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Customer Service in Cloud World

Stocks in this article: IBM AMZN FB GOOG

All this gets serious when you move from buying a gift or tracking a business relationship to teaching and learning, which may be the most important thing we have to do today.

I've written before about Moore's Law of Training, my point being that there is no such thing. We learn only as fast as we learn, and we teach only as fast as the student before us can absorb the subject. So how do you create a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, that has validity as a learning experience, no matter how good the teacher?

What you find is that you have to build an immense human infrastructure behind the performance. People have to write quizzes, they have to write Frequently Asked Questions for each section, they have to organize virtual or in-person tutoring sessions, they have to find a way to go one-on-one with students who need extra help. The cost of all this dwarfs the actual cost of building and teaching the course.

The same thing happens whenever you try to layer customer service onto a cloud application. You're trying to put running boards and training wheels on a Maserati. There are some private companies like Kana Software that see opportunity here, and claim to deliver "multichannel customer service," databases that can be used by clients and phone reps.

But the same software also gets lost in the weeds of trying to analyze what people are saying about you on social networks, or analyzing customer interactions after they've happened, when it might be better to get things right in the first place.

It's this tension between the instant gratification of cloud and the clunky interaction of real human beings that may be the biggest challenge facing the new Cloud World, and the biggest frustration for those of us back here on Planet Earth.

At the time of publication the author had positions in IBM and GOOG.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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