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Saturday
May192012

I'm in a K-Hole and all I hear is a powerful USERVOICE - ITSM weekly the podcast EPISODE 89

I'm in a K-Hole and all I hear is a powerful USERVOICE

What happens when a CIO, a Service Desk Manager and an Industry Junkie Chat Weekly?!

Your Hosts:  Chris DancyMatthew Hooper and Matt Beran (twitter #ITSMWP)

Guest:  Richard White, CEO UserVoice

Submit Questions:  Anonymously or Email or Call In: (765) 236-6383 or Twitter Questions/Comments #ITSMWP

Guest:  Richard White, CEO UserVoice Twitter:  @rrwhite

 

 Episode 89 Topics:

 **News Gator: Updates from Tech**

 

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TRANSCRIPTION:

ITSM weekly, the podcast for your news, inside analysis and information from the world of IT Service Management. Your host Matthew Hooper, Chris Dancy, and Matt Beran. IT Service Management Weekly, the podcast starts now.

 

Welcome ITSM Weekly, The Podcast episode 89 for the weekend in May 14, 2012. Hello, Matt Hooper.

 

Hello, Chris Dancy.

 

It's good. You've got no technical difficulties, Matt. This is a good day. So joining us today, I've got Richard White, who we're making a gigantically good impression on. Richard, you are the CEO of UserVoice. Is that correct?

 

That is correct. As far as I know.

 

Now Mrs. White might actually be the CEO. That's probably more true isn't it?

 

That's right. Yes.

 

Alright. I remember you mentioned your wife when I met you, so for those of you who don't know about UserVoice, we're gonna find all about UserVoice, coming up and when we actually get Richard and his thought and opinion and analysis on the world of sport. But we're gonna start with News Gator.

 

We don't have Matt Beran today. So, the first thing I wanna bring up is the article, guys. I read this in, I don't know what it was, oh it was in Forbes. So, it's not too many pop-up ads. It was called "The Top 25 social CIOs of Fortune 250" and article starts off with imagine a CIO, or head of a company, who's never configured a router.

 

Imagine a CIO who's never managed the implantation of a server. Imagine a CIO who's never sourced or negotiated a contract. Can you imagine a CIO who's never used social media? And then they go on to talk about the importance of social media, and then some leading, top leading CIOs and CXOs using social media.

 

Richard, as someone in an executive position in a company, what is your experience with executives using social media and then let your, where you live and your influence taint your answer.

 

Where I live? Oh, you mean don't get influenced by the echo chamber of Silicon Valley is that what you mean by that?

 

Yeah. Yes, the echo chamber you're in.

 

CEO see titles for a company of about 22 people. So I think it's maybe somewhat disingenuous of me to make a comment on what an actual CIO of a Fortune 500 company would do.

 

I can't imagine anyone not having any social media experience? Like zero? I mean, where do you find such a person?

 

That's what they're saying. Is it acceptable for CIO who's never, and they list some things, configured a router, put in a server, or worked on a contract, or, and then they go on to say did anything in social media, that's they're not on LinkedIn, I mean can you imagine an executive not on LinkedIn, Richard?

 

Yeah, it's funny, I know some of the guys on our team aren't on Facebook, for like personal reasons, they don't ascribe to it, but at least they know what it is, right?

 

Right.

 

LinkedIn, I can't imagine that. Yeah. I can see all sorts of reasons why you might not want to be on LinkedIn, but you should have a savvy answer for why you're not, it's a roundabout way of saying no.

 

It's a tough one 'cause I read this and thought, if Forbes is saying this, because Forbes has an interesting dynamic. It's got people who wanna be executives and it's got real executives. So, their news has to be, kind of, we'll tell you the hype but then we won't really spoil it with any facts.

 

Right.

 

So I read this as if I'm a CIO, is this telling me that I'm missing out. Or is this some fad, what is this really doing for me? So, I don't know.

 

It's hard to say right? Like I would say that, you know, you kind of need to be a citizen of the world to know how you're going to build products for that world. Having said that, I wouldn't be upset if someone didn't watch American Idol and try to be an executive, so that, are you that? Maybe everything that's good for most people isn't required to be an executive.

 

But social media seems like an obvious thing you should be doing, but it's just me.

 

As soon as they lose their job, they'll be on it.

 

There you go.

 

Speaking of lose their job, ITSMF which Richard, we'll talk about your organization. We're gonna really dive into it, deep. ITSMF, Richard, I met you at the HDI conference, so ITSMF is a global, kind of, practitioner, hardcore IT support.

 

It's like the CPA version of accountants. This is like the certification type membership. I didn't even go on all of it, but people who listen to this show know what it is. The fact that you don't know, is what actually makes me happy. But ITSMF actually has a strange thing that way, every single ITSMF president we've had here in the United States for the past 4 years has left the presidency but now is unemployed, which I think is kind of interesting in itself.

 

The next article I wanna bring up, and Richard, I really wanted to bring that up 'cause I think it's the kiss of death in that organization and I'm on their podcast. The next article I read. Hooper, and I think if you didn't read this, I think it's definitely something for you to check out. Richard. It's called "Why I left Salesforce ".

 

Basically, this guy, Marcus Nelson been at Salesforce, from the beginning when they were just the big CRM company basically live through the platform days, and now that the entire company is transitioning to a social company, as Salesforce calls it, he feels that it's unmanageable now that they're all focused on social.

 

Not only from an internal collaborations perspective, but externally there too many cooks in the message for it. And he's leaving, and very publicly, because he feels that they don't manage their social well, because they've become a social company. It, kind of, was on the heels of that other guy who left the big accounting firm, and then wrote that nice little nasty scathing piece.

 

This guy's piece isn't scathing, but I guess my question for you is how would you feel if you run a company who's core mission it was, you're employees left and said you guys don't even do you're core mission, well I'm gonna do it better? Does this happen all the time? Or is this something unique in this guy.

 

I mean, do you have feelings about this guy? Marcus Nelson.

 

You're setting me up here, right?

 

Yes, of course.

 

Marcus is actually one of the co-founders of UserVoice. Did you know he wrote? Did you know he wrote this article?

 

Of course, absolutely, yeah.

 

All right.

 

I'm sitting here like well you're lobbying me like this is the most, this is, yeah, the most obvious question ever.

 

No seriously, dude. Richard. Okay, just so people know, I just met you. I don't know who the co-founder is. I thought it was you.

 

So, there's a number of co-founders to UserVoice, of which Marcus is one of them.

 

Okay.

 

And Marcus left a couple years to go become head of social media over at Salesforce. And I think that's the title he had. And I did read this post, it was interesting. I had a lot of thoughts on Salesforce. I think it's hard to draw any conclusions from companies that move, that are high growth, and as big as they are, right?

 

Right.

 

So, when he got there he was by all accounts, and I should just connect you with him, but by all accounts the only guy really versed in social media. Right and so, that was like 3 years ago. And, as he wrote, it's been a sea change, now they're social everything.

 

Literally, everything, I mean the company itself pivoted it's on social.

 

Right. And Marcus is kind of a start-up guy at heart, right? So he's going off to do another start-up again. And I've got to imagine it's one of those things where he's kind of a, he's a Johnny Appleseed right, he goes in the Salesforce. By the time they've all switched over and they believe in the message of social, he's not needed as much anymore, right.

 

That's his mission, right? His mission was to convert that company over to getting it. And it's very clear that that mission succeeded, so he's onto another mission that's why I read between the lines of that.

 

Right.

 

So I don't think too much away from Salesforce sight, take away from that, that they're on the right path.

 

I try not to share a whole lot of links on, I've got a couple of accounts on the Twitters. But I was so compelled by how well written the story was. About just the growth he went through at the company. And how open and transparent he was, it's not a bad article about Salesforce, it's just he's done.

 

Yup.

 

He's moving on and doing 'cause it's. And I thought, "Wow, that is pretty damn cool."

 

To all the stuff in UserVoice, we try to be, kind of, the transparent company where we kinda write our thoughts. We write like in depth reports about what it was like to raise money, or what it was like to, what we used for, what sort of tools we use, I mean, and I think a lot of that stuff is, you know, we learned or I learned from Marcus just kind of being. There's a way to be transparent in a way that's engaging and without being too judgmental, which I think he does a very good job of.

 

Well it's funny because at the end of the article he says, "If you're interested in joining up". And I said, "Sign me up!" It's been six months I've been at this job, I'm ready to go. I'm like a Johnny Appleseed. I don't even get a chance to look at fruit, that's how quick I'm in and out of these past years.

 

I didn't read the article. I'd love to read it, though. It sounds like a great one.

 

Alright, something I think both of you can relate to. At least I know Hooper can. And I can't wait to hear your opinion, Richard. So, there's two camps obviously going on. There was a wired magazine article two weeks ago about some guy who didn't get a job or got a job or something, because of Klout.

 

And there seems to be this Klout Rage all over the place that, 'I hate Klout' then the same article 'I love Klout', Klout this and then people like, "I'm influential on Penguins", you know in all this stuff is really, you can tell it what your wants one and spend your little Klout points or whatever. NetDeck, I think, Klouts going further just kind of what I think it could go for. I'll leave my opinion out for a minute.

 

Hooper, you've been very vocal about your opinion on Klout. Let's start with Richard. Richard, Klout.

 

Oh, man it's like the third rail of social media these days, I feel. One of our guys is influential in bread. I'm sorry, sorry. Not bread. Went to a bacon and teeth. What?

 

But come on, Richard. Don't do this to me, Richard.

 

But that's his choice 'cause you can close those categories. And is it a UI problem?

 

It could, it could.

 

Yeah, okay.

 

But that's what he's adjusted right.

 

Right.

 

Like, back when they did their perks. My other co-founder, Scott. Also with UserVoice. Scott is bald and they sent him shampoo.

 

Nice.

 

So, I think that was also kind of funny too. So when you get Klout perks, we get you the Klout perks box at least once a week and usually, it was something that nobody else wanted, right? It was like bad schwag, right? It was like someone had left a schwag and decided to mail it around the country. However, I've actually found myself checking my Klout account a couple of times recently in the last month.

 

It's completely a good system. I think the end vision is noble and is worth pursuing. I think it's like a lot of these things, pursuing something that makes sense out of a lot of text data. Right? So like lots of data goes in, and something actually intelligent goes out, it's actually extremely hard.

 

You should try being my colon.

 

Garbage in, garbage out, right?

 

Exactly.

 

So, I mean it's really hard. And so the fact that they're even figuring out anything. Like now, I mean I don't even modify in myself, and it says I'm influential in startups and entrepreneureship and customer service. Okay, cool.

 

Good.

 

Also, it says airport which is also true. Because I actually bitch a lot about airport design.

 

Yeah.

 

So I think it's pursuing a noble goal. I did see the klouchbag, did you see that one? Where it's like see how much like how Klout douche bag you are?

 

Yeah.

 

I thought that was kind of cute. I mean this is the classic like once they're upset with you, you're onto something, right? It means they're sparking some debate.

 

Right.

 

So I am still pro-Klout from where it's going. I think it creates a lot of funny, kind of like ha ha ha, look how silly that analysis was in the meantime, but I give them props.

 

See, I'm pro-Klout for what it could be.

 

Yes.

 

I'm not a fan of Klout for what it is. I think that Klout used in the right circumstances, you know, there's a storm going on for the back to ITSM Facebook page about speaking. And Chris wrote a blog recently about speakers and how they're rated. And the circle of speakers at conferences. Pretty much anybody that goes to conferences will tell you has very few great speakers.

 

Except for me.

 

Except for you.

 

And my Klout score shows that, though.

 

That's a unique experience, but that's also probably not because of you are being a great speaker. I think it's more because if you're more of a great speaker in the space that you are speaking which is social enterprise, right? And so when you go to a conference and you speak and you talk about Klout scores. People say, "What the hell is Klout?" And they go there and say, "Oh, yes, he was a great speaker." So I think that's a bias.

 

It's definitely bias.

 

Whereas if you were actually at a conference and I could Klout score the people in the sessions.

 

And there's a mobile app now, so you can do that now. That's just new in the last two weeks.

 

Well, this is what I said when I started my comments. For what it is today, I'm not a fan. But for where it could go, I think I'm all over it.

 

Right.

 

It's gotta get there, it's not there yet.

 

Right.

 

But I'm glad that they're moving in my direction.

 

Well, they have to move in your direction because.

 

They want to succeed.

 

My big theory about Klout riches is they end up being foursquare for coupons, right? For hyper-special you know and there's no way I'm ever going to get a perk for Sass. What perk would they give me for Sass.

 

Rack space.

 

What perk would they give me for social what perk would they give me for social enterprise?

 

What would that perk look like, right?

 

You can get a free Twitter account.

 

I almost want to be a specialist in pizza, just so I can get something.

 

Right.

 

Right.

 

Yeah.

 

But that's my fear that it ends up that way. But you've seen Richard; the volume of data they're dealing with is impressive enough, and it's not just Klout, you've got Kred, or I think they just go by Cred now. You got Pure Index. You've got all these other people.

 

Well, all that stuff is fairly new and I feel like that's kind of pushing them and I think in the absence of competition, they were kinda just becoming this like this kind of static kind of joke thing. I think the Cred and these other guys are kind of pushing them; and maybe it's part of their plan, it has made I think their scores a little more recent, a little more decomposable because of the competition.

 

Well, that and everybody lost their mind like six months ago when they re-did their algorithm and their scores dropped by 10 points. Nobody cared about Klout 'till then and then all of a sudden, it's like you come out of your Klout closet. You're just a big limp wristed Klout-y, you know, we knew you were a sister from way back.

 

But they're all feel-good metrics, though, right? Even your Klout scores; it's someone saying, "Yes I think Chris is a great speaker."

 

No, because no, no, no.

 

It's not because they're watching your video and anonymously saying, "Thumbs up, thumbs down." It's not Pandora on steroids with the learning and the psycho-demographic that you need to understand it and vote up, right?

 

It's still a biased, influential data collection.

 

So, I do, I agree it's biased, but I don't think there's any person 'cause K's don't give you anything by falling in a K-hole and I haven't done that in decade. So it's actually what people do with your data. To me, I said it in a post somewhere, I'd rather machine telling me how good I am doing than someone who hates the fact that I'm either overweight, who knows. List the things that you can hate about me right. When it comes down to it I rather have a algorithm, and Richard knows a lot about algorithms.

 

The plus K thing is an interesting addition which I'm less keen on, right?

 

Yeah.

 

Because I feel like a lot of times you get into this bias where you have lots of people which are very friendly and have lots of friends but aren't the actual experts in things, right?

 

'Cause the actual experts don't have the time to go around and make that many friends, to be honest. And I feel like when you get away from this hardcore algorithm attack to saying well let's see how many people we can get to K plus 1U then we're kind of back in the chattering class bubble if you will that you get sometimes on Twitter.

 

Right. It's like being the mayor of you couch; like the mayor of you couch versus like

 

Right.

 

The mayor of Shinjuku Station in Japan. It's like there's a big difference between. And I've been to Shinjuku Station in Japan, I'll put a picture in the show notes. So, speaking of Klout, to me there's two pieces of this, right? You got your online reputation, whether it's your coach or not.

 

The other thing is your knowledge locker, your data locker, whatever you wanna look at it, right? My collection of knowledge I keep in my upper note, whatever you want to call it. LinkedIn buying SlideShare, to me was more about LinkedIn going after Klout than LinkedIn looking for a content company.

 

 

And I'll tell you why I say this, 'cause now you're both like, "What the hell is he talking about?"

 

Yeah, tell us what.

 

I got an email about an hour before I was all the tweets about it, right? And I'm like Richard, I don't follow a whole lot of people - Richard, by the way I like your Twitter style - I don't follow a lot about time, and the people, I do follow them, means you got my attention, right?

 

You got my attention, you better use it wisely or I'm gonna unfollow you and put you on the list and check back later on. That being said, about an hour before the Twitter-storm went off. I got an email saying, "Congratulations, you've had over 10,000 or a hundred thousand views on your slides. I thought, "Oh wow, what a great stat."

 

I didn't know I had that many views on the presentations I posted. And then of course all this happens. And then I thought to myself, if LinkedIn bought like SlideShare. It's just, and I wouldn't thought this had I not gotten that email and it's kind of weird why I've never gotten a status email from slideshow in my life.

 

I'll put a picture of it in the show notes. So basically they know they're my slides, right? And now, it's tied to my profile. I think there's a little bit of recommendation to be said there.

 

Yeah, that just came out last week I believe and usually I rely on reading all the various like pundits online. So, I don't sound like an idiot when I try to say why I think someone acquired someone else, but everyone knows that Linkedin also has. They actually have kind of a data problem, I think.

 

And that most people I know don't check back into LinkedIn unless they're looking for a job. I mean, truly, like I haven't looked at my LinkedIn profile in.

 

Yeah, you're just the first person to admit it, that's why I laughed, I like it.

 

I looked at my LinkedIn profile, and I'm like, "Oh yeah." There isn't even a bio in there, because I haven't needed a job in years, right?

 

And that's a problem when LinkedIn gets lumped in with Facebook and all these other social media things is Facebook, Twitter, are very high engagement, right? You're in there daily. LinkedIn you're in there yearly, maybe? So I see them - and also for them it's important to have good data on - not everyone's gonna put on someone's watch here, but people that are known for someone's watch here are the more valuable users to them.

 

They are the Christianities. They are that recruiters would drool over to have access to. So the more data they can get on you and the more they can get you going back in LinkedIn, the better. That's my guess of why they would buy it just off the cuff.

 

But did LinkedIn buy the technology of a SlideShare, or did they buy the platform of everybody's IP that they've been uploading under the terms of service?

 

I imagine both, right?

 

Yeah.

 

The content's probably more valuable than they could have built their own platform.

 

There's this old saying that, "If it's free, you're the product." And I literally believe nowadays that you're not the product anymore. That's too small. You're the platform nowadays.

 

Right.

 

Yeah, Hooper?

 

Yeah I know, it's the same discussion we had around the Instagram buy, right? It certainly, it's taking beautiful pictures, it's a great technology, but that wasn't the input is, there's other factors in an acquisition always.

 

Well, LinkedIn is also just fresh off an IPR, right? So they're looking for I think, we're seeing a lot of acquisitions these days, a whole lot of acquisitions.

 

It's nuts.

 

All the way from acquire higher acquisitions up to bigger things.

 

What do you think about acquire hire? You're the first person to say it, I think about it all the time, I just don't bring it up on the show. But, to me, Robert Scoble set the stage for paid personalities. And Google's purchase, or acquire/hire of Kevin Rosen team was nothing more than buying Kevin Rose's following.

 

Basically, because I'm not sure what Kevin Rosen is doing day to day any more.

 

And like Google, who knows? Does he even go there? He works there now.

 

Well, how long will he not have a Google+ profile, right? Is that the question? How long before they have to annoy him. By the way, you work for us now, you have to have one of these profiles.

 

And the entire Digg team was just, well I guess not Digg, but the team was just bought by someone.

 

Washington Post.

 

Yeah, WaPo.

 

Yep, the makers of the most annoying Facebook app I can think of.

 

Oh, dude! I know they call it frictionless sharing, but when it shares what I'm reading, I wanna catch it on fire. There's friction.

 

Yeah.

 

I hate that. It's just like, Chris just watched somebody's pooping the video.

 

It's like, "No! No! I don't want anyone to know I just watched someone's pooping the video." That's not why I site, no. So, I am literally in there, turning apps off daily on Facebook.

 

Just wait until it starts tweeting that you watched that.

 

Oh, dude, don't. I do not. Twitter is like my 15-year-old daughter, you won't get access, not gonna happen. So, what's his real name? I think he's a WaPo writer, Dennis Berman. Was he a WaPo writer? I think he is, we'll just leave it there. He said in May 20-21, Zuckerberg juicing strangers for $11 billion, wearing a black hoodie, will be seen as revolutionary, or a punchline?

 

I mean you can kind of say that. That 's how almost all these things go, right? I mean that's what happens with high-growth techs. They end up being awesome or you exceed it. I don't think that's specific to Facebook.

 

And maybe the $11 billion part is.

 

And well, they're way more than that, right?

 

I think they're talking about his money.

 

Oh, his money, yeah. Yeah.

 

Yeah. I mean he's gonna have some pretty crazy money. I mean I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was like, "Are you going to buy anything?" I was like, "I don't know." I'd have to cash in all the shares no one knows I have now 'cause he's on the show every week. You don't know this, Richard, but every week Zuckerberg shows up, we just don't actually hear that, so.

 

Okay.

 

Well it's all the IPO lockdown.

 

Of course. Hoop, thoughts on Facebook and all the money talk lately?

 

Not much, not much. It's kind of old news if you ask me. What I do have good news, one of the newest things I did want to talk about though today, was.

 

I'm say you're used to you not being prepared, sorry.

 

I actually am prepared today.

 

I have breaking news.

 

Ross, throw me in some breaking news soundbite.

 

So it looks like Google and Oracle are going to court over Google's infringement of the use of Java and not having license rights to put it to the Android app. So, this has fairly significant ramifications.

 

Only for the lawyers.

 

It's not really just for the lawyers. You've got to look at almost everybody who's using some king of embedded Java in their applications today, and almost everybody is. I mean you guys are using embedded Java someplace in your apps, right Richard?

 

Embedded Java? No.

 

Yeah, like Java Query, no Java applications in your technology?

 

We have Javascript with Jquery, but that's not the same thing as the stuff that's coming out with Java. So, no. I don't think we have anything. We are looking at using Erlang, which I think runs on the JVM, I think. I might sound stupid for having just said that though. It's been a while since my CS degree.

 

But, no, we don't have anything Java.

 

At least you have one, unlike the CEO of Yahoo.

 

Zing. Yeah. You're just trying to get me to to get on the wrong side of everyone in this town, aren't you?

 

No, I'm not, dude. Do you know Ryan, from HootSuite, the CEO over at HootSuite.

 

So, we had him on right in the middle of when Twitter was shutting down companies. They used anything to do with 'cause they just wanted to own up.

 

The clients, yeah.

 

And Hooper asked him, "What are you gonna do when they shut you down?" I'm like, "Oh god, you know, what are you?" Hooper, do you remember that uncomfortable?

 

That 's the question I guess you could ask, right?

 

Yeah.

 

And so, the thing is, is what we're talking about here is that there's a ton of open source licenses in the market that every small software and every large software, every internal enterprise is running for the most part. This open-source space is something that has a lot of ramifications when they start setting certain boundaries on it.

 

So this is a pretty big headline. I think bigger than the fact that Thompson lied on his resume. Which in and of itself is kind of crazy, 'cause the fact is it's because he's been doing such a terrible job. It has nothing really to do with the fact that he didn't have a CS degree.

 

I mean do you like the lawsuite thing? It really only applies to, the key with open-source is always like you don't need a license, in a lot of cases, if you're not bundling with something, right?

 

Right.

 

For a SAS business, this stuff doesn't matter, because we're not bundling it, we're not actually delivering you a stack of code, right, a digital stack of code. Now, bundling stuff into something you download, install your computer or install on your handset is something else. But, the number of people who actually do that anymore is vanishingly small and less and less every day.

 

So, yes, it's a big thing, but I haven't heard anyone losing sleep over it recently. I imagine that would just be kind of Google will step up with some cash, and Oracle will be satiated and go away.

 

I'm with you, Richard. I read about it and I thought, "Good for the lawyers," 'cause they're the only only people making money in this. And not that I have anything against lawyers, but it's a reality. And when everybody's sort of bashing - I even tweeted, I said, you know who's winning the war on all this Klout-rage?

 

PeerIndex and Kred. 'Cause they're not getting mentioned, they're not even in the articles.

 

Right.

 

So either people are quietly flocking over there and fluffing their scores. Like they're at a disco with go-go boys fluffing. No one's noticing what's happening, right? Cred and PeerIndex are really winning. But this show is about support. I don't know. Richard, I'm sorry. I got so excited 'cause you're on, and you're out there, had to jump through all myself.

 

So, Richard, to get started to talking about you guys. I went through real quick, right before the show, and I made a list of all the companies that won't talk about IT help desk because they consider it to be the kiss of death. I'll let you say how you feel about that. But all these kind of what I call kind of help desk 2.0 companies, right?

 

Because I'm old. I come from the '90s where he had old DOS help desks and stuff. Literally, DOS. So, yeah. One desk, UserVoice, Assistly,  Desk, Zendesk, Sherpa desk, Fresh desk, Nana Rep, iuvoDesk, I've never even heard of them but they're really in the social kind of thing. And then you've kind of got the fringe kind of customer people like that satisfaction pair out there.

 

Richard, where would you put UserVoice in all of this, and I'm not sure if you remember but the first thing I said when I realized who you were and we connected 'cause you kind of walked into the conference - and we'll talk about that in a second - at HDI, and I said, "Dude, I liked you guys." 'Cause you were the first company that ever said, "Oh, no, we have no problem with the word 'help desk'."

 

Right. I think your first thing to me was, "What are you doing here?"

 

Yeah, well, I'd happen to go under.

 

You're only from Kansas, kind of thing, or something.

 

Yeah.

 

Which is true. So, how do I look at those things? I mean it's interesting, because like I said, I've never worked in a large company. The largest company I've ever worked in is the one I'm working in right now, which is 22 people. So, I don't really understand the inner workings of a lot of large companies, and sometimes I think that's in my benefit.

 

Certainly in terms of my insanity. We started UserVoice, not around, I mean we didn't think about in terms of customer support or customer feedback. We think of it in terms of, how do you, in an age where you never see your customers, right? You will never have face-to-face interactions with your customers, going forward.

 

Right. You will operate on the web. You will barely see them. They will show up as blips on your Google Analytics radar. How do you actually communicate with people? So, we actually started out focusing on doing large scale customer feedback and kind of communicating one demand. Getting people to say, "Hey there's 300 of us that want you to build this feature."

 

Now we can actually have a conversation about whether we should build that feature or not. And then we kind of honestly, kind of backed into this help desk 2.0 space where we kind of said, "Hey, there's something really there." 'Cause we talked to people and said it's basically Zendesk when we started building our help desk product about two and half years ago.

 

Zendesk was the only option out there, Desk.com. Back then, Assistly hadn't launched. And Zendesk was the only one that these guys could use, that kinda fit what I look at as like modern kind of "saas-tech" like you can quit in under an hour. It costs less than a hundred dollars a month to start. Hopefully, there's a free version. We have a free version of our help desk and its easy to use, and I mean ZenDesk was some of those things and not others but it was the only game in town a couple years ago, and so now more people have shown up, the FreshDesk and the and stuff like that, and ourselves but to me help desk is kind of embracing the past.

 

This is the minimal set of things you need to do, right? I mean if you don't actually respond to your customer support requests, you're an asshole, right? And more than an asshole, your company is not gonna last very long. It's like breathing. It's like you have to do this. And since you have to do, let's give you a solution that makes it easier for you to that.

 

But beyond that, I really think the way we differentiate from those guys is, we don't focus as much on the words "customer support" or "help desk". I actually look more to things like customer service, and helping and understanding customers. More of our mission is going forward is that try to figure out who are the people not contacting you?

 

Right? Do a great job of supporting people when they do have an issue. But how do you talk to them before they have an issue? Or, after they have an issue? Or just talk get to know who are they, what do they like about your product, what could be better. So I was a little fish out of water at that conference, but it was interesting.

 

Well no, I think it was a good conference for you to be. I thought your comments were priceless because Hooper, he's tweeting like where am I, is this for real? And he's at the HDI conference and I think I finally broke down and told them, so what you're looking at is the remnants of a job program from the '90s for people who no longer have sound cards to install, but still need jobs.

 

Well, the problem is they're still so focused on support and not what Richard just talked about, which is engagement.

 

Well, no. Well, yes that you said it. I do not think they're focused on support at all. They're focused on enablement, as if their users are drug addicts and they have to keep them hooked. I don't think they're focused on engagement or support.

 

I mean when people talk about customer experience management, like I'm speaking at a conference this next week.

 

And what's the name of that conference?

 

It's called SCORE.

 

SCORE, oh yes.

 

It's run by the Customer Relationship Management Institute and what they've got for speakers is, the traditional taking customer satisfaction data to the next level. And they actually asked me to speak on a panel called "Mining for Gold in Big Data". So I entitled my session, "Creepy Killed the Canary", and I'm gonna talk only about the fact of how these big companies, if they go after using big data to engage their customers, they're gonna screw it up.

 

They're gonna do the target move where sent the 16-year-old girl pregnancy test and her father didn't even know she was pregnant kind of thing, right? So it's a flawed exercise of trying to support or deal with customers instead of actually engaging them.

 

No one's talking about big data and support yet.

 

Sure they are.

 

We just had something where we launched like having social media like profile integration into our help desk.

 

What does that mean?

 

So that means, so when I'm looking at support team from someone I can see, who they are on LinkedIn, have they talked about my company recently on Twitter, are they on SlideShare, what's their name, what's their job title, that sort of thing.

 

What was that program, Hooper. It's Zaboni. Xobni?

 

Xobni, yeah.

 

It's like Xobni for the help desk.

 

Yeah. Xobni or there's another company that got pop-up LinkedIn as well called Reportive.

 

Yeah.

 

Oh, yeah. That's someone we talked about.

 

So, the creepy thing, and we think it's really useful because it helps to kinda humanize, like we said, you don't run in to these people on the street anymore. So how do you like encourage basically what I call a humanize interaction support?

 

You need to humanize both ends, right. So it's a customer who we understand who the customer is and we are looking at who they are on talking to someone at the company, not talking to the company, right. The company isn't a persona. The company isn't a person.

 

Unless you're Romney.

 

Yeah. And despite what the Supreme Court says, companies are not people, they're made up of people. So you want to kind of encourage conversation between people.

 

We're not political in this podcast at all, Richard. That's fine. I will. But the creepiness comes at me. So, we really debated about, I've seen big data things like Raply puts stuff in the past, where they try to say, "Hey, target your influencers." Or these guys are on Facebook.

 

You know where targeting your influencers works, and the only place it works?

 

Where?

 

The Hunger Games. Every place it'll get you in trouble.

 

But I think there's a role for social media in this type of big data. It helped us out.

 

I think there's a huge role. And you said something when you're describing UserVoice that I think is so important for maybe the more traditional listeners of our show. The people who work in some organizations have massive support installations.

 

And you said, supporting people that you might not ever see or hear and I think that's so important for people who are in more traditional support IT, support roles, I'll start getting very specific, to understand because there's more and more people work remotely, or don't ever come in to the office, what you described although it seems like a type of external support will look a lot like your internal help desk.

 

And that's why I went to that conference, 'cause that was my hypothesis. My hypothesis is that companies talking to customers and companies talking to other people in the company is gonna start looking very similar. There's sorts of things you wanna do. I think a lot of the stuff that those kind of events currently focus is kind of this legacy of requirements.

 

Oh we've got to do this process or requirements, and I feel like there's a shift, at least in the side of the business when we're focused on, the company customer, where everyone's got to throw away all their process, right?

 

Yeah. 89 episodes, that took 89 episodes to get someone to say that.

 

Well it's true, right, so what I say we sell is software, but what we really sell is a process, right. We sell a very simple process, it doesn't have a lot of SOAs and requirements and BPM. We don't have that. Because now it's kind of a different world, where your customers kind of define it. If 90% of your customers are calling you at 10 p.m. a night, or sending an e-mail then you need to make, it doesn't matter what your business hours are.

 

It doesn't matter that your SOA's within it's Monday through Friday. That doesn't matter. And increasingly everything that's happening on the kind of consumer web is happening inside companies as well, right. Like the iPhone, remember a couple years ago, it's like we're not gonna support iPhones phones, you got to stick with the company BlackBerry.

 

That lasted for like five minutes, right. And now everyone's got to support the BlackBerry. Because if I get a better experience talking to a random company on the web, that I do talk to my own IT department is like a roll. It's interesting doing this conference, I mean, it's potentially a place where, you know, we don't have a lot of this stuff that the remedies and the service now.

 

A lot of these guys have great products for that market, too. We have a really simple product, right? Designed for kind of like more B to C companies where we're seeing more and more people - the reason I went to that conference, a bunch of people emailed us and said, "Oh this looks like it works great for ServiceDesk."

 

And I'm like, "What's a ServiceDesk?"

 

Be careful, yeah, because when I hear ServiceDesk I think Walmart and I'm returning diapers.

 

Yeah! I don't know. Right, like yeah. It's always unclear for what these things are.

 

Every time I heard Die Grips ServiceDesk was always the retail place where the non-cashiers worked, that was the service desk.

 

That's right.

 

And it was this ITIL thing that renamed help desk ServiceDesk.

 

Yeah.

 

And you think about it too, big companies, when they talk about support. They're always considering it's kind of the post-sale, whether it's internal, business to business or it's out to the consumer themselves. It's always post-sale, right? But when you're talking about engaging the life cycle of a customer, it starts in marketing.

 

Right.

 

Even in the vision stage, right? Who do you go chase? So this is the breakdown that happens in a large - like most of the people I've interacted with ITSMF and HDI. You hear them speak in those traditional support term realms, SOA you know, how do we control it? It's about command and control.

 

Right.

 

And reality is the consumerization of IT, it's really the consumerization of the enterprise, because accounting, and sales, and legal are also facing the same change of the ecosystems that we're experiencing in IT. Which is that people want the level of consumer feedback and interaction that they get from their stuff at home or when they walk into a Apple store that they do walking into a big, you know, HR meeting or whatever. So it's that same mentality. People don't wanna lose that experience. They wanna bring that experience into that enterprise.

 

And I think the good news for everyone is that these new kind of paradigms, these kind of customer-centric paradigm is actually much easier to do. My background is computer science. And so, in developing products, there used to be all these books about methodologies for how to develop products, right and how do you project-estimate and how to you earn down charts and is very complex.

 

And now, almost all of that has fallen out of favor in terms of something called Agile, so you Agile Development. Agile Development means you just do as little process as humanly possible and we run our whole internal product development process on two free tools. We use Google Docs and we use this thing called Trello, which it looks like index cards on a board.

 

And I think you'll see the same thing happen to other parts of the business, right? There isn't as much of a breakdown between sales and support, or what's pre-sales or post-sales. Who knows, right? It's just gonna fall down to, this is customer communication. When someone emails us or contacts us, this is how we handle it.

 

You empower the people in the front lines to make smart decisions. You build only enough process handle kinda the really extreme cases. And so, we wouldn't be entering into this if is wasn't easy.

 

When I read Eric Rees' book. I actually mention that on this podcast that if those proponents of iTalk take one night to go, to read Erik Rees' book and understand that this is a scientific methodology and that it does have control and it's not just willy-nilly, they would embrace it. It speaks to I think they're in a passion of having predictability.

 

But they don't see this as being predictable. They think it's just loosey-goosey, just throw it out there and see what happens. And that's not exactly not all what's being preached. It is, you know, let your customer drive your next set of rations but put it out there to a certain point and then pivot only when you've actually proven to show what your strengths are.

 

Right.

 

You're not a boat flopping in the breeze, you're just changing course based on changing tides.

 

Yup.

 

And that's why I think that's something that just continues to fundamentally be lost with folks in this industry.

 

Getting better. I remember talking to some people. Sebachao, is like they build, they provide really high tech software. And their whole support methodology was, they called it, literally, Agile Support, right? And they said everytime something comes into support we treat it as if we were doing engineering and we have to have an outcome on everything that comes in, right, maybe it is that we create a new knowledge based article, maybe it is that we go in and fix that bug, but we don't just kind of respond, right?

 

We actually turn into something actual in every single interaction we have, which I thought that was interesting.

 

Yeah.

 

I mean the closest we get to that is the people that talk about adaptive case management. So let me understand this. As things change, I change my behavior. Yeah, it's like good monkey. Yeah, good robot. Yeah. That's nice. I don't know how we're gonna make it through this? Richard, we've got to let you go 'cause you got a hard stop coming up.

 

That's true.

 

I could keep you forever like the small white dove kitten.

 

Can I just read Richard's tagline on his About page for UserVoice?

 

Sure.

 

It says Richard Weiss, co-founder and CEO of UserVoice, where he focuses on making sexy products for unsexy markets, like customer service.

 

Nice.

 

He's got a couple good quotes in here. This is gonna be the quote show, I can tell already. Richard, I tried to get Mikkel to come on once but they sent Zack Urlocker instead. Zack's a lovely man but I really wanted Mikkel, but I wanna thank you for representing 'cause I think you tow it up.

 

No problem. Thanks for having me.

 

Check out the UserVoice and put a link in the show notes, all that kind of stuff. Check out Richard. I actually started following him on Twitter and I don't follow anybody, because I'm a snob like that. But dude, his stuff is solid and he even mixes in some political stuff, so that makes him real, not like fake and marketing like.

 

Much to the chagrin, sometimes people are investors, but we'll deal with that.

 

Yeah, yeah. Kill amendment one.

 

You know a dude's transparent when he tells you that he sold his baby, his start-up on eBay. You know the dude's transparent. And he put the price in there. That's like the epitome of transparency. Great job.

 

Yeah, he was pretty cool.

 

I tried to get him on the show last year. I'm sure I can talk about it again. I tried to get him on the show last night but I couldn't figure, and now I, it's all good, we did it, this is good. We'll see everybody in 10 days. Between now and then we've got the service now knowledge conference. And we have cash register sound coming up and we've got a lot of news to catch up on. ITSMF has a conference coming up and all that other good stuff.

 

Thanks so much and we'll catch everybody in 10 days.

 

Thanks everybody.

 

This was ITSM Weekly. Thank you for listening. For more information about this podcast and ITSM News, go to ITSMWeekly.com.

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by Chris Dancy