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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.
Beyond CRM
April 10, 2018
We should start discussing what's beyond CRM. I chose the word "beyond" advisedly. CRM is far from dead or even in decline, so "after" would be incorrect. However, CRM already has changed so much that it may be time to rethink it. Also, many of the tangential technologies that have turbocharged CRM in the last few years, like social media, have drawn so much attention that some analysis is due.
Customization Tools Let You Have Enterprise Chatbots Your Way
April 7, 2018
Inbenta has released new APIs and SDKs that let enterprises customize chatbots. The company offers an artificial intelligence-powered natural language search and conversational platform. The new APIs and SDKs facilitate a number of chatbot capabilities: intent detection, decision trees, transactional intelligence, Content Digest and seamless escalation.
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.
New Platform Boosts Intelligence in Bot Interactions
April 3, 2018
Jacada has released V. 10.0 of its Jacada Interact platform, which supports its new Autonomous Customer Experience Suite. The CX Suite lets enterprises design and automate assisted-service or self-service business flows, and then use them in multiple channels to standardize and optimize customer service interactions. The Autonomous CX Suite supports five Jacada solutions.
Adobe Hones Target's Personalization Tools
March 29, 2018
Adobe this week introduced three features to its Target application in an effort to improve customer experiences through increased personalization: new Personalization Insights reports; Propensity score model comparisons; and Real-time customization models. These new features give users enhanced transparency and customization of Adobe Sensei-powered AI for personalization in Target.
It's Getting Lonely at Quota Club
March 27, 2018
Sales people and their managers should be celebrating the economic gains of the last few years but for many of them the gains may be illusory. Sixty-three percent of sales reps made quota in 2012, but five years later -- despite an improving economy -- that number dropped to 53 percent, according to CSO Insights' continuing research, which stretches over more than two decades.
Zoho VP Rodrigo Vaca: AI Can Help Salespeople Seize the Moment
March 26, 2018
"The rise of artificial intelligence, for sales teams both internally and externally, is the biggest trend in the industry," observed Rodrigo Vaca, vice president of marketing for CRM at Zoho. If you think of CRM as the centerpiece for your company, and you marry that with the escalating amount of data that each company is gathering each day, ... you can do any sort of analysis on it."
Accent Launches CRM Supercharger Application
March 22, 2018
Accent Technologies has announced the release of its new CRM Supercharger application, which guides selling and sales performance by applying intelligent data analytics to sales and buyer engagement data. Like all of Accent's products, the Supercharger application is based on the Software as a Service model. It targets mid-sized to large business-to-business companies.
Managing in Mature Markets
March 20, 2018
Markets and companies change as industries grow and as a disruptive innovation commoditizes. Generally, prices come down because the innovation becomes commonplace and competitors fight for every scrap causing margin erosion. Eventually markets equilibrate, and a monopoly or small oligopoly sets in. We can see this playing out right now -- mature industries like databases have an oligopoly set up.
Salesforce Offers SMBs a Bunch of Essentials
March 16, 2018
Salesforce has launched Salesforce Essentials, a collection of intelligent apps targeting SMBs. Built on the Salesforce Lightning framework, Essentials offers a consumer-like experience optimized for any device. Relevant information is displayed on one unified console, with drag-and-drop customization. "Essentials is easy to try, set up, use and maintain," said Salesforce SVP Marie Rosecrans.
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.
Pega Enlists AI to Coach Sales Teams
March 8, 2018
Pegasystems has launched Pega Sales Coach, an AI-powered addition to Pega Sales Automation. Pega Sales Automation targets business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies. It can benefit firms with 100 employees as well as Fortune 500 enterprises with revenues of US$500 million and up, according to Chris Benedetto, Pega's director of product marketing for sales automation.
Facebook's Vulnerabilities Surface
March 7, 2018
Adam Smith famously referred to "the invisible hand" of the free market in his landmark book The Wealth of Nations, and with that made himself one of the very first political economists. Smith's observation was so on point that most of us assume markets run through the agency of individuals pursuing their enlightened self-interests, which helped drive the evolution of CRM as a tracking tool.
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Which company is most likely to hit the $1 trillion valuation milestone first?
Alphabet/Google
Amazon
Apple
Microsoft
A different company