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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?
Relax, You're Surrounded
February 25, 2015
I don't know how many old movies there are in which the good guys say, "You're surrounded, come out with your hands up!" Somehow being surrounded is a bad thing -- or at least it was -- until it became a hot trend in the back office. Let me explain. Surrounding legacy systems, such as conventional ERP, is proving to be a good idea for a bunch of reasons.
Solving for the Customer
February 19, 2015
You'd probably take umbrage at the notion of a weak human, and rightly so, because in business you have to be able to play with the team you have, not the one you wish for. So for business purposes, let's think in terms of empowered humans, since we always want to empower our employees to do great things -- at least we should.
Customer Science
January 28, 2015
Part of my new year routine has been ordering new business cards. In this electronic age, they are the only things I actually print, and I'm a writer! In a few weeks I'll publish a book, Solve for the Customer, in paperback, and the two are related. I made a discovery while writing the book that fundamentally changes what I do for a living and the title I use, hence my need to reprint.
Time to Drill Deeper
January 21, 2015
This is not an article about fracking -- drilling for gas and oil in shale. This is about "drilling down" into big data. We've been using the term for a long time and it provides a useful metaphor for data analysis. However, we've conditioned ourselves to think of drilling down only to a superficial degree, and that needs a rethink. When data wasn't big, we were only able to scratch the surface.
Compensation Is the Window on Business
January 15, 2015
The continuing rollout of platform technology is bringing many applications together to support better business processes. Not long ago, it was nearly impossible for back-office people to know what the front office was doing. It was hard for marketing and sales to know how they were affecting each other. It's now easier for different areas of the business to understand operations as a whole.
Better and Better
January 7, 2015
James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds and business and finance columnist for The New Yorker, published an article in the magazine's Nov. 10, 2014, issue entitled, "Better All The Time." The piece connects the importance of culture-wide continuous incremental improvement using data and analytics -- what the Japanese call kaizen -- to business and employees.
Sales Kaizen
December 17, 2014
CRM makes several promises to its users: selling more or selling faster; resolving service issues faster or at least quickly; and generating more leads. If you do root cause analysis, however, you can quickly conclude that at least in some cases, you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. For instance, the best way to resolve service issues is to avoid them in the first place.
Year-End Thoughts
December 11, 2014
We are now through almost 15 years of the century, and for all of that time I have been analyzing the CRM industry as it has evolved. This year, rather than simply reviewing some of the progress we made in the industry during the last 12 months, I'll take a broader view of the decade and a half, which might be more interesting. It certainly gives us a great perspective on how far we've come.

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Does technology create more jobs than it destroys?
Yes - The jobs new technologies create outnumber those lost due to machines replacing humans.
No- Companies fixated on cost-cutting are building workforces of robots and computers instead of people.