Customer Experience: Leveraging Technology Platforms to Deliver Excellent Experiences – Enterprising Insights, Episode 4

Customer Experience: Leveraging Technology Platforms to Deliver Excellent Experiences - Enterprising Insights, Episode 4

In this episode of Enterprising Insights, Sherril Hanson, Senior Analyst at The Futurum Group, joins host Keith Kirkpatrick, Research Director, Enterprise Applications, at The Futurum Group, for a conversation about leveraging technology platforms to deliver excellent customer experiences, focusing specifically on contact center as-a-service offerings, the importance of omnichannel engagement capabilities, mobile applications, and generative AI.

We’ll also cover some recent news and newsmakers in the customer experience software market. Finally, we’ll close out the show with our “Rant or Rave” segment, where we pick one item in the market, and we’ll either champion or criticize it.

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Disclaimer: The Enterprising Insights podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.


Keith Kirkpatrick: Hello everybody. I’m Keith Kirkpatrick, Research Director with The Futurum Group. And I’d like to welcome you back to Enterprising Insights. It’s our weekly podcast that explores the latest developments in the enterprise software market and the technologies that underpin these platforms, applications, and tools. This week we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of customer experience and the key enterprise applications that are helping organizations to deliver excellent experiences, from marketing to sales, to support, and of course, throughout the entire customer life cycle. Next, we’ll cover some recent news and newsmakers in the enterprise software market. And finally, we’ll close out the show with our Rant or Rave segment where we pick one item and we’ll either champion it or criticize it. This week I’d like to introduce my co-host for Enterprising Insights, Sherril Hanson. Sherril is a senior analyst with The Futurum Group, responsible for leading coverage of customer experience applications and services including contact center solutions, customer data platforms, marketing technology software, insights and feedback, personalization optimization strategies and tools, employee experience and CRM software. Welcome, Sherril. That’s a pretty wide area of coverage that you have.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah. Keith, thanks for having me here. We look at customer experience really broadly and it does touch many different technologies and interaction points with customers. So it is broad.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Let’s dive right into customer experience this week. There are a lot of different definitions of what really constitutes customer experience, but CX has been best described by the Customer Experience Professionals Association as the perception that customers have of an organization, one that’s formed based on interactions across all touchpoints, people and technology over time. Now, given that various companies in the market have similar products, similar services, and really a similar look and feel, it’s no wonder that organizations are leaning on customer experience to really set them apart. So one of the things that I’ve mentioned to our Futurum Group group clients is that the delivery of a good customer experience is the result of employing the right processes and procedures, the right people who are trained properly, and the use of the right technology for each task and use case. You really can’t skip out on any of those areas. It’s like a three-legged stool. If you remove one leg or if one leg isn’t as long as the other, you’re not going to have a steady foundation and you’re not going to be able to deliver a great customer experience.

Now, since this is Enterprising Insights, I’d like to focus in on the technology leg of the stool and more specifically the growing number of vendors that have introduced contact center as a service or CCaaS offerings into the market. Now, these are the front end tools that really enable companies to interact directly with their customers on an inbound or an outbound basis and across a wide range of channels. Sherril, maybe you can just start us off by talking about a few of the key players in the space and the common features or capabilities that they tend to offer.

Sherril Hanson: Sure. Like you said, it’s a segment that really is crowded with a lot of players. You’ve got technology providers like Genesys, NICE, Five9, Cisco, Verint. You also have solution providers like AWS with their contact center solution, Twilio and Zoom.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Right. What were some of the key features that really almost are considered table stakes in that, regardless of the vendor that you would go after or that you would select, that they really need to offer to organizations to enable a better customer experience?

Sherril Hanson: Right. I like your analogy to the three-legged stool because there are many, many capabilities that can help to add up to a great customer experience for people. But really one of the key features and what is table stakes right now, is the ability to be able to pull in the most important, the most relevant data from a single source of truth. And that helps both the agent and the customer. The agent will have the most up-to-date information about a customer and the interactions that they may have already had, regardless of what channels they may have touched. So for instance, a customer should be able to contact a company on the channel of their choice. It could be voice, although that’s a bit declining these days, it could be a digital channel like text, a social media app, but whatever allows that customer to contact the company on their own terms the way they want to have the interaction go and what time they want to reach out to them. But for the agent, they really need to be served up what is the most important customer data. And that includes past interaction data so that it’s right there, it’s right in front of them, and they have that intelligence to help them respond in the best way. And it will also help the customer not get frustrated. I know this could be a whole other session on rants when you have to repeat that information and give a rundown of all the previous interactions you’ve had with that company, maybe trying to solve a problem.

This single source of data or truth, it could be something like a CRM platform that has customer data, it could be a customer data platform itself or a CDP that’s able to take in those customer interactions from across an organization and serve as that system of record. And this is an important point because organizations might not want their CCaaS platform to serve that purpose or be that system of record. And that makes sense in a lot of ways, because there’s all these other activities and points of interactions that aren’t necessarily being captured in that type of system. That could be, “Oh, well last week Sherril returned a pair of shoes from this company. She got five outbound marketing campaigns and she did call on this issue.” Or maybe even an in-person interaction in a storefront. So those are all things that might not be necessarily captured in a CRM platform or a CCaaS platform.

Keith Kirkpatrick: So Sherril, you alluded to another key capability in your example, which is people don’t tend to just use one method of interaction with companies. They don’t just always pick up at the phone or they always just don’t interact through a text message. Like you said, maybe you walked into a store, bought some shoes, and then maybe there was a problem and you reached out via their social media site like Facebook or something like that. I guess the question is here, clearly there is a need for this omnichannel approach to engagement, both outbound as well as people when coming in with their problems or their concerns, or maybe they have a return or whatnot. In terms of the platforms out there, is that something that is also becoming table stakes, where the agent has the ability to basically take an inquiry from any number of channels and then of course perhaps even switch channels? Because either the customer’s location or situation has changed, they’re talking on the phone, but then they go into a busy traffic situation or perhaps it’s harder for them to say, Look up and evaluate other products, through a text application. Maybe you can talk a little bit about the value of being able to have that seamless switching.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah. That is another piece of customer experience that’s getting to be table stakes. And a great industry segment for us to talk about is travel and hospitality, where the customer is literally moving physically through a customer journey. And so there’s a clear need for that seamless omnichannel experience. I can give a bit of an example. A lot of people had travel issues this summer and we were notified via our app and text message that our flight was delayed. We were going to miss our connection. We were able to seamlessly go on the carrier’s app, rebook a flight very easily. What we weren’t a 100% warm and fuzzy about, is making sure that our luggage was going to follow us. We had already had a previous luggage incident during this trip. So the rebook was easy, but once we were able to have some time, we decided we needed a face-to-face with an agent, make sure our bags were going to follow us, and being able to have those two was really advantageous to us. And the agent knew, she had our history, that we were delayed, we were going to miss a flight. We had already had this app interaction, so when we got there, we didn’t have to repeat it all.

Keith Kirkpatrick: I think that’s a really good point. I think a lot of the customer frustrations are, you’re going through a situation, you’re under some stress, and then you have to go back to the start and repeat everything that happened again, can really create a lot of customer annoyance that really, it’s not the agent’s fault, but you wind up taking it out on them. And making sure that the agent has all that information available is certainly something that is beneficial to both parties. So I’m wondering, the other thing that I’ve heard about and I’m curious to get your thoughts on is, some of these contact center providers are now making mobile applications available not to consumers, but really to their agents. I think that’s interesting, given the nature of work and what we’ve seen since the pandemic where contact center agents aren’t any more just all sitting in one gigantic building in one location. They tend to be distributed around because of the need to have this sort of more flexible workforce. Can you talk a little bit about these mobile applications and some of the benefits that they might provide?

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, sure. And these mobile applications are a great way, as you alluded to, to improve employee experience. And that you and I have both been talking for a while, and others in the industry of course, about how really the basis of a good customer experience is so dependent on a great employee experience. If you have a happy and supported workforce, that will shine through. And often with these frontline workers, and that includes really contact center employees often, it’s making sure that they have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and removing those potentially points of friction and just making things more easy for them. And frontline workers and contact center employees often lack that flexibility that desktop workers are often privy to. They are physically tied to a location often. So being able to have a mobile application where they can easily manage their workflow, maybe take care of some scheduling issues on their own. They know what’s going on in their personal life. They know how that’s going to affect their schedule. They can simply do it easily and efficiently on an app. And many of these apps often have expanded capabilities such as keeping them better informed about maybe things that are going on in different locations, keeping that feeling of belonging to a larger entity or headquarters. And it can also serve as a way for them to be able to provide feedback if they need to.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Right. I can also see use cases where let’s say, Sherril, as the customer is calling and wants to know if a certain pair of shoes are available. And the initial support person on the phone isn’t sure. They transfer to someone in the warehouse, and the warehouse person can actually have then on their mobile app continue with that interaction while physically going to look for the stock in the back room or in the warehouse, instead of just having that dead air and having that back-and-forth. It seems like there’s a way to really improve efficiency across the entire value chain there.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, that’s definitely true. And as we talked about at the beginning, customer experience applications consist of many things. It’s CRM, it’s CDP, it’s personalization, it’s analytics. And so we see this a lot in retail, that need to be able to tie it all together. And it’s really important for vendors in this space to make sure that their customers have that access to a broad range of APIs so that this data that we’ve talked about a lot can be passed between applications and systems really easily. And there’s a stat out there that most workers today have to use about 10 or more enterprise applications to get their jobs done. And so making sure that they are integrated well is a key to helping that employee be efficient and actually also make the customer happy because it’s a faster, more intelligent process.

Keith Kirkpatrick: So there’s a lot we could continue to diving into around CX applications, but there’s another topic that we have to really address here. We haven’t talked about generative AI tools within the contact center. And yes, we’re starting to see some of them from various vendors and now that they can be used for things like summarizing content, which is great for handling a task like summing up post-customer interaction, which is quite honestly, it’s a chore. It takes time and a lot of those people, that’s not their strong suit, it’s really engaging with customers. So I’m just curious if you could talk about some of the other key use cases that you’re seeing for generative AI within the contract center.

Sherril Hanson: So first of all, has it been 10 minutes and we haven’t talked about GenAI?

Keith Kirkpatrick: That’s a record.

Sherril Hanson: That’s pretty amazing these days.

Keith Kirkpatrick: It is.

Sherril Hanson: It’s a record. You’re right. We’re seeing a lot of announcements rollout about how GenAI is being used in contact center, oftentimes to help solve those mundane time-consuming tasks. A couple of the ways that I see it also being really particularly helpful, is helping to surface that relevant information that the agent needs in the moment. And that could help them provide responses that are more on target because they have that background information. And one of my favorites is kind of this next-best action that GenAI can help. Also, being a contact center agent, you’re busy, you could be a little bit stressed, you’ve got a lot of incoming information coming to you. And so this next-best action piece helps with some prompts to perhaps suggest, “This is the path you might want to take with this call.” The GenAI sees how it’s going. As the interaction is progressing, these tools can assess what’s happening and raise up those recommendations or actions for an agent to take. That’s something that previously would be very time-consuming and perhaps difficult, because you didn’t have all the background information. And so these prompts can help get that information to agents so that maybe they can do something basic like, “Looking to renew my policy and I want to add this to my car insurance.” Being able to get that information from a knowledge base immediately, quickly is really critical. It could also be used to maybe do some more complex things like suggesting relevant, a product or feature set that might speak to the customer a bit more. So being able to have that background intelligence to see what’s going on during the interaction and raise up what’s the next best thing to do, I think will be a really interesting one.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one thing that you’re kind of alluding to here is also that when we’re talking about using generative AI within an enterprise application like a contact center solution, it’s not like you’re just going out to and typing in something and then who knows what you’re going to get.

Sherril Hanson: Right.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Almost all of the solutions that I’ve looked at, I’m sure you have, they’ve talked about figuring out a way to make sure that those LLMs are appointed or grounded into or grounded in company data. So basically the LLM isn’t going out to the broader internet to find an answer. It’s being restricted to company data, product data and customer data. So that way you’re not opening up an LLM to some random answer that has zero relevance for a customer or situation.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah. And I think one of the things that will be really important as contact centers are rolling out solutions using gen AI is training. Training, training, training will be so important for this. Agents shouldn’t really need to know all the ins and outs of how the LLMs are working, but what they will need support on is how to use it most effectively and safely and maybe with a bit of guardrails. And so as an example, gen AI is going to be spitting out potentially some responses to how to deal with an interaction that’s going either well or not well. An agent should really be able to get some scaffolding on, ‘Well, does that response need to be changed a bit? Should I personalize it a bit? Can I make it a bit more natural? Or maybe this doesn’t make sense at all, I’m going to just ignore this.” Those are the types of things that agents are going to need to get up to speed on.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah. You make a really good point because almost all of the companies that I’ve spoken with use the phrase human-in-the-loop, which basically means that they’re not going to deploy this and just have an automatic response sent out that was created by a generative AI solution. But it kind of falls back to the human question is, if the agent hasn’t been trained to take a more critical eye, that guardrail in a sense is not as effective. So I think your point on training is certainly a good one.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah. And customers can sniff that out when there’s a gen AI response heading their way. So really being able to personalize it is going to go a long way.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Right. And ultimately, I think that the biggest point that you’re making and that we’re seeing is that generative AI cannot be deployed as this willy-nilly, “Hey, it’s a shiny new object. Let me just roll it out.” It has to be part of a more holistic CX strategy in terms of looking at where are your holes in your organization in terms of providing support, technical support, or whatever the case may be. It has to be done in a very planned way, so it’s not just bolted on because that’s when companies wind up getting into trouble. Have you seen any examples of, and it doesn’t have to be with generative AI but just in general, where companies aren’t thinking through what they’re doing either in terms of providing some sort of support option or taking it away?

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, I can again… And I know we’re going to get to rants and raves at the end, but Keith, I’m always good for a good rant.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah, we love it.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, I’ll give you an example that speaks to meeting your customer where they are, and giving them options. Analysts travel a lot, and we all chat about our experiences. This was an experience I had this summer going on a personal trip. We decided, instead of using our loved carrier that we’re usually very loyal, to use a cheaper regional airline to go to a family reunion of sorts in the Midwest. And we don’t travel there often, so I was like, “You know what? Let’s go for it. Let’s use this one.” And so getting there, great. Other than the seat being basically made of cardboard. But coming back, we’re driving to the airport and they text us that our flight’s been canceled and they didn’t give a next-best action for us. They said, “Call us. We’ll figure it out.” We’re barreling down the highway. My husband gets on the phone, he’s on hold forever, and knowing about there’s got to be some other channel here, I get on my phone. I go to their website, I’m looking for support. There’s no way to email. There’s no way to text. There’s no way to message. There’s nothing. We’re on hold for 30 minutes. We’re almost right at the airport and we get a human on board to chat with us, who honestly couldn’t do anything and they didn’t have another flight that evening. We would’ve had to stay overnight. They wouldn’t get us on another carrier. And so I got on my app, I booked my flight, all three flights on our carrier that we always use. And I can say that no matter how cheap that flight is, next time when we go to that family reunion, I will not be using that regional carrier. They didn’t meet my customer experience needs at all. And the carrier that we usually use, built some loyalty there.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah. Well, it’s really interesting because a lot of what we hear about, from time to time in this space, is companies that are pulling voice support because agents are expensive and some people feel it introduces more friction. But in this case, it sounds like the carrier in question should be actually investing in digital tools that again met you where you needed to be, which is you’re flying down the highway and you need to resolve something quite quickly.

Sherril Hanson: Right. And I think I’m a big proponent of the voice channel for many, many types of issues. But you need more than one. You need more than one channel these days. That just doesn’t cut it.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah. And just the flip side from that, I’ll give you a couple of quick examples. I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago and I was having a problem having a digital ticket transferred to me. And on the app, there was no way to contact anyone. And when I tried to call, it was one of those things where you call up and you just get the ring, ring ring, and there was no way to resolve the issue through any channel. And that was a problem. And then coming home last night from another business trip, there were no gate agents or ticket agents, and I was unable to check in. And of course there was nobody to call, nobody to text. And this was not what you would consider a low-cost carrier. So it is pretty surprising that in this day and age, that organizations aren’t building in other tools. Understanding that everyone is having labor issues right now, so I can understand not having humans. But there has to be multiple ways for customers to reach out and engage and get their problem solved.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, totally.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Well, I know we can go on, but we do have a couple of things to get to before we get to our main Rant or Rave segment, which I know you’re looking forward to. It’s all my fault.

Sherril Hanson: So looking forward to it.

Keith Kirkpatrick: So this week, a couple of different things going on in the marketplace that I think are noteworthy. Zendesk announced Zendesk AI. This is their CX-focused generative AI tools and features that are again designed to enhance customer satisfaction, improve agent productivity, and ultimately drive customer loyalty. And one of the things that’s really interesting about what they’re doing here is, they’re really focusing on using generative AI to improve the automated bots that customers can roll out. Because this is something where in days past when you had bots, you could never really get what you wanted because bots couldn’t understand your actual intent. There may be 10 ways to say, “I need to do a certain action,” and with 10 different people, you’ll get 10 different ways of doing that. What these bots are able to do now is understand your intent. And that leads to better satisfaction because you’re not having to repeat something or say something a different way. So I think it’s a great development for the company and their customers.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, it’s good to see that. It’s good to see that roll out.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Yeah. Let’s see here. Moving on really quickly. One of the obviously large organizations that I cover is SAP. They are announcing earnings today. It looks like they’re going to have another great quarter. One thing that they’re trying to do from an enterprise perspective is get their customers to move from on-prem to the cloud. And right now, I think they just posted an increase in cloud revenue for the quarter, up 16%. And really that is something that is going to be a major driver of their growth because ultimately what they’ve said is they’re not making their generative AI tools available to customers unless they move to the cloud. And it’s because there really are quite a few benefits to doing that for both obviously SAP, but for customers as well, because there are just so many new ways or new technologies that are coming down the pike. And to do that in an on-prem environment is just not efficient. And of course then you have all the security issues and the implementation issues. So, great to see that as well.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah, it makes sense.

Keith Kirkpatrick: And then finally, really quickly, I just want to talk about NetSuite. I was just at their annual customer event. Again, big shocker. They were talking about generative AI. But really one of the things that also was pretty interesting is they were bringing up their strategy, which is called Suite Up. And really what they’re saying is, that if you’re an ERP vendor like they are, they would like you as a customer to use their suite to do everything. So as a CRM, as an ERP system, to handle things like sales and marketing. And the reason is that they feel that having all of this information, all these different systems, even going out to things like logistics and production, having all that data will help the AI engines, and we’re talking about both generative and also more traditional predictive AI. Having all that information pulled together in one spot will help it actually get better and better in terms of being more accurate. And that’s something that is, I think lost a lot in terms of the discussion about AI. And it’s that AI really just gets better and better when you feed up more data. And obviously you need to curate it and make sure that you’re not training in things like bias or toxicity or anything like that. But I think that’s a really interesting approach that they’re taking. And of course, in talking with some of the executives, they’re also saying and we talked about it earlier, “We have this tech stack sprawl where organizations are using God knows how many applications.” And it’s really, I think some of them are going to take that more of a, “Hey, let’s consolidate the tech stack,” and take a more suite-based approach which not only brings all of the data closer together, it also can help eliminate some of the security holes that inevitably crop up when you have so many different applications.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Okay. Well now we’re to my favorite part of the show, the Rant or Rave of the week.

Sherril Hanson: Rant and rave.

Keith Kirkpatrick: And again, as always, what I’d like to do, is because this is customer experience, I would love to just throw it to Sherril, and if you have a rave or a rant, please, let’s go.

Sherril Hanson: Yeah. Well, I’d like to talk about customer feedback. It’s a particular area in the CX tech ecosystem that I’m interested in. It’s so important and really it’s the basis for a lot of those other pieces, is knowing how your customers are doing. And so a pet peeve that everyone probably has or should have, is you spend time filling out a survey and you don’t know what the resolution is. You never hear back from them. Closing the feedback loop. It has to be done. It’s one of my pet peeves, and I can give you a rant on it.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Oh, I’d love to hear.

Sherril Hanson: I will lay it out. Like we said, we’ve been traveling a lot. I was at a major hotel in Las Vegas recently and wanted to check my bag because I had a full day ahead of me and an afternoon flight. It was the morning, and I expected it to be crowded, but it was really crowded. And the line wrapped around the lobby basically. And people were waiting and waiting and waiting. We were on the line so long, I was going to be best friends with the person in front of me and the person in the back of me. And it was not a quick process and what people were dropping off the line and saying, “May the force be with you. I’ve got to get to my meeting.” And so eventually I was like, “I’ve got to be one of those too. I’m going to leave.” And poor Sherril’s dragging her suitcase all through the hotel for the rest of the day because I had no other time to check it. And it was my last day there. And one of your last experiences is the one that you often take with you for your impression. So anyway, I got the survey, filled it out. And they had an option for open-ended. I gave my balanced view of what went on at luggage check. I totally understand, better than many people, that there’s labor shortages, especially in travel and hospitality. But I felt like it was poor planning on the hotel’s part for both their customers and their employees. So anyway, I timed myself because I do these things, and it took me about 12 to 15 minutes to fill this sucker out. And it’s been two, three weeks and I have not heard anything back. Not even a, “Sorry that happened,” or, “Oh, that was a particularly busy day.” Flat out nothing. But I did get 10 marketing emails from them, which really aggravated me. So that’s my rant.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Not bad.

Sherril Hanson: I did feel very bad for the luggage people who were working very hard, but it was aggravating. It’s aggravating for everybody. You ask for an opinion, you give it, and then you don’t hear back. And so for a customer to want to be loyal to a company that may not have met their needs, they can redeem themselves by closing that loop and letting them know, “Your voice was heard and we’re going to take care of it. Or we’re not going to take care of it, but we at least heard you.”

Keith Kirkpatrick: Right. Well, I think the other thing that’s frustrating in all of that is, the fact that you took the time, and I’ll say 12 minutes to fill out a survey is ridiculous.

Sherril Hanson: Too long, too long.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Right. But the fact is, you did it, you submitted it, they didn’t get back to you. But then they decided, “Well, let’s just keep sending Sherril marketing messages.” From the perspective of the hotel, it really is, they are just prioritizing marketing and trying to generate more business instead of handling the customers or satisfying the customers that they already have. And I think it is a big problem. And I think it does… And again, I don’t know what they’re doing with that feedback, if anything. If they’re not doing anything related, then that impacts a whole other aspect of their business.

Sherril Hanson: Right. At least they asked. At least they asked. There is that.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Well, I guess that’s a start. But I hope that organizations do realize that feedback, as you said, is a critical link when it comes to customer experience because you don’t know how you’re doing unless you’re asking your customers. And if you’re capturing that feedback, then it needs to be acted upon, or otherwise you shouldn’t do it.

Sherril Hanson: Right. Yeah.

Keith Kirkpatrick: Well, I think we’re out of time here, but thank you very much, Sherril, for a really enlightening and entertaining discussion. You’re always welcome to come back and share your rant.

Sherril Hanson: Would love to come back and rant more, yes.

Keith Kirkpatrick: That’s what we like here. Well, next week we’re going to be discussing tech stack sprawl and how enterprise decision-makers are addressing that issue. I want to thank everyone as always for tuning in. And be sure to subscribe, rate and review this podcast on your preferred platform. And we’ll see you next week on Enterprising Insights.

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek,, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.


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