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The first day of our Technology Services World conference in beautiful San Diego kicked off yesterday, and as always it was a very busy day. The morning started at 7:30 AM with the Partner Advisory Board meeting. I gave an overview of the results from my 13th annual Global Technology Survey, and we discussed various topics including digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), and a topic several of us are working on for sessions at our fall conference in Las Vegas: employee engagement. 

Top Service Business Challenges

Next up was the kickoff meeting for our partners exhibiting in the TSW | EXPO. Janine Mackey, TSIA’s senior manager of conference programs and partner, and I always do a presentation to update our exhibiting partners on attendee demographics, and I discuss the top SBCs for members. SBCs, or Service Business Challenges, are our library of business problems keeping our members up at night. We now have a library of over 500 SBCs. When companies join TSIA, they go through the list to identify their top issues, and every time we receive a research inquiry, we tag them to the appropriate SBCs. In this way, we have a constantly updated list of the problems that are top of mind with our members.

In addition to sharing the top SBCs from each of our research practices, I also shared the top SBCs from my inquiries. In case you are curious what I spend most of my time talking about with members, here is the list:

  1. Top Trends for Self-Service
  2. "Best of Breed" Technology for Contact Center/Support Operations
  3. Knowledge Management Best Practices
  4. Support Channel Mix
  5. Proactive and Preventative Technologies
  6. Customer Success Technology
  7. Managed Services Tools and Platforms
  8. Maximizing Productivity Through Mobility Tools
  9. Top Installed PSA Platforms
  10. Leveraging Collaboration to Improve Staff Productivity

Chat Bots and Intelligent Agents

Next up was a presentation to the Support Services and Field Service advisory boards, who wanted information on the growing trend of chat bots or intelligent agents. I gave a history of chat bots, explaining why the new breed leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and AI, as well as unified search, are a whole different breed than the first chat bots circa 2000-2002 which used pre-programed answer pairs, with the most common response being, “I don’t understand, please try again.” I talked about spending priorities and when it made sense to add a chat bot to the customer self-service site.

My big event of the day was up next, my pre-conference keynote at 11:45, "Navigating The Brave New World of Microtransactions." I won’t go into too much detail on the topic, but if you are interested, please check out this blog published last week that explains the concept. In a nutshell, companies are finding a new stream of revenue using existing resources by offering these “microtransactions,” i.e., small bite-size consulting projects, handled by a single consultant in 2 hours to 2 days, usually performing tasks formerly handled by IT system administrators, which are now in very short supply in most technology firms. These microservices are often considered part of customer success, as they allow customers to more rapidly and fully consume products and reach business value.

TechBEST Awards

At 3:45 PM yesterday I presented the TechBEST awards, which are presented each spring to TSIA partners, with the results based on the findings in the annual Global Technology Survey. The winners were:

  • TechBEST Best in Adoption: Kimble Applications
  • TechBEST Best in Satisfaction: Zimit

Congratulations to the finalists and winners! For a full recap of the awards, please check out this blog post.

techbest awards zimit and kimble applications  

More About Microtransactions

My final presentation of the day was my Power Hour at 4:15, “Creating the Infrastructure for Profitable PS Microtransactions." Building on my keynote topic, this was a panel discussion by three of our partners all of whom offer technology to dramatically cut the time required to build proposals, resource projects, and enable self-service for microtransactions. My panelists were James Cramer, Founder and Co-CEO, Zimit, Mike Psenka, President and CEO, Moovila, and James Droskoski, Co-Founder, WorkRails. We had some great discussions, and good questions from the audience on making the business case for IT, introducing and making a business out of microtransactions, and how to staff these projects when bench capacity is maxed out. Thanks to the panelists and attendees for a great session.

I ended my day with just about the most perfect San Diego experience possible, a sunset harbor cruise sponsored by Coveo, where I had a chance to catch up with some of my favorite people, including David Kay of DB Kay & Associates, and Jennifer MacIntosh and Scott Bideau from Coveo.

Today I'll be spending most of the day in 1:1 meetings. I hope everyone is enjoying TSW as much as I am, and I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on today’s top attended sessions. Thanks for reading!

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John Ragsdale

About Author John Ragsdale

John Ragsdale is a distinguished researcher and the vice president of technology ecosystems for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. John works closely with TSIA’s partner ecosystem, identifying leading and emerging technology vendors whose products help solve the key business challenges faced by TSIA members. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.

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