Predicting industry trends is a practice about as old as the contact center industry itself. Conventional wisdom tells us that the best way to spot or predict trends is to talk to a bunch of different solutions providers and see what’s flying off the shelves, then extrapolate that trend into the future. At Saddletree Research we take a decidedly different approach. Instead of asking vendors what they’re making or what they think will sell, we ask buyers what they’re buying.
We consider our demand-based forecasting to be superior to supply-based forecasting and a more accurate means of gaining insight into the mindset of the industry. With that qualification in mind, here are the five mega-trends that we believe will have a significant impact on the industry this year:
- Big Data
- Real-Time Analytics
- Human Capital Management
- Shifting Purchase Influencers
The trend toward Big Data speaks for itself. With so much structured and unstructured data residing in the contact center combined with the advent of reasonable analytics solutions there is no doubt in my mind that Big Data will be a big trend this year. This was further verified by the demand for analytics solutions, which heads the list of the top contact center solutions that will be evaluated for purchase this year.
Mobility is another intuitive trend given the fact that there are 330 million mobile devices in use in our country of 315 million people, and over half of these devices are smart phones or tablets. Our user surveys revealed that mobility is a customer service issue that is worthy of investment in 2013. Our year-end research verified that over 40 percent of contact centers in the U.S. are now supporting both iPhone and Android mobile devices.
Real-time analytics will be driven by a combination of customer experience, regulatory compliance and remote agent management objectives. 2012 research revealed that the majority of performance analytics users are dissatisfied to some degree with the time it takes to get performance metrics to supervisors and agents. Real-time analytics addresses this shortcoming.
In addition, real-time analytics enables the management of remote agents as the at-home agent movement gains industry momentum in 2013. 2012 research showed that 53 percent of U.S. contact centers have some percentage of their workforce working from home. About 70 percent of these contact centers intend to increase their at-home agent population in 2013. Real-time analytics offers the only timely means of managing this remote workforce.
Human Capital Management will also be driven by the at-home agent movement as companies attempt to recruit and hire agents with the appropriate attitudes and attributes that will make them successful remote workers. Specialized needs of large outsourcers, who have to hire large numbers of employees in a short period of time and at a reasonable cost in order to compete with offshore outsourcers, will also contribute to this trend. Year-end survey results show that 33 percent of the market will be evaluating hiring software for purchase during 2013.
Shifting purchase influencers speak to the fact that price is not as influential in the purchase process as it used to be. Every year since 2008 we’ve asked participants in our year-end user survey to choose the two top factors that influence their technology purchase decisions. Return on Investment (ROI) and Price always top the list and they did this year too, but nipping on the heels of Price are such factors as company reputation, prior relationship with the vendor and trust in the brand name. This indicates the return of intangible purchase influencers in the post-recession contact center industry. It also means that the lowest price won’t always win the deal.
It is clear that analytics will be an important industry growth driver in 2013, but it will not be dominant. This year’s mega-trends indicate an overall focus on efficiency, most likely driven by conservative management in the post-recession era.
If you’re interested in learning more about the major technology trends shaping communications and collaboration, join Aspect at Enterprise Connect, March 18-20. Billed as the industry’s premier event for systems, software, services and applications for enterprise communications and collaboration, we’re looking forward to three days of high-level, forward-thinking, relevant and reliable information presented by thought leaders in keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions. Come find us at booth 1137!
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