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Dreamforce Pivot
November 9, 2017
Dreamforce 2017 is in full swing this week in San Francisco, which means that Salesforce is changing, shedding a skin to reveal a new and improved creature. This time, rather than announcing a new cloud or a mountain of technology, the company seems focused on improving what it has and delivering a tighter and more powerful solution set for a future that's just emerging.
New Relationship Marketing Hub Aims to Goose Conversion Rates
November 3, 2017
Optimove has released a new version of its relationship marketing hub. Optimove 6.0 lets users automate targeted marketing campaigns for new visitors as precisely as they can for current customers, the company said. It combines Web analytics with look-alike data, machine learning, and AI from its retention ecosystem to make accurate predictions of future spend before customers make a purchase.
Salesforce's IoT Strategy
October 16, 2017
Salesforce is a large and well-disciplined development company. It's pretty good at marketing too. It continues to innovate in all product areas, from core platform to applications, and the one criticism I'd make is that it's information overload at times. Lately Salesforce has made a big deal of adding its AI product, Einstein, to every application area to provide insights and stack rank options.
Show Season
October 4, 2017
Autumn officially kicked off about a week ago -- not with some celestial convergence but with show season, with companies like HubSpot and SugarCRM holding conclaves of their faithful. This is traditionally the beginning of attempts at closing the calendar year on a high note, as CRM vendors work to garner customer dollars based on the promises of new technologies unveiled at conferences.
Digital Hub Returns
September 28, 2017
Digital Hub is not a new idea. It's been percolating for a few years, and its roots can be traced to Dublin, Ireland, where in a cluster of eight buildings, there exists what might be the original hub. In Dublin, it's made up of 97 companies employing 725 people, and it was given a jumpstart by the government in 2003. Elsewhere, we might be more attuned to the idea of a tech incubator.
Einstein Tries Sales Forecasting
September 25, 2017
When Salesforce unveiled sales forecasting with its artificial intelligence tool, Einstein, my immediate reaction was that it should have tried something easier -- like solving global warming. Really, a sales forecast that bears some resemblance to reality has been a grail quest for all of us for many years, and Salesforce is not the first software company to throw its hat in the ring.
Finally Oracle
September 20, 2017
Oracle showed some very good numbers in its latest earnings report. As it begins its second year of aggressive cloud promotion, the company overall is showing significant year-over-year improvements, thanks to its turn to cloud infrastructure, applications and platforms. Yet when read right, the numbers announce the end of the beginning of the end as much as they announce the end of the beginning.
The Vision Thing
September 15, 2017
Salesforce earlier this year introduced its Einstein Vision capability, an idea with a lot of promise but not a great deal of precedent. Who had applications that could see, and how would this be used? For decades, we've been content with scanning documents and analyzing them with OCR tools, or we've used bar codes and QR codes -- but it all came down to recognizing simple symbols.
Oracle's Numbers
September 11, 2017
Oracle will announce its Q1 revenue and profit numbers after market close on Wednesday. There's more than a little excitement about what might be revealed, specifically if the company can continue its rise, thanks to its cloud products. The anticipated answer is yes, but there's potential for a surprise. The company so far has been posting great numbers for its cloud products.
6 Reasons You Need CPQ
September 6, 2017
Many businesses still don't use configure, price, quote software in their routine sales processes. Maybe they don't need it, but for businesses that still cling to spreadsheet-based approaches to track things like price lists and product catalogs, chances are good that they're dealing with more overhead than they need to. Worse, they're wasting time and therefore money.
Ten Billion
August 29, 2017
Salesforce announced the partial attainment of one of its long-range goals in its Q2 earnings announcement last week: It eclipsed its goal of a $10 billion run rate. This will be followed by similar announcements over the next year -- first $10 billion year, etc. -- and why not? The company should celebrate. Second quarter revenue hit $2.56 billion, a 26 percent increase year over year.
CRM Health Check
August 18, 2017
As an industry, CRM continues to grow and shower benefits on its users. It's hard to imagine that some businesses still don't use some form of CRM, but recent data suggests there are still businesses buying their first CRM solutions or changing vendors. It's a compilation of data from all over, with some credible inputs from a number of sources, so it's worth taking a look.
Yes, and...
August 10, 2017
The further we go in the CRM adventure, the less our efforts seem to be about technology. That's because we're reaching a theoretical limit, or asymptote, on what technology can do in the vendor-customer relationship. Think of an asymptote as the ceiling that a graph never reaches. Increasingly, we're encountering situations where the best technology can do is assist humans.
Elon Musk: Luddite?
July 24, 2017
It's hard to believe that the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX could have such reactionary views about AI. Elon Musk last weekend had some very un-Musk-like things to say about AI when he addressed the U.S. National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. "AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don't think people fully appreciate that," Musk said.
A New Service Model
July 19, 2017
People concerned about automation killing jobs might look at Helpshift's strategy and similar automation approaches. By enabling businesses to build help or support into mobile apps, these new models are re-inventing support to get the job done. Sure, they provide automated support in lieu of conventional agents, but they do so at a level where it often can be uneconomic to position live agents.
Naming the Ephemeral
June 30, 2017
So much is happening as we approach the end of Q2 -- our industry's busiest quarter, at least by some measures. I'm flying around seeing things but not always able to comment from a middle seat on a red-eye. So this piece is an attempt to catch up and set some markers for the traditionally slower summer. I've been searching for a word to describe a new category I see: Service as a Service.
Where FinancialForce Fits
June 26, 2017
FinancialForce held its first big time user conference in Las Vegas last week, headlined by new CEO Tod Nielsen. The company seems to be telling us that it is adjusting course in an effort to create a new category aligned with enterprise resource planning, but very much for this century. The key concept is services, which must be explained.
The Subscription Economy's Maturation
May 31, 2017
A lot happens in a decade. Bill Gates once said that we overestimate what we can do in two years and underestimate what we can do in 10. 2017 is a particularly good time to stop paddling and look back at what's been going on in the last decade. While we will all have our favorite memories, there's one in CRM that stands out more than others for me. After all, 2007 was the year of the iPhone.
Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce
May 25, 2017
Mobile technology has delivered a lot of useful functionality that enables vendors and their customers to be on the same page more frequently. However, the screen size has an inherent drawback: It shows a very narrow slice of a reality -- typically one idea at a time. The problem is especially acute in the key areas of sales and service. A mobile "help" app should deliver help the customer values.
3 Ways Your Sales Organization Should Prepare for AI
May 16, 2017
AI is a trend, and it's always nice to be trendy, but as great as CPQ is, it's still only one source of data. Without sufficient data, AI is extremely limited. It's like allowing your toddler to learn only about colors: The kid might be a whiz with colors, all right, but without context -- in other words, more data -- that information won't make any sense.
Ecosystem Two-Dot-Oh
May 4, 2017
Salesforce this week announced significant enhancements to its AppExchange Partner Program, including a $100 million Salesforce Platform Fund to encourage developers of AI-driven solutions. Salesforce arguably was the first kid on the block with a partner program of this kind in which buyers could access a large community of apps based on a single standard from a single store.
Salesforce Rejiggers Enterprise Apps Partner Plan
May 4, 2017
Salesforce on Tuesday launched the AppExchange Partner Program, or APP, for developers, independent software vendors and startups, as a replacement for its current ISV Partner Program. The APP will cost much less. Its baseline percent-net-revenue model for all new APP partners has been slashed from 25 percent to 15 percent. Current partners will be eligible for the new PNR terms on contract renewal.
Take Marketing Off Autopilot and Get Creative
April 19, 2017
More than a quarter of marketers went into marketing because they wanted to be creative, researchers have found. So why do so many B2B marketing efforts seem exactly the same? The reason, in part, is that some things work well. In nature, convergent evolution leads different kinds of organisms to similar solutions when they work. The number of strategies that will lead to success is limited.
CPQ: Boost Selling Performance and Accuracy
April 17, 2017
They say it can take a product idea 10 years to go from concept to mass-market appeal but that might be only an optimist's viewpoint. Some of the best ideas in CRM right now have been marinating for at least that long -- and some for much longer. Two great examples are analytics and CPQ, which companies like Oracle, Salesforce and others have embraced with passion.
CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon: For Successful B2B, Set Aside Expectations
April 12, 2017
"If there's anything true about B2B service, you have to do it in the context of the customers themselves in order to be successful. That's our philosophy," said CloudCraze EVP Andrew Witherspoon. "What is the purpose of CRM and marketing? It's to reach out, find and engage prospects, and to move them through a buying cycle. All those capabilities are on a CRM platform.
Oracle's Strategery
April 10, 2017
Watching Oracle's cloud strategy roll out has given me renewed respect for its approach to the market. As a company that has been public for a long stretch of time, Oracle has displayed all the warmth of an anaconda. I have friends there, and they are not anacondas, but I hope they know what I mean. Oracle knows its business and it's making money, and it does it unabashedly.
Trust: Why Financial Services Should Embrace DoL's Fiduciary Rule
March 24, 2017
When the Department of Labor issued its fiduciary rule last year, it set financial advisers, insurers and agents into a mad scramble to meet an implementation deadline. The rule elevates all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to the level of a fiduciary, or someone bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status.
Blockchain: CRM's Next Frontier
March 22, 2017
We've seen a parade of technologies coming into the front office since 2000, including browser-based cloud computing, social media, mobile technology, workflow, journey mapping, and big data and analytics. It's typical that at first there's only a tenuous relationship between the technology and CRM's original mission, but over a short time innovators adopt and commercialize the innovation.
Analytics and Workflow
March 15, 2017
There's a big difference between B2C and B2B analytics that no vendors seem to be addressing, and it involves the consumption model. I recently spoke with K.V. Rao, founder and chief strategy officer of Aviso, an analytics company focused on sales, and his unabashed opinion is that "if you're trying to expose insights and make things consumable, you have to address workflow."
Salesforce FY18 Kickoff
March 9, 2017
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff invited a select group of press, analysts and customers to a fiscal year kickoff presentation overlooking San Francisco and environs. It was held on the 23rd floor of one building that the company monopolizes, just across Mission Street from another that it is building and the bay beyond. It's a nice view. Salesforce starts its year in March.
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What effect is social media having on the current discussion of sexual misconduct?
It's enabling many more people to engage in serious discussions.
It's functioning mostly as an echo chamber.
It's giving everyone a voice.
It's creating much more divisiveness.
It's enabling a cultural re-education.
It's making my news feed so unpleasant I'm staying away.