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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.
Customer Service Takes a Turn
January 4, 2017
It's widely understood that new customer service channels such as social, email, knowledge bases and the like have left the service agent with harder problems to solve. Those channels are here to stay, because when they work well, they solve problems for pennies. It can cost many dollars to resolve an issue through the efforts of conventional agents. So there's a decided bias for self-service.
Looking Forward
December 13, 2016
Traditionally in this year-end piece, I peer into my cloudy crystal ball and forecast the year ahead in CRM. Sometimes I'm close, other times not, but either way, my predictions quickly are forgotten. This year, I've decided just to say what I want rather than what realistically might happen. Since my vote has all of the authority of yesterday's news, it will follow past prognostications.
2016: The Year in Review
December 6, 2016
This year will go down as an important turning point in CRM. For the last decade and a half, we've been simultaneously building and destroying CRM -- first by linking all of the disparate databases to get that 360-degree view, and then by adding important accessories like social and analytics. At the same time, we've been busy tearing down conventional architectures and spinning up the cloud.
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.
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