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Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Salesforce's MetaMind Buy Fuels CRM's AI Arms Race
April 7, 2016
MetaMind, a startup focused on deep learning, this week announced that it has been acquired by Salesforce. The company's expertise is in natural language processing -- letting computers analyze relationships between words. "We'll be able to offer customers real AI solutions with breakthrough capabilities that further automate and personalize customer support," MetaMind CEO Richard Socher said.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
IBM Snags Bluewolf for Salesforce Chops
April 1, 2016
IBM on Thursday announced that it has agreed to buy Bluewolf, a Salesforce system integrator. It reportedly will pay $200 million. Bluewolf will provide cloud consulting and implementation capabilities as part of IBM Global Business Services' Interactive Experience practice. The aim is to deliver differentiated, cloud-based, consumer-grade experiences, IBM said.
Study: Enterprises Shift Analytics Focus to Back Office
March 30, 2016
Companies have shifted their analytics efforts from consumer-focused processes to operations, according to the results of a survey released last week by Capgemini. Seventy percent of 600 executives said they focused more on operational analysis, and more than 80 percent said analytics in operations plays a pivotal role in driving profits or creating competitive advantage, according to the survey.
Commoditizing Software
March 24, 2016
For more than 50 years, the IT industry has followed a well-known script associated with emerging and evolving paradigms: First a product or category is introduced, then it gains wide acceptance (or dies on the vine), followed by a long period when vendors and customers seek out more efficient ways to produce the thing. Ultimately, the category becomes so important that all must have it.
IBM Gloves Up for Public Sector CRM Arena
March 23, 2016
IBM last week announced its acquisition of Optevia, a Software as a Service systems integrator specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM solutions. It will become part of IBM Global Business Services. Optevia specializes in the public sector market in the UK, where it is based. Its focus is on emergency services, central and local government, health authorities, and housing and social enterprises.
LiveOps Launches Contact Center as a Service Platform
March 10, 2016
LiveOps Cloud on Tuesday unveiled its enterprise-level CxEngage Contact Center as a Service, or CCaaS, platform. The omnichannel open framework, which was built from the ground up, integrates with standard APIs. It essentially links applications such as CRM, workforce management and business intelligence to help agents make better customer service decisions, according to the company.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Salesforce Springs Some Q4 Surprises
February 26, 2016
Salesforce shares held strong on Friday, following Thursday's spike on the company's release of a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street estimates and raised revenue guidance for 2017. The stock finished up 11 percent Thursday, at $69.42, and held the gains on Friday, closing at $69.11. Fourth-quarter revenue was $1.81 billion, an increase of 25 percent from a year ago.
Mining the Customer Base
February 24, 2016
One of the biases inherent in CRM is its orientation toward new business. This might sound strange to most people, but really, I think of it as the startup echo chamber. It's a bias in part because CRM was invented by new companies for new companies. However, the "C" part, customer, involves more than simply acquiring new ones, especially for established companies.
CRM and GDP
February 17, 2016
I was gobsmacked when I read this in Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War: "Electric light, the first reliable internal combustion engine, and wireless transmission ... were all invented within the same three-month period at the end of 1879." It's a book full of surprises emanating from an analysis of major inflection points.
Pegasystems Takes Customer Service Far Afield
February 12, 2016
Pegasystems has launched Pega Field Service, an application designed expressly to streamline and automate critical components of field service operations. The software's key components are a customer service dashboard and a mobile application that enables organizations to centralize distributed field service work. Pega Field Service keeps track of all aspects of the field service process.
Marketers Make Customer Experience More Personal
February 11, 2016
Marketers this year will ramp up their efforts at personalization, getting a 360-degree view of customers and improving the customer experience, and they will leverage multiple strategies, tools and solutions to do so, a study released Tuesday by the CMO Council found. Deploying digital analytics and life cycle management tools will take the lead, followed by personalization platforms.
Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
IBM Expands Social Business Capabilities
February 3, 2016
IBM on Monday announced new capabilities for its Connections business social network platform. The functions will let users customize communities by role or function, manage files with personal subfolders, and remain productive on the go with polls and surveys for mobile devices. Admins get enhanced controls so they can secure apps with application-level passwords.
Why Is Sales-Marketing Alignment Getting Worse?
February 1, 2016
We're almost a quarter century removed from the coining of the phrase "sales and marketing alignment." Businesses have been wrestling with the idea of coordinating two teams of people with different skill sets, ideas and goals since the emergence of marketing as a profession. Meanwhile, business leaders often cite the need to use data to unite sales and marketing around a single mission.
Feds Embrace Salesforce Platform Offerings
January 28, 2016
The U.S. government has authorized an information technology contract with a potential value of $503 million that is designed to meet newly adopted goals for greatly improving IT acquisition. The General Services Administration, which issued the contract for software and cloud-related services, described the acquisition approach as a first-of-its-kind initiative.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come... Again
January 27, 2016
Whether you call it "industry CRM," "vertical CRM" or something else, the concept is gaining altitude. Not that it's new or ever been gone, but today's vertical CRM is different -- a constellation of quantitatively and qualitatively different and better CRM solutions than we've ever seen. Vendors like Veeva, Vlocity and Salesforce are getting into the act.
Cloud Research
January 20, 2016
Last year, uber-analyst Esteban Kolsky and I did a research project to better understand cloud computing's uptake and related issues, and last week Financial Force, our sponsor, made the results public. The findings are interesting to me because they reveal a more or less typical adoption cycle for cloud, by which I mean that some of the downstream effects are only gradually becoming apparent.
Demandware Teams With eBay on Omnichannel E-Commerce Solution
January 19, 2016
Demandware and eBay Enterprise on Monday announced an alliance to develop a fully enabled omnichannel commerce solution that will provide integrated access to Demandware's Commerce Cloud platform and eBay Enterprise's suite of back-end and fulfillment technologies and services. The solution will let clients significantly reduce the complexity of managing their front- and back-end systems.
Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
The Cloud Complexity Challenge
January 12, 2016
Growing acceptance of cloud computing quickly is becoming a double-edged sword for the leading players in the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS marketplaces. As a broader set of customers adopts cloud-first strategies, even the biggest cloud players are being challenged to scale their operations to keep pace with escalating customer demands without becoming too complex.
Forecasting 2016
December 23, 2015
My favorite Boston FM radio DJ was Charles Laquidara, who would end his show with the words, "If the creek don't rise, if the good Lord's willing, if there ain't no meltdown, we'll do it all over again tomorrow right here on The Biiiiig Mattress!" It impressed me that even one day out, he'd caveat his prediction of being there tomorrow. Unlike my hero, I will attempt to forecast the year ahead.
Year-End Intelligence
December 16, 2015
There's always an aphorism about Santa, stockings and year-end funding news, but I am tired of them so I'll let you imagine one. However, the funding news is so good from so many sources that I thought it worthwhile to mention a few items -- there are patterns emerging. First, Salesforce bought MinHash. That's not a funding event proper, but it does provide some modicum of cash to the founders.
2015: The Year of Intelligence
December 9, 2015
This year we traded in terminologies going from big data and analytics to digital disruption as the market-moving meme. I am not sure either one hits the spot, but they give me something to write about. Other things happened in 2015 too, but I'm just going to focus here. It seems to me we focus on the symptoms and not the root causes too often in this business.
End of Year Goodies
December 8, 2015
The end of the year brings out some interesting goodies from various workshops competing with Santa for big kids' attention. Some of it is pretty good stuff. Here's a sampling of the best end-of-year product announcements from the cloud community designed to put you in the post-holiday, already-back-at-work spirit. For starters, cloud sales compensation firm Xactly announced Xactly Inspire.
Ramping Up Tech Could Give Retailers a CX Edge
December 1, 2015
Despite all the talk about the customer journey, the increasing use of CRM, the omnichannel approach, and the seamless customer experience, stores still don't have technology down pat for the holiday rush, according to the "2015 Connected Shoppers Report" Salesforce released last month. In-store shoppers want associates to know their purchase history, but only 10 percent believe this will happen.
Great Customer Experiences Start With Sales
November 23, 2015
The term "customer experience" flows from the lips of business people so smoothly these days. It's very clearly the business jargon du jour; its importance has been trending upward for the last decade, and according to Gartner, by 2018 more than half of all businesses will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience.
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Live streaming video...
is the next big thing.
is a passing fad.
will dramatically improve citizen journalism.
will feed a lot more disturbing imagery to the Web.
doesn't interest me.