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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.
Bridging the Front and Back Offices
July 9, 2015
I've written many times about how conventional, premises-based ERP seems to be evaporating. Configuration, pricing and quoting are business processes that illustrate the point. First, let's all agree that enterprise resource planning isn't going extinct as it evaporates -- it's too valuable -- but it is getting a haircut. Many of the functions leaving ERP are condensing back into the front office.
CRM's New Era
June 24, 2015
It recently occurred to me that CRM has come full circle in a fundamental way. I was never a fan of labels like "CRM 2.0" or "Social CRM" or whatever else came along, principally because those monikers didn't signify anything new in doing business. Certainly you could make a case that those names described some new attributes for the traditional set of apps but that just invites a "so what?"
Correlation, Causation and CRM
June 17, 2015
If you read a lot, like me, you might notice almost daily there's a new study that contradicts some earlier research. Something causes cancer -- then it's good for you. You know the drill. What's going on here? Do we simply not know what our research is saying? Can nobody correctly interpret the data? None of this would mean much to CRM if not for the advance of big data and analytics.
Early Franken-Cloud
June 10, 2015
What happens when you have a lot of a good thing, like cloud computing? You might get a "Franken-cloud." Basically, a Franken-cloud is what happens when you have multiple cloud-based systems that need to share data and run processes in your business. As recently as a few years ago, the same issues would have come from buying multiple best-of-breed applications and trying to knit them together.
5 Modules That Will Rock Your Business
June 3, 2015
Zuora two weeks ago announced its first acquisition, Frontleaf, and a new product, Z-Insights. This marks an important moment for both Zuora and what it has called the "subscription economy." The subscription economy has spawned a culture in which people have been conditioned to expect subscription-like performance from all their vendors -- even the conventional ones.
Subscribed 2015
May 27, 2015
There is no better company to look at to get a sense of the future of technology in business and society than Zuora. This might surprise many people, because companies like Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce might come to mind more readily. To one degree or another, those companies feature their products and services, which are very important, but Zuora talks about business models.
Xactly: From Transaction to Process
May 20, 2015
It is subtle, but in the spring conferences I see a pattern emerging around the importance of process. Admittedly, my analysis in this case is less than scientific, and I have no statistics to support my idea, but I my instinct says a trend toward process is beginning. Two conferences that support my contention include Xactly and Zuora, both of which are taking place this week in San Francisco.
Sage and Salesforce Tie Partnership Knot
May 13, 2015
Sage and Salesforce put on a lovefest on Tuesday to announce their partnership, in which Sage has developed Sage Life, a product to enable small companies to connect their customer, accounting, payroll and finance data into one system, accessible from any device, anywhere. It's unclear whether the customer data is held in Salesforce's traditional CRM or if it refers more broadly to ERP data.
Wild Salesforce Speculation
May 8, 2015
The blogosphere lit up last week after rumors surfaced that Salesforce was working with unnamed bankers on a possible merger. It seemed Salesforce was in play, and my colleagues and I went into overdrive speculating about who the suitor might be, what the striking price would be, and whether it was a good idea to do the deal. Of course, as a public company, Salesforce in theory could be bought.
It's the Customer Experience
May 5, 2015
Bill Clinton won the presidency with the mantra, "It's the economy, stupid," and I think CRM could borrow heavily from that pithy bit of logic. If you can check your preconceptions at the door and actually perceive the information in front of you, there's no telling what you can figure out. Such is the case with the tired phrase "customer experience."
Salesforce Jumps Into HR
April 30, 2015
I recently praised Salesforce for having the smarts to not get into enterprise resource planning several years ago. It was a good decision, I thought, because there was no upside for them to invade such a well-established market -- better for them to focus on a blue ocean strategy in which they went after new applications. I think the market's evolution has proven the wisdom of that approach.
Marketing's Next Act
April 28, 2015
Marketing continues to heat up as the next big thing in CRM. It's so big that I can see it splintering in multiple ways to accommodate all the permutations that are suddenly possible, thanks to big data, analytics, and a determination to get beyond using marketing technology as a glorified accounting system designed to limit "losses" due to marketing. You can't win by limiting your losses.
Digital Disruption and a Great Gap
April 21, 2015
You can tell when the economy is doing well, because instead of worrying about how you're going to make the next mortgage payment, you worry about the next disruption in business. The big worry on the horizon now is the digital disruption, a nice piece of alliteration designed to make you question your worth. The DD is the confluence of a lot of wonderful new technology.
Sage and Salesforce: An Odd Couple?
April 15, 2015
It came as a surprise when Keith Block, vice chairman of Salesforce, made an off-the-cuff remark about a Sage-Salesforce alliance at Salesforce World Tour last week. Sage and Salesforce in February had announced they would work together, with Sage moving some of its undisclosed ERP applications to the Salesforce Cloud. However, the word didn't seem to spread, and it remained off my radar.
Oracle Modern Customer Experience
April 8, 2015
Oracle did some smart things at last week's Oracle Modern CX Conference and user meeting in Las Vegas. The company has been making strides in organizing its messaging and products around customer experience in the wake of its RightNow Technologies acquisition a few years ago. It's been taking on the CX mantra whole hog. Today, Oracle CX is a full-featured tactic.
Time's Up for Legacy ERP
March 26, 2015
It takes prodigious amounts of cash to launch a company these days and that's especially true when trying to insert a new idea like cloud ERP into the collective consciousness. FinancialForce today announced a financing round of $110 million from lead investor Technology Crossover Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures, which is Salesforce's corporate investment group.
Self-Service and the 'R' in CRM
March 25, 2015
Self-service is generally considered a good thing, especially in CRM, where there has been significant investment in empowering people to take on more responsibility for provisioning service or making purchases. But it's not all great, and there is some interesting blowback that is causing vendors to reconsider how their offerings work. In sales, self-service has resulted in truncated sales cycles.
Importance of a System
March 18, 2015
I was telling a friend recently about some of the ideas in my book, Solve for the Customer. He was interested in my belief that customer science has evolved from a general emphasis on process in business, especially in the back office. His company does a lot to ensure that its customers are happy and loyal, because their business involves long-term relationships and agreements that renew for many years at a time.
Record Systems as Deal Savers
March 11, 2015
Transaction systems have all the fun but systems of record do all of the work; at least it seems that way. Maybe you've never thought of it this way but unless both kinds of systems are working well -- and working together -- your results will suffer. Record systems can tell you what happened, but by themselves they don't bring in business.
What the Buyer Sees
March 4, 2015
Partner Relationship Management gives a lot of attention to the vendor and partner relationship, and it should. But it's worth remembering that as important as this relationship is, the one that really counts involves an end customer. So what does the end customer need from a channel partner that a PRM system can uniquely provide? I'd say the most important partner deliverable is intangible -- trust.
CPQ's Time to Shine
March 2, 2015
Last month, Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce's corporate investment group, swung into action. They led a Series B round of funding that garnered US$41 million for Apttus, a high-flying CPQ vendor. Salesforce Ventures also participated in SteelBrick raising a series B round of $18 million. That's two CPQ vendors that Salesforce has taken an interest in. The question is, why?

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