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Elon Musk: Luddite?
July 24, 2017
It's hard to believe that the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX could have such reactionary views about AI. Elon Musk last weekend had some very un-Musk-like things to say about AI when he addressed the U.S. National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. "AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization, and I don't think people fully appreciate that," Musk said.
A New Service Model
July 19, 2017
People concerned about automation killing jobs might look at Helpshift's strategy and similar automation approaches. By enabling businesses to build help or support into mobile apps, these new models are re-inventing support to get the job done. Sure, they provide automated support in lieu of conventional agents, but they do so at a level where it often can be uneconomic to position live agents.
Trailhead Matrix
July 11, 2017
Salesforce had a strong showing at its TrailheaDX developer conference, roughly quadrupling last year's attendance and flooding its developers with new technology. Over the last few years, the company has built out a multidimensional matrix of product offerings that include CRM components like SFA and customer service, but it has been careful to introduce back-end technology products as well.
Naming the Ephemeral
June 30, 2017
So much is happening as we approach the end of Q2 -- our industry's busiest quarter, at least by some measures. I'm flying around seeing things but not always able to comment from a middle seat on a red-eye. So this piece is an attempt to catch up and set some markers for the traditionally slower summer. I've been searching for a word to describe a new category I see: Service as a Service.
Where FinancialForce Fits
June 26, 2017
FinancialForce held its first big time user conference in Las Vegas last week, headlined by new CEO Tod Nielsen. The company seems to be telling us that it is adjusting course in an effort to create a new category aligned with enterprise resource planning, but very much for this century. The key concept is services, which must be explained.
Salesforce Parallelism
June 12, 2017
For several years now, Salesforce has built distinct product lines that all work off the same platform and can integrate in interesting ways. There are product lines for the enterprise, small and mid-sized businesses, business-to-business firms and business-to-consumer operations -- and probably some others that I haven't considered. The rationale for all of these new products is simple.
The [xxx] Economy
June 6, 2017
While sitting in the audience at Zuora's recent Subscribed event, I couldn't help contemplate the meaning and progress of what was once a set of words that didn't roll off the tongue. I am talking about the "subscription economy" -- and it's really something. The data coming in from a variety of sources shows how rapidly subscriptions have become a big part of our lives, and why not?
The Subscription Economy's Maturation
May 31, 2017
A lot happens in a decade. Bill Gates once said that we overestimate what we can do in two years and underestimate what we can do in 10. 2017 is a particularly good time to stop paddling and look back at what's been going on in the last decade. While we will all have our favorite memories, there's one in CRM that stands out more than others for me. After all, 2007 was the year of the iPhone.
Building a Sales Team by the Numbers
May 30, 2017
I don't know why more subscription vendors don't do this. Subscription companies collect mountains of data from their customers, and analyzing the aggregations can deliver profound insights virtually for free. Yet too often subscribers are reluctant to let their data be stripped of identifying characteristics and used for research. Too bad, because there's gold in that big data.
Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce
May 25, 2017
Mobile technology has delivered a lot of useful functionality that enables vendors and their customers to be on the same page more frequently. However, the screen size has an inherent drawback: It shows a very narrow slice of a reality -- typically one idea at a time. The problem is especially acute in the key areas of sales and service. A mobile "help" app should deliver help the customer values.
E-Commerce Gets the Einstein Treatment
May 17, 2017
E-commerce brings together several themes that relate to our current fascination with artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots, mobile technology and the like. It's actually more than that, because it represents an underserved part of CRM. Until fairly recently, there were few tools that retailers could use to reach online customers for marketing and sales.
Big Accounting Deal
May 10, 2017
CFOs have a new 800-pound gorilla sitting in the corner, as if they needed another one. Actually, the really lucky ones who oversee operations in Europe and the U.S. will have two. ASC 606 and IFRS 15 are new accounting rules that describe in great detail how subscription vendors should recognize revenue beginning in December 2018, and we should all care about them.
Ecosystem Two-Dot-Oh
May 4, 2017
Salesforce this week announced significant enhancements to its AppExchange Partner Program, including a $100 million Salesforce Platform Fund to encourage developers of AI-driven solutions. Salesforce arguably was the first kid on the block with a partner program of this kind in which buyers could access a large community of apps based on a single standard from a single store.
Reasoning in CRM
May 1, 2017
It gives some measure of the importance we give to AI that I went to two conferences last week and sat through two panel sessions on the subject. At CRM Evolution, I was part of the discussion in a breakfast session. At the Oracle CX show, executives involved in the adaptive intelligent applications product line tried to define the basics in a session for analysts and reporters.
Then and Now
April 26, 2017
A few years ago, when Oracle was busy buying companies to fill out its front-office cloud offering, RightNow developed a "day in the life" video that has stuck with me. It was shown at RightNow's last user meeting as an independent company. In fact, at the conference where it debuted, Oracle announced its acquisition of RightNow. The video's importance was as a harbinger of things to come.
CPQ: Boost Selling Performance and Accuracy
April 17, 2017
They say it can take a product idea 10 years to go from concept to mass-market appeal but that might be only an optimist's viewpoint. Some of the best ideas in CRM right now have been marinating for at least that long -- and some for much longer. Two great examples are analytics and CPQ, which companies like Oracle, Salesforce and others have embraced with passion.
Oracle's Strategery
April 10, 2017
Watching Oracle's cloud strategy roll out has given me renewed respect for its approach to the market. As a company that has been public for a long stretch of time, Oracle has displayed all the warmth of an anaconda. I have friends there, and they are not anacondas, but I hope they know what I mean. Oracle knows its business and it's making money, and it does it unabashedly.
Reversing Net Neutrality
April 3, 2017
When one side or the other in a political debate refused to accept a decision, it used to be simply annoying, but lately it has become dangerous to business and to the economy. The current administration's wants "to jettison the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online," Steve Lohrmarch wrote last week.
It's Mud Season Again
March 29, 2017
It's mud season here in New England -- that time of year when everything merges into an amorphous mess. The gray sky merges with a gray landscape made into slop by continual rains and dirty gray melting snow. It's hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins. Eventually the sun comes out and dries everything, the sky becomes distinct from the horizon, plants bloom, and order is restored.
Blockchain: CRM's Next Frontier
March 22, 2017
We've seen a parade of technologies coming into the front office since 2000, including browser-based cloud computing, social media, mobile technology, workflow, journey mapping, and big data and analytics. It's typical that at first there's only a tenuous relationship between the technology and CRM's original mission, but over a short time innovators adopt and commercialize the innovation.
Analytics and Workflow
March 15, 2017
There's a big difference between B2C and B2B analytics that no vendors seem to be addressing, and it involves the consumption model. I recently spoke with K.V. Rao, founder and chief strategy officer of Aviso, an analytics company focused on sales, and his unabashed opinion is that "if you're trying to expose insights and make things consumable, you have to address workflow."
Salesforce FY18 Kickoff
March 9, 2017
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff invited a select group of press, analysts and customers to a fiscal year kickoff presentation overlooking San Francisco and environs. It was held on the 23rd floor of one building that the company monopolizes, just across Mission Street from another that it is building and the bay beyond. It's a nice view. Salesforce starts its year in March.
New Rules
March 1, 2017
One of the foundational ideas of business is the Pareto analysis, which tries to identify the small portion of factors that are responsible for the majority of business results. You know -- 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of the customer base, and similar observations. Vilfredo Pareto formulated a business classic that we now refer to simply as "the 80/20 rule."
Social Marketing Grows Up
February 23, 2017
Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business. After all, didn't we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand's shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises?
Oracle's DB Dilemma
February 17, 2017
Seeking Alpha is an online outfit that offers investors good research and analysis on tech vendors, and it is especially well versed in Oracle. Its writers' expertise involves matching technologies to investment attractiveness. I am sure you are familiar with the type. XYZ company's product does this, it should result in sales of this much, and that will drive profits so that the stock is worth so much. You get the idea.
Output vs. Outcomes
February 14, 2017
How many times have we been lulled into complacency over getting a project or a product done but not necessarily well received, because it was someone else's gig? This is a great reminder that the job isn't done simply because we produce something and shove it out the door. It's also a cue to pay close attention to what our CRM systems tell us. Our concept of a product has changed.
Tech Industry Gets Political
January 31, 2017
In the last decade or so, the tech industry has become increasingly political, which is different from being politicized. If I had to guess, I'd say that for the most part everyone is on the same page. However, many of the largest technology concerns have come to the realization that to protect their outlook, they need representation in Washington in the form of lobbyists.
Oracle's Important Little Acquisition
January 23, 2017
Oracle last week announced the acquisition of Apiary, a small company that tucks into its product line and will not make much of a splash in the financial pages or possibly even in tech circles. Nonetheless, it's important strategic news. The value of the deal wasn't publicized -- but given the parameters, the dollars will get lost in the rounding of Oracle's overall revenue and profit numbers.
Adaptive Intelligent Applications
January 18, 2017
At OpenWorld, Oracle jumped into the AI and machine learning space for its CX products, aka CRM, and other applications, like HCM, with an interesting difference -- a huge data store to help educate the algorithms that work for you. Machine learning depends on data about prior situations that the learning algorithms can use to get smart about a situation. Ten examples are good, 100 are better.
Oracle's Cloud Strategy: A Fine Balance
January 11, 2017
Oracle recently held a call for analysts to discuss its results for the last quarter, and there were multiple bright spots. It was much like a similar call 90 days previous, and together the calls drove home the conclusion that Oracle is turning into a cloud company. A casual observer might not be convinced, since the macro numbers show a company barely growing.
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