April 29, 2013
I met David Bean years ago. He was explaining “deep extraction” to me at a now defunct search engine conference. I recall that he had a number of US government clients. I noted in my analysis of the company which appeared in my analysis of the company that the firm wanted to break into non government markets.
I made sure that one of my team captured news releases about Attensity. When I checked the my files to update my Attensity profile, I noted that the company had done a merger with a couple of German outfits, was pushing into sentiment analysis, and beating the text analytics drum.
In one sense, Attensity was following the same path of Stratify, which as you probably know was Purple Yogi. Hewlett Packard now owns Stratify and I don’t hear too much about how its journey from government work to the wide world of non government work has worked out. Purple Yogi, now Hewlett Packard Autonomy, Stratify is doing legal stuff … I think. If I understand the write up by a high intellect consultant expert, Attensity is speedboating into customer support.
Can market niches like customer support, eDiscovery, and business intelligence keep some vendors afloat?
Two different markets but one common goal: Diversify in order to generate big revenues.
I read “Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement.” On the surface, the story is a good one and it is earnestly told:
Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).
Familiar stuff. Text processing, outputs, and payoffs for the licensees.
Attensity, founded in 2000, that’s 13 years ago, is no spring chicken. I learned from the write up:
Attensity has also made some technical improvements to the product. The architecture now supports multitenancy and automatic load balancing, which are especially useful in handling very large volumes of tweets. Reporting has been enhanced to include more visualization options, trend analysis, emerging hot issues, and process and performance analysis.
My thought is that many firms which flourished with the once generous assistance of the US government now have to find a way to generate top line revenue, sustainable growth, and profits.
In the present financial environment, text processing companies are flocking to specific problem areas in organizations. Customer support (a bit of an oxymoron in my opinion), eDiscovery, and business intelligence (not as amusing as military intelligence in my opinion) now are well served sectors.
The companies looking for software and systems to make sense of data, cut costs, gain a competitive advantage, or some other benefit much favored by MBAs have not found a magic carpet ride.
The noise from vendors is increasing. The time required to find and close a deal is increasing. Some customers are looking high and low for a solution which is “good enough”. Management turnover, frequent repositionings, and familiar marketing lingo by themselves may not be enough to keep the many firms competing in these “hot niches” afloat.
Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013
March 22, 2013
New Zealand (NZ) Post has been using the RightNow platform and according to the ZDnet “NZ Post looks to Bolster Oracle RightNow Adoption” plans to expand the usage of the Oracle cloud-based RightNow customer management service. Oracle purchased the CRM software company in 2011. New Zealand postal service began using the RightNow platform as a sales customer relationship management (CRM) tool. They then expanded the product suite so that it covered a variety of different channels such as email and social media. New Zealand Post had a joint venture with DHL but they ended it and bought back the shares of Express Courier. According to the New Zealand Post head of customer channels Russell Stephens, with this new addition New Zealand Post now wants to combine the customer care process for the courier unit with its main business.
“We are currently looking to deploy RightNow across the CourierPost business, and that will give us great benefit in both contact centres that work across our parcel and courier business.”
Stephens has been using the RightNow technology for several years and one of its most notable feats is the ability to give a single view of customer interactions with New Zealand Post across multiple channels.
“There have been instances where a customer was complaining about NZ Post’s services on Twitter, but the company could see that the person was already on a live chat with a staff member and was able to respond to the customer accordingly on Twitter. I think that is a really cool example of when those channels come together. In the old world, that wouldn’t have happened and the customer would just be on the phone with us.”
Seems like NZ Post is already a fan of RightNow technologies and its new relationship with Oracle simply means business as usual.
April Holmes, March 22, 2012
January 21, 2013
Pulling from Customer Think, the article “Predictions For Customer Experience Management In 2013” discusses how the customer experience management have made great strides in the past three years. CEM used to solely focus on information fathering and finding insights in customer data (sounds like Big Data, right?). CEM now has more technology and methods at its fingertips to connect CEM users to its customers for real experiences. Two thousand thirteen will bring even more changes and the article predicts that solicited and social feedback will merge. CEM users must figure out how to take it, advantage of the two and possibly build a platform to manage it. Also immediate and real time feedback through mobile devices will be worth their weight in gold to gain consumer insights.
Here is the biggest change:
“Action at the Frontline Will Become Standard: While first-generation CEM software focused on capturing feedback, today’s CEM solutions go beyond understanding the customer experience. Now enterprises want CEM platforms that allow the frontline to connect feedback to action. In 2013, organizations will measure their CEM programs not just on response rates, but also on the closed loop and the business impact of closing the loop. The CEM solution of 2013 will directly (and not through complicated integration and years of IT projects) trigger, capture, and manage the action associated with feedback all the way to the frontline. CEOs need to make it their company’s mission to focus on the customer and even create a culture and the appropriate business measures and incentives to make it happen. But the people, who directly impact the customer’s experience, each and every day, are frontline employees. In 2013, the actions and influence of the frontline will grow, and consumers will feel the benefits.”
CEM makes sense when it comes to clothing, personal products, sport-related products, technology, etc., but what does it mean for software? Cheaper customer support systems? The article, applies more to physical products than digital.
Whitney Grace, January 21, 2013
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search
December 18, 2012
EA, a revamped source promises to make sense of the enterprise. According to Toolbox’s article “EA to Empower the Wisdom of Seeing the Whole, the Power of Enterprise Knowledge and the Art of Enterprise Collaboration”, corporations have reason to pay attention to enterprise architecture. . Ironically, the article portrays enterprise architecture as a means of reaching a higher power source on an almost spiritual level of organizational empowerment, aka Enterprise Zen, but fails to mention other important factors such as the need for wisdom in choosing partners and integrators.
Some of the points, though phrased in an entertaining proverbial way, are widespread by definition and more business sense than validation:
“Wisdom comes from seeing the whole where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, in an organization, most people can only touch the tree without seeing the forest. Knowledge is power; EA does not only enable everyone to see the whole but also enable everyone to know the parts via enterprise knowledge management. Collaboration is more art than science. It is in every organization strategic planning goal and it is also a difficult goal to achieve.”
Enterprise architecture is one cog in the wheel of getting enterprise information out there. Using a reliable technology like Intrafind, that is backed up with a team of solution providers can provide the initial steps necessary to help you make the best of your EA investment and reach true Enterprise Zen.
Jennifer Shockley, December 18, 2012
December 12, 2012
We’ve noted an interesting stance by Toshiba, a company on track to become the new Sharp or Sony. The Australian blog Future Proof complains about “Toshiba Laptop Service Manuals and the Sorry State of Copyright Law.” It seems that Future Proof blogger Tim proudly maintains a section wherein he freely shares as many laptop service manuals as he can get his hands on. Toshiba, though, has now told him to keep his virtual mitts off their copyrighted material. Tim is unhappy about the move.
The piece shares Toshiba’s reasons for issuing the cease-and-desist, then refutes each in turn. Safety? You’ve got to be kidding me, says Tim. Proprietary information? Well, other manufacturers do not share Toshiba’s concern, so how secret can this stuff be? Manuals are only for authorized service providers, Toshiba insists. Tim can’t argue with the truth of that one, but considers is unreasonably restrictive. The manuals are copyrighted, they say. Well, yes, that’s rather the issue, isn’t it? The post opines:
“As the original author of their laptop repair manuals, Toshiba owns the copyright on them and has the legal right to control their dissemination. They have not followed in the footsteps of other companies and made the decision to disseminate them to the public for open use. They are, in fact, tightly limiting access to their manuals only to their authorised repairers, and as such locking its customers out from information they could use to service or repair their laptops on their own.”
I have a certain amount of sympathy for a company that may be trying to protect its authorized service providers. However, since other players in the field, like Dell, HP, and Lenovo are more willing to allow open access to their information, Toshiba looks like the outlier here. Will pressure from consumers stirred up by Future Proof make any difference?
Cynthia Murrell, December 12, 2012
October 30, 2012
InMagic has taken a step forward with a recent promise to its customers. On the company’s blog, General Manager and CTO Phil Green posts, “Back to the Future: a Pledge to Keep our Customers Self-Sufficient.” This vow to boost ease-of-use is an attitude we like to see.
One of InMagic’s primary commitments, says Green, has always been to provide software that can be easily used and customized by even the non-technical among us. As the Web grew in scale and complexity, however, that goal became more of a challenge for the company’s DB/TextWorks WebPublisher solution. Clients using that software to build and maintain their Web sites have often found it difficult to modify their sites without the help of a skilled Web developer.
InMagic now has the solution. Green recalls a client who urgently needed two things for their custom DB/Text WebPublisher-based website. First, they wanted the ability to make changes to their site without tapping an expensive consultant. The customer also wanted to stick with InMagic’s DB/TextWorks to build and maintain their database. Green writes:
“We were thrilled to be able to offer our new solution, Presto for DB/Text. The DB/TextWorks connector in Presto for DB/Text enables the client to build and maintain their textbase in DB/TextWorks while publishing the content in Presto. And the connector easily accommodates their textbase of more than 100,000 records. In addition, the Presto configuration layer enables the client to easily make changes to the website without technical support. In fact, the client is so comfortable with the product that they’re handling the majority of development of their new website themselves, with only limited configuration and building help from us.”
Green goes on to mention another client, one who successfully used Presto to rebuild their intranet site and to integrate with SharePoint. Specialized InMagic Web parts installed into SharePoint made Presto content available in the customer’s new SharePoint-based intranet.
Formed almost thirty years ago, InMagic is located in Woburn, MA . The company builds information management tools that, they say, are known for low cost of ownership, flexibility, ease-of-use, and rapid deployment. Some prominent customers include NASA, the esteemed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and corporate powerhouse Owens Corning.
Cynthia Murrell, October 30, 2012
October 11, 2012
Digimind, a competitive intelligence software provider, has a lot to offer in the field of information management and analysis. This is why when we stumbled upon this, “Q&A With Yann Guilain, Customer Care Director At Digimind” we thought it could be useful to our readers looking for some best practices in customer experience.
Despite having to juggle a variety of different elements and challenges in order to keep customers happy, Guilian’s ten years of experience in the field have provided him with some best practices concerning how to make a project successful.
“I have so much to say on this point! If I could only keep one single point, I’d have to say that the most important is “hunt down added value”. What I mean by this is that you have to focus a maximum of effort into deliverables, CI watches, subjects, analysis that will bring added value to key decision makers. Everything about the way we organise a CI project, all our efforts can then be focused on this objective, once it has been well-identified. At the end of the day, there’s only one question that counts: “What’s it for?”
Digimind has built its reputation by instilling trust in its customers. By investing in predictive analytics tools and other search solutions, businesses can gain valuable insights from their data and better serve the needs of their clients.
Jasmine Ashton, October 11, 2012
October 4, 2012
Open-source technology is heralded by developers for the innovation and the free tools that are available. This is a way for developers to access the technology they need without the highly inflated costs, except when the tools actually are not free.
I came across “When ‘Free’ Isn’t: Developer Accuses Tool Vendor of Extorting Customer” recently on Ars Technica, which informs us of Appcelerator’s Titanium mobile developer tools which were the center of a big complaint and quite a lot of controversy. It seems an aggressive salesperson misled users to believe the technology was free and is now being accused of “extortionate fees” and contacting a developer’s client in order to attain those fees.
The article gives us some insight from Appcelerator:
“‘Rarely does this happen that we get such confusion and noise (about the licensing),’ Appcelerator Vice President of Products Jonathan Rende said in an interview with Ars. ‘We acknowledge there’s some confusion on our licensing. We hear the feedback loud and clear. We’re going to make sure the message is very clear as we approach customers in the future. Our developer community is super important to us, and we want to do right by them.’”
The “confusion” lies in the blending of open-source software development kit and a proprietary integrated development tool. We view this as an open-source bear trap and are unsure where this lies in the realm of ethical use of open-source software. Hopefully this does not become a trend.
Andrea Hayden, October 04, 2012
August 21, 2012
I read “Social Research Key Findings”. The write up summarizes research which has consumed “most of the year.” Read the original article. Judge for yourself. Is social media applied to sentiment, prediction, customer support, and the other buzzwords associated with the phrase “social media” ready for prime time. My view is that as “the end of search” approaches, vendors are scrambling to find marketing Velcro which will lead to new customers and repeat business.
The write up points out that the research was sponsored by some social media luminaries who, it appears, wanted to know what makes customers’ hearts go pitter patter. There is an interesting but almost illegible graph which runs down the survey respondents’ perception of “hindrances” to social analytics and its assorted children.
The graphed data are based on respondents’ selection of True or False. The scale is wonky, running from 0 to 250, and I am not sure if these data represent individual choices, a subset, or a normalized output. I whipped out my trusty magnifying glass and learned the following from the graph:
The respondents were roughly evenly split on True and False votes for this statement: “Not sure which business can leverage.” The respondents were in the same kettle of fish with regard to “Legal Issues, Security issues, the benefits, and fear of negative impacts.
It sure looked to me as if the majority of respondents agreed that their information technology departments were not a hindrance to social media. Company culture also seems not to be a particular barrier.
The article explains the key findings with nine observations. Let me highlight four findings which I found interesting. You will need to consult the original article to get the full payload from the research.
Allegedly the research supports the statement: “It’s still an early market.” My view is that the dismal performance of Facebook’s initial public offering indicates that social fatigue has set in. Social research is not silver bullet. Customers still want to talk to an informed human. Predictive analytics still cannot pick winners in horse races. Sentiment analysis does little more than flag email with inflammatory language. The ClearForest warranty process works, but it is expensive and depended on rules. Rules were expensive to maintain. In large systems with dynamic content, the fancy math helps but it does not deliver results commensurate with the marketers’ promises. Big surprise? Nope.
A second finding is encapsulated in the statement: “It should not be surprising that video and picture sharing are among the top social media.” The only problem is that understanding the content of videos and pictures is a tough computational problem. Pump through a day of YouTube content and you have a system which is expensive to build, maintain, and scale. In short, words are a very difficult problem. Words have not yet been cracked. The social audio and video is an even more difficult problem. Opportunities? Yes. Solutions for a cash strapped enterprise? Not yet, gentle reader.
A third finding is summarized in this way: “Marketing and service have more uses for social media than does sales, so far.” My interpretation: Pumping out big bucks to analyze social media does not generate revenue. My view is that social research boils down to tracking what individuals do. Even with large amounts of data, the social researchers are not able to hook the data, their analyses, and their services to generating revenue for the licensees. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies, in my opinion, remain juicy prospects. The tire company or the waste disposal business may not buy or even sit through a webinar.
The final finding which caught my attention was “Content is king.” I don’t know what this means. The article explains:
Ranking the three major social media for usefulness, Twitter is first followed by Facebook and then LinkedIn. Interestingly, corporate blogs and product/service blogs are rated higher than the top three services indicating that people want specific content and they are not put off by content size or the time it might take to read or view it. So the three popular social tools might help get the conversation started but successful companies will quickly discover that they need more content for follow up. Our CRM Idol experience this year confirms this point: we are seeing a larger-than-normal number of vendors focused on content creation, tracking, and management.
If this makes sense to you, then get out your purchase order form. The sponsors are ready to rumble.
Stephen E Arnold, August 21, 2012
Sponsored by Augmentext
July 17, 2012
An important customer service message involving bypassing technology to appease your customers was revealed by UserVoice early this week.
UserVoice, a company which focuses on listening to your market through simple engagement tools, recently posted an article titled, “Sorry, but Your Customers Don’t Care if You’re Sorry.”
With technology becoming so engrained in everyday business, sometimes that technology reveals itself to be slightly finicky. Systems can be inflexible and unable to accomplish certain tasks which may seem quite ordinary, such as leaving a side off of an order or doing partial refunds. However, this does not mean that your business can afford to lose the human side of everyday transactions. The article asserts:
“Guess what: your customer doesn’t care how your system works. No, really. They don’t care one bit. They want what they want, and if you can’t deliver it, they’ll find someone who CAN do it.
Take the time to help your customers, even if it means circumventing your system. Walk the 3 feet to talk to the chef. Send someone a check if your system can’t do refunds. Give someone another game if it turns out your games only work on PC.”
Using common sense in these sorts of simple transactions, which may include bypassing the “system,” will result in happier customers in the long run.
Andrea Hayden, July 17, 2012
Sponsored by PolySpot