Tennessee Williams said “The future is called ‘perhaps’, which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the only important thing is not to allow that to scare you[1]. In the current climate of fiscal insecurity, however, it is very difficult not to greet 2012 with trepidation and, whilst we cannot predict the future to any level of certainty, it is clearly crucial to consider the implications of the myriad of transformations we are facing. This week the team at CCA have been firmly gazing into the future.

Last week, we held the Supplier Council Leadership Forum in London, which was chaired by Melanie Howard one of our specialist advisors and chair of the Future Foundation, an international trends and insight consultancy that helps clients identify and capitalise on emerging market opportunities and reduce risk. This provided the impetus for lively discussion around the key opportunities and challenges for the sector during 2012.

The IT Directors Forum also took place in London last week, hosted by Sabio. This aimed to share knowledge regarding the technologies customers and companies are using today and considering for the future. We heard from Stuart Dorman of Sabio regarding the ‘top ten technologies’ recommended for 2012 to help address the challenges of a much more complex customer service world. Continuing this theme Guy Stephens of Cap Gemini, looked to the future and how social media is likely to impact customer behaviour. These presentations were complemented by the case study given by Ray Westwick, Head of Operations, of Ageas Insurance Solutions who were winners of the Best Technology Partnership at the CCA’s 2011 Excellence Awards. This fascinating case demonstrates how companies can use technology to achieve their business goals and deliver great customer service. There was discussion of some of the burning issues regarding the best use of technology to improve the overall customer experience covering topics like how to justify the ROI when some things are so difficult to measure, the impact of social media, sophisticated methods to improving customer experience, the web 2.0 customer, cloud and investments in speech analytics.

The CCA team also met to discuss our strategic objectives for 2012. Whilst I can’t yet go into details regarding the specific changes, there are some very exciting developments planned for our web presence during the coming year which will not only make it increasingly user-friendly, but also provide members with access to valuable and informative materials including guest blogs from industry experts. We are also aiming to grow the opportunity for more meaningful online interactions between members to foster knowledge sharing.

As ever, I would love to hear your feedback regarding your priorities for 2012 and any way in which we can ensure the relevance of the work we are conducting.

[1] Tennessee Williams, Orpheus Descending, 1957