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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.
Social's Turning Point
June 24, 2016
Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn for more than $26 billion has created quite a stir -- at least in my world. The deal can boast a number of superlatives: the largest sale of a consumer Internet company in history; the largest sale of an enterprise software/cloud company in history; the third-largest sale of a technology company since 2001; and the largest Microsoft acquisition ever.
Salesforce's TrailheaDX
June 17, 2016
Salesforce held TrailheaDX last week -- its first event just for software developers. It previously relied on special sessions at events such as Dreamforce to educate developers, but its declared intention to train up to 100 million of them in its Lightning development environment dictated taking additional action. Anyone should be able to learn development skills, Salesforce contends.
The Marginal Customer
June 10, 2016
I start a lot of client engagements with a simple question: Who's the customer? It's amazing the answers that I get. Some people know the customer's demographic and business or personal needs, and they focus on those things. Others don't even grasp the difference between a customer and a consumer. You might expect this if you are working in the B2C rather than B2B space.
Loyalty Failures
June 3, 2016
Software vendors and their business customers have tried many things to increase customer loyalty, but they have been disappointed more often than not. Rewards, delight, and daily deals were good ideas to help spur customer loyalty. Unfortunately, they weren't enough to move the loyalty needle in today's highly competitive markets. That's because rewards programs often reward the wrong thing.
The Traction Gap
May 26, 2016
My friend and a partner at Wildcat Venture Partners, Bruce Cleveland, along with his associates, has come up with an idea that helps explain why some early-stage companies thrive and thus raise more capital, while others die on the vine. As a venture capitalist, he is always trying to figure this out, trying to determine who gets another round of funding and who doesn't.
Deeper Connections
May 23, 2016
Salesforce held its Connections 2016 user event in Atlanta earlier this month. About 7,000 people attended, but in the Georgia World Congress Center and airplane hangar, attendance seemed smallish. Attendance might have been held down by Gov. Nathan Deal's slow response to vetoing a religious freedom law largely seen as discriminating against the LGBT community.
Marketing and Loyalty
May 17, 2016
The CRM industry is shining a bright light on digital marketing, and it is a sign of how early we are in the digital marketing boom that few vendors are championing the idea of using marketing in any way other than for driving sales. Based on recent events by Oracle and Salesforce, it appears that the focus on driving more sales makes perfect sense for organizations just getting their feet wet.
The Why of Customers
May 13, 2016
SAS Institute introduced SAS Customer Intelligence 360 at its recent Global Forum meeting. Intelligence 360 has some good ideas baked in, though some of the messaging I heard wasn't up to the level of the product or at least its intention. I suspect that will come, and it's an easy fix. The product set is divided into two major components, Discover and Engage.
Bill Gates' Open Letter
May 10, 2016
It has been 40 years since Bill Gates wrote his open letter to the software industry complaining that computer hobbyists were stealing his BASIC program. That was so long ago that Wikipedia has a picture of the source code for "Micro-Soft" BASIC on paper tape. A lot of things have changed since then. In the 1970s when Microsoft was getting started, it was common for people to copy, swap or donate software simply because they could.
Sliding Revenues
May 4, 2016
Apple's earnings disappointment thudded into view last week in the middle of briefings at Oracle's Modern Marketing Experience conference. It gave me a lot to think about -- especially the difference between a one-time earnings disappointment and something more serious. I have a feeling that Apple is only the most visible instance of the wheels beginning to wobble on the truck of tech.
App Dev Today
April 27, 2016
Last year, I researched the impact of the proliferation of cloud computing on business. I know it sounds like a dry topic, but if you are a CIO or an application development manager, the results can have serious meaning. Cloud computing has deeply penetrated the enterprise and SMB ranks, and 46.3 percent of respondents said they had four or more cloud applications in use.
Zuora Moves to the Center
April 20, 2016
Zuora, the company that made its bones in subscription billing and payments, held its annual Subscribed user meeting last week and staked out some new turf. It always has been focused on the back office, but its latest messaging included elements of the front office. Perhaps it's no surprise given CEO Tien Tzuo's history as an early luminary at Salesforce, rising to the CMO position.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
Commoditizing Software
March 24, 2016
For more than 50 years, the IT industry has followed a well-known script associated with emerging and evolving paradigms: First a product or category is introduced, then it gains wide acceptance (or dies on the vine), followed by a long period when vendors and customers seek out more efficient ways to produce the thing. Ultimately, the category becomes so important that all must have it.
A Future Without Work?
March 17, 2016
Periodically, a blatantly silly idea gains currency, spreading throughout society, and it has one of two effects: Either it scares the heck out of people, or they become enraptured with its seeming plausibility. Last week, The New York Times published a piece set as a dialog between two economics writers, titled, "A Future Without Jobs?" I thought it fell into the silly category.
Through the CRM Lens
March 9, 2016
This is delicate and I will be scrupulously neutral in these paragraphs so as to offend no one, but I thought it would be fun to attempt an interpretation of the current political climate from the perspective and sensibilities of CRM. It will be different from any other analysis you might have come across because I do not wish to discuss candidates. I am all about the customer.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Mining the Customer Base
February 24, 2016
One of the biases inherent in CRM is its orientation toward new business. This might sound strange to most people, but really, I think of it as the startup echo chamber. It's a bias in part because CRM was invented by new companies for new companies. However, the "C" part, customer, involves more than simply acquiring new ones, especially for established companies.
CRM and GDP
February 17, 2016
I was gobsmacked when I read this in Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War: "Electric light, the first reliable internal combustion engine, and wireless transmission ... were all invented within the same three-month period at the end of 1879." It's a book full of surprises emanating from an analysis of major inflection points.
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