It's that time again - time for budgeting, prepping and analyzing the year's results to see how we can improve next year. According to CorvisaCloud's recent survey,even though 60% of consumers think customer service has improved since last year there are definitely still areas businesses can refine.
With that in mind, here are CorvisaCloud's contact center predictions for 2015:
1. Large Enterprises Will Adopt Cloud Communications
Enterprises have historically been known to sit on the sidelines until technology has fully matured. Now that the cloud has been around for a while, common misconceptions such as lack of security, compliance and functionality are no longer at doubt. The enormous investment cloud providers are making to stay compliant and secure will help growing numbers of enterprises to see that they can ensure security standards and increase savings while minimizing their investment in hardware and maintenance. The flexibility, security and cost of the cloud have proven that it is here to stay, and more enterprises will be drawn to the cloud by the ability to gain flexibility with less effort.
2. Security as a Top Priority
With big names such as JP Morgan, Michael's and Home Depot experiencing data breaches during 2014, companies of all sizes are bringing security to the top of their 2015 planning. Knowing that data breaches come with hefty financial implications and can hurt a company's image overnight, businesses will go the extra mile to protect sensitive data. Security will be a top influencer for businesses when choosing cloud providers, and cloud providers will work to make their security and compliance procedures even more transparent. We foresee data and recording encryption emphasized at a greater level than what has been done to date.
3. A Focused Investment in Employees
2014 was the year of customer success. For 2015, we predict we will see companies investing more in their employees and agents. After all, your employees are the foundation of customer success. Proper training and boosting employee morale will be key for any business that wants to stay competitive. Integrated contact center tools such as gamification and workflow automation tools will be just a few of the ways contact centers will help agents improve performance and boost confidence. Eighty percent of consumers said their phone interaction with a customer service agent feels scripted and robotic.* We see more businesses adopting these new cloud tools to humanize their customer experience and break away from older tools that force agents to read call scripts word-for-word.
4. Mobile Equality
Mobile applications are nothing new, but as we predicted last year, mobile phones are becoming increasingly preferred over desk phones. In 2015 the emphasis will be on giving agents and employees the same user experience - whether they are at home using a softphone, on a computer using a desk phone or in the car using their mobile device. We see more customers demanding features that create a seamless transition between the desk and mobile environments, such as the ability to configure phone settings or integrate with customer data. Cloud communications providers will be focused on enriching the capabilities of their mobile applications in response to this demand.
5. Increased Demand for Customization
Based on experiences with our customers in 2014, we predict more businesses will be looking for technology solutions that can be customized to fit their specific needs. Until recently, SaaS and PaaS have often been thought of as separate alternatives in the contact center space. However, with the demand for flexibility, more customers will be looking for hybrid SaaS/PaaS solutions that offer both out-of-the-box ease and advanced customization options.
Nearly Three-Quarters of U.S. Companies Expect Their Demand for Middle-Skills Jobs to Increase
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. companies (73 percent) expect an increase in their demand for “middle-skills” jobs – that generally require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree – over the next few years. At the same time, more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed are struggling to find people with the qualifications to fill existing middle-skills vacancies, according to new research from Accenture.
This lack of talent is having a direct impact on corporate performance: almost seven in 10 (69 percent) of respondents indicated that the middle-skills shortage regularly affects their performance and more than one-third (34 percent) believe that the dearth of middle-skills workers has significantly undermined their productivity. The Accenture research also identified the hardest-hit sectors and consistently hard-to-fill positions.
The survey of more than 800 human resources executives is being released in advance of an upcoming report by Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies and Harvard Business School (HBS) that examines the impact of the middle-skills gap on U.S. competitiveness and provides targeted solutions for employers, educators and policymakers to improve their talent pipeline for middle-skills positions.
According to the HR survey, inadequate training and lack of experience were seen as the leading impediments to filling middle-skills positions: 54 percent of respondents said “trained talent is difficult to find” and 50 percent said “sufficient experience is not easy to find.” Other major contributors to the middle-skills gap include insufficient training and upskilling opportunities for current or prospective employees. Just two in 10 respondents (22 percent), including those who said their company is having trouble filling job vacancies, said they always are willing to consider hiring a new employee who requires additional training.
Four imperatives to solve the middle-skills gap
Accenture recommends employers consider the following four steps as a way to improve their talent sourcing, development, deployment and retention cycle:
Map future talent needs. Eight in 10 executives surveyed (80 percent) agree on the need to be proactive about building a talent pipeline for middle-skills jobs. As a first step, companies must improve forecasting and planning to better understand which positions and skills they need most.
Build the talent pipeline. Just over half the executives surveyed said their company partners with community colleges (56 percent) or technical schools (55 percent). Companies have a valuable opportunity to work with these institutions to develop curricula that build the required skills and experience.
Develop talent pool relationships. Community-based organizations are another often underutilized partner, with fewer than half of the businesses represented by the survey (45 percent) forging relationships with these groups. The business community must work with a vast network of partners, including education institutions and community organizations, to establish themselves as “employers of choice” with potential middle-skills job seekers.
Reinvigorate talent development. Only 41 percent of the respondents said their companies offer internships or apprenticeships, even though 80 percent agree that these programs are effective in building needed skills. Companies must provide current and prospective employees with access to a variety of internships, apprenticeships, ongoing training programs and upskilling opportunities to create a clear career path for middle-skills employees.
Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015
Gartner, Inc. highlighted the top 10 technology trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2015. Analysts presented their findings during the sold out Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, end users or IT, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. These technologies impact the organization's long-term plans, programs and initiatives.
The top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015 are:
As mobile devices continue to proliferate, Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices.
The Internet of Things
The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models — Manage, Monetize, Operate and Extend. These four basic models can be applied to any of the four "Internets." Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (IoT) (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models. For example, the pay-per-use model can be applied to assets (such as industrial equipment), services (such as pay-as-you-drive insurance), people (such as movers), places (such as parking spots) and systems (such as cloud services). Enterprises from all industries can leverage these four models.
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.
Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics
Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analyzed. Big data remains an important enabler for this trend but the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and big answers first and big data second — the value is in the answers, not the data.
Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately. Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability, but others will emerge. By understanding the context of a user request, applications can not only adjust their security response but also adjust how information is delivered to the user, greatly simplifying an increasingly complex computing world.
Deep analytics applied to an understanding of context provide the preconditions for a world of smart machines. This foundation combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously. Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.
The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronizing content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. The second-screen phenomenon today focuses on coordinating television viewing with use of a mobile device. In the future, games and enterprise applications alike will use multiple screens and exploit wearables and other devices to deliver an enhanced experience.
Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure
Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale systems up — or down — rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models.
Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organizations will begin thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately, but will evolve over time as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimized and software-defined approaches reach mainstream.
Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
All roads to the digital future lead through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. Once organizations acknowledge that, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. On the technical side, recognition that perimeter defense is inadequate and applications need to take a more active role in security gives rise to a new multifaceted approach.
Robert Half 2015 Salary Guides Show 3.8 Percent Average Starting Salary Increase In Professional Occupations
The just-released 2015 Salary Guides from Robert Half show that U.S. starting salaries for professional occupations are projected to increase an average of 3.8 percent next year. The largest expected gains in salaries among all fields researched are in technology, with an anticipated 5.7 percent overall increase in the average starting salary for newly hired information technology (IT) workers. Accounting and finance and creative and marketing professionals can expect starting salaries to rise an average of 3.5 percent, according to the research.
Following is an overview of findings from the 2015 Salary Guides:
Accounting and Finance
Average starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals in the United States are forecast to rise 3.5 percent next year. Staff accountants, senior financial analysts and business systems analysts are in strong demand, and these professionals can expect to see higher than average salary increases. The regulatory environment is driving hiring for risk, compliance and internal audit professionals.
Overall, base compensation for IT professionals in the United States is expected to increase 5.7 percent in the coming year. Mobile, security and big data will be three drivers for technology hiring in 2015. Mobile applications developers can expect the highest salary increases among all technology roles.
Creative and Marketing
Professionals in creative fields in the United States can expect average starting salary gains of 3.5 percent in 2015. Growth in the digital space, particularly mobile, is driving the demand for professionals such as digital marketing strategists and user-experience specialists. Businesses also seek content strategists, web designers and front-end web developers.
In the legal field, U.S. starting salaries are anticipated to rise 3.0 percent, on average, in the coming year. Law firms are seeking mid- and senior-level lawyers in high-growth practice areas, such as litigation, general business and commercial law, and intellectual property. Paralegals also are in high demand by companies and law firms, and those with specialized skill sets can expect higher starting compensation.
Administrative and Office Support
Overall starting salaries for administrative professionals in the United States are expected to rise 3.4 percent in 2015. Demand for skilled executive and administrative assistants remains strong. There continues to be a need for support staff in healthcare, human resources and customer service.
Security tops CIO worries; IT budgets, turnover on the rise
CIOs are spending more on IT, worrying most about security and privacy, and staying on the job a little longer, according to the latest data from the Society for Information Management (SIM).
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the SIM IT Trends Study, which surveyed 1,002 people (including 451 CIOs) from 717 organizations. Among surveyed companies, the average annual revenue is $5.6 billion and average annual IT budget is $288 million.
The trend for CIOs to focus more on the business and less on pure tech is evident in how their success is measured. According to respondents, the top 10 performance measures for CIOs, ranked from 1-10, are: the value of IT to the business; IT’s contribution to strategy; customer satisfaction; innovative new ideas; availability; projects delivered on time; IT cost controls; productivity improvement; business cost reduction controls; and revenue growth.
SIM also asked how CIOs spend their time, and their answers reinforce a business-focused agenda. According to the study, CIOs spend 41.5% of their time on business activities, including evangelizing IT, addressing the needs of IT and business customers, and managing change; 36.1% of their time on IT activities, including project management, resource allocation, IT governance, and technical research; 18.3% of their time on IT and business strategies; and 4.1% of their time on career activities, in particular managing personal networks.
Meanwhile, turnover is on the rise. The average IT employee turnover rate hit 9% in 2014 – a nine-year high. That’s up from 6.6% in 2013 and 5.2% in 2012. To combat employee turnover, leaders are investing more on training and education. The percentage of IT budget allocated to training and education was 5% in 2014, up from 4.7% in 2013 and a six-year low of 2.9% in 2012.
Ranked from 1-5, organizations’ five largest IT investments are: analytics and business intelligence; data center infrastructure; ERP; application software development; and cloud computing.