ORLANDO, FLA.—Identifying trends and shifts in any industry is a difficult yet essential task. Those who ignore the telltale wind of change on the horizon could easily fall victim to massive setbacks and failures. In a keynote address here this week at Driving Innovation 2008, his company's user conference, Elan Moriah, president of Verint Systems' Verint Americas unit, talked about five important trends businesses cannot ignore if they want to remain competitive.
Speaking about the importance of spotting trends, Moriah explained that it’s interesting to look back on trends that have already run their course because "it seems so obvious"—in hindsight, anyway. "When you’re looking at things from the inside out, though, it’s not so easy to assess the impact of trends in your company," he added.
Moriah pointed out three main reasons why it's important to keep tabs on trends looming in any vertical market, including:
Keeping employees motivated, Moriah argued, is essential because it seeps down to the end customer, and it can also help a business remain successful even if its products or strategies are imperfect. Even if employees are all-star team players, it doesn’t mean that a company can forget about looking for unique ways to better itself through innovation. Using Dell and Amazon.com as examples, Moriah explained that those companies may not have invented their respective industries, personal computers and bookstores. They became successful, however, by differentiating themselves from the norm—what Moriah called Dell’s "innovation in supply-chain management" and Amazon.com’s use of the Internet to further its business.
- motivating employees;
- innovation; and
- global competition.
With these drivers in mind, Moriah identified five trends businesses must pay attention to, including:
Moriah told attendees that VoIP is quickly finding friends, not just in contact centers but also in enterprises. According to Forrester Research, 47 percent of companies were already using IP private-branch exchange (PBX) at the end of 2007—as opposed to Time Division Multiplexing (TDM)—and 29 percent of companies were evaluating and testing how IP PBX would work in their enterprises. After rattling off the obvious benefits of VoIP—lower costs, more flexibility, and being able to supplant an aging TDM infrastructure—Moriah noted that the biggest benefit is one that's been overlooked. "VoIP can break silos within organizations," he contended. The three areas within companies that generally provide service—contact centers, back offices, and individual office branches—have been typically separated. "The technology had not been there to connect all three until now, using VoIP," Moriah added.
- information is king (or, as Moriah put it, "king, queen, and the whole royal family");
- Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) breaks enterprise silos;
- analytics are going mainstream;
- contact centers are becoming more strategic; and
- service-delivery tools are converging.
One of the other key trends Moriah talked about—the contact center becoming more strategic—owes its prominence to several business realities. "There are escalating customer expectations, costs, and competition," he said. "Contact centers have always been around but they are more important [today] because service is a key differentiator." The contact center, he added, plays a major role in this differentiation because it is "becoming harder to differentiate on product and price." This goes hand-in-hand with the trend of analytics going mainstream. Arguing that analytics is the "fastest-growing segment in the contact center environment," Moriah said it allows companies to start asking more probing questions about customers starting with why instead of what.
The last trend Moriah talked about—the convergence of service-delivery tools—comes as no surprise, as it underscores Verint’s push of its workforce optimization (WFO) suite. "Contact center software is being redesigned to meet the needs of other departments," he told the crowd, arguing that WFO truly provides a "holistic view of the customer." Then he did something remarkable, given the fact that his audience comprised mostly Verint users: He told attendees that they can start with just one point solution, such as workforce management or speech analytics, and then move toward a more comprehensive suite.
He concluded by stating that keeping an eye on these trends and proceeding accordingly brings benefits not just for Verint users, but for Verint itself. "Your success is our success," Moriah said.