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OpenWorld Preview
October 17, 2018
As of this writing, I haven't been prebriefed on what Oracle will be announcing at OpenWorld regarding CRM -- or as it refers to it, "CX" -- so this is a good time to express my own opinions. Oracle's direction in the last few years increasingly has been toward cloud computing and the autonomous database, and each has several flavors or divisions. The company has three levels of cloud.
The CRM Oligopoly
October 4, 2018
As markets mature, they trend toward oligopoly or even outright monopoly. There isn't much difference, because an oligopoly has several members instead of just one. Examples include electric power generation, an oligopoly made up of vertically integrated monopolies in most areas, and the airline industry -- an oligopoly made up of many airlines that may have monopolies in regional hubs.
Dreamforce 2018
October 1, 2018
Salesforce has been very good at skating to where the puck will be, to paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky. As a result, the company has a long line of firsts, beginning with its initial disruption and continuing through its early adoption of social media and analytics. So it's no surprise that it is pursuing some very different issues now than it did almost 20 years ago -- or even five.
Silo Buster: Salesforce Attacks the Data Sprawl Problem
September 25, 2018
I have never been a big fan of the term "360-degree view of the customer," mostly because you never can have a complete view of your customers. It's simply impossible. Things happen that you don't capture in the data, as CRM guru Paul Greenberg has pointed out. They get divorced, their dog dies, they get a really nice birthday gift. Those things can affect customers' buying behavior.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
A Good Storm
September 20, 2018
Dreamforce continues to bear down on the world like a hurricane slowly approaching from across the ocean -- in a good way, if that makes any sense. Salesforce has pumped new products into the market that will serve as the focus of at least part of the discussion. The company recently introduced improvements or whole new products for the SMB market, philanthropy and financial services.
Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud at Dreamforce
September 13, 2018
At the last Dreamforce, Salesforce introduced a new cloud dedicated to philanthropy, and the company began delivering on a three-part strategy this year. The Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud is a product of what used to be called the "Salesforce Foundation" but now is referred to as "Salesforce.org." The idea is not rocket science. The new cloud is designed to be a meeting place that facilitates interactions between nonprofits and funding sources.
Sign of the Times
September 11, 2018
Well, here's one Dreamforce idea I never heard of. A group of groups opposed to the Trump administration's immigrant detention and separation policies has announced that it will picket Dreamforce. It already has called on speakers attending the event to pull out. A long time ago, a very underfunded Salesforce marketing team tried a similar stunt, disrupting Siebel user group meetings.
Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara: The Beauty of the CRM Beast
September 6, 2018
"The reality of relationships is that people buy from people they like, know and trust," said Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara. "In the old days, before we ever engaged in selling, we made a connection by looking at books, things on the shelves, that kind of thing. Today, we're doing that more and more electronically. Social is the perfect way to know more about somebody, and that's actually your job."
Dreamforce Considerations
August 28, 2018
The Salesforce people whom I speak with are all heads down and breathing hard in the big push to Dreamforce. In other words, things are normal for this part of the cycle. The big questions for each show are, "What will the vendor emphasize this time?" and "Will that be a tone set for the industry for the year ahead?" Sometimes the announcements set a tone but not always.
Oracle's Bad Boy Image
August 21, 2018
No one at Oracle will ever be nominated for sainthood, and that's probably OK with them. Over the years the company has developed a bad boy image that in some cases is richly deserved, while in others it has been embellished by events. Much derives from the brash doings of founder and longtime CEO (now CTO) Larry Ellison, who may be a charter member of the "never explain, never complain" club.
Oracle Confronts Lawsuit on Its Path to the Cloud
August 18, 2018
The City of Sunrise Firefighters' Pension Fund has sued Oracle, alleging that its executives lied about the company's successes in the cloud and engaged in coercion and threats to sell its cloud products, "creating an unsustainable model that fell apart." The plaintiff apparently is seeking class-action status for the suit. Oracle has called the suit meritless and said it would defend against it.
Sugar's New Shot Clock
August 16, 2018
SugarCRM has agreed to acquisition by Accel-KKR, a leading technology-focused private equity firm. Although the announcement calls the deal "a significant investment," what typically happens when private equity moves in is that venture capital moves out. Private equity likes to own everything and thus have greater control. In basketball terms, Sugar just got a big rebound and a new shot clock.
JEDI Mind Games
August 15, 2018
During the same week it was sued by irate investors over progress moving its customer base to the cloud, Oracle protested a procurement process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The lawsuit will take a long time to resolve, and it's difficult to see how the plaintiffs can prove their case -- but in comparison, the Department of Defense's procurement will run at light speed.
Oracle Releases Second Half of Autonomous DB
August 10, 2018
A lot of people might have thought Oracle's announcement of the autonomous database at last year's OpenWorld and its subsequent release earlier this year were the whole story, but there's a lot more. This week's webcast featuring Larry Ellison was proof. Ellison must find his CTO role -- since he handed the CEO reins to Safra Catz and Mark Hurd -- to be stimulating and liberating at the same time.
Block to Be Salesforce Co-CEO With Benioff
August 8, 2018
There are many interpretations of Salesforce's elevation of Keith Block to serve as co-CEO with Marc Benioff. Block has been the company's vice chairman and president for several years, and the elevation could be a recognition of the obvious -- he's been doing the job without the title for a while. However, Salesforce and Benioff are well known for getting added mileage from any move they make.
Slide Over, Salesforce? Freshworks Scores $100M in Funding Round
August 1, 2018
Freshworks has secured $100 million in funding from Accel and Sequoia Capital India with the participation of CapitalG. That brings the total amount of capital raised since the firm's 2010 launch to $250 million. "The new funding will be used to invest in our platform and to continue scaling internationally," said Arvind Parthiban, Freshworks' director of marketing.
Cloud Transition State
July 24, 2018
A confusing dynamic has been emerging in the software industry, caused by the inexorable shift to the cloud. Even before you can get into the analysis, though, you need to identify which cloud or clouds you're thinking about -- e.g., infrastructure, apps, platform. Also, once you've done that, you need to decide if you're partial to technology or financial analysis.
Is Philanthropy Becoming Sexy?
July 20, 2018
The Internet has a long and storied history of democratizing information and influencing social change. It has flattened hierarchies and made information accessible to many more people -- though, ironically, it also has sometimes assaulted democracy in the process. Just think about how philanthropy has been changing at the instigation of Salesforce, one of the Internet's poster kids.
Oracle's Nice Numbers
June 30, 2018
Significant Q4 wins and earnings numbers reflect the strength of Oracle's resurgence as a cloud company. At its earnings call earlier this week, CEO Mark Hurd mentioned some big names -- including Johnson & Johnson, the Cleveland Clinic, Baylor University and AT&T -- that made significant commitments to Oracle in the quarter. For FY2018, total revenues were up 6 percent compared with fiscal 2017.
Oracle's Creative Destruction
June 26, 2018
Although Oracle was one of the last major enterprise software vendors to move to the cloud, it has embraced the idea of creative destruction in breathtaking ways. With BYOL -- Bring Your Own License -- the company has inspired a movement of its traditional software customers to its infrastructure cloud. It continued the translation exercise with Oracle LaunchPad, a new online learning platform.
Salesforce Connects With Marketing
June 21, 2018
A good way to understand what Salesforce articulated at Connections 2018 is to recall the direction it set a few years ago, when CEO Marc Benioff said the company would develop most apps for the small screen first. Translated, that was a concession that handheld devices -- phones and tablets -- would become the primary devices we'd all use in business. So far that's been a good bet.
Zuora at a Crossroads
June 18, 2018
Zuora's recent Subscribed user conference was a good first outing since the company's IPO, coming off some impressive first-quarter results. Year-over-year subscription revenues grew 39 percent and total revenue grew an amazing 60 percent, for example. As good as its present situation is, now that Zuora is a public company, it has to push down the gas pedal to feed the insatiable stock market.
SAP Discovers CRM
June 6, 2018
SAP has unveiled a new attempt to consolidate a group of about a dozen front office apps into a fully integrated CRM suite -- next year. How do you say "lipstick on a pig" in a non-derogatory way? Look, CRM is over 20 years old now. For most of the early days, the vendors scrambled to integrate their apps into a coherent whole, supporting multiple customer-facing processes.
Oracle's Security Jag
June 2, 2018
Oracle has been on a security campaign ever since Larry Ellison openly began discussing the new "autonomous database" -- so called because it can manage itself, including self-patching and upgrading, without human effort. The hands-off database can eliminate human labor to keep it tuned and running, according to Oracle, greatly reducing the time between availability and implementation.
Benioff Endorses GDPR for US
May 27, 2018
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff described Facebook as the "new cigarettes" in a recent appearance on the TV show CBS This Morning and called for the U.S. to adopt a national privacy law like the GDPR, which just went into effect in Europe. "Maybe this is a time where the government has to step in and regulate not just that product but really our industry," Benioff said, referring to Facebook.
Middle Office or No-Man's Land?
May 20, 2018
It was once common knowledge that Apttus was the next big acquisition target on Salesforce's radar, until Salesforce decided to acquire another CPQ vendor to augment its Sales Cloud. In the two-ish years since, Apttus has nicely pivoted, diversifying its partner base and justifying its existence with a new strategy and nomenclature around what it calls the "middle office."
Oracle's Drive to Automate
May 13, 2018
Oracle -- or could we say "Autoracle"? -- has introduced more autonomous products, generally in keeping with what I see as a build-out of an information utility. The products include Autonomous Analytics, Autonomous Integrations, Autonomous Builder code generation and free premium service. The autonomous products broadly leverage a variety of analytics and machine learning tools.
Platform Logic
May 1, 2018
For some time, it has been my impression that in the CRM market, all -- or at least most -- of the good ideas have been taken. It's been a long time since we've seen a new systemic approach to front-office business. It's even been a long time since we've seen a major innovation at the department level. CRM itself was a systemic innovation in the last decade of the last century.
The Scaling Challenge
April 26, 2018
There is a meme making the rounds and I have no idea how old it is or its origins but I've heard it twice in the last week. It's easier to start a company than it is to scale one. You can't say it's a revolutionary thought, but for the last 20 years the emphasis has been decidedly on founding, so this is something of a departure. Startups don't grow to the moon on average.
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Freshsales - Reply.ai
If a hyperloop connection became available to take you to a desired destination, would you take it?
Absolutely! I can't wait for hyperloop technology to make much faster travel possible.
Never! It strikes me as unnecessary, far too risky, and claustrophobic.
I'd be interested, but it would depend on the price and the safety assurances.
I'd be interested, but I wouldn't want to be among the early guinea pigs.
Yes. Hyperloop travel is the wave of the future. I don't want to be left behind.
No. I'd rather slow down and go back to horses and buggies than speed up.