Two Eyes Toward the Future

By Wayne Scaggs

Trying to look into what is coming next is a factor of how far we want to look, how accurate we want to be, and what we are looking for. For many years I have enjoyed writing future-focused articles because it allows me to daydream about what I believe our clients and industry want in their call center systems. As vendors, our job is to provide the systems and the tools our customers need to operate their call centers successfully.

It is a lot of fun for us vendors to work in our development labs and then pat ourselves on the back because we developed a new cool feature we believe will be the next industry disrupter, the one thing no one can do without. We take it to market and find out yes, it is cool and yes, we developed the feature extremely well; we also might discover that it’s not selling well because no one really wanted it but us.

It is, however, possible to forecast the future of our industry. This future is right in front of us in the form of ideas that come from what other high-tech companies are doing and from our own customers’ clients. We have two eyes, and we need to use both of them.

We use one eye to watch what other high-tech companies are doing. Even though our industry is not always known for its cutting-edge technology, we want to make sure we’re not too far behind. We need to find out how other companies are capturing data and then storing, analyzing, and transforming it into valuable information, ready to send to those willing to pay for it.

We use the other eye to look to the end user, and then we listen with both ears. For many ideas, it is tempting to ask, “Why would you want to do that?” However, the key is not to ask why beyond what we need to know to develop the feature. We must remember that our end users have a dream, and they are doing their best to make that dream come true. By all means, we should share any knowledge we have to help them the best we can, while recognizing that we are not in the business of crushing dreams. I am glad I did not let anyone crush my dream. I, too, had naysayers, including accountants, lawyers, consultants, and even friends. After all, we are all in the business of meeting the needs of our customers when they come to us for help.

At the same time, if your end user does not value what you have done, why are you doing it? If you think your customer will appreciate all you do for them without attaching a value to it, you may have made a mistake.

We are all exposed on a daily basis to more and more technology; a big part of our job is figuring out how to use some of that technology in our business. We need to step back from the forest so we can see the trees. As we then pick what will enhance our industry and fully embrace it, we will be better for it.

With all that said, the communication and business worlds have become so competitive that all our resources need to be going in the same direction. We have clients, operations, employees, sales, and marketing to manage and lead, with specialized equipment that answers thousands and thousands of calls accurately.

An outsider may look at what you do each day and ask, “How do you do all that needs to be done?” When you live it, you may not even know how much you are doing. Just concentrate on gaining a real competitive edge over your rivals. Focus on your business strengths, eliminate distractions, get a good night’s sleep, reduce your expenses, get help when needed, and keep up with the latest technologies, such as hosted services.

When you look at what the future brings with new technology, you might at first feel fear and a loss of control. Although it might be scary at first, I recently heard a TED Talk, which stated that to be comfortable, we first must be uncomfortable – it’s called change.

Wayne Scaggs is president of Alston Tascom, Inc., which offers premised-based and hosted contact center solutions.

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2015]

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