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Time's Up for Legacy ERP
March 26, 2015
It takes prodigious amounts of cash to launch a company these days and that's especially true when trying to insert a new idea like cloud ERP into the collective consciousness. FinancialForce today announced a financing round of $110 million from lead investor Technology Crossover Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures, which is Salesforce's corporate investment group.
Self-Service and the 'R' in CRM
March 25, 2015
Self-service is generally considered a good thing, especially in CRM, where there has been significant investment in empowering people to take on more responsibility for provisioning service or making purchases. But it's not all great, and there is some interesting blowback that is causing vendors to reconsider how their offerings work. In sales, self-service has resulted in truncated sales cycles.
Importance of a System
March 18, 2015
I was telling a friend recently about some of the ideas in my book, Solve for the Customer. He was interested in my belief that customer science has evolved from a general emphasis on process in business, especially in the back office. His company does a lot to ensure that its customers are happy and loyal, because their business involves long-term relationships and agreements that renew for many years at a time.
Record Systems as Deal Savers
March 11, 2015
Transaction systems have all the fun but systems of record do all of the work; at least it seems that way. Maybe you've never thought of it this way but unless both kinds of systems are working well -- and working together -- your results will suffer. Record systems can tell you what happened, but by themselves they don't bring in business.
What the Buyer Sees
March 04, 2015
Partner Relationship Management gives a lot of attention to the vendor and partner relationship, and it should. But it's worth remembering that as important as this relationship is, the one that really counts involves an end customer. So what does the end customer need from a channel partner that a PRM system can uniquely provide? I'd say the most important partner deliverable is intangible -- trust.
CPQ's Time to Shine
March 02, 2015
Last month, Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce's corporate investment group, swung into action. They led a Series B round of funding that garnered US$41 million for Apttus, a high-flying CPQ vendor. Salesforce Ventures also participated in SteelBrick raising a series B round of $18 million. That's two CPQ vendors that Salesforce has taken an interest in. The question is, why?
Relax, You're Surrounded
February 25, 2015
I don't know how many old movies there are in which the good guys say, "You're surrounded, come out with your hands up!" Somehow being surrounded is a bad thing -- or at least it was -- until it became a hot trend in the back office. Let me explain. Surrounding legacy systems, such as conventional ERP, is proving to be a good idea for a bunch of reasons.
Solving for the Customer
February 19, 2015
You'd probably take umbrage at the notion of a weak human, and rightly so, because in business you have to be able to play with the team you have, not the one you wish for. So for business purposes, let's think in terms of empowered humans, since we always want to empower our employees to do great things -- at least we should.
Customer Science
January 28, 2015
Part of my new year routine has been ordering new business cards. In this electronic age, they are the only things I actually print, and I'm a writer! In a few weeks I'll publish a book, Solve for the Customer, in paperback, and the two are related. I made a discovery while writing the book that fundamentally changes what I do for a living and the title I use, hence my need to reprint.
Time to Drill Deeper
January 21, 2015
This is not an article about fracking -- drilling for gas and oil in shale. This is about "drilling down" into big data. We've been using the term for a long time and it provides a useful metaphor for data analysis. However, we've conditioned ourselves to think of drilling down only to a superficial degree, and that needs a rethink. When data wasn't big, we were only able to scratch the surface.
Compensation Is the Window on Business
January 15, 2015
The continuing rollout of platform technology is bringing many applications together to support better business processes. Not long ago, it was nearly impossible for back-office people to know what the front office was doing. It was hard for marketing and sales to know how they were affecting each other. It's now easier for different areas of the business to understand operations as a whole.
Better and Better
January 07, 2015
James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds and business and finance columnist for The New Yorker, published an article in the magazine's Nov. 10, 2014, issue entitled, "Better All The Time." The piece connects the importance of culture-wide continuous incremental improvement using data and analytics -- what the Japanese call kaizen -- to business and employees.
Sales Kaizen
December 17, 2014
CRM makes several promises to its users: selling more or selling faster; resolving service issues faster or at least quickly; and generating more leads. If you do root cause analysis, however, you can quickly conclude that at least in some cases, you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. For instance, the best way to resolve service issues is to avoid them in the first place.
Year-End Thoughts
December 11, 2014
We are now through almost 15 years of the century, and for all of that time I have been analyzing the CRM industry as it has evolved. This year, rather than simply reviewing some of the progress we made in the industry during the last 12 months, I'll take a broader view of the decade and a half, which might be more interesting. It certainly gives us a great perspective on how far we've come.
Customers Speak
December 03, 2014
Several news stories have provided interesting insights into the Black Friday phenomenon and into customer behavior. One indicates sales slipped by 0.5 percent from the same period last year, despite sharp discounting and stores opening on Thanksgiving. Another story shows how the Black Friday phenomenon is catching on in the UK. It looks like the mania is spreading even as it cools in the U.S.
Platform Native
November 19, 2014
The idea of an omnipotent software platform and the evolution of customer science go hand in hand. Customer science is the upshot of my idea that we're in the process of converting from random acts of CRM in the front office to a more structured, efficient and predictable approach to conducting front-office business. Platforms make customer science possible.
Journey Map
November 12, 2014
The journey map and the tools used to make one might be the sleeper part of CRM in the year or two in front of us. The reason is simple: Journey maps enable you to figure out your processes, and they are useful in much more than just marketing. The key element of the emerging customer science idea is that the random and highly reactive approach to front-office business rapidly is being eliminated.
Analyzing Big Data
October 29, 2014
Xactly continues its pioneering ways by analyzing anonymous data collected by its customers in compensation management. If you aren't familiar with the company's groundbreaking market analysis, you might be in for a treat. Its approach is relatively simple but extremely powerful. With the permission of the data owners, Xactly strips out identifying information and conducts sophisticated analyses.
The Customer Science Revolution
October 23, 2014
Bluewolf, the consultancy that was founded to assist customers implementing and deploying Salesforce.com, has released its annual State of Salesforce report. There is very little that's controversial. Salesforce is a juggernaut at this point, growing at an exceptional and exponential pace. My only quibble with the account is that it does not look very far beneath the surface of the statistics.
Jottings on Dreamforce 2014
October 16, 2014
Dreamforce has always been about many things happening at once -- a three-ring circus, in a good way. There are announcements about applications, platforms, philanthropy, entertainment and, importantly, parties. This year there was all of that and then some -- I was a guest with a ringside seat. Perhaps the worst-kept secret of the event was the company's announcement of Wave, its analytics cloud.
OOW2014
October 08, 2014
If Oracle didn't build another product for a while, it would be OK. In fact, no one might notice. If the recent OpenWorld 2014 is any indication, there are enough to go around. From an overflowing hardware stash to its Java middleware, apps, and various cloud, SaaS, hosting and infrastructure options, the company looks like a python that just devoured a pig -- I say this with love.
A Lot to Like in the Midwest
October 01, 2014
There was a lot to like at Salesforce ExactTarget's Connections 2014 user conference in Indianapolis last week. Now all that's needed is a shorter name. The words "marketing cloud" need to be fitted in there too, but I forget how. Perhaps it's ExactTarget's Midwest roots, but I can see a genuine concern for the customer emanating from the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and it plays well.
The New Forecasting Era
September 24, 2014
Sales forecasting never has been easy, and over time it has gotten a lot harder. This brings up a couple of points that every sales manager and CEO has to deal with: how to forecast deals and how to track them. Forecasting has gone through several generations of approaches that have been tied directly to sales practices. Unfortunately, some of us have been reticent to change practices.
The Wearables Revolution
September 18, 2014
The wearables market heated up last week with Apple's introduction of its Watch and Apple Pay, and the implications for CRM are interesting. First off, the announcement shows how very young the wearables marketplace is and how far it has to go. Second, even though wearables are by nature devices intimately connected to us and our motivations, they are still devices, which should concern us.

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