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Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
IBM Expands Social Business Capabilities
February 3, 2016
IBM on Monday announced new capabilities for its Connections business social network platform. The functions will let users customize communities by role or function, manage files with personal subfolders, and remain productive on the go with polls and surveys for mobile devices. Admins get enhanced controls so they can secure apps with application-level passwords.
Feds Embrace Salesforce Platform Offerings
January 28, 2016
The U.S. government has authorized an information technology contract with a potential value of $503 million that is designed to meet newly adopted goals for greatly improving IT acquisition. The General Services Administration, which issued the contract for software and cloud-related services, described the acquisition approach as a first-of-its-kind initiative.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come... Again
January 27, 2016
Whether you call it "industry CRM," "vertical CRM" or something else, the concept is gaining altitude. Not that it's new or ever been gone, but today's vertical CRM is different -- a constellation of quantitatively and qualitatively different and better CRM solutions than we've ever seen. Vendors like Veeva, Vlocity and Salesforce are getting into the act.
Demandware Teams With eBay on Omnichannel E-Commerce Solution
January 19, 2016
Demandware and eBay Enterprise on Monday announced an alliance to develop a fully enabled omnichannel commerce solution that will provide integrated access to Demandware's Commerce Cloud platform and eBay Enterprise's suite of back-end and fulfillment technologies and services. The solution will let clients significantly reduce the complexity of managing their front- and back-end systems.
Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
The Cloud Complexity Challenge
January 12, 2016
Growing acceptance of cloud computing quickly is becoming a double-edged sword for the leading players in the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS marketplaces. As a broader set of customers adopts cloud-first strategies, even the biggest cloud players are being challenged to scale their operations to keep pace with escalating customer demands without becoming too complex.
End of Year Goodies
December 8, 2015
The end of the year brings out some interesting goodies from various workshops competing with Santa for big kids' attention. Some of it is pretty good stuff. Here's a sampling of the best end-of-year product announcements from the cloud community designed to put you in the post-holiday, already-back-at-work spirit. For starters, cloud sales compensation firm Xactly announced Xactly Inspire.
Ramping Up Tech Could Give Retailers a CX Edge
December 1, 2015
Despite all the talk about the customer journey, the increasing use of CRM, the omnichannel approach, and the seamless customer experience, stores still don't have technology down pat for the holiday rush, according to the "2015 Connected Shoppers Report" Salesforce released last month. In-store shoppers want associates to know their purchase history, but only 10 percent believe this will happen.
Investors Buying In Following Salesforce's Q3 Stunner
November 19, 2015
Salesforce shares rose to an all-time high Thursday, after the company reported better-than-expected Q3 revenue and raised earnings estimates for 2016. Salesforce reported earnings of 21 cents a share and a revenue increase of 24 percent to $1.71 billion, compared with a year ago. The company is on pace to become the fourth largest enterprise software company in the world.
CFOs Calculate Benefits of Cloud ERP
November 13, 2015
One of the clear indications that the cloud movement is becoming mainstream is the growing number of CFOs and finance departments that are adopting Software as a Service solutions to support their corporate responsibilities. Even more interesting is how cloud-based alternatives can redefine the accounting and financial management function in forward-minded organizations.
Desk.com-SalesforceIQ Integration Targets SMBs
November 12, 2015
Salesforce on Thursday announced the integration of Desk.com and SalesforceIQ to better let SMBs tie customer service with sales. Desk.com an all-in-one customer service app. SalesforceIQ for Small Business is a sales solution whose relationship intelligence feature captures, analyzes and brings forth relevant customer relationship information from email, calendars and other applications.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Ventures Into Machine Learning
November 10, 2015
Microsoft last week revealed some new details about Dynamics CRM 2016, emphasizing functionality designed to empower customer service agents. It will be released in both cloud and on-premises versions in Q4. It will be available as a standalone application or as an add-on to Office 365. "This is a big release for Microsoft," said Nucleus Research's Rebecca Wettemann.
OpenWorld's Substance Feast
November 4, 2015
For once, Oracle OpenWorld went long on substance. That's hard to do when you have so many products to discuss and Larry Ellison pontificating, but he was both under control and substantive -- though he couldn't resist taking a few shots at competitors. Oracle's team hardly ever sees SAP and IBM in deals these days, he announced, and he gave due praise to cloud pioneers NetSuite and Salesforce.
Oracle Banks on CX Cloud Verticals
November 2, 2015
Oracle last week announced a variety of industry-specific solutions and enhancements to several existing products at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The company unveiled industry-specific vertical solutions for the financial services, communications, consumer goods, high-tech, industrial manufacturing and automotive fields as part of its Customer Experience Cloud.
SAP's New Jam Communities Promise Stickier Customer Experience
October 23, 2015
SAP this week released SAP Jam Communities edition for Hybris, which delivers real-time product and service information to customers on company websites. The software can display personally relevant recommendations and reviews directly to customers in e-commerce stores. In essence, it lets companies embed access to relevant material and include a buy button in online customer community pages.
Salesforce's Message to Europe
October 21, 2015
Salesforce last week said it would invest $100 million in emerging sales force partners in Europe. The company previously announced a similar program for the Americas, and it hopes to discover valuable new companies and business solutions. Paul Greenberg and the team at CRM Idol have been doing the same thing -- trying to discover interesting emerging companies in the CRM space.
Salesforce Investors Applaud European Startup Plans
October 15, 2015
Shares of Salesforce were up Thursday as it gained momentum from investors cheering on its plans to invest $100 million into European startup firms. The company on Tuesday announced that its Salesforce Ventures unit had allocated $100 million to fund startups in the European market and improve customer service in the region. Salesforce already has partnerships with a number of European firms.
Leveraging Moments of Truth
October 7, 2015
eGain is touting a report from Forrester Consulting and my friend Ian Jacobs purporting to show that omnichannel customer service is stagnant or worse when it comes to delivering service that customers need and want. Ian does good work and I am in agreement with him on this, but I have trouble with some conclusions, specifically the implication that the problem can be solved with more software.
Benioff Flees Facebook in Search of Peace
October 2, 2015
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has quit Facebook and shut down his account, sparking speculation as to his motives. Is Salesforce at odds with Facebook? Is Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg no longer Benioff's BFF? Is Salesforce planning something with Twitter? "I'm on a FB pause," Benioff posted on Robert Scoble's Twitter account, in response to his query. "It was too overwhelming to keep up to date."
Vertical Ventures
September 29, 2015
I'm always looking for emerging trends at Dreamforce, the kinds of things that are hiding in plain sight. They might never amount to much, but given that it's Dreamforce, many likely will bloom. A case in point is the emergence of vertical market CRM. Its time is now because application development tools have become so good, and because customers need fast, budget-friendly deployments.
Salesforce IoT Cloud Makes Thunderous Debut
September 15, 2015
Salesforce has launched IoT Cloud, an Internet of Things offering designed to connect billions of events with Salesforce, which the company says will help its clients' bottom line. IoT Cloud is powered by Salesforce Thunder, the company's new massively scalable, real-time event processing engine. "Salesforce is turning the Internet of Things into the Internet of Customers," said CEO Marc Benioff.
Customer Support in the Digital Age: Collaborative, Personal
September 8, 2015
Apple made a bold move on the customer support front this summer: The company started publishing customer support videos for its Beats by Dre headphones via the product line's Twitter account. The strategy is notable primarily because Apple published how-to videos natively on Twitter, taking a proactive approach to deflect service calls and ensure user satisfaction.
SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
Dreamforce: Still the One
September 2, 2015
We watched as Salesforce emerged from the crowd in the dot-com era to become a massive company with a $7 billion run rate. We also changed perspectives several times on what to expect from Dreamforce. We used to be interested mostly in cool new technologies and business models, but as Salesforce has grown, it has acquired a following of financial analysts as well as industry analysts like me.
Spredfast Gets Something to Shout About
August 25, 2015
Spredfast last week announced its acquisition of Shoutlet, a social data aggregator. Shoutlet has been a "huge innovator" in the social CRM space, said Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron. "With this acquisition, Spredfast gains that technology as well as the team that built it. It's a game changer. ... Customers will have more ways to understand their audiences and impact the customer journey."
Salesforce's Lightning Announcement
July 29, 2015
Spreadsheets suffered a body blow on Tuesday, when Salesforce announced new platform functionality. Soon all spreadsheets will be good for is financial analysis. This sounds funny, because the spreadsheet for several decades has been the unofficial IT prototyping tool. Actually, it was the end-users' prototyping tool -- the default thing they used to capture data.
5 Modules That Will Rock Your Business
June 3, 2015
Zuora two weeks ago announced its first acquisition, Frontleaf, and a new product, Z-Insights. This marks an important moment for both Zuora and what it has called the "subscription economy." The subscription economy has spawned a culture in which people have been conditioned to expect subscription-like performance from all their vendors -- even the conventional ones.
Subscribed 2015
May 27, 2015
There is no better company to look at to get a sense of the future of technology in business and society than Zuora. This might surprise many people, because companies like Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce might come to mind more readily. To one degree or another, those companies feature their products and services, which are very important, but Zuora talks about business models.
Xactly: From Transaction to Process
May 20, 2015
It is subtle, but in the spring conferences I see a pattern emerging around the importance of process. Admittedly, my analysis in this case is less than scientific, and I have no statistics to support my idea, but I my instinct says a trend toward process is beginning. Two conferences that support my contention include Xactly and Zuora, both of which are taking place this week in San Francisco.
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