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Bridging the Front and Back Offices
July 9, 2015
I've written many times about how conventional, premises-based ERP seems to be evaporating. Configuration, pricing and quoting are business processes that illustrate the point. First, let's all agree that enterprise resource planning isn't going extinct as it evaporates -- it's too valuable -- but it is getting a haircut. Many of the functions leaving ERP are condensing back into the front office.
Customer Experience Is Everyone's Department
July 6, 2015
Customer experience is more than the act of trading money for a product or a service. It's the experience leading up to that, and the experience customers have with what they've purchased, all the way until they stop using it. Why is it, then, that the concept of "customer experience" seems to exist primarily in the marketing department? Marketing is but a small part of what makes an experience.
Rick Perry and the Texas vs. California Tech War
July 6, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting to do a CNBC slot on what to expect from the Apple Watch in Asia -- the entire smartwatch class is having a lot of issues for a variety of reason -- and I ran into Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, as he was coming out of the same studio I was about to enter. For some reason, I thought he was going to be a typical entitled stuck-up jerk, but he wasn't.
5 Things the Apple App Store Could Do Better
July 1, 2015
I haven't been thrilled with app discovery on the App Store for years, and while Apple has been tweaking things to make it better, it's pretty easy to enter the iOS App Store, look around, and come to the conclusion that only an infinitesimal fraction of 1.5 million apps must be worthy of showing off -- and unfortunately, Disney's "Palace Pets in Whisker Haven" is one of them.
The Automobile as We Know It Is Dead
June 29, 2015
There's a massive number of efforts going on to kill the car as we know it. Among them are efforts to make it a tiny self-driving box that we'd likely be embarrassed to be seen in, efforts to make it highly customized and amazing, and efforts to change its fuel from gasoline to CNG, electricity or something else. There is no doubt that the car as we know it soon will be dead.
Gadget Ogling: Vertical Vinyl, Kid-Friendly Video Chats, and a Smart Pool Monitor
June 27, 2015
I enjoy music as much as anyone, though I'm no real audiophile and I have not an enormous passion for one format over another. I admire the romance of vinyl but find it unwieldy and cumbersome when digital recordings work just fine for me. The Floating Record turntable is beautiful, though, and I'm almost tempted to race to my record store to stock up on vinyl to play on one of these.
Time of the Season for Innovating?
June 25, 2015
Not all innovation is good. Let me illustrate with a few examples of how poor innovation can harm a company. Bad innovation can quickly cut down a brand that took years to build. Generally speaking, innovation is good. Without innovation, we would still be driving a Model T and getting blocks of ice delivered to keep our refrigerator cool while sitting in our uncooled home listening to our radio.
CRM's New Era
June 24, 2015
It recently occurred to me that CRM has come full circle in a fundamental way. I was never a fan of labels like "CRM 2.0" or "Social CRM" or whatever else came along, principally because those monikers didn't signify anything new in doing business. Certainly you could make a case that those names described some new attributes for the traditional set of apps but that just invites a "so what?"
3 Things That Will Change Electronic Entertainment Forever
June 22, 2015
E3 -- perhaps the biggest and most important gaming conference in the world -- took place last week. Sony and Microsoft came ready to do battle, Nintendo showed up, and we were up to our armpits in little companies doing amazing things with virtual reality. However, companies that weren't at the event likely have more to say about the future of gaming than those that had a big presence there.
Gadget Ogling: Wrist-Saving Keyboards, Resource-Saving Smartphones and New Angles on Reality
June 20, 2015
Here to save all our wrists -- or at least those of the populace with a spare $299 to spend on a computer accessory -- is a lovely, wood-finished keyboard called "Keyboardio Model 01." Taking its cue from a long history of ergonomic keyboards, the device splits an atypical keyboard in two, dedicating half the keys to each of your hands, and it's set in a gorgeous maple wood construction.
Will PayPal Become the Next BlackBerry?
June 18, 2015
Recently I had a problem with a purchase, which led me to ask an important question: Will PayPal become the next BlackBerry? PayPal must update, or it will lose to new competitors like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, CurrentC and Square, whose intention is to reinvent the e-commerce and mobile payment space. PayPal was a great service when the Internet was young and consumers had no other choice.
Correlation, Causation and CRM
June 17, 2015
If you read a lot, like me, you might notice almost daily there's a new study that contradicts some earlier research. Something causes cancer -- then it's good for you. You know the drill. What's going on here? Do we simply not know what our research is saying? Can nobody correctly interpret the data? None of this would mean much to CRM if not for the advance of big data and analytics.
Anatomy of a CEO Failure
June 15, 2015
Much to Apple's dismay, I cover Apple events. One of the questions that frequently came up during its recent developer conference centered on Tim Cook. Was he becoming Steve Ballmer? The implication was that Steve was a failure at Microsoft, so the comparison didn't reflect well on Cook. I think this idea is wrongheaded, although Tim Cook's situation bears some similarity to Steve Ballmer's.
Gadget Ogling: Equalized Eardrums, Holographic Pyramids and Live-Streaming Ovens
June 13, 2015
Aumeo is an attachment that's all about fine-tuning your earphones to better hear anything you listen to on your smartphone, tablet or other audio-emitting gadget. Using a smartphone app, it tests how well you can hear a number of different frequencies and provides you with a personal equalizer attuned to each of your ears. The sound fidelity supposedly is far better.
What Buyers Want
June 12, 2015
Technology is giving companies an unprecedented view of their customers: demographic data; buying preferences; behaviors that signal the intent to buy; and analyses that enable them to develop expectations about how customers are likely to act during the buyer-seller relationship. Those abilities are new, and they hold a lot of promise. However, customers have changing expectations as well.
The Changing Faces of the Wireless Industry
June 11, 2015
There seem to be two distinct sectors forming in the wireless industry. One side is wireless as part of a bundle of services. The other is wireless as a standalone product. This is not a case of one side being a winner and the other a loser -- they're just different. The rules for success seem to be changing as well. That means how we measure and track companies on both sides may have to change.
Early Franken-Cloud
June 10, 2015
What happens when you have a lot of a good thing, like cloud computing? You might get a "Franken-cloud." Basically, a Franken-cloud is what happens when you have multiple cloud-based systems that need to share data and run processes in your business. As recently as a few years ago, the same issues would have come from buying multiple best-of-breed applications and trying to knit them together.
Turning 'Shadow IT' into 'Better IT'
June 10, 2015
Sometimes things happen that seem undesirable, but they actually can turn out to be advantageous when viewed in a certain light, when approached in a certain way, or depending on circumstances. For example, this can be true when it comes to "Shadow IT" -- specifically, the adoption of technology without the involvement or knowledge of the IT organization.
Gadget Ogling: A Speaker-Stuffed Tablet Case, a Soothing Wearable, and Earbuds for the Real World
June 9, 2015
Asus' new ZenPad 8.0 aims to end the scourge of tablets with terrible sound. Its interchangeable cover design gives users several functional options. One is the Audio Cover, which bumps up sound quality by tucking a 5.1 surround-sound system inside. Its six speakers, including a subwoofer, promise to significantly improve the tablet experience of watching video and listening to music.
The Perils of Employees' Trade Secret Plundering
June 8, 2015
Sometimes before new employees leave their jobs to join your company, they copy valuable company secret information onto portable thumb drives or they send that information to their personal webmail accounts. As the new employer, you may be hiring those employees because they have valuable information -- yet you don't want to be targeted by a lawsuit, along with the employees.
The Best Unsung Features of Windows 10
June 8, 2015
There are things about working with large companies that can be really frustrating. For instance, when both Windows Vista and Windows 8 were coming to market, a number of us pointed out that things needed to be fixed before the product was released, but we were ignored, with catastrophic results. This time, however, Windows 10 is looking better than any OS I've ever reviewed.
Dodging Disorganization: Showing Sellers a Sharper Image
June 4, 2015
Despite vendors' claims, CRM is not all about technology. Technology helps it scale, but CRM is really a discipline. It's the discipline of creating relationships that benefit both buyers and sellers. CRM is really great at organizing the data that makes it possible to build relationships. However, many things that aren't driven by your CRM technology can have a major impact on relationships.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
Catching the Next VoIP Growth Wave
June 4, 2015
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, started out being a very low-quality and clunky way to make free calls using an Internet-connected computer. As it has evolved, most of its growth has been on the consumer side, but that is now slowing. Growth is starting to come from the business side. So, what will the VoIP industry look like going forward? To predict its future, look at the ISP business.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.