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2016: The Year in Review
December 6, 2016
This year will go down as an important turning point in CRM. For the last decade and a half, we've been simultaneously building and destroying CRM -- first by linking all of the disparate databases to get that 360-degree view, and then by adding important accessories like social and analytics. At the same time, we've been busy tearing down conventional architectures and spinning up the cloud.
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.
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.
Signs and Symptoms
November 16, 2016
It's been a rough couple of months, and we should talk about something fun and not political, but CRM-centric. I know! Let's ask how the election influenced CRM. Seriously, there's a nugget in there to get us thinking about business instead of that other stuff. Come on, it'll be fun. I am not the only one who saw this, but isn't it amazing how the pollsters got the election outcome exactly wrong?
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.
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.
Many Customers Aren't on Board With Self-Service Trend
November 1, 2016
Enterprises have been warming to digital transformation, but it's crucial that they maintain a human element in their customer interactions, according to a study Verint published last week. Researchers surveyed more than 24,000 consumers and 1,000 businesses across 12 countries for the study. Organizations have to balance digital and human customer engagement to thrive and survive.
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.
Angry Customers Likely to Ditch Wells Fargo's Wagon
October 26, 2016
Wells Fargo Bank will lose customers in droves because of the scandal over fraudulently opened accounts and other issues, based on the results of an online survey cg42 conducted last week. More than 85 percent of the respondents -- 1,500 primary customers of the top 10 U.S. retail banks, including 1,000 Wells Fargo customers -- were aware of the scandal.
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.
Salesforce Ponies Up $340M Cash for Krux Data Management
October 4, 2016
Salesforce has agreed to acquire its Marketing Cloud partner Krux, which offers a data management platform. Salesforce will pay $340 million in cash and issue between 3.4 million and six million shares of common stock to consummate the deal, according to documentation filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. That's worth an estimated $700 million in all.
What to Expect at Dreamforce 16
September 30, 2016
Something tells me that if Salesforce already leaked news about its new AI product, Einstein, that it might not be the biggest news that will emerge from Dreamforce next week. However, I also think Einstein will be involved in whatever is the big takeaway. Salesforce has become rather large, with $8 billion-plus in revenue. A member of the Fortune 500, it still tries to be nimble.
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.
Outdated Federal IT Gobbles Up Vendor Opportunities
September 27, 2016
U.S. government agencies spend an overwhelming amount of their annual information technology budgets simply to maintain old and out-of-date systems. As a result, the amount of money available for investing in modernizing IT keeps shrinking, thus depriving vendors of major marketing opportunities at the federal level. The official federal IT budget has remained at about $82 billion per year for several years.
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.
Work in a New Automation Era
September 22, 2016
Automation has a habit of killing jobs, which has been true since the Industrial Revolution. However, it seems that we're discovering this truth all over again. We easily forget when we focus only on the job-creation aspects of automation, and that usually gets us in trouble. Since the IR, there have been five distinct economic waves lasting between 50 and 60 years.
Oracle Does the Cloud Dance
September 19, 2016
Sunday's Oracle OpenWorld keynotes were good -- especially compared with prior years -- but they still suffered from the perennial problem of trying to stuff too much content into a two-hour event. Diane Bryant, SVP at Intel and a big Oracle partner, spent an hour covering a very broad landscape. Perhaps the most interesting information in Bryant's presentation concerned Intel's new line of chips.
Oracle's Earnings Call
September 16, 2016
Oracle is flying high as it goes into its annual Oracle OpenWorld customer conference, based on the news from its earnings call on Thursday. It's clear that the company has succeeded in pivoting from on-premises to cloud software offerings. The revenue acceleration from cloud products and services suggests that Oracle will derive an increasing share of its future revenues from cloud solutions.
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.
Business Agility and the Platform
September 14, 2016
A common perception of business agility is that it revolves around quickness, especially quickness in the service of accelerating a deal or transaction. That's a good starting point, but agility actually goes deeper -- especially now that so many structural changes, like cloud computing and subscriptions, have turned up the dial on everyday business.
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.
In a Political Season
August 24, 2016
Many, if not most, people I know don't want to talk about it -- the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don't want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody's mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?
Salesforce Reels BeyondCore Into Its Cloud
August 17, 2016
Salesforce has inked an agreement to acquire BeyondCore, a data analytics firm that already has integrated its latest release with Salesforce, the companies said Monday. BeyondCore will become part of the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, extending smart data discovery and advanced analytics capabilities across the entire Salesforce Customer Success Platform, said BeyondCore CEO Arijit Sengupta.
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Genesys Forrester Wave
Is fake news a major problem?
Yes -- people don't know which news to trust.
No -- it's very easy to spot.
Yes -- it's propaganda warfare, and the U.S. is losing.
No -- people have always believed what suited them.
Yes -- but only temporarily, as people are catching on.
No -- much of it actually isn't fake.