The results of our annual Global Technology Survey allows us to get a detailed look at which new technology and organizational capabilities are seeing the most investment dollars from some of the top companies in the industry. Although overall planned spending is high across all survey categories, which relate in some way to one or several of TSIA's service disciplines, there were some key investment areas that stood out, especially in the Europe, Middle East, and Asia (EMEA) regions. In fact, over 80% of our international respondents are planning the majority of their spending in three main categories over the next one to two years. For any technology organization considering additional investments in technology and services in the years ahead, it's always a good idea to see where your peers have already adopted solutions in order to avoid losing a competitive edge. In this post, I'd like to share the top three areas EMEA region companies are investing in: billing and invoicing systems, IoT/smart services platforms, and self-service portals.
Applicable to both TSIA's Managed Services and Service Revenue Generation disciplines is the investment category of billing and invoicing systems. Typically part of a larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, billing, invoicing, and collections software automates the customer billing process, gives customers accurate and timely billing statements or invoices, and tracks the status all customer billables. Based on the responses to our survey, there's a growing dissatisfaction with legacy ERP systems, which can be expensive to own and, in some cases, have become too complex to maintain due to the highly customized nature of most implementations. 83% of our EMEA respondents consider it beneficial to their productivity and overall ease-of-use to “start from scratch” and invest in new or additional billing and invoicing systems in the next year, including making the move to cloud products which tend to have lower up-front costs and less maintenance requirements.
We've been talking a lot about the growing prominence of smart services/the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly as it relates to the area of field services, so it's no surprise that more companies are seeking ways to invest in IoT platforms in the coming years. IoT platforms are a suite of tools that “talk” with one another, combining remote monitoring capabilities, predictive maintenance, increased connectivity, and device management together in one package. By investing in an IoT platform, a business will be able to get better intelligence into the function of their hardware (such as system errors and failing parts), and can log and monitor product adoption, usage patterns, and consumption for their on-premise technology. Not only will this help in optimizing internal processes, but can also lead to the improved delivery of customer outcomes.
Perhaps the biggest eye-opener for all of the data we collected in the 2016 Global Technology Survey is how much planned spending is going to be dedicated to customer portals. Compared to 87% of North American respondents, a staggering 100% of EMEA respondents said they will be purchasing new or additional self-service tools within the next two years! Across the industry, we've noticed an increase in customer preference for self-service support to assisted support, and self-service portals give customers the power to navigate through provided resources to find answers to their questions. Not only does it make it easier for customers to find the information they need, but it has the added benefit of freeing up time for assisted support channels to tackle more involved customer inquiries. Self-service portals typically include knowledge management capabilities, tools to navigate and find knowledge, as well as integration to CRM/incident management for customers to create and view incidents within the portal.
However, there is data that supports the fact that customers are unsatisfied with current self-service tools currently available to them, so hopefully planned spending in this area will improve the access and usability for portals, as well as uncovering new approaches to providing knowledge to a wider array of customers. I wrote a three-part blog series called “Creating the Ultimate Customer Portal,” so if this is an area you're interested in, I highly recommend you check that out to get some inspiration.
These were just the top three areas of investment for EMEA businesses, but there are still so many other technologies and organizational capabilities worth looking into if you're wanting to stay ahead of the game. Our Technology Spending Reports are the direct result of our industry surveys and professional research initiatives and allow us to provide our members with a look into what the pacesetters are doing they can plan their spending accordingly. You can download the free preview of my 2016 Technology Spending Report: EMEA to see the rest of the opportunities on this list, but I also invite you to chat with us about the other deep-dive insight we can provide you with to better prepare your organization for changes in the technology industry, achieve growth, and optimize for success.
Is your company excited about exploring any of the investment opportunities I've mentioned above? I'd love to hear about it in the comments, or you can reach out to me directly via email. I look forward to hearing from you!
Post Date: July 14, 2016
John Ragsdale is the distinguished vice president of technology research, for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.
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