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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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keeping It Simple
February 22, 2018
Disruptive innovations expose longstanding needs and signal that there's a solution at hand -- one that usually is less expensive than the status quo. The lower-cost aspect makes adoption inevitable and disruptive. Document management is like that. Decades ago, many enterprises found that the cost of capturing documents as electronic images vastly improved on costly file cabinet systems.
Are You Engineering the Customer Experience Out of Your Business?
February 20, 2018
Automation. Robots. Technology taking our jobs. I defy you to pick up a business magazine and avoid this topic -- it will be in there somewhere. Here's another theme you won't be able to avoid: the need to focus on the customer experience. These two trends are in tension much of the time. They don't have to be, but most businesses seem determined to focus on themselves instead of the customer.
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.
Document Management Revisited
February 5, 2018
The IT industry has been playing whack-a-mole since its inception. We've been applying sophisticated technology to our biggest business problems not once but repeatedly, as each new generation of technology offers and delivers order-of-magnitude improvements to our business processes. In some cases, we're on our fourth or fifth iteration of solutions.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2017: Countdown, Part 2
January 31, 2018
Where does the discipline of CRM begin? We have a good idea where the software fits, but where does its impact end? With a sale? With a customer saying good things about your company to other customers? With a repeat purchase? And does CRM contribute to these events alone, or is there a web of other activities that help drive these relationships -- and do we ever consider these things to be CRM?
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.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2017: Countdown, Part 1
January 22, 2018
Something very interesting is happening in the world of CRM blogs: CRM is becoming less and less of a subject. Oh, it's in there -- it's just being elbowed to the back of the stage by a whole host of other related disciplines and technologies. Customer experience, customer engagement and content marketing are vying with artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and bots to elbow ahead of CRM.
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.
Creeping Decentralization and CRM
December 13, 2017
One of the big stories of next year might be decentralization. Decentralization is what it sounds like: pushing centralized processes and decision-making to the periphery, where it is believed people can be more effective at dealing with whatever is on tap. Western democratic capitalism runs circles around Soviet style centralized command-and-control economics.
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.
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Which capabilities in a home robot might induce you to consider buying one?
Help with daily housecleaning chores
Companionship for elderly or disabled family member
Entertaining and educating children
Monitoring security all through the house
Keeping inventory and restocking items when needed
Nothing would persuade me to consider getting a home robot.