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The market for customer analytics continues to grow as organizations realize the current competencies and technology are not aligned to the priority of providing the best possible customer experience through supporting business processes. At the same time those organizations that have invested and continue to improve in this area are taking advantage of why I call a new generation of customer analytics. As I research into technology to support customer analytics, I had a chance to assess the work done by a business analytics software provider called Alteryx. My colleague Tony Cosentino who is the research director of our business analytics efforts recently wrote an analysis of Alteryx, but I wasn’t familiar with the company until my own briefing about its customer analytics focus. For the technical aspects of the product, you can consult Tony’s analysis, but I want to discuss several key points that came up during my briefing.

The company has a rich history since the late 90’s in the business of data management and location analytics, and this heritage shows in its approach today. I know that customer data management is no easy task because there are so many sources of customer data that come in various sizes and formats. In fact, our benchmark research on customer information management shows that participants with IT titles on average identified 21 different sources of customer data while business users on average identified only 2.5 sources. Alteryx provides support for these two types of users, which it calls data artisans and business decision-makers, respectively. Data artisans or who we would call analysts do the nitty-gritty work to access, clean, rationalize and integrate the data, and then define and build analytic applications. The decision-makers are business users who define the information they need, provide parameters to make the apps work in the way they want, and then consume the results. This is critical as the iterative effort to add and augment data to customer information happens continuously by these analysts.

Analysts use Alteryx’s Designer Desktop to create apps using a three-stepvr_bti_br_whats_important_in_choosing_technology approach. First, the tool set provides drag-and-drop capabilities that allow users to integrate data from any source, be it transactional data from internal business systems, data collected from cloud-based systems, or unstructured data collected from electronic devices or social media. The tools help users define how the data should be cleansed and enrich it with geocoding data or data collected from third-party sources such as financial data providers. Critically the software helps align data to the customer identification data to enrich it for analytics. Second, the tool set enables users to create applications such as behavioral, spatial or predictive analytics, which typically are built so business users can input specific parameters to define the profile of the information they want to see that could be customer profile or segments. In the third step, the apps produce the results business users are looking for to analyze and interact with dynamically. The outputs can be published to the cloud and in different visual forms to suit the user. Analysts can also define rules to create action plans to address conditions identified in the outputs. Our research on business technology innovation shows that usability is highly important when purchasers evaluate new systems. In this context Alteryx’s three-step approach, using a common tool set, is appealing because it makes it easy for both analysts and business users to support the end-to-end process of accessing data and delivering results. Most importantly it can follow along an analytic process and at each step a range of analytics to rules can be applied to provide more context or depth to the analytics.

The same technology innovation research shows that analytics is the top vr_bti_br_technology_innovation_prioritiespriority among new technologies for companies, something that is borne out in my recent research into customer service and the agent desktop and next-generation workforce optimization. These results show that many companies lack a complete view of their customers, largely because of the increasing number and types of customer data sources. My latest research into the next generation of customer analytics is already identifying the changing landscape of processes and technology while identifying the divide between organizations that perform this responsibility well compared to those that do not. Alteryx has analytics technology that companies need to build these views on a range of customer information and metrics, and with more depth than many of the application providers in CRM and contact centers, so I recommend that those looking to advance to a new generation of customer analytics evaluate them.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

The last time I was briefed by Confirmit it had just acquired CustomerSat and, in addition to undergoing a number of internal developments, was transitioning from supporting market research, customer and employee feedback to focusing more on voice of the customer (VOC). One of its key differentiators has been its ability to combine market research, customer and employee feedback to close the loop and produce VOC reports and analysis that include all three perspectives. Confirmit added the ability to collect feedback throughvr_cfm_methods_for_collecting_customer_feedback unstructured “conversations” on smart mobile devices, in recognition that these devices are being used more frequently by consumers and therefore such capabilities increase the likelihood of consumers responding to requests to provide feedback. Although my research on customer feedback management  shows this to be an important, growing requirement, the Confirmit products continue to support the creation and analysis of surveys as a core way of collecting and understanding customer feedback.

This year Confirmit has concentrated on incremental improvements to its two products, Horizons v17.5 and CustomerSat v12.2, and although there has been some sharing of capabilities, they remain mostly independent products. Enhancements to Horizons have improved the following: the look and feel of its reporting capabilities, making it easier to use the features, set up ad hoc reports and interpret outputs; feedback collection, to support more desktop and mobile devices; survey design and management, making it easier to design and produce multichannel surveys that can be customized to particular project requirements; panel management, enabling easier setup of customer, employee and market research panels; and data management, making it easier to integrate more external data sources, automate transfer of data to and from Horizons, and use scripting tools to reduce setup times.

Feature enhancements to CustomerSat have focused on usability and production of dashboards. Its newest feature is Active Dashboards™, which provides each user with a personalized, interactive view of customer feedback tailored to the specific role of the user within the organization. Designed for the unique needs of VOC programs, it delivers real-time customer survey data through a custom-selected set of colorful charts, tables and widgets that enable users to visualize and analyze survey results at a glance. Users can also create, edit and manage their own dashboards using simple-to-use drag-and-drop capabilities. In addition, new features allow data to automatically update dashboards based on the user profile. The other main area of improvement focuses on the collection of feedback from mobile devices, to take advantage of newer device capabilities.

Confirmit has also improved the technical aspects of the products, making them more scalable, as well as enhancing data security and supporting both on-premises and cloud-based delivery models.

One of Confirmit’s strengths has always been its professional services and support for what Ventana Research defines as a performance management approach. In the context of VOC, this means its products and service support the definition and design of surveys and other methods for collecting feedback, analyzing the data to determine areas that require improvement and then ensuring action is taken to bring about those improvements, whethervr_cfm_who_takes_action_on_customer_feedback to products, services, processes, training or other employee-related tasks. This last step is vital because my research into customer feedback management shows that organizations are particularly bad at sharing feedback information and taking action: Only about one-third (34%) of organizations always respond to customers that complete surveys. The research also shows that more than two-thirds (67%) think it is very important to collect feedback, and nothing puts customers off more than spending time giving companies feedback and then not seeing it put to any use.

It has been a busy year for Confirmit, but as of yet, there has been only minimal convergence of its products. I was assured that this will happen in the next big release, v18, which is due at beginning of 2014. The promise is more convergence, changes to the technical architecture, more data management capabilities to support even more feature enhancements and processing of more feedback types and big data, more analytics capabilities, more mobile capabilities to support access to product features and collection of feedback, and features to support more collaboration across the enterprise. I will be keeping track of these advances, but companies wanting to improve their VOC programs would do well to evaluate how Confirmit can support and enhance initiatives to better understand customer, employee and market feedback.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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