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Qualitative Data - the Other Stuff
December 2, 2016
We've become obsessed with big data and analyzing it, though sometimes I think we get in our own way. The issue is that we preferentially collect quantitative data as if it were the only thing worth the time. In fact, quantitative data is but one kind of data, and the information it provides gives a one-dimensional view of the world. It's not wrong information -- just incomplete.
Fact-Checking Social Content
December 1, 2016
There's an argument that it's not Facebook's job to fact-check the growing flood of fake news coming at us through its portal. After all, Facebook is just a set of pipes delivering something and is not responsible for the content. Nebulous others have that responsibility. However, Facebook is in the business of delivering content to a wide variety of people for a multitude of reasons.
Service in the IoT Era
November 29, 2016
Oracle recently announced a new connection between its Service and IoT clouds. That makes total sense to me. I bet a lot of folks think of the Internet of Things as those machines that do things directed by algorithms -- and if so, they might wonder why they need to be connected to customer service, such an obviously human channel. It's not off base, however.
New Subscription Economy Index Is an Eye Opener
November 23, 2016
Since its founding in 2007, Zuora has been the champion of the subscription economy, as a differentiator for companies that sell products as services and have to bill and collect monthly rather than engaging in a single one-time transaction. Few people realize how complex it is to run a business that requires customers to pay little up front but more over time. The billing, finance and commerce implications can be profound.
Signs and Symptoms
November 16, 2016
It's been a rough couple of months, and we should talk about something fun and not political, but CRM-centric. I know! Let's ask how the election influenced CRM. Seriously, there's a nugget in there to get us thinking about business instead of that other stuff. Come on, it'll be fun. I am not the only one who saw this, but isn't it amazing how the pollsters got the election outcome exactly wrong?
Engagement and Loyalty
November 9, 2016
I've been writing about customer loyalty a lot -- and not just to sell my book, though you can buy it any time you want. Seriously, though, markets everywhere are cooling. They once were ripe with new categories and products, but everybody now seems to have the new stuff, and growth is falling back to the baseline of organic growth. That's why loyalty is so important today.
Microsoft Rebrands
November 2, 2016
Microsoft recently rebranded its business software offerings and the effect largely has been positive. Still, it must be emphasized that the cumulative effect of the deck chairs moved in performing the exercise remains to be seen. One of the effects is surely that all of the ERP and CRM solutions now are offered online, as the "Dynamics 365" moniker implies.
Should Salesforce Buy NetSuite?
October 29, 2016
The recently released spreadsheet hacked from Salesforce board member Colin Powell's email names multiple companies that Salesforce was at least considering acquiring. In the aftermath of the initial reports, it's worth noticing that there were at least two enterprise resource planning/back office companies on the list: Workday and NetSuite. There are plenty of reasons to dismiss acquisition talk.
The End of Marketing
October 27, 2016
This is going to be political but you won't be able to tell which side I'm on. You might ask, why on Earth would I get involved even tangentially in politics right now? The simple answer is that it impacts CRM and I have a viewpoint -- but as I say, I'm not picking or revealing a side. I've been doing research in business agility lately -- a fascinating area that soon will impact CRM.
AI and Customer Loyalty
October 19, 2016
AI and machine learning have taken the industry by storm. Some say they will usher in a new age of better business processes and customer orientation, while others fret that automation will kill jobs. There definitely will be jobs that no longer make sense for humans to do, thanks to automation. However, there are some neglected business processes where AI and ML could make real contributions.
Dreamforce Redux
October 12, 2016
Dreamforce for many years has been too big for a single person to cover. While I participate in covering events like this, inevitably I am reduced to the story of the three blind people and the elephant. You can't experience enough of the elephant to describe it unless you can see it. Using your hands leaves you frustrated. In the case of Dreamforce, you can't go to all of the sessions.
AI's Moment
October 7, 2016
There recently has been an increase in the talk -- pro and con -- about bots, AI and intelligent assistants. A lot of this talk has been percolating around the industry for decades. Silicon Collar, a book by Vinnie Mirchandani, a friend and truly gifted analyst, accepts that automation might be eliminating jobs, but it optimistically holds out for the silver lining.
What to Expect at Dreamforce 16
September 30, 2016
Something tells me that if Salesforce already leaked news about its new AI product, Einstein, that it might not be the biggest news that will emerge from Dreamforce next week. However, I also think Einstein will be involved in whatever is the big takeaway. Salesforce has become rather large, with $8 billion-plus in revenue. A member of the Fortune 500, it still tries to be nimble.
Oracle OpenWorld
September 29, 2016
Larry Ellison was having too much fun. In his second keynote of this year's Oracle OpenWorld user conference, he was talking about his company's database, Oracle 12c, and comparing it highly favorably to Amazon's competing databases. It seems Ellison always has fun, which is one likely reason that the 72 year-old CTO and executive chairman of the board, looks 52, sounds 42, and probably feels 32.
Work in a New Automation Era
September 22, 2016
Automation has a habit of killing jobs, which has been true since the Industrial Revolution. However, it seems that we're discovering this truth all over again. We easily forget when we focus only on the job-creation aspects of automation, and that usually gets us in trouble. Since the IR, there have been five distinct economic waves lasting between 50 and 60 years.
Oracle Does the Cloud Dance
September 19, 2016
Sunday's Oracle OpenWorld keynotes were good -- especially compared with prior years -- but they still suffered from the perennial problem of trying to stuff too much content into a two-hour event. Diane Bryant, SVP at Intel and a big Oracle partner, spent an hour covering a very broad landscape. Perhaps the most interesting information in Bryant's presentation concerned Intel's new line of chips.
Oracle's Earnings Call
September 16, 2016
Oracle is flying high as it goes into its annual Oracle OpenWorld customer conference, based on the news from its earnings call on Thursday. It's clear that the company has succeeded in pivoting from on-premises to cloud software offerings. The revenue acceleration from cloud products and services suggests that Oracle will derive an increasing share of its future revenues from cloud solutions.
Business Agility and the Platform
September 14, 2016
A common perception of business agility is that it revolves around quickness, especially quickness in the service of accelerating a deal or transaction. That's a good starting point, but agility actually goes deeper -- especially now that so many structural changes, like cloud computing and subscriptions, have turned up the dial on everyday business.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Harlequin Romances Customers
September 6, 2016
I recently read a user story about how Harlequin -- a publisher of romance novels -- keeps its customers loyal. It has embraced several ideas that work really well, including emphasizing a consciousness of customer loyalty, keeping things simple, and focusing on personalizing relationships and engagement. Consciousness is relatively easy, but someone high on the org chart has to promote it.
American Breaks People
August 30, 2016
It's easy to lose sight of people in a CRM discussion, focusing instead on the great technology and what it does under optimum circumstances. We should keep the customer in mind at all times, however, for without them what are we? Forgetting the customer is dangerous both for customers and vendors in this social age. Far from being a universal good, automation can obstruct human interactions.
In a Political Season
August 24, 2016
Many, if not most, people I know don't want to talk about it -- the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don't want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody's mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?
Enterprise Software's Future
August 19, 2016
What's the direction of the software industry? I'm not indulging in idle curiosity -- things are changing, and today's events are signaling a significant shift. The rollout of Software as a Service and the emergence of relatively good platforms -- which will only get better -- suggest to me that the software industry of 2000, in which cloud and SaaS began to emerge, is now well in the past.
The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 4
August 10, 2016
If you want to succeed at engaging customers, or anyone else for that matter, it helps to have a model of what success looks like. This idea isn't new. Elite athletes train themselves to see a perfect race in their mind's eye, or to imagine the arc of a ball to its flawless conclusion. Scientists model physical and chemical reactions that occur at a scale too small to view directly.
Heating Up the Platform Wars
August 4, 2016
We've seen a rapid progression from conventional licensed software to cloud-based solutions that sell for a song -- and in theory could sell through barter at some point. I am not a big fan of zero marginal cost economics, in which prices drop to zip because buyers take into account only the cost of the good and not the time, effort, and other resources that went into making it No. 1.
The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 3
July 29, 2016
Dealing with customers in context can equate with personalization, as many define it. Or it can refer to enabling customers to jump out of a largely automated customer-facing process to deal with a company representative. Additionally, it can mean getting down in the weeds of some hyper-specific aspect of a customer's issue. A lot depends on what the vendor and customer are trying to accomplish.
Platform as a Platform
July 20, 2016
The platform land rush is definitely on. You can't swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without finding an announcement about some new platform or some established vendor's attempt to enhance its existing platform. Some sorting out seems to be in order. What's not a platform these days? Well, if it's easy to substitute the word "application" for "platform," then you should use "application."
The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 2
July 14, 2016
Lots of CRM vendors talk about personalization, but their idea of how to do it leaves much to be desired. They address personalization very late, using a just-in-time approach to accessing customer data to support a sales or service encounter in the moment. This certainly is important, and it achieves the goal of personalizing the encounter by producing a catalog of data points.
Learning Something CRM-ish From Brexit
July 6, 2016
This summer has started out to be anything but a somnolent day at the beach. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU is enough to disturb your slumber. To be frank, it appears we are at one of those major historical transition points that might happen a few times in any of our lives. Without stirring up a hornet's nest, I would like to discuss CRM in all of this.
The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 1
June 29, 2016
As I see it, there are four basic capabilities, or attributes, needed to build better customer loyalty. I learned about them from two McKinsey researchers. Those attributes, according to David C. Edelman and Marc Singer -- and I agree -- are the following: automation, proactive personalization, contextual interaction and journey mapping.
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