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The Cloud's Untapped Vein of Gold
October 11, 2013
Although the cloud marketplace is growing rapidly, the current rate of growth will continue only if a broader set of strong channel companies emerge to extend the reach of today's cloud leaders into new industries and geographies. I've been suggesting for years that building more channels to market for cloud vendors is essential to the growth of the industry.
Revisiting Risk Assessment in the Cloud
October 01, 2013
The case for cloud is compelling for a number of reasons, but one of the more compelling reasons from a technologist's point of view has to do with the ability to abstract lower levels of the application stack. Depending on the model of cloud employed, varying amounts of the underlying technology components move out of the scope of your direct control.
Sales-Marketing Misalignment Hamstrings CRM
September 27, 2013
Talk to any sales or marketing consultant, and you'll probably get an earful about "sales-marketing misalignment" -- the single dumbest reason that otherwise worthy businesses struggle. While the two sides are warring over who's to blame for lackluster sales, there's little chance they'll cooperate around customer data that can benefit both sales and marketing.
The CRM Commodity Crisis: Escaping the SFA Mold
September 20, 2013
There's always been a dichotomy between the promise of CRM and the reality of CRM. The promise is something like this: CRM can become the nucleus of your business, unifying sales, marketing and support around a shared set of data about your customers. Not only will it make your relationships with your customers better; it will make relationships among employees who connect with customers better.
Needle in a Haystack: Harnessing Big Data for Security
September 14, 2013
The combination of the polymorphic nature of malware, failure of signature-based security tools, and massive amounts of data and traffic flowing in and out of enterprise networks is making threat management using traditional approaches virtually impossible. Until now, security has been based largely on the opinions of researchers who investigate attacks.
4 Quick and Dirty SaaS Technical Controls
September 03, 2013
Because of the rapid pace of SaaS adoption, many security practitioners have found themselves scrambling to ensure the security of the specific technologies their enterprises want to employ. However, the dynamics of SaaS can make this a challenging exercise. This is because most of the options for specific security controls are, by necessity, of the contractual or procedural variety.
The Customer Service Disaster Domino Theory
August 29, 2013
In examining airplane crashes, investigators often discover that it's not one thing that causes the disaster. It's a chain of interrelated things that go wrong: A mechanical failure or weather event can elicit the wrong reaction from the pilot, which worsens the initial problem and starts a sequence of events that can end very badly. The same is true of customer service meltdowns.
Getting to Yes: How to Embrace Consumer Clouds Without Losing Control
August 17, 2013
Business is increasingly taking place outside the boundaries of corporate data centers with data being moved to public clouds at an accelerating rate. Collaboration with outside partners, consultants and clients is becoming the norm. It even has a name: "open collaboration." Employees who have embraced the cloud are turning to low-end "consumer grade" file-sharing services for business activities.
Staying Secure in the Cloud-Adoption Aftermath
August 05, 2013
By now, most organizations have adopted cloud. If you're a technology pro and your organization is like most, you've already spent considerable time addressing how to field cloud in a secure way. As critical as it is to ensure initial secure cloud adoption, though, it's equally important that organizations understand it's a first step along a longer path.
Sales Get the Glory but Retention Gets the Gold
August 02, 2013
If you want glamour, status and prestige within your company, go out and get new customers. If you want to stay in business, specialize in keeping the ones you have happy and loyal. Customer retention isn't flashy, and it doesn't earn extra pats on the back from executives or big promotions -- which is a shame, because it's usually more profitable over the long term than hauling in new accounts.
Where Customer Service Goes to Die
July 30, 2013
Social customer service has now become a key point of contact between brands and their customers. Consumers, particularly within the Millennial demographic, take to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks when they have a problem. Sixty percent of 18-24 year olds go to social media when they have an issue, and companies have been quick to respond to this shift in customer behavior.
Avoiding Unpleasant Cloud Surprises
July 16, 2013
For most technologists in the enterprise nowadays, cloud is a pretty big deal -- and securing it can be an even bigger deal still. Security was the top concern of 46 percent of respondents to a recent survey by North Bridge Venture Partners. While this number is actually down from last year's 55 percent, it does underscore the relative importance of security in these efforts.
Laying Down the Virtual Law in Second Life
July 06, 2013
Millions of people have created avatars that live in Internet virtual worlds. Those virtual worlds include Second Life and Maple Story, as well as video games. Although these virtual worlds and games are used regularly by individuals around the world, few consider the ownership and other legal rights associated with their virtual activities. There has been some interesting litigation.
Seizing the Big Data Opportunity
June 29, 2013
E-commerce companies rely on Big Data to glean valuable, real-time insights that drive smarter, more profitable business decisions. Problems can arise, however, when Big Data infrastructures become riddled with bottlenecks and don't perform optimally, causing critical intelligence to be delayed or unavailable. Some companies have attempted to "scale away" these inefficiencies by adding hardware.
Keeping Data Up to Date Is an All-Hands Evolution
June 27, 2013
Some things in life are fleeting -- the lifespan on the mayfly, the appearance of a rainbow, the pure white of the first snow of winter. Some things in your CRM system are fleeting too -- namely, the quality of your data. Did you know that every year, somewhere between 25 percent and 40 percent of your customer data ages out, goes out of date, or otherwise becomes obsolete?
Laying the Foundation for the Internet of Things
June 22, 2013
U.S. residential broadband Internet penetration has grown more than 400 percent since 2002, when just 16.5 million U.S. households had fast Internet service. The increased presence of these high-speed connections has implications for a variety of devices, which increasingly are arriving in the home with embedded connectivity capabilities. So far, the market is very fragmented.
Your Social Media Manager Needs to Know Your Business
June 20, 2013
We all know by now that social media is important for business success. It plays a role in sales, marketing and support. Then there's the idea of social CRM -- on a basic level, the inclusion of social media-generated data in the customer record -- which can help shift the way a business interacts with customers to a more intimate and effective level. That's common knowledge.
5 Places Customer Relationships Go to Die
June 14, 2013
Building a customer relationship -- the kind that lasts a long time -- is a not an easy thing. There are lots of occasions where things can go awry, touch points where signals can get crossed and communications that can unwittingly turn a customer off. In a lot of cases, the conclusion is triggered by something the business does that brings the relationship to a premature end.
Spreading Your E-Commerce Wings
June 10, 2013
Much has been said of the opportunities that lie in emerging retail markets, especially in countries or regions that have been less affected by recession. For many Western companies, however, a lack of confidence and basic local knowledge is stifling opportunity for international expansion. There are two key markets that I consider to be low-hanging fruit for U.S. merchants: Russia and China.
How's Your Mistake Process Management?
June 06, 2013
Perfection is elusive, if not impossible to achieve. Businesses are made up of people, and people are imperfect. They make mistakes -- mistakes involving internal operations and mistakes that affect customers. How many have planned for those inevitable instances when people prove fallible? Not many. We don't like to envision ourselves as vulnerable to making mistakes.

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