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Qualitative Data - the Other Stuff
December 2, 2016
We've become obsessed with big data and analyzing it, though sometimes I think we get in our own way. The issue is that we preferentially collect quantitative data as if it were the only thing worth the time. In fact, quantitative data is but one kind of data, and the information it provides gives a one-dimensional view of the world. It's not wrong information -- just incomplete.
Service in the IoT Era
November 29, 2016
Oracle recently announced a new connection between its Service and IoT clouds. That makes total sense to me. I bet a lot of folks think of the Internet of Things as those machines that do things directed by algorithms -- and if so, they might wonder why they need to be connected to customer service, such an obviously human channel. It's not off base, however.
New Subscription Economy Index Is an Eye Opener
November 23, 2016
Since its founding in 2007, Zuora has been the champion of the subscription economy, as a differentiator for companies that sell products as services and have to bill and collect monthly rather than engaging in a single one-time transaction. Few people realize how complex it is to run a business that requires customers to pay little up front but more over time. The billing, finance and commerce implications can be profound.
Microsoft Trolls Small Biz With Outlook CRM Tool
November 18, 2016
Microsoft this week introduced Outlook Customer Manager, a new cloud-based tool that aims to help its small businesses clients stay on top of their customer relationships. The new service organizes everything from emails to meeting invitations, call logs, notes, tasks, files and other essential items. It comes just four months after the launch the company's Bookings tool.
Engagement and Loyalty
November 9, 2016
I've been writing about customer loyalty a lot -- and not just to sell my book, though you can buy it any time you want. Seriously, though, markets everywhere are cooling. They once were ripe with new categories and products, but everybody now seems to have the new stuff, and growth is falling back to the baseline of organic growth. That's why loyalty is so important today.
Salesforce Sets Up Lightning Community to Zap Competition
November 8, 2016
Salesforce last week launched the Lightning Partner Community, which lets business customers extend sales features to channel partners. Lightning Partner Community gives channel partners a single place to identify opportunities, track progress and close deals. It includes the Lightning Partner Experience, Integrated CRM for Partners and Salesforce Einstein for Partner Community.
AvePoint CEO TJ Jiang: Innovation Through Collaboration
November 3, 2016
The latest CRM trends "are part of the whole movement toward digitization of the workforce," said AvePoint CEO TJ Jiang. "We see much more integration and automation in the CRM space. We've been working, for instance, to digitize a social welfare organization, where caseworkers will go in the field to service underprivileged children. ... Historically, it's all been paper-based."
Microsoft Rebrands
November 2, 2016
Microsoft recently rebranded its business software offerings and the effect largely has been positive. Still, it must be emphasized that the cumulative effect of the deck chairs moved in performing the exercise remains to be seen. One of the effects is surely that all of the ERP and CRM solutions now are offered online, as the "Dynamics 365" moniker implies.
Should Salesforce Buy NetSuite?
October 29, 2016
The recently released spreadsheet hacked from Salesforce board member Colin Powell's email names multiple companies that Salesforce was at least considering acquiring. In the aftermath of the initial reports, it's worth noticing that there were at least two enterprise resource planning/back office companies on the list: Workday and NetSuite. There are plenty of reasons to dismiss acquisition talk.
The End of Marketing
October 27, 2016
This is going to be political but you won't be able to tell which side I'm on. You might ask, why on Earth would I get involved even tangentially in politics right now? The simple answer is that it impacts CRM and I have a viewpoint -- but as I say, I'm not picking or revealing a side. I've been doing research in business agility lately -- a fascinating area that soon will impact CRM.
AI and Customer Loyalty
October 19, 2016
AI and machine learning have taken the industry by storm. Some say they will usher in a new age of better business processes and customer orientation, while others fret that automation will kill jobs. There definitely will be jobs that no longer make sense for humans to do, thanks to automation. However, there are some neglected business processes where AI and ML could make real contributions.
Microsoft Adds Muscle to Dynamics 365
October 18, 2016
Microsoft last week shared new information about its upcoming Dynamics 365 cloud service: the addition of 100 new apps; the inclusion of Solution Integrator partners in Appsource; the division of apps and features into Enterprise and Business Editions, the latter for SMBs; and a new subscription model. Many of the new capabilities will be available in both editions on Nov. 1.
Aviso CEO K.V. Rao: Humans, Machines and Magic
October 14, 2016
"CRM is a mature industry, but it's fundamentally not moving the needle for the user, for the subscriber -- the sales rep or manager. It's fundamentally recording your activities, but it doesn't really let you commit with confidence to drive the right outcomes," said Aviso CEO K.V. Rao. Predictive analytics "can help you find the right content faster. That's what the state-of-the art is for sales.
Dreamforce Redux
October 12, 2016
Dreamforce for many years has been too big for a single person to cover. While I participate in covering events like this, inevitably I am reduced to the story of the three blind people and the elephant. You can't experience enough of the elephant to describe it unless you can see it. Using your hands leaves you frustrated. In the case of Dreamforce, you can't go to all of the sessions.
Bring Back the CIO
October 10, 2016
The cloud revolution has made an enormous contribution to the evolution of sales and marketing software, as well as to business software of all types. There's a long list of benefits it's conferred on users -- from the ability to outsource security and maintenance tasks to the avoidance of manual upgrade processes, to the switch in payment modes, to a model more affordable for more businesses.
AI's Moment
October 7, 2016
There recently has been an increase in the talk -- pro and con -- about bots, AI and intelligent assistants. A lot of this talk has been percolating around the industry for decades. Silicon Collar, a book by Vinnie Mirchandani, a friend and truly gifted analyst, accepts that automation might be eliminating jobs, but it optimistically holds out for the silver lining.
Dreamforce's Einstein: First Shot in New Sales Tech Arms Race?
October 6, 2016
A technology conference staple is the over-the-horizon announcement: a proclamation that something that isn't quite here yet is the next big thing, often accompanied by simulated screen shots, hypothetical use cases and fantastic demonstrations. This year's Dreamforce announcement of a machine learning-enabled technology called "Einstein" easily could be dismissed as futureware.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud Hits the Streets
October 5, 2016
Salesforce last week unveiled the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, billing it as the fastest path to unified commerce. It's built on technology from Demandware; Salesforce completed its acquisition of the company this summer. Commerce Cloud enables brands to provide personalized experiences for shoppers across the Web, mobile devices, social networks and in stores.
Oracle OpenWorld
September 29, 2016
Larry Ellison was having too much fun. In his second keynote of this year's Oracle OpenWorld user conference, he was talking about his company's database, Oracle 12c, and comparing it highly favorably to Amazon's competing databases. It seems Ellison always has fun, which is one likely reason that the 72 year-old CTO and executive chairman of the board, looks 52, sounds 42, and probably feels 32.
Abuse of Trust, Lack of Transparency: HP Shows How to Kill the IoT
September 26, 2016
There's been a lot of virtual ink spilled about the glorious future promised by the Internet of Things: just-in-time service, data-assisted performance optimization for devices, automatic software upgrades, and a host of other hands-off solutions that make life easier for customers and results better for businesses. Over the last 18 months, many have come to see the IoT as an inevitability.
Microsoft Dynamics Edges Out Salesforce, Oracle for HP Win
September 15, 2016
Just two months after announcing the integration of its CRM and ERP platform under the Microsoft Dynamics 365 umbrella, Microsoft this week announced a six-year agreement to deploy the service to HP Inc.'s ranks. Under the agreement, HP will deploy the Microsoft Dynamics platform -- including Azure, Office 365 and other solutions -- to tens of thousands of its employees.
Sales Tech's Forgotten Byproduct: Employee Happiness
September 13, 2016
Why do companies invest in CRM, sales performance management software, business intelligence, and every other component of the customer-facing technology stack? The obvious response is ROI. CRM paid back $8.71 for every dollar invested in it, Nucleus Research reported way back in 2014. Business analytics applications were delivering $13.01 in value for every buck spent on them.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Harlequin Romances Customers
September 6, 2016
I recently read a user story about how Harlequin -- a publisher of romance novels -- keeps its customers loyal. It has embraced several ideas that work really well, including emphasizing a consciousness of customer loyalty, keeping things simple, and focusing on personalizing relationships and engagement. Consciousness is relatively easy, but someone high on the org chart has to promote it.
Einstein to Make Dreamforce Appearance
August 25, 2016
Salesforce plans to unveil Einstein, an artificial intelligence product, at next month's Dreamforce 16. Einstein integration will give Salesforce's sales, service, marketing, collaboration and e-commerce products predictive suggestion and insights capabilities. It will serve as a new nerve system across the entire business. AI is key to Salesforce's future, CEO Marc Benioff has emphasized.
Pegasystems CTO Don Schuerman: Trust the Technology
August 23, 2016
Customers may not understand the processes that drive their experiences, and they're not eager to look under the hood, suggested Don Schuerman, CTO of Pegasystems. "The contemporary customer doesn't really care about CRM. They care about the experience they have, and in most cases they know little or nothing about the fact that there's a technology behind the scenes called CRM.
Salesforce Gets a Grip on Quip
August 2, 2016
Salesforce has agreed to acquire Quip, Quip CEO Bret Taylor and Head of Product Kevin Gibbs announced Monday. Quip lets users manage live documents throughout the collaboration process. The deal is worth about $582 million, according to a Salesforce filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Quip provides a chat feature that's built into every document and spreadsheet.
Oracle Hauls In NetSuite
July 28, 2016
Oracle has inked an agreement to acquire NetSuite -- the company its former chief marketing officer, Zach Nelson, cofounded in 1998 -- for $9.3 billion. NetSuite offers various software packages as cloud-based services, including ERP, accounting, CRM and sales force automation. What's surprising about the deal is "why it took so long and why Oracle paid so much," said analyst Trip Chowdhry.
LinkedIn Spiffs Up Sales Navigator
July 22, 2016
LinkedIn this week announced three updates to Sales Navigator. One is deeper integration with Salesforce CRM data, allowing leads and accounts to be imported into Sales Navigator automatically. More than 20 LinkedIn customers already are using this feature. The second is direct integration of Sales Navigator with Gmail. The third is a new recommendation tab on the Sales Navigator mobile apps.
5 Ways to Guarantee Sales Will Hate Your CRM
July 19, 2016
CRM often is described as a discipline and a technology that will transform the entire business. Sales and marketing can get on the same page, support will have visibility into what sales and marketing are doing, and every interaction can be captured and used to create a complete view of every customer. CRM has weak links, however -- and in many businesses, the weakest is the sales team.
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