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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.
Honesty Proves Best Policy for Closing B2B Deals: Study
April 23, 2018
Vendors have a better shot at closing deals for large-scale B2B software purchases when they are upfront and honest about the quality of their products, a new study suggests. There is a bit of a trust gap between what is promised in negotiations for these deals and what actually is provided, indicates the poll of more than 650 technology vendors and buyers.
Zuora Takes It to the Big House
April 17, 2018
After nearly a decade of company building, Zuora last week went public, valuing itself on the open market at roughly US$2 billion after gaining 43 percent on its first day of trading. Those outlines don't reveal the importance of Zuora generally, and subscription billing systems in particular, to the rapid evolution of the subscription economy and CRM.
Digital Disruption
April 4, 2018
Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfesson, who teach at MIT's Sloan School of Management, started writing about the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning almost a decade ago. Their early books provided deep insights into the way the era we live in would unfold. A lot of their ideas were on display last week at TrailHeaDX: The Salesforce Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Salesforce's Latest Big Gamble: APIs
March 25, 2018
Anyone who has attempted to adopt Salesforce cloud solutions in an enterprise environment knows that it may not be as easy as expected because of the additional effort typically required to integrate data sources. This is a common problem that has plagued the enterprise application industry since its inception. In fact, it spawned an entire subsegment of integration vendors and service providers.
Healthcare, CRM's New Vertical
March 14, 2018
Healthcare might offer the best example of the potential for vertical market CRM, but most people in CRM may not realize this. Healthcare is, after all, a bit of a stretch from what we do in the enterprise or SMB world, but perhaps it shouldn't be. In both spheres we see a relatively small number of highly paid and overworked people addressing the needs of a vast number of people.
To Fix Healthcare, Fix IT First
March 1, 2018
We spend a great deal of time and effort trying to make healthcare more affordable and to ensure better outcomes. Too often, the upshot is to reduce all problems and challenges to a singularity in search of a silver bullet. It never works, but it seems like human nature to take that approach. Salesforce has taken a tactic that is bearing fruit, in part because it isn't really trying to fix healthcare.
AdRoll Creates New Division to Target B2B Marketers
February 28, 2018
AdRoll has announced RollWorks, a new division that will provide business-to-business marketers with highly targeted, personalized marketing at scale across multiple channels and devices. The result of a corporate restructuring, RollWorks will focus specifically on B2B marketing, while the AdRoll business unit will focus on the company's legacy products for e-commerce SMBs.
Advanced Selling Strategies
February 17, 2018
One of CRM's overlooked benefits, accrued over many years, is its influence on business processes. Twenty or so years ago, front-office business processes were simplistic, due in part to the lack of technology support. For example, business leaders might have wanted to peer into a sales process to better incentivize sales reps, but rarely did so because it required a lot of data.
Trending in CRM
February 14, 2018
It's uncertain how the CRM market will look in six months, given the stock market, the economy and the tax bill. Initial indications are that more money will be available for various corporate activities, like hiring and rewarding employees and investments in products and business processes. If so, a decent amount of cash might find its way into various CRM company coffers.
Salesforce's Triangulation Strategy
January 24, 2018
Partnerships may be playing the role usually reserved for M&A activity in the CRM world right now. Generally a company makes a purchase when it wants to capture the benefits of another business' R&D or established market base. However, at the moment it appears that the desirable targets are too big to swallow, and the result is more partnering between the big guys and the really big guys.
Infrastructure as an Anchor
January 18, 2018
Oracle's race to the cloud has offered multiple successes to its investors and some disappointment as well. No transition of this magnitude can be expected to run like clockwork, but the difference between revenues for Oracle's Software as a Service apps for last quarter, $1.1 billion, and those for its Infrastructure as a Service apps, at $396 million, should at least get you thinking.
Cloud Training to Boost Competitive Advantage Strategies
January 11, 2018
One of the biggest challenges facing organizations of all sizes trying to move to the cloud is finding and retaining the skilled workers necessary to implement today's rapidly expanding assortment of on-demand services. This skills gap cost companies more than $250 million in lost business opportunities in just one year, according to a recent survey conducted by the London School of Economics.
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What role will technology play in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections?
Advanced security measures will protect the legitimacy of the elections.
Inadequate security will place the election process at grave risk.
Voter technology is so decentralized, attackers can't have much impact.
Companies that manufacture voting machines need to shore up their security.
The upcoming midterms will be no better or worse than others from a tech standpoint.