We just spent three great days at the SSPA conference, where eVergance announced a couple of new transformation services. We had some great experiences meeting clients and friends: we talked to lots of other members about the current state of the Service and Support world, we attended sessions to compare their best practices to what we do – but most important, we came away with an improved and balanced view of the topics that matter the most right now. There are three trends at play today in the Service and Support world (with varying degrees of interest):

1. The hottest trend, Root Cause Analysis (RCA). This is where close to all of the attendees seem to be spending their time and efforts today. We had several discussions on Knowledge Management Optimization, Analytics, Metrics and Measurements and all the issues that matter to correctly diagnose, quickly, the root of a problem, and how to quash it (also, quickly). There were countless best practices and case studies shared by SSPA members — alas, they all pointed to the same results: if you create the environment and processes to quickly identify a problem, solve it, document and share the solution you then achieve the higher levels of customer satisfaction, reduce costs of support, and improve operations. We shared with members our experiences in optimizing KM to improve the content management and speed of response, and we got great reception… and lots of head-nodding. If this event is any indication, you are quite busy right now working on your own methods and models for improving the speed of response of problems, and leveraging your work.

2. In the very-interested-but-not-yet-hot category we observed lots and lots of conversation about feedback management and customer experience. There seems to be a consensus that “there is something there”, but almost no one was yet moved to action. There is, still, lots of confusion and lack of strategies about the best way to move forward. Again, lots and lots of head-nodding occurred during presentations on feedback and discussions on how to move forward. We see this as a near-term (2-3 years) hot topic, but not yet reaching the same level of understanding, and adoption, as root-cause-analysis. Stay tuned to this blog for more on feedback management and experience management – we have great things planned!

3. Finally, the elephant in the room: Web 2.0. Yes, Web 2.0. The most talked about, discussed, and argued subject. Wikis, collaboration tools, forums, engaging clients as active members as opposed to passive receivers, leveraging web services to improve operations — you name it, it was discussed and covered at some level or another. Of course, as I said, it was the elephant in the room (in reference to the analogy of several blind people in a room asked to describe an elephant): we heard so many different descriptions of what it was, how to use it, what to do, and success levels and stories that we walked away, probably, more confused than before. It is not very clear that there is consensus as to what Web 2.0 refers (although Allen has pointed out that McKinsey’s 2007 Web 2.0 survey at least does a good job listing out the various technologies under the Web 2.0 banner) — but there sure is consensus as to the importance of all its components. We saw predictions, and made our own, that see Web 2.0 becoming THE hot-button topic for the next five years… and it will likely become so. We had discussions where root-cause-analysis and Web 2.0 shared the spotlight, we saw vendors introduce it as the next revolution, and we share the enthusiasm… if only we could all agree on what it is that we are enthused about.

As you can see, your projects and internal discussions are probably not far from where the rest of the industry is moving. I just have two questions for you (and would welcome your comments and your emails):

1. are you in the same boat?

2. what was your experience?

Let us know what you think of our observations and how they match your current problems – we would love to talk some more about what you are doing, and what we are working on.

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