End of Year Goodies

The end of the year brings out some interesting goodies from various workshops competing with Santa for big kids’ attention. Some of it is pretty good stuff.

Here’s a sampling of the best end-of-year product announcements from the cloud community designed to put you in the post-holiday, already-back-at-work spirit.

Xactly Inspire

Xactly, the sales compensation experts in the cloud, announced Xactly Inspire the other day. It’s the kind of tool that managers will love, because it gives them both insight into what’s happening in the sales funnel and advice about how to use it. For a very long time, sales managers could have one, but not necessarily the other, so this announcement should please the sales manager who has everything except quota.

This cloud-based coaching and on-boarding solution enables managers to monitor and predict sales activity based on the data flying around in the sales force automation and compensations systems. So what, you might say, we could always do that in sales meetings — what’s the big deal? Ummm, it’s the meeting part that I think is most interesting.

We’re always talking about ways to boost sales rep productivity, but it rarely dawns on us that one less meeting could do a lot to put reps in the field and maintain their managers’ sanity and blood pressure. This is essentially an analytics application designed to derive meaning from the chaos that is sales — something that actually could accelerate the sales process. So, I’d give this innovation 5 out of 5 reindeer in my magical mythical year-end scoring system.

NetSuite OneWorld

Yes, we’re not going in alphabetical order this time. I do this to discourage entrepreneurs from naming their companies AAAAsoftware and the like, an idea that comes directly from the analog world of the yellow pages and bail bondsmen.

Anyhow, NetSuite for many years has aimed at providing a back office suite in the cloud that enables any size of enterprise to manage a global empire completely in the cloud from any terrestrial location. That’s a tall order, considering business models, e-commerce strategies, currencies, languages, accounting rules and global opportunities.

NetSuite has just put a marker down on a slew of new and improved products with names like “multi-subsidiary management,” “multi-location inventory management,” “multi-book accounting,” “global item and vendor records” and more. I don’t understand some of this, but it looks like the people who need to indeed do.

NetSuite is on the threshold of being a billion-dollar company, and this functionality should do a lot to propel it to that club. If you’re counting, that would be two billion-dollar companies for Larry. Not too shabby. NetSuite has been a solid 4 out of 5 reindeer company for a long time, but this introduction deserves an extra Rudolph, so it’s 5 out of 5 from me here.

Salesforce Opportunity Management for

Salesforce several years ago passed a tipping point, which makes it virtually impossible for it not to introduce products, so big has its footprint in platform technology become. It doesn’t hurt that Salesforce buys compatible companies with leadership teams and technologies that bolt together into its vision.

One of its latest wrinkles is to offer an array of solutions for both the enterprise and the SMB markets, the better to maintain its pricing at the higher end, I think. Salesforce this week introduced Opportunity Management for, its SMB service and support offering. The idea is on solid footing. In small companies, especially, employees wear multiple hats, the situation is more fluid, and people take on the responsibilities that excite them — at least, in my experience.

Opportunity Management for relieves service people from the bureaucratic overhead of telling customers that they can’t take an order but that they can connect you with the sales desk, which will only place you on a brief hold with — pick your least favorite music, it’s always there.

Seriously, though, the lines have been blurring for a long time between sales and service, and this introduction simply follows the trend of enabling SMBs to be more responsive to commonsense customer needs. Another solid 5 out of 5 reindeer performance for the company.

Selfie Mirror

Speaking of common sense, the Selfie Mirror provides a bit of comic relief just when you might need it. Not in line with the holidays, my first impression of the mirror was straight out of the Brothers Grimm — “mirror, mirror on the wall… .” That should be enough to give you the concept, though you can get more here in a short video. Is this finally the future of the telephone beyond your pocket?

The futurist in me saw huge possibilities. The mirror has an HD camera, hi-fi sound, and Internet integration built in. Some of its uses include recording and transmitting anything you record in the mirror, which would make video blogging or social media participation a snap. The mirror also has home security benefits that enable users to monitor anything happening in front of it at any time.

What’s impressive about this, to me, is merging multiple advanced capabilities into a single product unimaginable just a few moments ago. It is a great example of niche creation and of supply creating its own demand. Selfie Mirror gets 6 out of 5 reindeer for innovation. Don’t ask me how you get 6 out of 5 — it’s part of the magic of the season. Enjoy yours!

Denis Pombriant

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, writer and speaker. His new book, Solve for the Customer, is now available on Amazon. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on Google+.

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