Frost & Sullivan Identifies Emerging Support Interaction Optimization Market

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Self-service, remote customer support, analytics—these and other solutions are staples in the contact center world, but sometimes have spotty integration and are not optimized for the best results. Enter Frost & Sullivan, whose analysts have taken these disparate technology categories and identified a new contact center software segment: support interaction optimization (SIO). Bundled under the SIO umbrella, Frost & Sullivan analysts say that this new CRM category can be a multibillion-dollar opportunity for vendors.

"Frost & Sullivan values the SIO market at $1.3 billion globally in 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.1 percent, to reach $2.6 billion by 2020," said Brendan Read, industry analyst, information and communication technologies, at Frost & Sullivan, in a statement.

So, what is SIO? According to Frost & Sullivan, "Support Interaction Optimization (SIO) represents a set of applications and processes that enable tech support organizations to resolve customer support issues in a highly streamlined and efficient manner, while ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction and agent performance."

Ashwin Iyer, program director of contact center practice at Frost & Sullivan, says that SIO goes beyond defining a market category that is essentially a collection of previously defined tools. "It's when these tools start working together in an integrated model that we see the outcome as optimizing tech support," he says.

Iyer explains that when Frost & Sullivan analysts looked at different market segments of CRM, several trends emerged. "One of the major things that is happening now is that consumer technology is proliferating at a very rapid rate, especially compared to just a few years ago. A number of new applications are emerging, such as the connected home, connected cars, connected health. We've seen that tech support is getting a lot of attention. It used to be treated as a contact center application, but has grown much bigger."

With more sophisticated technology, companies are realizing that support calls are going to increase, but that they may not be necessarily prepared to deal with this in terms of resources—both people and technology.

"For some time, support agents and teams have been remotely accessing computing devices and phones to monitor usage, troubleshoot problems, configure applications, and transmit and install new and updated software," Frost & Sullivan analysts wrote. "Now support staff is being asked to perform the same tasks on a rapidly widening range of non-IT products and services, known as connected devices, or the Internet of Things. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that globally there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and 177 million wearable devices by 2018."

Frost & Sullivan has defined the SIO market as comprising five main categories of applications:

  • customer Web self-service;
  • remote customer support;
  • guided resolution;
  • customer interaction analytics; and
  • performance management.

Customer Web self-service has an opportunity to automate a lot more that it currently is, Iyer says, and is the largest market for SIO. Remote customer support is also poised to see large gains and already is being provided by such established companies as Citrix and Cisco. "It's a high-growth market in terms of customer-facing support as well as internal IT," Iyer says.

A more emerging market is guided resolution. These capabilities come into play when agents are using CRM applications and can get step-by-step recommendations for next best actions. This area includes knowledge bases and also the use of automated virtual assistants for agents.

Customer interaction analytics includes speech, multichannel, agent interaction analytics, "basically everything that touches customers during interactions," Iyer says. "These can come together to provide a holistic view of the insights from the customer that can drive better business decisions."

While performance management tools, such as agent performance, coaching, training and overall agent performance analytics, have been around for a long time, there are also emerging applications in this segment, such as gamification.

Additionally, Frost & Sullivan has identified the top verticals in the SIO market as home automation, telecommunications and cable, retail, healthcare, software, and 

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