Analytics Rule!

Paul Stockford
Paul Stockford

I’m not sure of the origin of the familiar phrase that claims something-or-other “rules.” I remember seeing the phrase used in reference to sporting events when I was a kid in high school; e.g., “San Carlos Dons Rule!,” which was liberally used by cheerleaders on signs and harmless graffiti to support my high school’s hapless sports teams right before they got beat by whatever other high school team they were playing that day. Obviously, the San Carlos Dons didn’t really rule, but I always felt it was in my best interest not to argue with a cheerleader.

I think the something-or-other “rules” phrase fell out of favor for a time, replaced by phrases and slang that were so, like, gnarly, totally tubular and ’80s. Something-or-other “rules?” Barf me out!

Ironically, I found myself once again using the “rules” phrase back in my surfing days, which came about after I got out of the military and went back to college. I should have been too old and mature to use the “rules” phrase, but I found myself saying things like, “Dude, that right break rules,” or “Goofy footers rule” to the other idiots that were bobbing around with me in the freezing cold Pacific Ocean just south of San Francisco.

I eventually got over the surfing bug and sold my last board when I moved to Houston for a job in ’93. I think that was also the last time I heard the “rules” phrase for about a decade.

I’m sure that by now most readers have seen the plethora of “Old Guys Rule” T-shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, bumper stickers, etc., that seem to be everywhere. Interestingly enough, this phrase was uttered by another surfer back in 2003, apparently unaware that “rules” wasn’t a cool thing to say anymore.

AnalyticsProfessional surfer Don Craig was out on that fateful day in 2003 enjoying a surfing session with his legendary surfer dad, Doug Craig. While watching his dad catch a perfect right break wave, Don turned to another surfer and said, “Geez. Old guys rule.” (Cue light bulb switching on over head.)

As a surprise for his dad, Don made a bumper sticker that said, “Old Guys Rule.” Apparently the bumper sticker got enough attention and inquiries that Don started making “Old Guys Rule” T-shirts and selling them to baby boomer surfers through several California surf stores. They sold as fast as he could make them. The rest is history.

As I began reviewing the results of the 2013 end-user survey that Saddletree Research conducts each year in conjunction with the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at The University of Southern Mississippi, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Analytics rule!”

One of the questions we ask survey respondents, who are all customer care professionals in contact center management, refers to which technology solutions they intend to evaluate for purchase, and which solutions they have already funded for purchase, in the year ahead. We also ask which solutions they already have so we can get a feel for market penetration, and we ask which solutions they have no interest in.

As recently as 2009, speech analytics led the pack in the survey’s “We Couldn’t Care Less” category. In other words, more respondents reported that they had less interest in speech analytics than they had in any other technology solution category. Fast forward to the results of the 2012 survey and speech analytics led the pack in the “We’ll Evaluate This for Purchase” category. Going from last place to first place in terms of buyer interest in a three-year period is a noteworthy accomplishment.

Clearly, the contact center industry gained a relatively rapid understanding of the benefits of applying speech analytics to the mountains and mountains of unstructured data that was siloed throughout the contact center. As is historically typical with the ultra- conservative contact center industry, a handful of innovative companies had to adopt the new solution and prove its success before the industry at large followed suit. Once that first lemming went over the cliff, the rest followed.

What is atypical in the case of analytics is how fast other analytics solutions have found acceptance in the contact center industry. Despite the fact that solutions such as desktop analytics are relatively new compared to solutions such as performance analytics, they seem to be taking advantage of the draft created by the meteoric rise in demand for speech analytics. In fact, if we look at the top five technology solutions that will be in demand in 2014 based on the spending plans of our survey respondents, four of the top five are analytics solutions.

In the year ahead, expect to see lots of chestthumping, posing and posturing around contact center cloud solutions. You’ll be overwhelmed by invitations to attend cloud contact center webinars and download contact center cloud articles. You will no doubt be highly impressed by the smug predictions from big-name analyst firms who will dazzle you with their cloud contact center deep thoughts and intellectual acrobatics.

But if you can get past all the cloud shouting, you’ll find providers of analytics solutions quietly going about their business, providing technology that is relevant to the real information and business intelligence needs of today’s contact center. With a solid return on investment (ROI) and proven business benefits that extend to the enterprise as a whole, it is no wonder that analytics solutions have risen to the top of the heap and are the solutions that will have buyers reaching for their checkbooks this year.

Analytics rule! No duh.

– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline,

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