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  • Technology pundits are always on the lookout for “disruptive” changes in the software world, but they’ve consistently missed one of the biggest transformations of the last few years—the greatly expanded role of services. Though there are still major companies (notably Microsoft) that remain almost exclusively product-centric, most successful software vendors these days have adopted a business model that depends heavily on services. Among larger companies, services typically generate more than half of all corporate revenues; for powerhouse vendors like SAP and Oracle, the services ratio often exceeds two-thirds of revenues and a substantially larger share of profits. That shift in emphasis from products to services has happened quietly, but it’s definitely the new economic reality of the software business.
  • Over the years, we’ve noticed that the site developers who enter each year’s Best Sites competition often focus on an ever-changing short list of common challenges that have shaped their current upgrade strategies. This year, clearly, one high-priority concern has been how to create bigger and better online communities—and that’s a trend with big implications.
  • We’re constantly hearing about all the big, new changes in technology and the support of that technology. And, yes, some things have changed rather dramatically. “Tweeting” for customer technical support? Who’d have thought of that even five years ago? However, some things really haven’t changed; we at ASP have long noted that service is often the forgotten element in a company’s profitability. Way back in the “good old days” when technical support still largely meant on-site “break/fix” of hardware and even software, the actual service (properly negotiated and priced) was (and continues to be) often the more profitable component of the business mix, shoring up the rapidly disappearing margins of product sales. These days, while service still often doesn’t seem get the respect it deserves from CEOs, CFOs and marketers, an increasing number of companies recognize that service can be a key competitive differentiator, with smaller companies able to move more quickly and effectively to respond to and even anticipate service opportunities. This is why the “conventional wisdom” that larger companies should have an inherent advantage to marketing services isn’t always so wise.
  • As many companies are discovering, the growing popularity of software-as-a-service (SaaS) dramatically transforms the role of software support. With a SaaS business model, customers can pull the plug on their subscriptions with almost no notice if they’re dissatisfied or unsuccessful. Revenue streams, renewal rates, subscriber growth, add-on services—they all go poof! if support fails. Often, the natural response to the SaaS support challenge is simply to throw more bodies into the equation. More bodies presumably equal faster response times, more cases closed, more time on individual calls. What more could a customer want? Well, apparently customers do want much more. There’s no single demand that support managers always hear, but many of the new expectations address aspects of the customer experience. SaaS implementations typically move the actual software away from the customer’s computers, which eliminates many hard-to-solve technical issues. But that still leaves—and in fact expands—the potential for a wide range of support-related usability problems, how-to questions, and general hand-holding.
  • How does a company set appropriate salaries for the jobs it has to fill? The conventional answer is that HR managers are supposed to offer “market-based” pay—that is, high enough to attract (or retain) talented people, but not more generous than is necessary to fill those jobs. But that answer doesn’t tell us where “market-based” benchmarks come from. In actual practice, companies typically look at salaries at peer-level companies, to get apples-to-apples alignment with the pay levels that their most direct counterparts are currently offering.
  • At ASP we often hear the term “disruptive technologies” when talking with our members. But what does that really mean? (The PC “disrupted” the typewriter industry and yet I’m using a clicking QWERTY keyboard to type this report.) We submit –- whatever your definition -- that disruption has become the norm. As ASP founder Jeffrey Tarter noted in the first Maintenance and Services Rations report in 2004, “Technology pundits are always on the lookout for ‘disruptive’ changes in the software world, but they’ve mostly missed one of the biggest transformations of the last few years—the greatly expanded role of services.” A decade later, that role has continued to expand and change, until now we have products that are called (and delivered as) services and yet still tracked as product sales.
  • “I think we’re further ahead than we sometimes think! I look forward to a time when I can actually PROVE that social media is providing a scalable and cost effective option and that, over time, we will realize reductions in interactive support and cost.” “If you try to boil the ocean, you will fail.”  “Executive buy in is still a challenge in getting a line item on the budget for our social efforts.” “If you don’t use it (social media for tech support), you’ll fall behind. It’s that simple.”  These respondent comments summarize both what we see in this survey and in the technology sector at large. Many companies with whom we’ve engaged -- in this survey, our consulting engagements, and our seminars –- are further ahead than they think.
  • How does a company set appropriate salaries for the jobs it has to fill? The conventional answer is that HR managers are supposed to offer “market-based” pay—that is, high enough to attract (or retain) talented people, but not more generous than is necessary to fill those jobs. But that answer doesn’t tell us where “market-based” benchmarks come from. In actual practice, companies typically look at salaries at peer-level companies, to get apples-to-apples alignment with the pay levels that their most direct counterparts are currently offering.
  • ASP has an annual competition for the Top Ten best Support Websites. This approximately 120-130 page report has essays from each of the Top Ten about their websites, average scores, a trends analysis, names of the many independent judges, explanation of the 25 different categories that are scored, and more. The report effectively defines the state-of-the-art in self-support websites each year. We receive many requests for back copies. If you want to get some insight in to how to design an effective self-support website, this is the authoritative source.
  • 2015 IOT

    $360.00
    IoT is a network of uniquely identifiable endpoints (or “things”) that communicate without human interaction using IP connectivity – be it locally or globally.” – IDC definition.   The availability of high-speed, high-capacity bandwidth, cheaper and ever-smarter microprocessors, massive, low-cost data storage options, and widespread mobile tech have all combined to create a perfect storm of IoT opportunities, challenges (and hype) –- in both the consumer and industrial/enterprise sectors.  
  • There’s a new kid in town – Customer Onboarding. It sometimes goes by different names and there are rumors that it used to be something else that has now come back with a new look. The fuzzy definition of it is that it’s about how a company welcomes, or brings on board, a new customer. Of course, there’s nothing new about companies getting customers, so what’s the buzz about? The Association of Support Professionals (ASP) decided to find out via in-depth research, telephone interviews with consultants, and anonymous interviews with members of ASP and the Linked-In ASP Interest Group (references are listed at the end of the report).