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What Buyers Want
June 12, 2015
Technology is giving companies an unprecedented view of their customers: demographic data; buying preferences; behaviors that signal the intent to buy; and analyses that enable them to develop expectations about how customers are likely to act during the buyer-seller relationship. Those abilities are new, and they hold a lot of promise. However, customers have changing expectations as well.
Early Franken-Cloud
June 10, 2015
What happens when you have a lot of a good thing, like cloud computing? You might get a "Franken-cloud." Basically, a Franken-cloud is what happens when you have multiple cloud-based systems that need to share data and run processes in your business. As recently as a few years ago, the same issues would have come from buying multiple best-of-breed applications and trying to knit them together.
Pega Healthcare CRM Promises 360-Degree View
June 9, 2015
Pega last week announced enhancements to Pegasystems Customer Service for Healthcare, an application that integrates customer service and care management to provide a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. The application provides call center agents with data across administrative, health and care management interactions with the goal of enabling them to provide better service.
Dodging Disorganization: Showing Sellers a Sharper Image
June 4, 2015
Despite vendors' claims, CRM is not all about technology. Technology helps it scale, but CRM is really a discipline. It's the discipline of creating relationships that benefit both buyers and sellers. CRM is really great at organizing the data that makes it possible to build relationships. However, many things that aren't driven by your CRM technology can have a major impact on relationships.
5 Modules That Will Rock Your Business
June 3, 2015
Zuora two weeks ago announced its first acquisition, Frontleaf, and a new product, Z-Insights. This marks an important moment for both Zuora and what it has called the "subscription economy." The subscription economy has spawned a culture in which people have been conditioned to expect subscription-like performance from all their vendors -- even the conventional ones.
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.
Subscribed 2015
May 27, 2015
There is no better company to look at to get a sense of the future of technology in business and society than Zuora. This might surprise many people, because companies like Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce might come to mind more readily. To one degree or another, those companies feature their products and services, which are very important, but Zuora talks about business models.
Making the Most of Micro-Moments in the Customer Journey
May 26, 2015
The mobile advertising race is on. Google has to scramble to stay ahead in the volatile mobile ads market, because it has been losing ground to Facebook, suggested Pace University marketing professor Larry Chiagouris. Google is "valued at a high multiple, based on its current market share, and cannot afford to give away any market share," he noted.
Order Taker, Meet Undertaker: What Sales Pros Must Do to Survive
May 21, 2015
Within a few years, 1 million B2B sales roles will be eliminated, according to a recent Forrester Research report. That's 20 percent of them gone, thanks to the evolution of technologies like self-service and customers' increasing desire to avoid the hassle of speaking to sales reps. Personally, I think that's a bit overstated -- or rather, a mischaracterization of an ongoing trend.
Xactly: From Transaction to Process
May 20, 2015
It is subtle, but in the spring conferences I see a pattern emerging around the importance of process. Admittedly, my analysis in this case is less than scientific, and I have no statistics to support my idea, but I my instinct says a trend toward process is beginning. Two conferences that support my contention include Xactly and Zuora, both of which are taking place this week in San Francisco.
If You Build a Structure, Sales Enablement Will Come
May 18, 2015
There's a lot of devalued sales jargon out there, but the phrase that makes me wince the most is "sales enablement." First, it's misleading -- there are lots of things that equip sales people to close deals, but when people say "sales enablement" they usually mean content, portals, playbooks and on-boarding. That only "enables" part of the sale. Second, most companies are abysmal at managing it.
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."
Salesforce Jumps Into HR
April 30, 2015
I recently praised Salesforce for having the smarts to not get into enterprise resource planning several years ago. It was a good decision, I thought, because there was no upside for them to invade such a well-established market -- better for them to focus on a blue ocean strategy in which they went after new applications. I think the market's evolution has proven the wisdom of that approach.
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.
Sleek Ad Tailoring for Online Apparel Shoppers
April 21, 2015
Consumers are on board with the concept of buying apparel online. Especially in this era of free returns and nifty sizing tools, buying clothing and shoes off the Web has become mainstream. However, some advertisers have been slow to respond. While most of us have at some point been served ads displaying items we browsed the day before, dynamic creative has the power and potential to do much more.
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.
Sage and Salesforce: An Odd Couple?
April 15, 2015
It came as a surprise when Keith Block, vice chairman of Salesforce, made an off-the-cuff remark about a Sage-Salesforce alliance at Salesforce World Tour last week. Sage and Salesforce in February had announced they would work together, with Sage moving some of its undisclosed ERP applications to the Salesforce Cloud. However, the word didn't seem to spread, and it remained off my radar.
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 Modern Customer Experience
April 8, 2015
Oracle did some smart things at last week's Oracle Modern CX Conference and user meeting in Las Vegas. The company has been making strides in organizing its messaging and products around customer experience in the wake of its RightNow Technologies acquisition a few years ago. It's been taking on the CX mantra whole hog. Today, Oracle CX is a full-featured tactic.
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.

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