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Message for Marketers: Always Be Engaging
June 1, 2015
In sales, we know customer retention is critical for success in the subscription economy. For many tech companies in the SaaS space, it takes three years to break even. In insurance, which has toiled in the subscription economy for more than a century, the average break-even time is an incredible seven years. Because of that, sales compensation is starting to change.
Salesforce Makes Splash With Wave for Big Data
May 28, 2015
Salesforce on Thursday launched Wave for Big Data, a tool that will help marketers and salespeople leverage customer data in the Salesforce Analytics Cloud. Powered by the Wave platform, the Analytics Cloud will let business executives discover correlations and patterns across any combination of transactional data, as well as unstructured or semistructured big data sets.
Customer-In, Not Seller-Out: 5 Realities of the Customer Journey
May 11, 2015
I was doing a little reading about the concept of the customer journey. I have distinct opinions about it, and I was looking for things that might challenge or validate those ideas when I stumbled across a blog post from a major CRM vendor that got my goat. The post proclaimed that 2015 was "the Year of the Customer Journey!" Really? This year? What about the many years before this?
It's the Customer Experience
May 5, 2015
Bill Clinton won the presidency with the mantra, "It's the economy, stupid," and I think CRM could borrow heavily from that pithy bit of logic. If you can check your preconceptions at the door and actually perceive the information in front of you, there's no telling what you can figure out. Such is the case with the tired phrase "customer experience."
Satisfying Customers in the Digital Transformation Era
April 29, 2015
Customers are changing the rules of business. They are well informed and well connected, and they have high expectations. Business success in the digital world depends on individuals who make recommendations based on their personal experience. These customers expect a seamless and consistent experience, regardless of which device they are using. They demand intelligent digital interactions.
Marketing's Next Act
April 28, 2015
Marketing continues to heat up as the next big thing in CRM. It's so big that I can see it splintering in multiple ways to accommodate all the permutations that are suddenly possible, thanks to big data, analytics, and a determination to get beyond using marketing technology as a glorified accounting system designed to limit "losses" due to marketing. You can't win by limiting your losses.
Digital Disruption and a Great Gap
April 21, 2015
You can tell when the economy is doing well, because instead of worrying about how you're going to make the next mortgage payment, you worry about the next disruption in business. The big worry on the horizon now is the digital disruption, a nice piece of alliteration designed to make you question your worth. The DD is the confluence of a lot of wonderful new technology.
Big Data Drives Change if You're Ready to Be Driven
April 20, 2015
In an earlier chapter in my career, I had the seemingly lofty title of "software and intelligence editor" at a telecom trade magazine. Even back in 1996, telecom was experiencing a "big data" problem. It wasn't a problem of collection -- no, telephone companies collect more data than almost any other industry, recording call times and durations, as well as the numbers their customers dialed.
Shopping for Algorithms and APIs in the Cloud
April 10, 2015
Now that cloud computing has made it economically feasible to capture and collate large volumes of data, many organizations are trying to find an equally economical method to analyze and move the data across various business applications. Enter Algorithmia and Bedrock Data, two cloud-based companies offering online marketplaces to remedy these age-old issues.
Oracle Aims to Wring More Sales From Marketing Cloud
April 6, 2015
Oracle last week trumpeted a set of new Marketing Cloud features designed to improve the customer experience. Oracle ID Graph, Rapid Retargeter and AppCloud Connect aim to boost sales by aggregating data from multiple sources and reacting to it in near-realtime. However, they fall short of the cutting edge in CRM -- predictive analysis.
WiFi Pays Retailers in Spades
April 1, 2015
EarthLink and IHL on Tuesday released a joint study that shines a light on the specific ways different types of localized WiFi networks are helping businesses, and how enterprises are adapting to the realities of a more mobile and data-centric world. Companies are changing their point-of-sale systems to try to stay competitive, the study indicates.
Optimizing the Brick-and-Mortar Customer Experience
March 27, 2015
The retail industry has finally awakened to what customers always have known -- they don't distinguish too much between channels. Modern shoppers are happy to embrace the immediacy and experience of the physical store while also benefiting from the informed and personalized ease of shopping online. Retailers should translate the smartest online strategies into their in-store experience.
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.
Tune Strikes a Chord With Investors
January 30, 2015
Mobile marketing company Tune has raised $27 million in funding, it announced Thursday. Icon Ventures partner Jeb Miller will join Tune's board. Icon led the funding round; Accel Partners and Performance Equity Management also participated. Tune will use the proceeds to grow its engineering team, introduce new products and generally invest in the services it offers.
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.
What SMB CRM Shoppers Want
January 19, 2015
CRM is expected to grow at a steady pace, and CRM customers are sending some specific signals about the functionality they need. Thirty-seven percent of small-and-medium-sized businesses that participated in its annual survey want an integrated suite of multiple CRM applications, Software Advice reported last month. That's up from 7 percent in 2013.
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 7, 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.
AgilOne Bends Over Backwards to Understand Customers
December 1, 2014
AgilOne has rolled out an enhanced version of its predictive marketing platform with new tools, as well as improvements to fine-tune its forecasting capabilities, said CMO Dominique Levin. The focus of the upgrade was to automate even more of the analytics and subsequent decision-making by users. One of the new tools uses predictive analytics to uncover underserved customer segments.
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.
The Terrifying Numbers Behind a Whopping Marketing Failure
November 17, 2014
There are lots of scary things out there -- killer viruses, Earth-smashing meteors, the possibility of yet another Real Housewives show. But those are easy to dismiss and push to the farthest corner of the back of your mind. What's really distressing? Numbers. Numbers are really scary -- specifically, the numbers around things marketers know they should be doing but aren't.

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