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Marketo's Show
April 16, 2014
Marketo put on an interesting show last week at Moscone West in San Francisco. Still basking in last year's IPO, the company attracted a large and diverse audience of marketers who wanted to learn about modern marketing automation, and it was a good opportunity to take stock of where marketing has been and where it is going. The impression I got was that modern marketing is in its early phase.
Setting Goals and Rewards
April 09, 2014
You should check out The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. It's a thoughtful analysis of the technology progression handed to us by Moore's Law and its effect on every aspect of our lives. Their thesis is simple yet powerful. Over the last 10 years or so, the pace of innovation has accelerated. Processes that were only imaginable before are becoming easy.
Transaction or Process?
April 02, 2014
After many years, I think I can boil down CRM to this: Vendors prepare for transactions but customers expect process. Of course, this demands elaboration and neither of these ideas is stationary. The desire for better processes evolves as customers and markets do, and transactions become more sophisticated as vendors play catch-up with their markets.
Using Feedback Loops to Manage Your Subscription Business
March 26, 2014
Everyone in business claims to want to listen to the voice of the customer. It's a noncontroversial issue, but the approaches are all over the map. There is little consistency -- and truthfully, many vendors do a poor job of it. Capturing customer feedback always has been a challenge for conventional vendors because they have to generate new processes to reach out to customers.
Developing Customer IP
March 19, 2014
Sales people have been demanding better leads for a long time, and marketing today is in a position to provide them. At the same time, marketers have discovered that the kind of data they collect is as important as its volume. Marketers need to provide rich prospect profiles that answer many of sales people's most important questions: Is there a need? a budget? an executive sponsor?
The Fine Art of Belly Scratching
March 12, 2014
I was at a dinner at a working cattle ranch outside of Denver not long ago, but it was a ranch with a difference. Rather than raising cattle for the table, the business raised breeding stock and sent animals and other products, like embryos, all over the world. Every animal on the ranch had its genetic makeup tracked in a database and a unique ear tag that told something about it.
The Order to Cash Subscription Process
March 05, 2014
Subscription companies face many of the same challenges that more conventional companies face, but the nature of these businesses puts an entirely different spin on the challenges. All companies have to acquire new customers, make products and price them attractively without leaving money on the table. Once a product is purchased, a company needs to get the cash in house as quickly as possible.
Big Data and the Process Revolution
February 26, 2014
A wave of change is now making its way through the front office with uneven results. CRM is moving from a data capture and retrieval solution to something that supports end-to-end processes -- and as with ERP, data analysis is helping to improve what once were purely manual processes. The trick is in producing knowledge from data. Alone, data is useless.
Transition State
February 20, 2014
The CRM market appears to be experiencing a transition state -- something betwixt and between, a time of high energy and great possibility, above all a time of change. A ball bouncing around a spinning roulette wheel is in a transition state; chemical reactions go through transition states as reactants become products. The key concept is indeterminacy.
Completeness Is the New Black
February 12, 2014
Are we collecting enough data? It seems like a weird question given the glut of it at most companies, and perhaps it is. Perhaps a better question is, are we collecting the right data? We could get into a long philosophical discussion of just what the right data is, but that would only happen if we made the mistake of thinking all data was the same.
The 3 Ages of CRM
February 05, 2014
I have written often about the connection between CRM and economics, almost as if one explains the other. While I still believe it in part, my thinking has evolved and become more nuanced over the last 15 years to the point that today I want to discuss my evolution. Social science is for me the obvious metaphor for CRM, but which social science? The first era of CRM can be explained by economics.
Marketing Automation Report Card
January 29, 2014
After two years of fairly hectic activity in the marketing automation space, it might be useful to ask where all the commotion has gotten us. Once a captive of finance, which was concerned with reeling in marketing's costs and rationalizing expenses with known -- or at least knowable -- benefits, marketing automation emerged in the last couple of years as a powerful tool.
Subscriptions in the Enterprise
January 22, 2014
Curiously, subscriptions and platforms have grown up together, even though neither is yet a necessary or sufficient requisite of the other. ZipCar and its ilk don't have formal platforms and the idea is not relevant to their models. Wireless vendors all have homegrown platforms -- primarily to run their Byzantine pricing and billing models -- and that's still off center.
The Year of...
January 15, 2014
There are some good reasons to consider platform's primacy in our thinking. Platform makes sense from both vendor and customer perspectives. For vendors, platform rebuilds the walled gardens that were prevalent back when compilers and databases drove things. For customers, platforms and their ecosystem partners offer a reasonably robust environment for doing most of their business processing.
9 CRM Companies to Watch in 2014
January 08, 2014
I'd like to say it's going to be a good year in CRM, and I firmly believe it, though I can't offer a single, all-encompassing reason for my optimism. There are plenty of small things that begin to add up, however -- in an earlier time, the metaphor might have been "straws in the wind." So what are they? First, the economy is looking better -- but that's faint praise.
Community Will Steal the CRM Show in 2014
December 18, 2013
Once a year I write a post that tries to predict some of the big happenings of the year ahead. The success of these efforts relies on clear thinking and objectivity -- trying to figure out what will come to pass rather than what I want to see happen. It's hard, but thankfully no one ever checks up on me a year later. First, let's take a look at the general economic outlook.
Let's Hear It for Metadata
December 16, 2013
It is a quirk of the data-information-knowledge continuum that data perceived by one person might be seen as information by another. The same goes for information and knowledge -- the frame of reference is important. You might even say it's all relative, and I don't think you'd be wrong. This conundrum is all brought into sharper relief by yet another slice of the range, and I don't mean Big Data.
It Was a Very Good Marketing, Partners and Platform Year
December 11, 2013
We are nearing year-end, and that means it's time for my annual year in review -- my assessment of things that will matter in the long run. From my spot, it looks like marketing took a big step toward greater relevance in 2013, the importance of being a partner in an ecosystem increased -- as did the significance of software platforms -- and reports of CRM's demise were greatly exaggerated.
Top of the Funnel
December 04, 2013
The new customer era accepts that the direct contact between a vendor and customer or potential customer is being augmented by non-human intermediaries like websites, software robots that triage customer issues, e-commerce systems, social media, and who knows what else. The good news is that customers leave data trails like ants leave trails of pheromones to a candy bar on a sidewalk.
Dreamforce Debriefing
November 26, 2013
OK, we survived Dreamforce and that has enabled us to limp home exhausted by all the information we accumulated and the parties we attended just in time for the holidays. I have a lot of thoughts about the show. If I try to share most of them, the result will be a stream-of-conscious rant that will make little sense, so some discipline is in order.

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