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Finally Oracle
September 20, 2017
Oracle showed some very good numbers in its latest earnings report. As it begins its second year of aggressive cloud promotion, the company overall is showing significant year-over-year improvements, thanks to its turn to cloud infrastructure, applications and platforms. Yet when read right, the numbers announce the end of the beginning of the end as much as they announce the end of the beginning.
The Vision Thing
September 15, 2017
Salesforce earlier this year introduced its Einstein Vision capability, an idea with a lot of promise but not a great deal of precedent. Who had applications that could see, and how would this be used? For decades, we've been content with scanning documents and analyzing them with OCR tools, or we've used bar codes and QR codes -- but it all came down to recognizing simple symbols.
Oracle's Numbers
September 11, 2017
Oracle will announce its Q1 revenue and profit numbers after market close on Wednesday. There's more than a little excitement about what might be revealed, specifically if the company can continue its rise, thanks to its cloud products. The anticipated answer is yes, but there's potential for a surprise. The company so far has been posting great numbers for its cloud products.
6 Reasons You Need CPQ
September 6, 2017
Many businesses still don't use configure, price, quote software in their routine sales processes. Maybe they don't need it, but for businesses that still cling to spreadsheet-based approaches to track things like price lists and product catalogs, chances are good that they're dealing with more overhead than they need to. Worse, they're wasting time and therefore money.
Ten Billion
August 29, 2017
Salesforce announced the partial attainment of one of its long-range goals in its Q2 earnings announcement last week: It eclipsed its goal of a $10 billion run rate. This will be followed by similar announcements over the next year -- first $10 billion year, etc. -- and why not? The company should celebrate. Second quarter revenue hit $2.56 billion, a 26 percent increase year over year.
CRM Health Check
August 18, 2017
As an industry, CRM continues to grow and shower benefits on its users. It's hard to imagine that some businesses still don't use some form of CRM, but recent data suggests there are still businesses buying their first CRM solutions or changing vendors. It's a compilation of data from all over, with some credible inputs from a number of sources, so it's worth taking a look.
Yes, and...
August 10, 2017
The further we go in the CRM adventure, the less our efforts seem to be about technology. That's because we're reaching a theoretical limit, or asymptote, on what technology can do in the vendor-customer relationship. Think of an asymptote as the ceiling that a graph never reaches. Increasingly, we're encountering situations where the best technology can do is assist humans.
Spanning Front and Back Offices
August 2, 2017
CPQ -- that is, configure, price, quote -- is one of the most transitional apps, because it spans front and back offices, and because its very existence has changed these functions. Another app in this category is sales compensation management. Both of their stories are about front-office processes needing back-office data. Once the data is made available, the process evolves to be far more useful.
Sage Buys Intacct
July 26, 2017
Sage's Tuesday announcement of its agreement to buy Intacct prompts a multilayered look at the evolution of the cloud ERP space. Both companies are partners with Salesforce and have products based on the Salesforce platform. Each is a member of the AppExchange, and both are situated in the broad cloud ERP space, which has been receiving a lot of attention lately as the market seems to be moving en masse, albeit glacially, to the cloud.
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."
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