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Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come... Again
January 27, 2016
Whether you call it "industry CRM," "vertical CRM" or something else, the concept is gaining altitude. Not that it's new or ever been gone, but today's vertical CRM is different -- a constellation of quantitatively and qualitatively different and better CRM solutions than we've ever seen. Vendors like Veeva, Vlocity and Salesforce are getting into the act.
Cloud Research
January 20, 2016
Last year, uber-analyst Esteban Kolsky and I did a research project to better understand cloud computing's uptake and related issues, and last week Financial Force, our sponsor, made the results public. The findings are interesting to me because they reveal a more or less typical adoption cycle for cloud, by which I mean that some of the downstream effects are only gradually becoming apparent.
Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
Loyalty and Engagement
January 6, 2016
I've been trying to analyze modern rewards programs and customer loyalty recently for a project. It's a complex issue and so it is tricky to tease apart -- nothing like trying to defuse a bomb, but intellectually challenging for sure. At the heart of the issue is a body of research that says rewards, as currently configured, don't work in the ways we want.
Forecasting 2016
December 23, 2015
My favorite Boston FM radio DJ was Charles Laquidara, who would end his show with the words, "If the creek don't rise, if the good Lord's willing, if there ain't no meltdown, we'll do it all over again tomorrow right here on The Biiiiig Mattress!" It impressed me that even one day out, he'd caveat his prediction of being there tomorrow. Unlike my hero, I will attempt to forecast the year ahead.
Year-End Intelligence
December 16, 2015
There's always an aphorism about Santa, stockings and year-end funding news, but I am tired of them so I'll let you imagine one. However, the funding news is so good from so many sources that I thought it worthwhile to mention a few items -- there are patterns emerging. First, Salesforce bought MinHash. That's not a funding event proper, but it does provide some modicum of cash to the founders.
2015: The Year of Intelligence
December 9, 2015
This year we traded in terminologies going from big data and analytics to digital disruption as the market-moving meme. I am not sure either one hits the spot, but they give me something to write about. Other things happened in 2015 too, but I'm just going to focus here. It seems to me we focus on the symptoms and not the root causes too often in this business.
End of Year Goodies
December 8, 2015
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. For starters, cloud sales compensation firm Xactly announced Xactly Inspire.
Engagement at Moments of Truth
December 2, 2015
Lost somewhere in the pile that is a current research project is an article on customer loyalty that says that more than half of customers who recently exhibited loyal behavior toward a vendor said they'd switch to another vendor in an instant. The question prompting this answer is whether these customers would switch for a better deal. It was a trick question trying to determine loyalty.
The 2 Layers of Customer Experience
November 18, 2015
Maybe you've already considered this, but it just popped into my head the other day as I was thinking once again about customer experience -- or CX, as some people shorten it. I've often said that customers experience moments of truth and that the experience should be focused on the things they care most about and that the business actually can do something about.
Digital Transformation and Moments of Truth
November 11, 2015
I hadn't been aware of one of the more important CRM stories of the year until I was doing research for a new book. It's a great story and it deserves retelling, especially if you think that focusing on customers' moments of truth is important. Back in April, Starbucks announced revenues for the just-completed quarter that exceeded year-over-year attainment by a whopping 17.8 percent.
OpenWorld's Substance Feast
November 4, 2015
For once, Oracle OpenWorld went long on substance. That's hard to do when you have so many products to discuss and Larry Ellison pontificating, but he was both under control and substantive -- though he couldn't resist taking a few shots at competitors. Oracle's team hardly ever sees SAP and IBM in deals these days, he announced, and he gave due praise to cloud pioneers NetSuite and Salesforce.
PRM's Next Act
October 27, 2015
Partner relationship management has seen its ups and downs over the first part of this century. Running an indirect channel is vitally important to any vendor trying to extend its reach without incurring the high costs of building a sales team and all that supports it. Many vendors figure it's more economical to pay partners for performance than to endure the corporate buildout.
Salesforce's Message to Europe
October 21, 2015
Salesforce last week said it would invest $100 million in emerging sales force partners in Europe. The company previously announced a similar program for the Americas, and it hopes to discover valuable new companies and business solutions. Paul Greenberg and the team at CRM Idol have been doing the same thing -- trying to discover interesting emerging companies in the CRM space.
Lighting Up Process
October 14, 2015
I've been saying that we're heading toward an era when process dominates and traditional transactions become just one part of those processes. Now, you might say that's the way it's always been, and I won't disagree. Historically, however, processes more or less were managed by employees who used information systems to inform their decision-making, and the result was recorded as a transaction.
Processing Customer Loyalty
October 12, 2015
I've had to do a lot of thinking about customer loyalty lately, both for my book and more recently for client engagements. What's interesting is how chaotic this market is and how many people are writing about it with very little data. There isn't even strong agreement on the similarities and differences between rewards programs and loyalty. Are they the same? How?
Leveraging Moments of Truth
October 7, 2015
eGain is touting a report from Forrester Consulting and my friend Ian Jacobs purporting to show that omnichannel customer service is stagnant or worse when it comes to delivering service that customers need and want. Ian does good work and I am in agreement with him on this, but I have trouble with some conclusions, specifically the implication that the problem can be solved with more software.
Vertical Ventures
September 29, 2015
I'm always looking for emerging trends at Dreamforce, the kinds of things that are hiding in plain sight. They might never amount to much, but given that it's Dreamforce, many likely will bloom. A case in point is the emergence of vertical market CRM. Its time is now because application development tools have become so good, and because customers need fast, budget-friendly deployments.
Dreamforce and Then Some
September 21, 2015
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the booths on the Dreamforce show floor were little more than outposts for widget-makers. Fast-forward to Dreamforce 2015, and one is struck by the number, variety, and size of the partner community. That's only part of the story, though. Often out of sight is the sizable display of talent that has consolidated around Salesforce.
On Selling
September 16, 2015
For a long time I have been uneasy about the selling discussion's direction as it relates to CRM and SFA. Something didn't relate. We talk a lot about accelerating the sales process and freeing up sales people's time so that they can spend more time selling, but it all made me wonder. Several things occurred to me as I contemplated selling -- a job I did for about 15 years.
The Tyranny of Spreadsheets
September 10, 2015
As a former sales and marketing guy, I am more than familiar with spreadsheets as a not-so-good tool for managing the avalanche of data generated by the front office, even before the big data craze. Name a department or function in business and it's easy to find people using spreadsheets to manage it -- often poorly, but through no fault of their own.
Dreamforce: Still the One
September 2, 2015
We watched as Salesforce emerged from the crowd in the dot-com era to become a massive company with a $7 billion run rate. We also changed perspectives several times on what to expect from Dreamforce. We used to be interested mostly in cool new technologies and business models, but as Salesforce has grown, it has acquired a following of financial analysts as well as industry analysts like me.
To Personalize or to Be Authentic
August 26, 2015
You might ask what the difference is between personalization and authenticity in CRM, and the answer is subtle. For a long time I have said that we overemphasize personalization when what customers really want is authenticity. However, examples are hard to find, especially with our current culture's strong emphasis on personalization and the tendency to give authenticity quizzical looks.
Back to School
August 20, 2015
It felt like back to school this week at the CRM Evolution show in hot and muggy New York. The first week or two of the school year is always like that. Though it still feels like summer vacation, you know you have to get focused, because the first exam will be here before you know it. Cramming begins almost immediately, because there seem to be a lot of new ideas percolating.
Full Circle's 80-20 Rule
August 14, 2015
I recently talked with Bonnie Crater about changing her company's name, and something really struck home. Crater is CEO of Full Circle Insights, and I've known her since her days as an executive at Salesforce. As I was listening to Crater, I recalled that old aphorism, often attributed to John Wanamaker, that half an advertising budget is wasted, but we just don't know which half.
Gamifying Sales Comp
August 5, 2015
Microsoft earlier this week announced that it has bought FantasySalesTeam, a sales gamification platform. The intent of the product is to boost sales productivity. The gaming part is designed after some aspects of fantasy sports leagues in which participants build a team from known professional athletes and try to beat other teams. The team aspect makes everyone more competitive.
Salesforce's Lightning Announcement
July 29, 2015
Spreadsheets suffered a body blow on Tuesday, when Salesforce announced new platform functionality. Soon all spreadsheets will be good for is financial analysis. This sounds funny, because the spreadsheet for several decades has been the unofficial IT prototyping tool. Actually, it was the end-users' prototyping tool -- the default thing they used to capture data.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Meaningful Work and CRM
July 16, 2015
Having meaningful work is one of the biggest challenges for many people at the bottom of the employment ladder. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell documented the multigenerational effect. The children of people who had meaningful work turned out to be more successful and advanced further in their careers than children of people stuck in less-rewarding occupations.
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