Does God Need a Performance Management Solution Too?

Patrick Barnard
Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

Does God Need a Performance Management Solution Too?

I was at the Call Center Demo show down in Miami this past week – you know, the call center trade show brought to you by the people who no longer have a print publication focused on the call center industry (heh, heh)?

Anyway, during the show I noticed that a majority of the exhibitors were focused on the workforce optimization space – which by definition includes workforce management, performance management, call recording, quality monitoring. e-learning and analytics. Apparently Tracey Schelmetic, editor of Customer Interaction Solutions, TMC’s illustrious print publication focused on the call center industry, got it right when she dubbed 2008 “The Year of Workforce Optimization” on the front cover of this month’s issue. From the look of this past week’s Call Center Demo show, I’d say she hit the nail on the head.

Breaking down the exhibitor list, there were nine companies offering workforce management; ten companies offering performance management; ten companies offering call recording; nine companies offering QM or “quality assurance;” and 11 companies offering analytics (Web and Speech). Of course, there is duplication in each category, as many of these companies offer a suite of products for addressing some or all of the technology “disciplines” that make up the WFO realm. But bear in mind that there was only a little more than 50 exhibitors!

The thing I see, though, is that the WFO space is becoming so competitive that many of these companies are having a hard time differentiating their products -- as became evident when I asked each of them what made their solutions unique in the marketplace. Beyond the fact the solutions are geared for certain sized markets (SMB or enterprise), and are sometimes tailored for specific industries, many of the vendors (save for a few) were unable to tell me which feature sets or capabilities really distinguished their products from their competitors. A couple of them actually seemed bored from having to explain the capabilities of their solutions over and over (trust me, I understand). Sometimes the emphasis was more on who they interoperate with, the level of scalbility provided, or how their pricing is structured (if offering hosted) than it was about the specific features or capabilities. But to me it seems like it should be the other way around. I know there are major differences between some of the products I saw -- that there key differences between the features and capabilities they provide -- so I'm wondering why that wasn't better conveyed.

One thing that makes me chuckle is how performance management solutions are “working their way up the food chain,” if you will, and how there are now PM solutions geared for trainers, coaches, managers/supervisors -- even company execs. Yes, indeed, it seems like everyone or anyone in an organization can benefit form a little performance management from time to time. I’m wondering if one day soon we’ll see performance management solutions geared for high level executives like COOs ands CFOs. Heck why not performance management for your company president or CEO? Of course, your CEO’s performance would have to be continuously monitored, in real time, by an independent third party (hand picked by the board, of course). And as long we’re going to do that, why not improve accountability among all of our government officials – including our President – and have them operate within the rigors of a standardized performance management solution as well?

And, as long as we’re at it, how about some performance management for the “Big Guy” upstairs too? You know, the ancient one, with the flowing white beard, up in the heavens? Shouldn’t there be a performance management solution designed for Him as well? Afterall, gotta make sure He's holding up His end of the bargain ...

(OK, so I’ve officially lost it …)

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