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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.
Zendesk SVP Matt Price: CRM's Super-Exciting Road Ahead
July 12, 2016
The most important trends in CRM right now are "the rise of the millennials, the rise of the promoter economy, and the rise of the conscious consumer," said Matt Price, Zendesk's SVP of emerging businesses. "The 'R' in CRM is relationship, and all of these things impact how we develop relationships with our customers. We're moving beyond a series of transactions to relationships."
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Brings CRM and ERP Together
July 7, 2016
In a bid to augment its cloud services business with more flexibility on pricing and customization, Microsoft has announced the launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource, which will integrate its ERP and CRM solutions. The combined cloud offerings, which will become available this fall, will allow customers to choose purpose-built apps for a range of business management processes.
Learning Something CRM-ish From Brexit
July 6, 2016
This summer has started out to be anything but a somnolent day at the beach. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU is enough to disturb your slumber. To be frank, it appears we are at one of those major historical transition points that might happen a few times in any of our lives. Without stirring up a hornet's nest, I would like to discuss CRM in all of this.
Salesforce VP Lynne Zaledonis: Intelligence Is the Next Generation of CRM
June 28, 2016
Salesforce VP Lynne Zaledonis drives product marketing and sales enablement for Sales Cloud. In order to succeed in the age of the customer, companies need to understand that the new cloud, mobile and social world we find ourselves in "has produced trillions of pieces of customer data, and it's totally changed how we engage with our customers, and how they engage with us," Zaledonis said.
Social's Turning Point
June 24, 2016
Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn for more than $26 billion has created quite a stir -- at least in my world. The deal can boast a number of superlatives: the largest sale of a consumer Internet company in history; the largest sale of an enterprise software/cloud company in history; the third-largest sale of a technology company since 2001; and the largest Microsoft acquisition ever.
Salesforce's TrailheaDX
June 17, 2016
Salesforce held TrailheaDX last week -- its first event just for software developers. It previously relied on special sessions at events such as Dreamforce to educate developers, but its declared intention to train up to 100 million of them in its Lightning development environment dictated taking additional action. Anyone should be able to learn development skills, Salesforce contends.
The Microsoft-LinkedIn CRM Connection
June 14, 2016
With its $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn, Microsoft may be setting itself up to tackle Salesforce head-on for CRM dominance. The purchase also might help Microsoft compete more aggressively with other major CRM providers, such as SAP and Oracle. The LinkedIn purchase "is key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes," CEO Satya Nadella told Microsoft employees.
The Marginal Customer
June 10, 2016
I start a lot of client engagements with a simple question: Who's the customer? It's amazing the answers that I get. Some people know the customer's demographic and business or personal needs, and they focus on those things. Others don't even grasp the difference between a customer and a consumer. You might expect this if you are working in the B2C rather than B2B space.
Creating the Right Business Culture for Success
June 6, 2016
In an era when technology is changing the ways people conduct every aspect of their lives, it's not a surprise that business leaders have come to depend on it as the lever that will elevate their sales and marketing performance to the next level. Productivity has increased because of technology, and the implementation of technological tools has had a direct effect on sales effectiveness.
Loyalty Failures
June 3, 2016
Software vendors and their business customers have tried many things to increase customer loyalty, but they have been disappointed more often than not. Rewards, delight, and daily deals were good ideas to help spur customer loyalty. Unfortunately, they weren't enough to move the loyalty needle in today's highly competitive markets. That's because rewards programs often reward the wrong thing.
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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.