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10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam
November 19, 2018
Several years ago, my wife and I invested in a project called "Sanctuary Belize" and, like many of the investors, we were incredibly excited about the prospect of retiring in paradise. After a time, things just weren't adding up. The company supposedly put controls in place to reverse course, but we exited the project. As it turned out, those controls either were not put in place or failed.
Amazon Is Just the Tip of the AI Bias Iceberg
November 16, 2018
Amazon recently disclosed its 2015 decision to scrap a recruitment tool used to hire talent, after finding that it had a bias against women. While this story has been covered sufficiently, there is a much greater story still to tell: A substantial amount of the AI technology that currently is used for recruitment and human resources purposes has been acting independently for some time.
Chatbots Gaining Altitude
November 15, 2018
How do they really know? That's the question that immediately comes to mind in reviewing the top-level data from Voxpro's recent survey of customers and their relationship with chatbots. The data show that 68 percent of consumers haven't used chatbots to contact a brand. About 1,000 people answered the survey. How reliable is that number, though? I'm not disrespecting Voxpro -- just the opposite.
When Is the Time to Hire a Cyber Specialist?
November 14, 2018
Cybersecurity has been becoming a larger and larger concern for organizations. Nowadays, most organizations -- regardless of size, industry, location, or profit vs. nonprofit status -- find themselves directly or indirectly impacted by cybersecurity. Even though the topic itself is increasing in importance, many smaller organizations don't have specialized security expertise on staff.
Let's Create a TV Show to Fix Silicon Valley
November 12, 2018
Startups have been creating employee hell in Silicon Valley. That was on my mind as I read the book Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us. I think this book should be required reading for anybody who thinks working for a startup in Silicon Valley would be fun. Unless you are into humiliation and abuse you probably should avoid these startups like the plague.
IBM Dons Red Hat for Cloudy Future
November 9, 2018
IBM's deal to acquire Red Hat caught everyone by surprise when it was announced less than two weeks ago. While concerns spread quickly about what it would mean for the largest enterprise Linux platform, IBM and Red Hat executives assured employees and customers that Red Hat would continue to operate independently -- at least for now. Intel made a similar acquisition of Wind River in 2009.
Overcoming Your Terror of Arch Linux
November 7, 2018
A recent episode of a Linux news podcast I keep up with featured an interview with a journalist who had written a piece for a non-Linux audience about giving it a try. It was surprisingly widely read. The writer's experience with some of the more popular desktop distributions had been overwhelmingly positive, and he said as much in his piece and during the subsequent podcast interview.
Above the Funnel No More
November 7, 2018
The conventional sales funnel exceeded its usefulness a long time ago, roughly when the Internet gave us the ability to gather information about vendors, products and services. Without the necessity of contacting a salesperson, individuals and businesses could eliminate the middleman in the information exchange. The result was sales cycle compression and more emphasis on getting a good deal.
Digital Disruption Pathways
November 5, 2018
Digital transformation means a lot of things to different people, but if you do it right it should be virtually unique to your circumstance. The other day I caught up with Rip Gerber, CMO at Vlocity, the Salesforce partner that specializes in vertical industries like telecommunications and insurance. Of digital disruption, Gerber told me, "Nobody changes anything without a strong business case."
It Is Well Past Time for Elections to Be Online
November 5, 2018
Tomorrow a minority of those who are eligible will take time off, drive through traffic, and wait in lines to take part in one of the most artificially annoying obligations of United States citizenship: voting. Many who make that inconvenient trek will treat the process like a multiple choice test they haven't studied for, either voting the party line or guessing at the right answers.
IT Resume Dos and Don'ts: Formatting for Readability
November 1, 2018
I'd like to share some common of the most common formatting problems that I see regularly. Of course, an IT resume requires more than great formatting. It requires well-written, targeted content, and a clear story of career progression. It needs to communicate your unique brand and value proposition. Still, if the formatting is off, that can derail the rest of the document.
Oracle, the Hardware Company
October 31, 2018
For all of the dazzle of its rapidly evolving software portfolio, which includes a self-monitoring and self-patching database that also configures itself, as well as numerous cloud applications, Oracle has begun showing its credibility as a hardware vendor. Hardware has commoditized and will not return to the prominence it had in the early days of the tech era.
Crisis in Tech: Who Can Save Companies When Execs Go Off the Rails?
October 29, 2018
"Too many digital leaders have lost their minds," Kara Swisher recently wrote, citing some frightening examples of poor leadership. She pointed to the solution adopted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who hired a chief ethical officer -- but I think that would just repeat the mistake we made with chief risk officers around a decade ago. The risk managers had responsibility but no real authority.
Oracle OpenWorld: Margin Lab
October 24, 2018
Markets grow at the margins. This bit of sage advice was given to me at the start of my analyst career, and it has kept me in good nick for nearly two decades. Of course the focus has drifted over time but that's the point: The CRM market has evolved, and the job of an analyst is to make sense of the evolution. Oracle OpenWorld 2018 held in San Francisco this week is a laboratory for the margin.
Will Oracle Roil the DB Market?
October 23, 2018
When we write the history of the IT era, the big factor that has played an important but not well recognized role will be hardware -- specifically, the Oracle Exadata appliance that puts databases into memory. All of the cloud software starting with the autonomous database on view this week at OpenWorld would be vastly different if the database was still running primarily on disk drives.
The Rise of Activist Employees in the Tech Industry
October 22, 2018
Things have been changing at an almost unprecedented rate with regard to power structures. The last time I saw this happen was in the 1970s, when the EEOC took off. Suddenly a lot of the off-color, sexist and racist jokes that many executives regularly told could get them fired. A surprisingly large number of people got reassigned, fired, demoted, or otherwise punished.
Turning a Corner in CRM
October 19, 2018
For the last 20 years, CRM has occupied a preeminent niche in enterprise software. It has been the hip, up-and-coming solution in the front office, brimming with innovation and new approaches to some difficult problems. CRM applied basic database technology to a business' chaotic collection of customer data, streamlining business practices and boosting productivity in sales and service.
OpenWorld Preview
October 17, 2018
As of this writing, I haven't been prebriefed on what Oracle will be announcing at OpenWorld regarding CRM -- or as it refers to it, "CX" -- so this is a good time to express my own opinions. Oracle's direction in the last few years increasingly has been toward cloud computing and the autonomous database, and each has several flavors or divisions. The company has three levels of cloud.
For Great Customer Experiences, Design Great Employee Experiences
October 16, 2018
"Customer experience" is the great watchword of 2018 -- and it was a great watchword in 2017 and 2016, too. Eighty-five percent of executives said that CX was important to their companies' strategic priorities, in an Accenture survey. Sixty-two percent of companies viewed CX delivered by contact centers as a competitive differentiator, Deloitte found.
Serious Efforts to Use Tech for Good Shine Through
October 15, 2018
For much of this year, technology companies have been showcased in a very poor light. Several firms have been moving aggressively to buck this trend, however. HP's latest effort, in conjunction with the Clooney Foundation for Justice, is an impressive initiative to supply and fund schools in places like war-torn Syria. HP also has provided substantial support to the Girl Rising movement.
PC Innovation Is Back
October 8, 2018
There were two interesting product launches last week. HP delivered what is pretty much a clean slate rethinking of the 2-in-1 PC with the HP Folio, and Microsoft unveiled a refresh of its Surface Line. Both firms made a big deal of the fact that their products were much better than their Apple counterparts -- but Apple has been treating PCs like a drunk uncle for some time now.
The CRM Oligopoly
October 4, 2018
As markets mature, they trend toward oligopoly or even outright monopoly. There isn't much difference, because an oligopoly has several members instead of just one. Examples include electric power generation, an oligopoly made up of vertically integrated monopolies in most areas, and the airline industry -- an oligopoly made up of many airlines that may have monopolies in regional hubs.
Oracle's Growing Pains
October 3, 2018
People at Oracle must sometimes feel like they're living in Mark Twain's reality. After hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal, Twain published a quip for the ages when he wrote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." So too with Oracle. Ever since its earnings miss for its first fiscal quarter, a chorus of financial analysts have predicted doom.
Dreamforce 2018
October 1, 2018
Salesforce has been very good at skating to where the puck will be, to paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky. As a result, the company has a long line of firsts, beginning with its initial disruption and continuing through its early adoption of social media and analytics. So it's no surprise that it is pursuing some very different issues now than it did almost 20 years ago -- or even five.
How AI Could Fix What Seems Unfixable
October 1, 2018
I watched last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be more about the Democrats fighting with Republicans to see which party could corrupt the Supreme Court more effectively than they were about senators doing their jobs. What bothers me most about that is if you corrupt the highest court in the land you effectively destroy the country.
5 Reasons the Sales A-Player's Era Is Ending
September 28, 2018
Sales talent for a long time has been broken up into three groups: A-players, B-players and C-players. Everyone loves the A-players -- they're the ones who bring home the bacon, after all. The B-players show promise and, with the right training and motivation, could become A-players. The C-players? Well the less said, the better. This simplistic method of segmenting a sales force has worked for decades, but it dates to a simpler era.
Silo Buster: Salesforce Attacks the Data Sprawl Problem
September 25, 2018
I have never been a big fan of the term "360-degree view of the customer," mostly because you never can have a complete view of your customers. It's simply impossible. Things happen that you don't capture in the data, as CRM guru Paul Greenberg has pointed out. They get divorced, their dog dies, they get a really nice birthday gift. Those things can affect customers' buying behavior.
Women as CEOs: The Problems and the Promise
September 24, 2018
I've followed several female CEOs over the years. Most failed, largely because they were both unqualified for the job and their boards didn't back them up. In several cases, the board and the CEO seemed to be in conflict, or the board failed to act. That has created the impression that female CEOs are a bad bet. However, I believe the real problem is that boards haven't been doing their jobs.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
Protecting Against 'Natural' Cybersecurity Erosion
September 21, 2018
Every child who's ever played a board game understands that the act of rolling dice yields an unpredictable result. In fact, that's why children's board games use dice in the first place: to ensure a random outcome that is -- from a macro point of view -- about the same likelihood each time the die is thrown. Consider what would happen if someone replaced the board game's dice with weighted dice.
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How do you feel about Black Friday/Cyber Monday this year?
I'm excited to find great deals and plan to do some serious shopping on BFCM.
I'll watch for BFCM sales, but I intend to drastically curb my spending this year.
BFCM has become a season -- I no longer feel driven to look for bargains on those specific days.
I plan to have most of my holiday shopping done *before* BFCM.
I detest the holiday sales hype and will avoid shopping on BFCM.