The Impact of New Technology on the Role of the Forecaster


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Tools like CenterBridge are sufficiently different from our old forecasting spreadsheets to prompt more than a few changes in our processes. No longer forced to be as linear as we used to be, we can solve problems in more holistic ways, sometimes from multiple angles. All of this adds up to analytical capability that can make the executive team impressed with Workforce Management, but are there implications for existing staff members? This presentation describes the experience of an early CenterBridge user as she implemented the software, and as she checked in with each user ten years later.

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The Impact of New Technology on the Role of the Forecaster

  1. 1. The Impact of New Technology on the Role of the Forecaster Michele Borboa Contact Center Resources
  2. 2. Grow Smart…a story about people Experience with multiple implementations An unintended discovery Adaptation/change Not solely about technology Not about ROI A story about people
  3. 3. BackgroundStory begins 2002 – needed to manage our trendingMultiple business units in Travel, Real Estate verticalsApproximately 10,000 agents across North America, UK12-15 sites depending on how countedIEX TotalView in most BU’s for scheduling, real-timeHome grown spreadsheet tools Workload forecasting Variable labor, telecom planning
  4. 4. Old EnvironmentFocus on finding, scrubbing, formatting and entering‘the right’ data.Primary output was annual plan plus periodic updates(frequency depended on business unit)Iterations were relatively time-consuming.Limited ‘what if’ analysis due to time constraints Data ‘the old model’ Forecast
  5. 5. CenterBridge EnvironmentNo longer focused as much on tactical data entry,more on the analyticsMultiple ways to solve any given problem or scenarioStrategic modules present opportunities well beyondthe main functionality Data Data CenterBridge Plans Solution Data
  6. 6. Process Comparison Old Environment New Environment Request occurs in staff RPM takes CTB into staff meeting or originates meeting for real-time from Finance/exec team. decision making whenever RPM* takes request and possible. turns it around by next Other requests are turned meeting or throws it back around in fraction of time over transom a few days and with more inter- later. departmental teamwork.*Resource Planning & Management
  7. 7. Skill RequirementsOld Environment New EnvironmentDetail orientation Detail orientationData extraction/data entry Data interpretationMath facility Comfort with analyticsExcel knowledge More sophisticated use ofQuantitative analysis statistics Unafraid to ‘play’ Drawing conclusions and making recommendations
  8. 8. Skills ContinuumSelf-taught Some courses Degree in Industrial over the years Engineering or Operations Research Would every one of our existing staff members be a suitable skill match in the CenterBridge environment?
  9. 9. Staff AssessmentResilience to Change X High Low Low High Skill/Qualifications
  10. 10. Staff Assessment (cont.)Change resilience is a factor to the extent that theimplementation is used as a spring board for processchange. (“Don’t pave the cow paths.” Re-Engineeringthe Corporation)CenterBridge affords RPM the ability to improve itscommunications with execs and non-RPMers, sosome form of communication skills should not beoverlooked.
  11. 11. Various InterventionsIntentional Training, coaching and development Attendance at User Group meetings Organization design solutions that make sense with CenterBridge that may not have made sense beforeUnintentional Self-deselection Re-structurings caused ‘organic’ role changes Natural attrition (internal and external)
  12. 12. Staff Assessment – Alternate View Resilience to Change 2 1 High Low 4 3 Low High Skill/Qualifications
  13. 13. The Impact of Other New Technology
  14. 14. The Microwave Oven ExampleOriginally developed after WWIIIntroduced commercially in 1955, and as a countertopmodel in 1967 as the Amana RadarangeFirst thing ever cooked: popcorn!We spend a lot of money for very fancy microwaveovens and then all we ever use is the popcorn button.If we don’t update our processes, or learn thecomplete feature functionality (even Defrost) whenattending user group meetings, we sub-optimize ourinvestment.
  15. 15. Lessons LearnedWould have been nice if we had been smart enoughto anticipate this issue in advance but might not havehandled it all that differently if we had.Change resilience, openness to new processes arecritical success factors in new environment becausenew tools/capabilities can change everything.A CenterBridge environment offers more options andflexibility than the previous environment, even if thatdoes involve some staff changes.
  16. 16. Michele Borboamborboa@contactcenter-resources.com480-855-3870