The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

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AMAZON: Virtual ‘Dash’ Buttons for One-click Buying From the Homepage

How could it be easier to order from Amazon? Amazon just launched One-Click buying by adding dash buttons to its homepage and mobile applications. The dash buttons help Amazon Prime customers order their most frequently used items more easily. Amazon Dash buttons allow for quick reorders without hassle.

So what’s new? The original dash buttons were  physical, Wi-Fi connected buttons  users place around their home. When they realize they are running out of something like dish soap, they can place an order on the Dash button by tapping on the button. So what’s new is Dash buttons are now virtual Amazon Dash buttons that allow one-click purchases on it’s homepage.

The digital Dash buttons are for products such as groceries, pet supplies, diapers… with reorders one click away. Now Dash users don’t have to clutter their homes with actual buttons. To use the Dash buttons, a shopper can go to the Amazon site and select the option to “Add to your Dash buttons.” Perhaps these Dash buttons may even lead to more impulsive shopping.

Amazon Prime Dash Buttons

You just click on “Your Dash buttons”, see the figure above, and then buttons for things you’ve ordered before pop up.

Dash buttons

Here’s more about on how the buttons work to the video from Amazon: https://youtu.be/w1lrQgXa6pY

Amazon knows a lot about its customer’s shopping history and preferences so it has a good idea on which items to display.

Amazon is betting seeing a favorite item on the homepage will prompt users to buy it. This is an interesting innovation in e-commerce. Will it make shoppers order more? That’s the big question at hand. Only time will tell.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, Constellation Research

VP and Principal Analyst, 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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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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Jacada Announces Private Equity Investment

Jacada Ltd. (OTCQB: JCDAF), a global provider of customer experience technology designed to simplify the interaction between businesses and their customers, announces that Israel Growth Partners (IGP), a Private Equity investment. Jacada’s visual IVR is a key asset to their capabilities has other digital transformation solutions aiming to reduce the cost to serve customers while driving a seamless customer journey. The visual IVR transforms the typical “press 1 for….” Press 2 for…” type of IVR and instead uses a touch interface. Companies looking toward digital transformation of the customer experience are using the visual IVR as a cornerstone of their digital transformation. This investment should be helpful in Jacada’s future growth.

Jacada Visual IVR@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Digital Customer Experience Transformation in Customer-facing Application

Constellationr.com

 

 

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Video Advertising: Key to Getting Customers Attention As Ad Blocking is Increasing

Searches for Influencer Marketing have grown 5x in 2015 according to a study from Google Trends from January 2016. Nearly 40% of Millennials are using ad block applications and their use is growing fast according to a study by PageFair & Adobe. So how does a company get their target customer’s attention? And with content marketing a #1 priority for most CMOs as more and more sales are decided upon before even talking to a sales person. And sometimes a salesperson is never contacted, so getting the customer’s undivided attention has never been so important. Perhaps the answer is video marketing. Video consumption has exploded across all devices and is one of the fastest growing advertising category.

Adobe, a the leader in video content creation and delivery, announced it’s acquisition of TubeMogul which will enable brands to capitalize on the huge shift to online video. The acquisition of TubeMogul  strengthens Adobe’s leadership in digital marketing and advertising technology. The addition of TubeMogul will enable Adobe’s customers to maximize their video advertising investments across desktop, mobile, streaming devices and TV. TubeMogul’s video advertising platform. In addition, this allows their customers to build upon their capabilities in search, display and social advertising planning and delivery using Adobe Media Optimizer with Adobe Marketing Cloud. This combination will give customers access to first-party data and measurement capabilities from Adobe Audience Manager (Adobe’s data management platform) and by using Adobe Analytics.

Why is video advertising so important? Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, digital marketing, Adobe gave this statement, “Whether it’s episodic TV, indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, video consumption is exploding across every device and brands are following those eyeballs.” Adobe feels the acquisition of TubeMogul, will give customers a ‘one-stop shop’ for video advertising, providing even more strategic value for the use of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

TubeMogul is a video demand-side platform (DSP) leader. Brett Wilson, CEO and co-founder, TubeMogul said, “The combination of Adobe Marketing Cloud with TubeMogul’s software creates a uniquely comprehensive platform that will help marketers always know what’s working — and act on it.” And what’s key is measurement – to know what is working and not working, and obviously do more of what is getting a result.

There are so many choices for Marketers today, as far as software and it is only getting more confusing with all the choices. When a software company can show you how to get results, you know you are going in the right direction. Education and learning to use all the features and functions of what the various software platforms provide is of growing concern for most companies to obtain the highest ROI possible for the investment they have made.

It’s key that Marketers are clear on what their strategy, goals, objectives and tactics are and have a strong measurement program to be able to show that the software purchase enhanced the brands ability to drive more awareness, increase customer acquisition and turn more leads into sales. And with ad blocking increasing, there’s got to be another way to get customer’s attention. Video seems to be a prime candidate. This is just one example of how early adopters and innovators are taking hold of the market place and making their competition irrelevant. And like the BlueOcean authors said, that’s the key to financial success in today’s marketplace. Cross the chasm, join the digital transformation and digital disruption evolution or expect to be disrupted. Disrupt or be disrupted. Those are the choices to being innovative leaders and using design thinking to transform your business revenue model.

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

Covering Customer-facing Applications to Create Great Customer Experiences

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Congratulations to the Constellation Super Nova Award Winners in Customer Experience!

The reason we at Constellation Research created the SuperNova Awards is because we know advancing the adoption of disruptive technology is not easy. Technology adoption faces resistance from budget constraints, hurdles to adoption, and myopia. All the finalists here today have successfully implemented technologies that will lead their organizations into the future. These people have vision. These people are leaders. These people understand the value of disruptive technology. All of the SuperNova Award applications are on the Constellation website.

Today’s customer demands a personalized experience during every stage of the buying process. Customers demand to be treated like royalty before, during, and after purchase. Customers want this same level of service across social, mobile, and analog channelsFinalists in the Next Generation Customer Experience category understand today’s demanding customers. They have implemented technologies and programs to boost brand loyalty and customer engagement. The finalists for Next Generation Customer Experience:

  • Amihai Zeltzer from Stanley Healthcare
  • Martin Marcinczyk from Comcast
  • Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour
  • Roshan Koonja from Constance Hotels and Resorts
  • Scott Strickland and Jim Flatt from Denon + Marantz Electronics.

And the winner of the SuperNova Award for Next Generation Customer Experience is…. Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour! Murray and his team won the SuperNova Award for enhancing the tennis experience for fans and players.  The ATP partnered with Infosys to produce Game-Stats that are based on the real-time in-memory paradigm aligned with IIP Tooling & Apache Spark. The project revolutionized how tennis analysts and fans receive statistics about professional tennis players

Make sure to apply next year!

Congratulations to all the executives and their teams who are truly making a difference in creating great customer experiences.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering customer-facing applications that deliver excellent customer service and customer experience!

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Constellation ShortList™ for Field Service Management

Constellation has announced the Constellation ShortList vendors in Field Service Management which provides the best capabilities to help employees serve customers. Field customer service occurs when resources or services are deployed onsite at a client. Field service management software enables companies to be flexible and nimble when providing service. These offerings are great at detecting problems before having to send someone to repair or fix a customer’s issue. In the event they must send someone, they can communicate in real-time with customers, provide on-site information about products and repair issues while offering relevant and timely service.

These offerings help companies improve their operational efficiencies by optimizing work-order routing and technician scheduling, which results in quicker resolution of issues. Analytics used in field services often optimize when services are deployed and how assets are tied to deployment of resources. They have advanced scheduling systems that let the customer know when the technician or field-service employee will arrive within a reasonable window of time. Helping provide an excellent customer experience is the most important aspect of field service management solutions.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.  This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Good diagnostics prior to rolling out the truck
  • Resource management
  • Case management
  • Communication with the customer on the status of the technician’s arrival
  • Scheduling
  • Resource allocation
  • Inventory optimization
  • Mobile enablement.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. These are the best-of-breed vendors that provide applications and services without bundling into another platform:

  • IFS
  • Oracle Field Service Cloud (formerly TOA Technologies)
  •  ServiceMax
  • ClickSoftware
  • PTC
  • SAP
  • Vertical Solutions.

For more information on the short lists, please see the Constellation Research site.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Experience (CX) Services: Global

The Customer Experience (CX) Services Global List acknowledges leaders in driving customer experience excellence in organizations. The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.

This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners. A systems integrator (SI) or customer experience (CX) service provider brings together solutions into an overall customer experience hub. They work with all functional departments, such as marketing, sales, customer service, supply chain, e-commerce, IT, digital performance management (DPM) and back-office systems.

With SaaS solutions, the SI’s role is changing to focus on strategy, tactics and choosing technology. Customer experience SIs guide brands’ CX journeys on all channels (e.g., email, chat, text, websites, phone, social networks) and devices (e.g., phones, tablets, desktops), and optimize each to make the experience flawless. With options to order on a website and pick up in a store or ship to an address, front-end experiences need to be great, along with top-notch supply chain/ERP so inventory is current. In addition to customer journey mapping and choosing omni-channel technology, they focus on DPM to ensure websites load quickly and shopping carts don’t get hung up or abandoned, while mitigating lost revenue.

CX SIs have a set of best practices, strategy design, optimal delivery, and testing methodology to guide clients to obtain an optimal CX from a customer’s point-of-view. These firms often perform a gap analysis (comparing the current and future state of the customer experience to find gaps). SIs use gaps to create a long- and short-term road map, emphasizing low-hanging fruit and large ROI. SIs often incorporate organizational change management.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Best practices methodology
  • An assessment tool
  • Create strategy and technology roadmap
  • Customer references
  • Differentiated IP
  • Customer success management
  • Operating in three continents.

Constellation evaluates over 100 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share, and internal research. Enterprise Service Providers / System Integrators / Management Consultants include:

  • Accenture
  • Bain
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Capgemini
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • Infosys
  • McKinsey
  • SapientNitro
  • Wipro.

For more information about this short list, please see the Constellation Research website.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-facing Applications

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