According to DMG Consulting, as the economy continues to improve in the US and around the world, 2014 is looking to be a good year for technology investments that are supported by a solid business case, and have quantifiable benefits and a rapid payback of one year or less. Enterprises and government agencies are expected to make investments to improve the customer or constituent experience. These investments will address the core infrastructure of contact centers and customer service organizations, many of which have not been updated in more than ten years. Other investments will be for management applications and analytics to help organizations make the most of every customer contact.
Investments will be driven by the top 8 contact center/servicing trends for 2014. These trends are:
Improving customer service For years, executives have discussed the importance of delivering a great experience, but they have been unwilling to make the investments necessary to achieve this goal. But change is finally starting to happen. It may be because of the speed at which a small issue can go viral, or perhaps a growing appreciation that customer service is becoming the primary differentiator in a world of highly commoditized products and services.
Improving the customer journey For the first time, organizations now have tools to measure every touch and action taken by prospects and customers, from the time they first access information about a company online to when they retire the use of a product.
Resolving inquires during the initial contact Organizations have been talking about one and done or first contact resolution (FCR) for as long as call/contact centers have existed. But now, organizations are going proactive, realizing that the shortest route and best way to resolve an issue is to try to address everything a caller might need to know, not just what they are asking. Companies are striving to provide answers to anticipated issues in order to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
Reducing operating costs Contact centers and customer service departments require staff, and people are expensive. Executives are more motivated than at any time in the past to deliver an outstanding customer experience, but the winning investments will be those that improve service while reducing operating expenses.
Complying with regulatory requirements Whether its the new telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) regulations or other do-not-call (DNC) requirements in the US and in many other countries, governments are introducing laws to protect their citizens from bad business practices.
Avoiding social media firestorms Companies are investing in social media to avoid bad public relations. Never in the history of business has there been a tool like social media that can impact the bottom line and stock price of a company due to the public airing of consumer opinions.
Retaining customers This is a top goal in tough economic times, but is still important when people are more freely spending money, because it is always more expensive to acquire customers than to retain existing ones.
Increasing sales and collections Companies are in business in order to make money. Inside and outside sales team need to pick up the pace of sales. Collections departments need best practices to increase their contribution to the bottom line. And executives want their contact centers to pick up the slack and become major players in generating revenue.
Cloud Computing Adoption to Outpace Employee Skillsets in 2014
Fifty percent of organizations will spend more on IT in 2014, investing heavily in public and private cloud-enabling technologies like infrastructure and virtualization, according to a survey of 1,000 IT professionals. However, half of all respondents participating in cloud initiatives within their organizations need more education on the technology and note their current skillsets do not adequately prepare them to do their jobs well in the coming year.
The survey, conducted by next generation IT monitoring software provider ScienceLogic, found that lack of education is not the only headache employees will face in the coming year. While IT spend is increasing in 2014, survey results reveal a lack of industry investment in employees, with 40 percent of respondents confirming they would make the same or less money year-over-year in 2014.
Other key survey highlights include:
-- Overall IT spending in 2014 will increase by a net margin of 35 percent compared to 2013
-- Almost two thirds of respondents intend to increase their budgetary spend by 6-20 percent year-over-year
-- The ratio of respondents that will increase IT spend vs. reduce IT spend is 4:1
-- Organizations will spend the most IT dollars on network infrastructure, but there is a growing need to spend on additional storage, Big Data, and mobility-related infrastructure
The 2014 Salary Survey, just released by Janco Associates and eJobDescription.com, is not good news for IT Professionals. The survey shows that hiring and salaries has not significantly improved for IT professionals in most North American metropolitan areas.
Salaries are up less than 1% for IT pros in the past 12 months and the only winners are the top level postions in mid-sized companies. Salaries for most IT pros have finally gotten back to the level they were at in 2007 and that is a very good sign.
The seven major findings of the survey are:
-- IT compensation for all IT Professionals has increased by 0.67% in the last 12 months.
-- CIOs compensation has stayed flat in larger companies and increased in smaller and mid-sized companies in the past 12 months.
-- Positions in highest demand are all associated with the quality control, BYOD implementation, and service level improvement.
-- Over the long term IT executives have fared better in mid-sized companies than large companies.
-- In 2013 the IT job market grew by 74,900 versus 62,500 in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) better but not enough to employee the number of IT graduates from US universities or to increase demand.
-- Lay-offs seem to have tapered off, however some companies continue to cut the size of the IT organizations.
-- Cost control is still the rule of the day; however we have seen an increase in the number of "part-timers" and contractors who are focused on particular critical projects. This has resulted in few IT Pros getting health coverage
-- On shore outsourcing has peaked and companies are looking to bring IT operations back into their direct control and reduce operating costs.
-- Mandated requirements for records management systems and electronic medical records have increased the demand for quality control staff and custodians (librarians) of mechanized records.
-- Companies are continuing to refine the benefits provided to full time IT professionals. Though benefits such as health care are available to 80%, IT professionals are now paying a greater portion of that cost.
CIOs Reveal Many Are Unprepared for Digitalization: the Third Era of Enterprise IT
Digitalization, the third era of enterprise IT, is beginning, but most CIOs do not feel prepared for this next era, according to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, Inc.'s Executive Programs. The survey showed that many CIOs feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building digital leadership while renovating the core of IT infrastructure and capability for the digital future. The survey found that 51 percent of CIOs are concerned that the digital torrent is coming faster than they can cope and 42 percent don't feel that they have the talent needed to face this future.
The worldwide survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2013 and included 2,339 CIOs, representing more than $300 billion in CIO IT budgets in 77 countries.
During the first era of enterprise IT, the focus was on how IT could help do new and seemingly magical things automating operations to create massive improvements in speed and scale, and providing business leaders with management information they never had before. The last decade has represented the second era of enterprise IT, an era of industrialization of enterprise IT, making it more reliable, predictable, open and transparent. However, while this second era has been necessary and powerful, tight budgets and little appetite for risk left scant room for innovation.
Entering the third era of enterprise IT technological and societal trends, such as the Nexus of Forces and the Internet of Things, are changing everything; not only improving what businesses do with technology to make themselves faster, cheaper and more scalable, but fundamentally changing businesses with information and technology, changing the basis of competition and in some cases, creating new industries.
Most businesses have established IT leadership, strategy and governance but have a vacuum in digital leadership. To exploit new digital opportunities and ensure that the core of IT services is ready, there must be clear digital leadership, strategy and governance, and all business executives must become digitally savvy. Indeed, the 2014 CIO Survey shows that the CEO's digital savvy is one of the best indicators of IT and business performance.
CIOs report that a quarter of IT spending will happen outside the IT budget in 2014 and that is the spending they know about; the reality may be significantly higher. This is a direct result of the new digital opportunities that are more entwined with customer and colleague experiences, and that may, in some cases, reflect concerns that the IT organization is not fast enough or otherwise ready for more digital opportunities.
"There is an inherent tension between doing IT right and doing IT fast, doing IT safely and doing IT innovatively, working the plan and adapting," said Mr. Waller. "The second era of enterprise IT has been all about planning IT right, doing IT right, being predictable and creating value while maximizing control and minimizing risk. However, to capture digital opportunities created by the third era, CIOs need to deal with speed, innovation and uncertainty. This requires bimodal capability operating two modes of enterprise IT conventional, or "safe and steady" IT, and a faster, more agile nonlinear mode."
In order to deliver on this bimodal future, CIOs are planning for significant change in 2014 and beyond:
-- A quarter have already made significant investments in public cloud, and the majority expect more than half of their company's business to be running over public cloud by 2020.
-- Seventy percent of CIOs plan to change their technology and sourcing relationships over the next two to three years, and many are seeking to partner with small companies and startups.
-- Forty-five percent of companies have implemented agile methodologies for part of their development portfolio, although most need to go further to create separate, multidisciplinary teams, with lightweight governance and new, digital skillsets and alternative sourcing models.
Rate of IT Employment Growth Continues to Decelerate
The number of IT jobs grew 0.03 percent sequentially last month to 4,521,400, according to TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of the IT & Engineering staffing and solutions industry. On a year-over-year basis, IT employment has grown by 4.56% since December 2012 adding 197,100 IT workers.
Engineering jobs grew once again in December, up 0.13 percent sequentially last month to 2,479,300. On a year-over-year basis, engineering employment has grown by 1.39% since December 2012 adding 33,900 engineering workers.
"While IT employment grew almost three times the rate of the overall job market last year, the rate of growth decelerated throughout 2013. On the engineering side, the pattern of modest though irregular growth continued in December," stated Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance. "When you look at the recently released jobs report which underwhelmed nearly everyone, it is hard to be too disappointed in the IT and engineering employment picture in 2013. While employers clearly exhibited more caution in the latter half of last year, there are signs that the rate of growth of IT and engineering employment should strengthen as 2014 unfolds," added Roberts.