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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.
What Your CRM Data May Not Be Telling You
August 4, 2018
The ability to collect massive amounts of data represented a huge leap forward in customer service and communication when CRM first hit the market as a marketing, sales and data management tool. However, CRMs aren't a holy grail. Data management is one thing. Using data to understand what customers really need -- not just what you think they do -- and how to engage them is another thing entirely.
Wheat and Chaff
July 31, 2018
I fear CRM could be tainted by the failings of social media and the bad actors who exploited social platforms. Today it seems especially important for CRM to separate itself from the worst aspects of social to the extent that we can. There's certainly a lot to say -- from continuing to talk about the care we take of customer data to explicitly renouncing some of the tactics.
New AI-Driven Strategy Aims to Heat Up B2B Sales
July 26, 2018
EverString, a San Mateo, California-based startup that offers artificial intelligence software for business-to-business sales, marketing and operations teams, hasy released FIRE, a four-point strategy to improve sales performance. The FIRE methodology is designed to unite and simplify the goals of sales and marketing teams. "FIRE" stands for Fit, Intent, Recency and Engagement.
Marketing Partnership to Help Fine-Tune Targeting
July 18, 2018
Sonobi and LiveRamp have partnered to help marketers improve targeting. The partnership will let brands and agencies build media packages using the Sonobi JetStream multichannel ad platform and LiveRamp's identity resolution system. "Sonobi has a forecasting and planning engine that understands the visitation patterns of an individual user across the open Web," said CEO Michael Connolly.
A Trade War in the Cloud?
July 14, 2018
So far, the looming trade war is limited to actions and reactions related to durable things that trade throughout the global economy. Will that remain the battleground? Or should we expect greater contentiousness around services -- specifically, SaaS, and CRM in particular? Retaliation for U.S. trade initiatives so far has been aimed at things produced by Trump-leaning industries and states.
New B2B Customer Experience Dashboards Promise Better Business Visibility
July 12, 2018
MaritzCX has unveiled preconfigured B2B CX templates that monitor key financial indicators; metrics for customer touchpoints, including NPS and OSAT; business-specific outcomes; and overall account performance. Integrated into the MaritzCX Technology Platform, "the dashboards become a hub that aggregates all of the data being monitored," said Jennifer Rubin, MaritzCX associate practice leader.
Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews: Stay Tuned for the CRM 4.0 Revolution
July 11, 2018
"There's a gap in performance across B2B selling, because buyers are innovating faster than sellers are getting better at selling," said Miller Heiman Group CEO Byron Matthews. "Sales enablement's function is to try to close that gap. It's not sales operation ... . It's more strategic, in terms of trying to drive sales performance by getting better content and coaching services for salespeople."
What I Learned at the Conferences
July 7, 2018
The close of Q2 ends the first wave of vendor customer events. Still to come this fall are Salesforce Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld -- and others -- but mercifully, we have the summer to digest all the information absorbed this spring and re-sync with our native time zones.For starters, CRM doesn't appear to be slowing down. As an industry, it's rated at about $35 billion in revenues.
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.
To Drive Change, Let Your Customers Be the Messengers
June 30, 2018
Before I was a parent, I was a youth leader. As individuals, teens had unique personalities, skills and stories, but one thing that was universal was the effect that parental communication had on them. Whether it was a criticism, a suggestion, or merely a bit of helpful information, the teens tended to look down on it, or even become hostile toward the messenger.
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.
Companies Team to Give Hard-Pressed Sales Reps a Boost
June 20, 2018
Mobile sales and business-to-business e-commerce platform Handshake has teamed up with Square to provide easy B2B ordering and payments via an app that enables a seamless workflow between the two companies' products. Using the app, B2B sellers can accept all major credit cards and see their money deposited in their bank accounts in one to two business days.
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.
Digitization of Paper-Based Processes
June 13, 2018
Decades after computers were supposed to end paper-based business, we're still at it, using documents to send and receive information and act as proxies in business processes. It's hard to say if paper consumption slowed thanks to digitization, because good historical use statistics are hard to find. However, it doesn't really matter, because business is drowning in paper -- and, more importantly, the expenses associated with it.
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.
There's a New AI-Based Data Service on the CRM Block
May 30, 2018
Cien this week released its AI-based Data Enhancement Services to help companies manage CRM records in Salesforce Sales Cloud implementations. Data Enhancement Services "is an optional standalone Cien offering for companies that aren't ready to start tackling their sales productivity traps and feel a more urgent need to augment their CRM data," noted Cien CEO Rob Käll.
ProsperWorks CEO Jon Lee: You're Going to Need Great Data
May 23, 2018
"There's this notion that software is primarily something you have to work for," said Jon Lee, CEO of ProsperWorks. "There's a lot of data entry, a lot of navigating screens and moving between different windows. Software as it was designed in the 1980s was a database for recording information. The trend you're seeing today is ... what if my software works for me?"
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."
NICE Bot Wants to Take Over Employees' Most Tedious Tasks
May 16, 2018
NICE has debuted its NICE Employee Virtual Attendant, or NEVA, a process automation bot powered by the company's desktop automation technology. With chatbot capabilities, NEVA "is designed for both front- and back-office employees," said NICE VP Oded Karev, head of advanced process automation. Employees can use NEVA either to execute a complex business process or inquire about a process.
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.
AI May Be Secret Weapon to Retain Sales Talent
May 9, 2018
Much of the discussion around sales and artificial intelligence has been outwardly focused. It's exciting to think about using AI to examine leads, sift through data, and help deliver answers that allow salespeople to close more and bigger deals. However, the excitement over using AI to organize customer information overshadows another use of AI that could be equally lucrative.
HubSpot Connects With Shopify, Workplace by Facebook
May 6, 2018
HubSpot has rolled out platform integrations with Shopify and Workplace by Facebook, which are designed to support the marketing and sales efforts of SMBs. The Shopify integration lets e-commerce marketers sync specific merchant sales data from Shopify into HubSpot for use as a marketing signal; segment users based on products, deals and order history; and follow up on abandoned shopping carts.
New Video-Making Tool Targets B2B Sales Pros
May 4, 2018
Consensus, which offers a Software as a Service platform for intelligent video demo automation, this week released Consensus Snap, a Chrome plug-in for business-to-business sales teams. Snap enables sales reps to record, send and track personalized screenshot video demos on the fly. Users can activate the screen recording or webcam features of Consensus Snap to record anything on their screens.
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.
AI-Based Customer Data Platform Supports ABM Operations
April 28, 2018
Lattice Engines, a provider of account-based marketing tools driven by AI, has announced the launch of Lattice Atlas, calling it the first customer data platform for ABM. The new platform synchronizes all customer data across a single, integrated view, making it easier for customers to see their data, no matter the source. Customers often have to view data across multiple tools and workflows.
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.
SalesHero's Robin Takes On New AI Sales Assistant Job
April 25, 2018
SalesHero has introduced Robin, a new AI-based sales assistant. Built for the sales rep, Robin can learn from a user's actions and automate processes to help improve daily sales productivity. Robin can access data from CRM systems, customer interactions, and SaleHero's own proprietary database of 45 million global company records to carry out the most tedious sales tasks.
Demandbase Debuts ABM Analytics for Optimal Marketing Performance
April 18, 2018
Demandbase officially announced ABM Analytics during its annual ABM Innovation Summit. The new tech, part of the company's account-based marketing platform, leverages its account identification technology to help marketers analyze performance from advertising to pipeline and revenue figures. "AI gives B2B marketers a clear view into the behavior of their target accounts," said CMO Peter Isaacson.
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.
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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.