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Brendan Read - Analyst Profile

Senior Industry Analyst
Frost & Sullivan
Information & Communication Technologies

Summary

Functional Expertise

20+ years of experience in research, reporting, and analyzing developments in customer service, support, sales, services, technology, legislation/regulations, site selection, trade, and business continuity. Particular expertise in:

  • CRM
  • Outsourcing
  • Omnichannel B2C and B2B online and retail customer experience (CX) 
  • Onshore, nearshore/offshore, and foreign market site selection, and home-based agents

Industry Expertise

Experience base covering broad range of sectors, leveraging long-standing working relationships with leading industry vendors, adjunct suppliers e.g., site selection, and with end-user organizations.

  • Cloud/hosted contact centers
  • Contact routing and engagement including chat, co-browsing, video, SMS/text, outbound dialing, proactive customer contact, IVR, speech, mobile, WebRTC, remote diagnostics and repair, and customer collaboration
  • Social media, including social marketing, social collaboration, and social selling and service
  • Analytics and Big Data
  • Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee
  • eCommerce and retail commerce technologies
  • Staffing, training, gamification, agent productivity, including desktop automation, electronic displays, and intraday management
  • Connected devices, including Internet of Things and products as a service
  • 911 contact centers/PSAPs

What I bring to the Team

  • 15+ years contact center industry experience including 3+ years marketing support for a teleservices firm
  • A diverse background spanning multiple fields and industry-using verticals
  • Global perspective through covering developments in various countries. Reside/resided in Canada, U.K., and the U.S
  • In-depth writing, editing, and communications skills, including public speaking, media, and social

Career Highlights

Extensive expertise in research, reporting, analysis, editing and writing for a wide range of customer contact and direct marketing media/publications and sites, plus for magazines covering construction, energy, metals, transportation, and wholesaling. Direct experience with business continuity and teleservices.

Author, Designing the Best Call Center for Your Business and Home Workplace and co-author, with Joseph Fleischer, The Complete Guide to Customer Support

Education

B.A. major in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


Areas of expertise
CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT
MARKETING
MARKET RESEARCH
COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE
INVESTORS


Recent items from Brendan Read

Omnichannel Customer Experience (CX), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) Creating Opportunities
Customers are becoming more reliant on computer hardware, software, and services in their lives and work. And while customers have had to become more knowledgeable about the technologies they own, use, and access, there also have been critical changes to the customer support landscape. Meanwhile, today’s customers are more anxious and demanding of companies when their applications, products, and tools do not work. Solving problems for customers is therefore central to successful CRM strategies and providing a quality Customer Experience. Customers will stay loyal to brands and promote them on social media only if products work well and service is superb. But effective customer support can be expensive. Companies have to find solutions that will help not only retain customers, but ideally turn them into “raving fans”, while also keeping costs down. Providing excellent support has never been more critical for customers and companies. New products, technologies, and channels are improving the Customer Experience but they also create their own issues that require swift and effective resolution. Consequently companies must find innovative ways to provide customer support. The next-gen mobile-first context-aware AI-driven applications automatically and affordably enable for companies and organizations the “true CRM” of the successful smallest businesses. And not a moment too soon. These CRM tools have become necessities as businesses fight harder to grow market share in a slowly expanding North American economy. The widening income divide makes careful customer segmentation and offering high value/low cost service make it imperative for businesses to ensure profitability without losing business to competitors. Ongoing cost cutting pressures, whether to lower taxes and, or deliver more services, require government departments to demonstrate high public satisfaction and productivity to justify their budgets. Select Key Findings • The CRM market is expected to grow strongly to 2022, driven by a growing and competitive economy, even with a widening income divide. Companies are tightening their focus on Customer Experience (CX) and productivity to maximize customer value and profits. • CRM is becoming a relationship management, as opposed to only a case or a deal management application. The next generation solutions use artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools for Omnichannel knowledge-driven contextual personalized customer engagements. • Cloud deployment, mobile-first excellent user experiences (UXs), and solution modularity/simplification are keys to obtaining return on investment (ROI) and buyer loyalty. • There is a growing range of applications that are being integrated and offered with CRM systems. They cover digital channels, configure, price, quote (CPQ), accounting and marketing automation, enterprise resource planning (ERP), mobile sales force automation (SFA), mobile workforce management (MWM), sales intelligence (SI), sales enablement, and supply chain management (SCM). • The Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) promises to add significant value to CRM investments, with new rich data for targeted sales and service. • Small midsized businesses (SMBs), manufacturing, healthcare, education, legal and other professional services, present growth markets. • A vendor’s ability to deliver compelling next-gen solutions will determine its future in the CRM market.
Published: Aug 24 2017 Other
A Stronger Economy & High Customer Expectations Are Driving Growth, but Automation and Income Changes Loom
Economic growth, consumer and business spending, and growing customer expectations for excellent customer experiences (CXs) are spurring higher American and Canadian contact center demand. As a result, CX-sensitive higher valued omnichannel contact centers will be set up, expand, and stay onshore, and return from nearshore and offshore locations, over the short to medium terms. The spate of retail store closures is opening up potential new locations. Shared locations (small or individual networked agents sharing facilities with other departments are another option. Nearshore and offshore contact centers remain viable where cost is a prime consideration, and they may be expanded or repositioned to serve growing customer service and sales demand in those nations. However, the same forces that are prompting contact center expansion may lead to higher agent churn and shrinking labor pools. Over the longer term, economic changes, automation, and contact center alternatives (e.g., work at home agents [WAHAs], informal agents [IAs]) will balance the labor market. But they may slow contact center growth and could lead to fewer contact center seats. The net result may be a smaller, richer, focused, productive, and diverse customer contact ecosystem.
Published: Jul 25 2017 Other
Rising Customer Demands, Internet of Things, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Creating Opportunities
There is a growing market for Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software, driven by enterprises, including advanced manufacturing, financial services, and life sciences, and more recently by small-midsized businesses as it enables companies quickly and accurately create competitive and profitable customizable quotes. Cloud hosting and new features and integrations are expanding CPQ demand while there are budding new opportunities from the Internet of Things, visualization, and, coming up, augmented reality/virtual reality. But there are obstacles, both on the customer purchasing and implementation and also on the vendor sides that may limit CPQ market growth.
Published: Jun 26 2017 Other
Guided Assistance, Desktop Automation, Displays, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Excellent Supervision, and Workforce Optimization (WFO) Maximize Value from Customer Contact Agents
There is no substitute for the human touch provided by omnichannel contact center agents when connecting virtually with customers for complex service and sales support issues. Agents are the linchpin to successful and profitable Customer Experiences (CXs). But it’s costly to hire, train, manage, accommodate, and equip agents to perform these essential tasks. Wages and benefits comprise the lion’s share of centers’ operating expenses (i.e., 65%-70%). Moreover, having contact center agents work on-premise incurs significant real estate, facilities, and equipment outlays. In today’s competitive environment, organizations (businesses, non-profits, and government agencies), must delight customers and control costs in order to exceed their goals and spur growth. Ensuring that contact center agents are productive is essential.
Published: Nov 10 2016 Other
Enterprise feedback management (EFM), Voice of Customer (VoC), and Voice of Employee (VoE) Programs and Surveys, and Social Listening Obtains Actionable Customer Insights
Obtaining and understanding the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is critical to future customer loyalty, customer social media brand promotion, and in marketplace differentiation. Money talks, but tracking and analyzing customer transactions represent only one set of tones. Customer attitudes towards brands, shaped by their experiences with products, sales, service, and support, comprise the others. As a result, companies are giving VoC greater strategic importance.
Published: Nov 09 2016 Market Insights
Sales Intelligence can Boost Sales Performance and Development, and Enable Account-Based Sales Development and Marketing, and Social Selling
Sales intelligence (SI) solutions provide sales reps with customer insights (including context and timing) in order to close more sales in less time. SI, then, helps to turn prospects into customers, and create and build customer relationships. SI is offered standalone and in many products, notably prospecting and sales acceleration software, and with CRM and marketing intelligence (MI) solutions. But as customers grow, and as technologies and industry practices change, SI applications must be flexible enough to evolve with them.
Published: Oct 26 2016 Market Insights
North American 911 Contact Centers Face New Opportunities and Urgent Issues
Public contact centers or public safety answering points (PSAPs) are moving from basic 911 and enhanced or E911, noted for caller location tracking and number reporting, to Next Generation 911 (NG911). NG911 is a standards-based, IP emergency communications infrastructure that supports integrated voice, text, data (including Internet of Things [IoT] and telemetry), photos, and video. NG911 relies on Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets), which are privately-provided specialized managed IP networks that transport incidents from contacting parties to PSAPs. But these new NG911 technologies must be tightly integrated with existing technologies, most notably computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems for end-to-end incident response from callers to first responders. There also are changes in the nature of incidents that PSAP agents (known as call takers), are responding to. Yet the ability of PSAPs to invest in the people, process, and technologies to handle an array of challenges and opportunities depends on the public’s willingness to fund them.
Published: Jun 20 2016 Market Insights
Growing Economy, Changes in Demographics and Technology Impacting HR/HCM Strategies
North America’s employers are facing a double-edged sword. The strengthening economy is generating new business that is prompting many of them to hire more workers. But as the economy and businesses grow, so too may labor costs as a result of stiffer competition for quality staff. And what of productivity? Consequently, employers are looking to refine their human resources (HR)/human capital management (HCM) strategies and are looking for the best solutions.
Published: Jun 02 2016 Market Insights
Meeting Customers’ Needs, Mobility, Integrating People, Process, Technologies Key
Today’s customers are not just going online or into stores to shop. They are going omnichannel: ordering online and picking up in-store, as well as having items delivered to their stores. They also are “showrooming” and “webrooming” on their mobile devices. While the retail industry has talked about providing excellent omnichannel customer experiences few retailers have executed well, with many others still on that journey.
Published: Jun 01 2016 Market Insights
Cloud ERP System Providers to Leverage Demand for Agile, Feature-rich, OPEX Pricing Models
Cloud ERP has emerged as an agile, dynamic, flexible, cost effective, and swift-to-implement alternative to traditional legacy on-premise ERP software. Cloud ERP systems are still maturing, however, and as a result they have not been fully embraced by the market. But the signs clearly point to more cloud ERP development, adoption, and growth going forward.
Published: Mar 11 2016 Market Insights
All of us are customers. Whenever we engage with companies we expect them to deliver a consistently high quality experience, regardless of whether we call or Tweet them, or visit their online or bricks-and-mortar stores. In short: omni-channel customer service. Smart businesses of all sizes understand that the key to growth, competitiveness, and p...
04 May 2015 Blog post
Economists point out that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL). That goods are scarce; as more of them are consumed there will be less available. And that prices rise when supply shrinks. But the logic of TANSTAAFL, and supply and demand, are mistakenly not being applied to life-sustaining environmental goods: air, water, open sp...
24 Apr 2015 Blog post
As pointed out by Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Nancy Jamison in her blog, support interaction optimization (SIO) is a new and powerful tool that helps companies improve their customer experience, lower costs, and measure the results. Case in point is Mural, a Portland, Oregon-based professional services company that specializes in cloud IT sa...
23 Apr 2015 Blog post
Almost every day, it seems, there is another report on why enabling an excellent Customer Experience is vital for companies. Here are just a few examples of these albeit motherhood points they make: --Customers choosing to do business with businesses based on how they are treated. For example, the 2015 inContact Consumer Research Study revealed th...
14 Apr 2015 Blog post
A new, disquieting, but refreshingly honest, and yet unsurprising International Customer Management Institute (ICMI)/ LiveOps report calls into question the underlying value of having contact centers to support the Customer Experience. The report, “Own the Moments! Understanding the Customer Journey”, drawn from a survey of over 400 industry profe...
26 Mar 2015 Blog post
Video in the contact center has long been a “tomorrow technology”. It is an amazing and a cool tool, but its practical and financially justifiable applications somehow never seem to appear or catch on. Here’s why: there is no real value in looking at someone else’s face in most video business engagements, especially with contact center agents. Sor...
24 Mar 2015 Blog post
I recently came across a thought-provoking article in AdAge that suggests replacing return on investment (ROI) with a new metric, ROE2 (return on experience x engagement) for measuring marketing results. The author, Andy Frawley, CEO of Epsilon, a global marketing company believes that the digital revolution has rendered ROI irrelevant because it h...
12 Mar 2015 Blog post
I had an interesting conversation the other day with John Huehn, founder and CEO of In the Chat, a customer contact solutions company based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada’s tech hub. John’s company’s flagship product is ITC Enterprise, which has two very innovative solutions that meet key customer contact needs: ITC Enterprise Social Media. This...
02 Mar 2015 Blog post
Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Nancy Jamison made a powerful case for Support Interaction Optimization (SIO) in her recent blog, which references a white paper published on this topic. The blog and white paper discuss how SIO allows companies to resolve complex issues in less time and at less cost by providing agents with step-by-step guidance....
25 Feb 2015 Blog post
Belmar, New Jersey was hit hard by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in October, 2012. I live in Belmar and recounted the terrifying experience in one of my blogs. Last year Frost & Sullivan published a Market Insight report on how Belmar effectively used social media to inform residents before, during, and after the horrible event. Belmar was one of the...
03 Feb 2015 Blog post
Communicable deadly and debilitating diseases like the measles cause immense havoc, not only to individuals and their families, but to the economy and society as a whole. The resulting costs: in suffering but also in healthcare expenses, and in lost productivity from stricken employees and their family members are immense. Vaccinations are a long-...
03 Feb 2015 Blog post
Outsourcing of any kind is a notoriously highly competitive thin-margin business. Not surprisingly, outsourcers are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to grow their volumes, expand margins, and increase client loyalty. So it is not surprising that outsourcers are being urged to leverage contact center technologies with their clients t...
30 Jan 2015 Blog post
Safety and security have always been the afterthoughts of almost every technology innovation and deployment. As a result, innocent, and sometimes not-so innocent people, become injured or killed while operations are crippled when the “bad things” inevitably happen. Sadly, managements too often respond with denials, excuses, coverups, blamesmanship...
22 Jan 2015 Blog post
‘Tis the season of many “happy” returns, of gifts that turn out to be less desirable, useful, and, or flawed. These gifts are then exchanged for more desirable items or for cold hard cash. It’s also the season of new calendar year budgets which contain items that fall into the same category; two of the biggest are offices and travel. Companies sho...
08 Jan 2015 Blog post
Customers want immediate, thorough, and successful omni-channel customer care, and for a growing range of products and services. So why not make it your 2015 resolution to provide this excellent Customer Experience? Chances are you’ll be rewarded with greater customer loyalty, social media referrals, lowered costs, and greater profits. Customers t...
24 Dec 2014 Blog post
Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is the realizable future of contact center voice and video by allowing customers and agents to interact with each other through Web browsers: without specialized downloads. With WebRTC conversations are seamless, faster, and productive. Neither customers nor agents have to use separate phones for voice conversat...
19 Dec 2014 Blog post

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