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TSW conferences are a great way to get a top-level view of the latest trends in the industry, and how leading organizations are rising to meet emerging challenges as well as their best practices. During the conference, TSIA’s VP Research, Technology and Social, John Ragsdale, was able to get a detailed overview of the latest industry buzz through one-on-one conversations with TSIA members and partners, as well as TSW attendees. Here is a snapshot of some of the key takeaways from TSW 2015 Best Practices that John observed, in his own words. 

Here’s an excerpt from his original post on his personal blog, Ragsdale's Eye on Service:

Defining KM is a moving target. As usual, knowledge management dominated many of my 1:1 meetings. At one point, I lamented to Françoise Tourniaire of FT Works, a long time TSIA partner and knowledge management (KM) expert, "It used to be so easy–you bought a knowledgebase and you were done!" Today, there are multiple technology and process areas converging: knowledge management and knowledgebases, content management, social interaction including crowdsourcing and collaboration, and expertise management. Today, I spend more time talking about enterprise search technology, such as Coveo, than I do about knowledgebase tools. There is so much content across the enterprise and in online communities, and few companies are doing a good job of fully leveraging it to help customers. Today, when companies launch KM project, the first 6 months is usually spent just defining what that means, and what project scope makes sense. You can't boil the ocean, but being fixated on a single knowledgebase will also not serve you in the long term. 

Reducing overhead on communities. Another common theme I heard is that online customer communities, which are increasingly seen as the primary source of product information for more customers, is taking a lot of internal staff to manage and moderate. There were early success stories from companies like Novell, who successfully transitioned the majority of moderation activities to "power" customers. These customers are treated like royalty, given free trips to user conferences and featured in expert panel discussions. And, it is a win-win for the customer too–if they are anointed a super user by a vendor, they have their pick of administration jobs. But I heard from multiple companies with successful communities that customers love the forums, but their employees were still providing most of the answers. Prioritizing moderation duties in addition to inbound assisted support phone calls and emails is a complex juggling act, and sometimes community responses suffer.

Everyone's PSA needs are different. Professional Services Automation (PSA)has become a frequent topic in my conference 1:1 meetings, and I find that just about everyone I talk to has different priorities. I define PSA as a platform containing 3 modules: resource management, project management, and project accounting, and the reason for the PSA project can be in any of these areas. Resource management is at the root of many of these conversations, from boosting utilization rates to forecasting talent requirements a year in advance. CRM integration is often a big topic as well–how can I get more visibility into the pipeline and start influencing what PS projects are being quoted? But I also talked to companies who were primarily focused on better management and visibility into projects, usually because they are seeing project milestones slip and margins degrading, and want to find out why–and find out early enough to take corrective action. And there's always someone struggling with the billing side, with customers pushing back for more detail and asking for discounts after the fact.

Read the full post on John’s personal blog, Ragsdale’s Eye on Service.

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