pay off.

What’s interesting in today’s world is that instead of putting a bunch of developers in a room to develop new software, companies like Atlassian, instead buy a company. This is truly an emerging strategy in product development and one that makes sense with respect to acquiring best of breed. We hope that Atlassian will keep its word and Trello will remain free. Proof is always in the pudding.

Often the story during the press release phase is that “The original folks are going to run it, not the new company!” “Things will stay the same.”

WhatsApp and Waze are both pretty good examples of high profile acquisitions. It’s generally unlikely that it will be the executive team from any start-up that ends up sticking around past whatever agreement they signed with buyer. There’s generally some “golden seatbelt” that requires the start-ups executives to stay for a particular period of time. And once that time is up, its not unpredictable that they leave that because they are “start-up” personalities – meaning they like the start-up phase and not so much the growth and maintenance or innovation phase of a company because their jobs will change and hence their interest.

It really takes four types of entrepreneurs/management to make a start-up successful. First the the start-up folks who like the beginning, ideas flowing, do a lot with a little, the adrenal of “can we do this?”

Second, to have a company grow, it takes people who are really good at R&D and growth strategies, which different often greatly from start-up strategies and tactics.

And third, there are the maintenance executives who are really good a making a company run like a well oiled machine; again very different type of personality traits are required for this.

The fourth stage is now required (it had not been as much a part of management theory in the past. But with technology changing so rapidly, innovation to stay relevant and on top requires people to look outside their comfort zone and understand what’s coming next and how can they innovate and transform their company.) Otherwise the company becomes a dinosaur and dies. We’ve seen plenty of that happening to the likes of Tower Records, Circuit City, etc..

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We all have our beloved start-ups. And many of us have been part of start-ups. What’s true is that we all hope nothing will change. What is also true is that it takes a lot of effort to go beyond the start-up phase into the growth, maintenance and innovation phases. People get tired; they want their initial investment to pay off; and they truly like doing what they do best. And it may not be the other phases of what a company goes through. It’s not fair to ask people, however idealistic it is, to do things they don’t enjoy or are not good at.

Will Trello stay the same? Or will it change as many other acquisitions have, as they got bought or swolled up, and give into the reality of the phases of what it takes for an initial idea to grow into a company? Only time will tell.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationResearch.com

Covering customer-facing applications and innovation

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Facebook Video Ads: What’s the ROI?

With the variety of common products available, often customers want to learn how a product or service works before purchasing. With more and more buyers using mobile devices to shop, 4 out of 5 shoppers say a video showing how a product or service works is important in their decision to purchase or not purchase a product or service. In fact, shoppers report research on mobile devices with visual content helps inform their product selection. As a result, Marketers who use video grow revenue ~49% faster than non-video users. But if a brand is going to use video, understand that shoppers of shoppers expect a consistent set of visual content across desktop and mobile devices.

Where does Facebook come into this equation? Over 100 million hours of video per day are watched on Facebook. (Techcrunch) It is reported that shoppers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers and more than half of the marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

With over 1.5 billion users, ~1 billion users visit Facebook on their mobile device, so brands considering must think mobile first. What sets Facebook apart from its competitors is its unique ability to harvest vast amounts of customer information to create custom audiences, generate leads and build brands. The advantage is that it’s all within a platform that is already known for its engagement opportunity.

Facebook also  rewards advertisers for shares with cheaper views, cheaper clicks, and more impressions. This combination leads to an overall better ROI. The net-net is that retailers & brands should be seriously considering video advertising because advertisers cite a 40 percent increase in purchases as a result of video – specifically in the categories of apparel, home goods, and electronics.

While there seem to be many advantages, some businesses are holding back on video advertising because they feel video is too hard to make, or doesn’t produce conversions the way other ads do. But video content does not need to be difficult to create. There are vendors that make it easy, like Animoto. And attribution to video ads is easier often than TV ads because of the digital footprint.

Brands should also use the analytics Facebook provides and make sure to not waste budget by not segmenting your audience. Segmenting audiences can be done by looking at jobs, life events, relationship status, purchasing behaviors and additional segmenting can be done beyond this, for example geo-location targeting. Without segmenting an audience, marketing risk wasting their ad budget on the wrong audience and not generate the conversions expected.

In addition, as in any advertising, it’s important to include a call-to-action. A call-to-action can be as simple as Book Now for travel, Learn More for addition features on a product, Contact us for more information or Shop Now to be taken to the actual online store or landing page or a click-to-call button. But be careful – a call-to-action without engagement can result in consumers feeling “pushed” vs “pulled” into taking action. Include special offers and time sensitive, last minute deal to motivate consumer to come to a store, call or click.

If Marketers use a click to call button, make sure the contact center is ready to take the calls and knows what the special offers are. Consumers seem to prefer to call than fill out a web form and call convert to revenue 10X more than web leads. That is only true if there is someone at the other end of the phone to take the call intelligently. This means Marketers must ensure the ad copy and landing pages are optimized to drive calls and that they can attribute calls and the outcome to the right ad campaign so you can do more of the right thing and optimize the video marketing.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Facing Applications

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Guest Post: 5 Tech Solutions That Will Help You Exceed Customer Expectations

In a time where the world is more connected through technology and social media, providing excellent customer service is crucial. The reputation of your business is built on its effectiveness, including the customer experience.

Exceeding customer expectations creates loyal customers and it differentiates you from the competition. In addition, word of mouth is now more powerful than ever, as customers can easily share both positive and negative opinions online.

Here are 5 powerful tech solutions that will help you exceed customer expectations and provide exceptional customer service:

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  1. Vision Helpdesk 

Serving businesses of all sizes and levels, Vision Helpdesk is a leading customer support software that comes in 3 different products. There’s the Helpdesk software, which enables customer support agents to receive, process, and respond to service requests. On the other hand, the Satellite Helpdesk software provides a multi-company customer support management solutions.

Additionally, all features from Helpdesk and Satellite Helpdesk combined are provided by the Service Desk software which follows the discipline of IT service management.

Unique features of these software include task management, ticket billing, asset management, and release management. Vision Helpdesk allows you to stay on track as you serve clients, creating a client portal that is convenient for both customer and company.

There are multiple pricing plans offered, varying by the specific software and the hosting plan. Pricing starts at $7 per month to host Helpdesk on your server with a recurring license, or a one-time license for $150.

  1. TeamSupport

This customer support program allows teams to collaborate better by eliminating miscommunications and quickly addressing customer issues. Improving customer communication helps teams handle the customer service process better.

The program has some key unique features that help with the delivery of cohesive customer support. There is ticket automation, which allows support staff to flag messages by word or type. For example, a staff could add a flag for any support request that contains the word “upset” or “frustrated.” This allows the team to prioritize the more urgent requests that need attention.

Another key feature is the Knowledge Base tool. This allows clients to try to solve their own minor issues, which enables support staff to handle bigger challenges that may arise. With TeamSupport, customers can have their needs prioritized and met with efficient responses. Pricing starts from $40 per month.

  1. Office 365 

Another top solution that will help you exceed customer expectations is Office 365. This cloud-based service features a number of different tools that can be beneficial. One of the newly debuted services is Bookings, which allows customers to schedule appointments with a company using online software. This makes a convenient process for customers as it eliminates the need for a phone call.

Dynamics is another Office 365 software tool. The CRM package brings a line of integrated business management solutions that allow your staff to make important business decisions with a greater sense of confidence. Key features of Dynamics include lead management, contact management, and territory management.

Pricing for Office 365 starts from $5/month per user, for the Business Essentials plan. Microsoft Dynamics pricing plans start at $4 per user/month.

  1. Samanage

If your company is seeking a more advanced, user-friendly help desk solution then Samanage is the option for you. Making life easier for both your team and the customer, Samanage has comprehensive functionality that allows you to quickly respond to service requests. This results in improved support for your customers.

The intuitive service desk ensures that your team will deliver exemplary support. Clients use their email or the powerful self-service portal to submit service tickets. Users can even search for a solution independently by using the system’s Knowledge Base.

In addition to submitting a new service ticket, your customers can easily track the status of a pending issue.

Samanage allows for a desk data integration and can be used on the go from any smartphone or tablet with web browsing capabilities. You can experience the convenience and up-to-date reliability of Samanage for an affordable annual subscription based on your software needs.

  1. AmoCRM

AmoCRM allows you to manage your pipeline and sales team. The sales management service is a web-based platform enables businesses to manage customer relationships more effectively. You can directly link platforms such as Facebook, Dropbox, Xero, and Zendesk to AmoCRM.

Valuable features include sales analytics, lead scoring, and email integration. The software supports custom field creation and provides a user-friendly approach to managing your company’ interactions with current and potential customers.

AmoCrm allows you to upload existing customers from contact databases such as Gmail and Outlook. There are also follow-up tasks to keep you up-to-date on meetings and calls, and these are attached to the contact or lead cards.

AmoCRM is free to try and plans start from $15/month.

There are many excellent technological solutions available that help businesses thrive in managing their customer service by maximizing efficiency and enhancing communication. However, technology can only take you so far. In order to provide a stellar customer service, your entire business should be customer-service oriented. Strive to exceed customer expectations whenever you can and this will definitely take your business a long way in terms of longevity and reputation.

 

About the Author:

heather

Heather Redding is an avid reader, freelance writer, coffee snob and a tech enthusiast from Aurora, Illinois. When she is not working, Heather enjoys swimming and hanging out with her friends. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

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Guest Post: Prospering in the E-Commerce Market

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There are many e-commerce stores popping up right, left and center. The online market is like “Perfect Competition” described in economic studies; in perfect competition, there are no barriers toand exit and no single player can influence price. It is very easy to set-up an e-commerce store but with thin margins and cut-throat margins it is very difficult to survive and prosper in this segment. Many e-commerce stores are closing down, and yet at the same time, new big players like Walmart are entering into the market by purchasing websites like Jet.com in multi-dollar deals! Amazon is continuously expanding and is now currently pushing to capture a greater market share in India. The market has potential but only for the most determined. For the small players right now, it is especially a daunting challenge, as the market is in consolidation stage and most of the big players are combing and pushing slower businesses out or buying them out.

So the point comes what can you do for success in the e-commerce world?

  • Digital advertising is the key to success

You need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in online advertising, for it may look easy but it is actually quite challenging. Thanks to the advent of traditional Google ads will no longer cut it. Also charging your credit card on Facebook is also quite the expensive option and you cannot just rely on Facebook alone. So what do you do? You keep abreast of latest trends, for example right now Video ads are one way of getting around ad blockers.

Besides ad-blockers, video ads make more sense. Video consumption across devices has increased thanks to falling data charges in most countries and increasing smartphone and internet penetration.

  • Look inwards

Right now the e-commerce market is cut-throat. You can only maximize margins to a certain level. To stay competitive against giants you need to cut every possible cost. You need to look inwards and see where you can save money. Find a cheaper toll-free number, a cheaper shipping service or find ways to save on packaging. Negotiate better credit periods and see your bank charges and negotiate for each and every cent you can. It is difficult but every cent saved helps to add towards the bottom line.

This is especially a must for start-ups, often being helmed by fresh graduates who also have to worry about paying off their student loans. Every strive and profit you make out of your business not only helps you scale but also helps to get your personal finances in order avoid problems like delayed student loans.

  • Keep track of customer satisfaction rates

Customer satisfaction rates are often treated like a fire putting exercise. They often come into the limelight once sales start to fall. By then, restoring customer satisfaction and restoring goodwill lost becomes an uphill task. All businesses heavily rely on customer satisfaction thus one should keep a constant track it. Monitor your total sales and then draw up a meaningful sample that represents the whole population. Follow up with this sample and understand the customer satisfaction levels. Also keep a good track on customer reviews. Pacify disgruntled customers fast because they are the ones who are more active at commenting on public pages.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

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Women In Technology: Study Show Whether It Has Improved in 2016

Using data from NCWITAnita Borg Institute and Deloitte, the report evaluates whether there have been any improvements for women in tech in 2016 and what this means going forward. They also look at the context behind the numbers, examining the opportunities for women in education, employment and running startups.

In 2013, The Muse, in association with Women in Tech, published a report reflecting the huge potential of female entrepreneurs and employees. For example, Fortune 500 companies with at least 3 female directors have on average 53% higher returns on equity, sales and invested capital. This special report gives tangible recommendations that companies can implement to create a positive working environment for women and men to thrive in.

Here’s a sample of the findings of the current report in 2016:

  • There has been a 21% increase in undergraduate women studying computer science, but at the current rate, the US will only be able to fill 29% of computing jobs by 2020.
  • There is a 50% attrition rate amongst women in tech, from entry-level to executive, mainly due to poor work-life integration and environment.
  • In Silicon Valley alone, men are 2.7x more likely to be in a leadership position than women, who are much likelier to get “stalled” in the workplace.
  • Industries outside of technology have employed more women software engineers than the tech industry have.
  • Amongst startups, 38% of new businesses are started by women, but only between 2-6% of those founders receive venture capital.

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Having been the only American female in my Ph. D. program in engineering, it certainly is encouraging to see more women in the tech business. Both men and women bring unique and special qualities to the workplace. I look forward to the future and helping to affect change in a positive way.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

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Guest Post: How to Manage Your Remote Customer Service Team

The internet has made it possible for businesses to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world – yet at the same time, the internet has shifted power to consumers as they can get information on any product or service from multiple vendors and compare prices. In order to win business and succeed in this type of competitive environment, you must take a customer-centric approach and support your customers with the best possible customer service possible, even if that team’s scattered around the world.

That brings us to our next point. How do you manage a remote support team? How can you optimize support to cover all 24 hours of the day? Aside from logistics, how can you keep everyone productive and accountable? How can you make sure nothing slips through the cracks? While it may seem like a daunting task, successfully managing your remote customer service can be done well by following the below tips.

 

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1. Hire the Right People

Working remotely first appears to be a great opportunity for most individuals. You get to work from the environment you’re most comfortable in, there’s more flexibility in your work schedule, and you don’t have to deal with hours of commuting, to name a few. Yet working remotely is a skill in itself and it’s important to look for people who don’t just like the idea of working remotely, but can actually work efficiently with limited supervision.

To ensure that you hire the right remote staff, see if they’ve worked remotely before. Perhaps they have experience freelancing or running their own business. These two characteristics can demonstrate the applicant’s level of accountability, and often is an indicator of a hardworking employee you can trust. You’ll also want to make sure to ask the following questions to make sure they’re the right fit for how you like to manage your teams:

  • What kind of work schedule do you prefer?
  • Have you worked from a co-working space before?
  • Can you attend regular meetings via platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts?
  • What are some out-of-the-ordinary things you’ve done to help customers and make them happy?

 

2. Choose the Right Customer Service Software

Along with hiring the right staff, having the right customer service software in place is essential for successfully running a remote customer service team. The right help desk software will automate the way customer inquiries or issues are submitted, handled and followed up on, making it easy for your remote team to support customers efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, your team will be given access to a wealth of data which allows them to track conversations, monitor client relationships, and revisit past communications with a specific customer at-a-glance. Having this type of organized, easy-to-access information makes it possible for your support team to provide the high-quality assistance your customers deserve.

And while giving your team the tools they need to succeed may be important for you as a manager, let’s not forget the value that customer service software provides you. Such software allows you to avoid micromanaging your team (which can be time consuming and counterproductive when your team’s scattered across the globe) because you’re always in the loop. From details like number of calls taken each day and numbers of issues resolved to hours worked by each staff member and any high-priority issues that need addressing, you’ll have a pulse on the health of your team so you can make any necessary adjustments and fix productivity issues as soon as possible.

 

3. Utilize Knowledge Bases

Did you know that 62% of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience? Make sure you don’t become a part of this statistic and create engaging customer service experiences that not only assist your customers, but make them comfortable making a repeat purchase with your company.

In order to achieve this level of trust among your customers, your customer support team will need to have access to as much company information as possible. Even your best customer support representative will come across a question that requires a bit more research. And when that representative is a remote worker, getting answers quickly isn’t as easy as walking over to you and asking a question. This problem gets further compounded when you factor in the time differences between you and each of your remote workers.

This is where a robust knowledge base comes in. By having information in one easily-accessible place, your team always has access to the answers they need to best support your customers. You can create private wiki for this type of knowledge share or create your own internal customer service knowledge base. But keep in mind that the creation of this knowledge base shouldn’t just be left to you and other managers and executives.

Utilize your customer service team to help with its creation and encourage them to update it and add answers on an ongoing basis. Thinking of your knowledge base as a living, breathing document that is constantly changing will give you an unparalleled resource to use for years to come.

 

4. Keep Your Team Productive

One of the most common concerns of individuals managing remote teams is how to keep the team productive and accountable. Fortunately, with the many technologies and platforms available for task management, your support team can be just as productive working from home as they would be in the office. Here are a few types of technologies to look into:

  • Messaging apps – Open communication is a must when managing a remote team. You need to be able to easily share questions and feedback so team members can share what they accomplished the day before, what they’re working on, and any roadblocks in their way. This keeps everyone accountable for making progress each day and keeps your team in the loop about what’s going on.
  • Video conferencing apps – While messaging apps can be helpful for quick check-ins, it can be good to have regular face-to-face meetings via video conferencing apps. Being able to talk to your team and see them visually can help to foster feelings of positivity, support, and encouragement.
  • Task management platforms – It can be hard to manage the tasks of one team, let alone one that’s remote and possible scattered around the world. To increase team cohesion and make sure there are no overlapping duties or individuals encroaching on the work of others, task management apps like Trello are a great option for easily identifying and staying on top of short-term activity, long-term goals and overall progress.

Remote work comes with its challenges, but with the right strategies and tools, you can build and grow a productive and effective customer service team that helps your customers – and your business – succeed.

 

About the author

 jill

Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps

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Amazon Go – A Retailer Using AI, ML and Vision Technology

The idea of Amazon Go is to weave into the shopping experience the capabilities of deep learning algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and sensor vision. A practical application of AI and ML is Amazon Go via advanced shopping experiences. The ability to walk into a store, grab what you want and walk out, never having to wait in-line: no checkout lanes, no registers. For many customers, especially after work when they are tired and just want to get home or during the holidays could be a much better customer experience.

So how does this work? A customer opens up the Amazon Go app on their smart phone and scans their personalized bar code as they walk into a store. The phone goes into your pocket or purse and the customer begins their shopping. As the customer picks up a product, it’s added to their total. If a customer decides they don’t want an item, replacing back on the shelf removes it from their total.  Amazon Go calls it “just walk out technology” for the modern shopper. Once you are done shopping and leave the store, the total is calculated and charged to the customer’s amazon.com card.

From the customer’s point of view, while on-line shopping has increased, some customers still like the idea of going to a store and touching / seeing the merchandise. To help ensure that brick and mortar stores don’t turn into showrooms (where customers go to look at merchandise and then search on their phones for a better online deal (from that or other retailers) and buy it online while standing in their store, technologies like Amazon Go provide convenience. Perhaps the thought and the hope is that the convenience will be more important than searching for a cheaper price and buying it online.

Showrooming can be very frustrating for brick and mortar stores and put some of them out of business. It’s interesting that the online and offline shopping worlds are colliding. Fresh goods have a short shelf-life and often thought of as poor candidates for online shopping because of their perishable nature. However, it’s a high margin area that Amazon wants to tackle by using brick and mortar stores and the convenience of shop and go. Younger generals don’t have the tolerance for standing in line.

The future of shopping is just getting more and more interesting as the new technologies get implemented.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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Oracle Service Cloud Announces New Releases

Oracle Service Cloud announces new releases for enhanced functionality in Web Customer Service, Contact Center including the Agent Browser User Interface, Knowledge Advanced, Policy Automation, and the Oracle Service Cloud Platform. Included in he release is a new Internet of Things (IoT) Accelerator, which provides a bi-directional integration with Oracle IoT Cloud.

The integration helps customers seamlessly interface with IoT technology so that service events and alerts received from smart devices can be consumed, as well as appropriate action taken by agents, within the Oracle Service Cloud desktop. Field Service seems to be an area where IoT can easily provide true use cases that can quickly garner ROI. It will be interesting to see how vendors incorporate IoT in the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator will allow internet enabled devices connectivity to Oracle Service Cloud. Accelerators are a collection of sample code, sample workflows, and best practices, documentation, and design guidance to assist customers with seamless updates or integrations with Oracle Service Cloud.Oracle Service Cloud Releases

Oracle Service Cloud also provided a sneak preview of Live Chat. What is the capability really about? Sneak preview allows chat agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit submit. Sneak Preview is designed to enhance agent productivity and bring value to the contact center by decreasing handle times. By allowing the agent to see what the customer is typing ahead of time they can begin to formulate an answer faster, which results in faster responses, and faster conversations. And Live Chat is now a fully supported channel; contacts are automatically matched and the contact and chat workspaces are integrated.

In addition, the release includes analytics performance enhancements with caching for frequent reporting and better notifications for report authors. Modern gauges are added to create much more intuitive and modern reports, allowing users to interpret data quicker, as well as new rendering options, to remove unnecessary components in reports, crisper rendering of charts, and a new modern layout theme. In addition, there is a new dashboard concept—specifically designed for that 5-second-glance overview for busy customer service leaders.

These at-a-glance infolets are available out-of-the-box and contain a number of single metric charts with real-time key performance indicators like open incidents by severity, SLA, First Contact Resolution, new incidents by channel, and so forth. Contact Center Directors can also schedule and send the infolet dashboard by email to key stakeholders at regular intervals. This is key as the more senior stakeholders are more involved, the more they begin to realize the importance of customer experience and customer service to the overall health, stability and revenue generation capabilities of their company.

In addition, the the agent browser UI has gone through a significant performance enhancement to support high interactivity and now supports a much broader range of analytics capabilities. The agent browser user interface is now a single version, meaning it is compatible with versions of Oracle Service Cloud all the way back to May 2015 and upgrades will now happen with zero downtime.  The UI theme has been updated for consistency across all Oracle Cloud portfolio applications. Knowledge authors can now use the Agent Browser User Interface to author and edit knowledge articles with a new HTML editor with HTML5 support.

As the race to provide the best customer experience continues, brands must choose between more single point solutions vs large system platforms. It will be interesting to see the choices of brands and how the customer experience evolves to meet the brand promise.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Drive Awesome Customer Experiences

www.constellationr.com

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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