More Firms Allowing Employees To Shop Online While At Work
More employees may be bagging holiday bargains on the job this holiday season, a new survey suggests. Sixteen percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed by staffing firm Robert Half Technology said they give their workers unrestricted access to online shopping sites — up from 10 percent last year. More than half (54 percent) said they allow on-the-job online shopping but monitor activity for excessive use. Less than one-third (29 percent) of CIOs said their firms block access to online shopping sites — down slightly from 33 percent a year ago.
The survey is based on more than 2,300 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees. Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.
CIOs were asked, "What is your company's policy regarding employees shopping online while at work?" Their responses:
Allow access but monitor for excessive use
2012 - 55%, 2013 - 54%
Allow unrestricted access
2012 - 10%, 2013 - 16%
Other/ don't know
2012 - 2%, 2013 - 1%
Robert Half Technology offers three tips for employees who might shop online at the office this holiday season:
Understand the policy. Don't assume your company's web policy is unrestrictive just because you haven't gotten official word. Check the company handbook, and ask around. If the policy is not clear, play it safe and use non-work times like your lunch hour to shop.
Don't get 'lost in cyberspace.' With all the deals on Cyber Monday, you may be tempted to spend hours on end scooping up bargains. If your goal is to shop until you drop, take a vacation day.
Limit online 'window shopping.' Conduct product research and price comparisons on your own time so you can make online purchases quickly — and get back to work faster.
Survey: Mobile and Social Technologies Complicate B2B Sales Processes
Avanade, a global business technology solutions and managed services provider, released results from a large-scale global survey on the changing sales process and buying patterns of business and IT decision-makers. Avanade’s latest research shows the “consumerization” movement is shifting the sales process out of the control of the seller as enterprise buyers begin to mimic consumer shopping behaviors. With this shift, the value of the customer experience is now more important than price to business and IT decision-makers.
Customer experience now tops price as the most important factor in a buying decision by an enterprise decision-maker. Notably, business buyers are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for a product or service that offers an improved customer experience.
Businesses no longer have control over information shared about their products or services. Sixty-one percent of business decision-makers report third-party sites and feedback from business partners, industry peers or social channels is more important than conversations with a company’s sales teams when making a purchasing decision.
To help navigate this change, companies are enlisting new people and departments to manage the customer experience. Compared to three years ago, customer service and call centers, IT and marketing are the leading groups now playing a larger role in the customer experience.
Seventy percent of respondents believe technology will primarily replace human interaction with customers in the next 10 years. Anticipating this change, businesses are making new technology investments, changing business processes and redesigning organizational roles. More than 80 percent of companies have changed at least one business process in the past three years to better interact with customers.
This new global study builds on findings from Avanade’s Work Redesigned research conducted in January 2013. Progressive companies are changing business processes to adapt to a new style of work influenced by mobile devices, collaboration tools and social technologies. In this latest survey, Avanade found that businesses are changing processes to embrace the new business buyer and by increasing customer service and support technologies (44 percent), increasing the number of employees interacting with customers (40 percent) and adding automation to the sales process (32 percent).
There are business benefits to making these changes. The research shows that businesses investing in technology to support better customer service and modifying internal roles are seeing positive results. Specifically, the companies making these changes are experiencing increases in customer loyalty (61 percent), revenues (60 percent) and customer base (60 percent).
Avanade surveyed 1,000 C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision-makers in 19 countries across more than 12 industries.
New Survey Shows 25% of Call Centers Are Experiencing Data Overload
More than 25 percent of contact centers are experiencing data overload, according to a recent study commissioned by WhitePages, a provider of contact information for people and businesses in the U.S., and conducted by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI). The A Wow Customer Journey: Actionable Data in Today’s Multichannel Contact Center revealed that a significant percentage of contact center executives claim that too much data is being collected from disparate sources within corporate call centers, and that the data is also inefficiently consolidated once collected. The study reveals overall inefficiencies with today’s contact center data, finding that more than 60 percent of contact centers are unable to deliver customer service information to agents, and more than one-third of agents leave customer satisfaction data off the table altogether.
Findings from the A Wow Customer Journey: Actionable Data in Today’s Multichannel Contact Center include:
Using facts to flourish
The majority of contact centers do report leveraging data to help maximize their customer experience and internal processes. According to the report, data is primarily used for managing overall agent performance (67 percent) and for identifying customer satisfaction survey improvement (48 percent). In a list of the ways companies use data generated by the contact center, the top three were to:
Improve customer experience results (72 percent)
Improve contact center operational efficiency (68 percent)
Contact center agents have their hands on data but aren’t using all of it to their advantage.
While nearly one-half of contact centers (48 percent) collect and use the average satisfaction of a contact, 15 percent only collect the information but then don’t actually implement or use any of the collected information. More than one-third (36 percent) of agents don’t collect data around the satisfaction of a customer at all.
Surprisingly, given the various customer service channels available to consumers today, more than one-half (51 percent) of call centers do not ask for customers’ channel preference. One-third (32 percent) of contact centers report collecting preferred channel preference information from customers.
The data frenemy
While big data has helped some agents at contact centers, others have a different story to report.
More than 60 percent of contact centers cannot provide customer information proactively to an agent.
More than 40 percent of customer contact information is still manually inputted by an agent, rather than being fed through an automated API or web-based system.
Falling down on the basics
Every contact center agent understands the value of the customer’s time and face challenges when it comes to taking too much time to gather basic information.
Nearly one-half (49 percent) of agents report overall productivity and efficiency challenges when they have to ask customers for basic contact information.
One-fourth (25 percent) of agents need to consistently learn new technology or processes to handle their contacts (stated above).
IT Spending Expected to Accelerate Next Year, After Emerging Markets Slowdown in 2013
According to the new International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Book (Doc #244215) just released, worldwide IT spending is expected to accelerate next year after dipping to its slowest pace of growth since the financial crisis in 2013. Overall tech spending is on course to increase by 4% this year at constant currency, reaching $2.04 trillion, down from last year’s growth of 5% due mainly to the slowdown in key emerging markets including China and Russia. IDC forecasts that in 2014, a rebound in China and continued momentum in the US and Europe will see a return to overall industry growth of more than 5% (reaching $2.14 trillion).
Smartphones Still Driving Growth, but Infrastructure Set for Recovery
In fact, almost half of this year’s industry growth is due to continued strength in smartphone and tablet shipments. Excluding mobile phones, IT spending will increase by only 2.6% this year at constant currency (just 0.7% in US dollar terms, based on year-to-date exchange rates). Enterprise IT spending in many regions has been tepid since last year, with weaker spending on PCs, servers and storage than previously expected. Tentative signs of stability in commercial PC shipments during Q3, however, may foreshadow the gradual recovery in enterprise infrastructure investment which we expect to unfold in the next 12-18 months as a broad-based capital spending cycle kicks into gear. Spending on servers, storage and enterprise networks will increase by just 1% in 2013 before accelerating to growth of 4% next year.
US Market Is Resilient, Despite Politics
While the US is on course to post IT spending growth of 5% this year, this translates into just 3% excluding mobile phones. Enterprise spending in the US has been relatively resilient, given the ongoing political volatility, but spending on PCs and servers will decline this year while storage investment is flat. Both the storage and server markets in the US are expected to improve in 2014, but PC spending is likely to remain weak in spite of signs of stability in Q3 as tablet cannibalization continues at lower price points.
Europe and Japan Have Stabilized
Market conditions are gradually improving in Western Europe, where overall IT spending is on course for growth of 2% this year (1% excluding phones), and where economic momentum has taken a turn for the better in many countries. We assume that this gradual recovery will continue next year, translating into IT spending growth of 3% driven mainly by strengthening sales of commercial software. This year has also seen a moderate improvement in Japan, driven by the government’s short-term policy initiatives; while IT spending is on course to be flat in 2013 (0% growth), this marks an improvement from our previous forecast of a 1% decline.
China Will Rebound in 2014
IDC forecasts that IT demand will accelerate in China next year, in line with our expectation that macroeconomic growth and business confidence will improve. In China, overall IT spending is on course to increase by just 8% this year, the weakest pace of growth since 2008; next year, we forecast an acceleration of growth to 14% led by strengthening sales of PCs, servers, storage, software and IT services. Growth in India will remain broadly strong, driven mainly by smartphones and tablets, but we expect a slowdown in PC sales after state-level government initiatives helped to drive strong growth in 2013, while there are also signs of weakening growth in other sectors. A gradual deceleration in tech spending is also emerging in Brazil, while in Russia the economic slowdown has driven overall industry growth to just 1% this year (from 15% in 2012). We forecast a rebound in Russia to 10% growth next year, driven by smartphones, software and services.