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Gamifying Sales Comp
August 5, 2015
Microsoft earlier this week announced that it has bought FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform. The intent of the product is to boost sales productivity. The gaming part is designed after some aspects of fantasy sports leagues in which participants build a team from known professional athletes and try to beat other teams. The team aspect makes everyone more competitive.
The Cloud's Open Source Seeds Are Growing Strong
August 4, 2015
Open source seeded the cloud, 451 Research found five years ago -- and those seeds have grown. Open source now plays an even more prevalant and important role -- not only in cloud computing, but also in other, related areas, such as big data, DevOps and application containers. One can consider any layer of cloud computing -- Infrastructure as a Service, for example -- and see the impact.
Windows 10: Changing the Apple vs. Microsoft Dynamic
August 3, 2015
What I find most interesting about Windows 10 is that if Apple wanted to knock Microsoft off the desktop, then it -- not Microsoft -- should have released a product like this. When I say "like this," I mean one that could transform a smartphone into a PC. My reasoning is that Microsoft is relatively weak in smartphones, and Apple currently is kicking Google all over the market.
Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Monitoring the Sales Metrics That Matter Most
July 30, 2015
I recently conducted a simple, one-question survey, using sales pros as my target audience. The question was idiotically simple: What is the most important metric for people in sales? In this era of big data, deep analysis and predictive analytics, you might have thought that some new, performance-based metric would have surfaced as the new secret weapon.
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.
The Key to Apple Watch Success: Getting Enough Right the First Time
July 28, 2015
I still find wry joy in all the "Apple Watch Tanks" headlines from early July. There are some great gems, like "Apple Watch is a FLOP: Sales of the gadget have fallen by 90 percent since April, report claims" or "Analyst: Apple Watch selling worse than thought." Trouble is, the reports and estimates were based on a tiny slice of reality. In fact, Apple Watch sales in June exceeded April or May.
What To Do if Your Car Tries to Kill You
July 27, 2015
The scary news last week was that a couple of guys demonstrated they could hack into a Jeep and take control of it. Later, more details came out that suggested you might want to avoid Chrysler cars altogether. The industry appears to be waiting for the first major catastrophic accident before putting resources into fixing this problem at the proper level.
Gadget Ogling: Gritty Tablets, Wireless Storage Sticks, and Swapped-Out Speakers
July 25, 2015
Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is designed for people who work in the field, for the military and explorers, for industrial work and first responders. This system can handle some harsh conditions, including temperatures between -20 and 145 degrees and drops from more than four feet, as well as spills, mud, dirt and sand. It boasts an 11.6-inch screen and fifth-generation Intel Core CPUs.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Are Your Spreadsheets Leaking Money?
July 21, 2015
We all use them. They're the default system for listing and tracking things. And no one -- except, maybe for that one weird guy in finance -- really likes them. I'm talking about spreadsheets. Whether it's Excel or Google Sheets or some other lesser-known variation on the theme, a lot of spreadsheets are created every year. There are at least 1 billion users of Excel in the world.
DoJ: Firms Should Hire Cyber-Savvy Lawyers
July 20, 2015
Hardly a day goes by without a headline about a cyberintrusion. No entity is immune -- international retailers, airlines, hotels, mom and pop stores, cloud providers -- even the U.S. government. However, it seems that few businesses contemplate how important it is for their attorney to know and understand cybersecurity, as well as know what to do when a cyberintrusion occurs.
The Emperor Is Naked and We're All Idiots
July 20, 2015
An old fable keeps running through my mind about the scam artist who convinced an emperor that he had created clothing only smart people could see. Everyone says they see the clothing because they don't want to look stupid. Walking around in clothing stupid people can't see doesn't sound enticing anyway, but lately it has seemed clear to me that the folks reporting the news think we are idiots.
Gadget Ogling: An Amped-Up Smartphone, a Giant USB Charger and a Gun Detector
July 18, 2015
Marshall, best known for its guitar amplifiers and headphones, is moving into the smartphone market. Its first device, London, has dual front-facing speakers and a pair of audio outputs, making it easy to share what you're listening to with a friend who's also wearing headphones, assuming you're in a setting where you don't have the option of playing the audio over speakers.
Meaningful Work and CRM
July 16, 2015
Having meaningful work is one of the biggest challenges for many people at the bottom of the employment ladder. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell documented the multigenerational effect. The children of people who had meaningful work turned out to be more successful and advanced further in their careers than children of people stuck in less-rewarding occupations.
Wrangling Big Data: When in Doubt, Think Like a Customer
July 13, 2015
As businesses gain new insights about the power of data, they're discovering new sales and marketing tactics that go far beyond what previously was possible. It's not just big data and a technology-driven revolution -- it's also a shift in attitudes about data's place in sales, its role as a guide or reality check, and its ability to fuel new processes that drive greater sales performance.
Tech Tools to Make Your Next Move Less Painful
July 13, 2015
My wife and I just completed a move from California to Oregon, and it was far less painful than it could have been, thanks to technology. It used to be incredibly painful to move. While a lot of the pain is still there, technology has advanced a lot since we last moved -- about 18 years ago -- and at least some parts of the process now are far easier.
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.
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.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.