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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.
CRM Predictions: Spotting the Critical Connections
December 22, 2015
At this time of the year, there's a clamoring among the business publishing class for predictions. That is partly because prediction stories are considered easy to write, and once they're done the staff can go celebrate the holidays while their publication continues to deliver content. However, having written a lot of prediction stories in the past, I can tell you that they are not easy to write.
Surprise Success: What to Do When Sales Go Through the Roof
December 22, 2015
Success is a good thing. Sometimes, however, surges in orders and sales cause headaches for e-commerce companies. The key is to expect the unexpected. Planning ahead can help ensure that sales spikes are handled as smoothly as possible. "It's never too early to start planning for growth," said Marg Hyland, founder of Pegeen. "You need to be prepared."
CRM to Get Emotional in 2016
December 17, 2015
Temkin Group on Tuesday predicted 2016 will be the year of emotion. That's one of 11 customer experience trends to watch for in the coming year, managing partner Bruce Temkin wrote in a blog post. "Emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore," he wrote.
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.
5 Customer Relationship Objectives for the Growing Biz
December 7, 2015
The amount of effort spent on talking and thinking about the best ways to connect with customers truly is incredible. The amount of ink spilled -- real and virtual -- the number of conferences held, and the dollars spent on efforts and expertise are vast. The irony is that businesses often start out with a natural ability to behave in a customer-centric way.
Forces That Will Reshape the IT Landscape in 2016
December 4, 2015
There may be no better way to capture the state of the technology industry than to borrow Charles Dickens' famous opening from A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." It never has been a better time to launch offerings via the cloud, but the availability of low-cost computing power and open source software have created unprecedented competitive challenges.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Focuses on Intelligence
December 3, 2015
Microsoft this week released Dynamics CRM 2016 in CRM Online and on-premises versions. Built-in intelligence is a key feature of the package, which is available in 130 markets and 144 languages. It leverages the Cortana Analytics Suite's advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities. Intelligence "is important because it's an idea that's current," observed analyst Denis Pombriant.
Engagement at Moments of Truth
December 2, 2015
Lost somewhere in the pile that is a current research project is an article on customer loyalty that says that more than half of customers who recently exhibited loyal behavior toward a vendor said they'd switch to another vendor in an instant. The question prompting this answer is whether these customers would switch for a better deal. It was a trick question trying to determine loyalty.
Walmart to Jump the Gun on Cyber Monday
November 24, 2015
Walmart on Monday announced it will release all 2,000 Cyber Monday deals at 8 p.m. EST Sunday. That and other retailer moves are making it look as if Cyber Monday might be a nonevent this holiday season: Amazon is running an eight-day Black Friday sale that will take it through Cyber Monday, leading Walmart to launch a price-matching event to compete.
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.
The Lego-ization of Software, or the Rise of Snap-On SaaS
November 20, 2015
Here's a bold proclamation: Internally-developed IT software is a decelerator to business. When the need is specialized and you have a fully staffed IT team, there's a natural temptation to put everyone to work on a custom development project. For today's companies, however, this is often the slowest and most expensive path to the market, and it isn't necessary.
Investors Buying In Following Salesforce's Q3 Stunner
November 19, 2015
Salesforce shares rose to an all-time high Thursday, after the company reported better-than-expected Q3 revenue and raised earnings estimates for 2016. Salesforce reported earnings of 21 cents a share and a revenue increase of 24 percent to $1.71 billion, compared with a year ago. The company is on pace to become the fourth largest enterprise software company in the world.
The 2 Layers of Customer Experience
November 18, 2015
Maybe you've already considered this, but it just popped into my head the other day as I was thinking once again about customer experience -- or CX, as some people shorten it. I've often said that customers experience moments of truth and that the experience should be focused on the things they care most about and that the business actually can do something about.
Hootsuite Adds Social Chops to Microsoft Dynamics CRM
November 17, 2015
Hootsuite on Tuesday announced an integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Yammer. The collaboration will let enterprises use social content in meaningful ways for social marketing, social selling, social customer support, and internal collaboration, noted Kevin Zellmer, Hootsuite's vice president of corporate and business development.
Sales and Marketing Sentiment: Feeling Is Perception Is Reality
November 16, 2015
About a year ago, I conducted a survey that led to my company's first-ever Sales & Marketing Sentiment Study. The idea was to get inside the heads of people in sales and marketing and reveal their feelings about the way they worked, the technology they used, and about each other. We split the results into sales and marketing responses and compared them.
CFOs Calculate Benefits of Cloud ERP
November 13, 2015
One of the clear indications that the cloud movement is becoming mainstream is the growing number of CFOs and finance departments that are adopting Software as a Service solutions to support their corporate responsibilities. Even more interesting is how cloud-based alternatives can redefine the accounting and financial management function in forward-minded organizations.
Desk.com-SalesforceIQ Integration Targets SMBs
November 12, 2015
Salesforce on Thursday announced the integration of Desk.com and SalesforceIQ to better let SMBs tie customer service with sales. Desk.com an all-in-one customer service app. SalesforceIQ for Small Business is a sales solution whose relationship intelligence feature captures, analyzes and brings forth relevant customer relationship information from email, calendars and other applications.
Digital Transformation and Moments of Truth
November 11, 2015
I hadn't been aware of one of the more important CRM stories of the year until I was doing research for a new book. It's a great story and it deserves retelling, especially if you think that focusing on customers' moments of truth is important. Back in April, Starbucks announced revenues for the just-completed quarter that exceeded year-over-year attainment by a whopping 17.8 percent.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Ventures Into Machine Learning
November 10, 2015
Microsoft last week revealed some new details about Dynamics CRM 2016, emphasizing functionality designed to empower customer service agents. It will be released in both cloud and on-premises versions in Q4. It will be available as a standalone application or as an add-on to Office 365. "This is a big release for Microsoft," said Nucleus Research's Rebecca Wettemann.
Fire, Aim, Ready: Is Your Marketing Approach on Target?
November 3, 2015
Business-to-business marketers know what customers want, in general terms, from initial contacts with the people they buy from. It's taken awhile, but through trial, error, some more error and eventually some actual thought, the mystery has been solved. Before I give it away, just ask yourself what you want in any communication from anyone when it comes to a business issue.
Oracle Banks on CX Cloud Verticals
November 2, 2015
Oracle last week announced a variety of industry-specific solutions and enhancements to several existing products at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The company unveiled industry-specific vertical solutions for the financial services, communications, consumer goods, high-tech, industrial manufacturing and automotive fields as part of its Customer Experience Cloud.
PRM's Next Act
October 27, 2015
Partner relationship management has seen its ups and downs over the first part of this century. Running an indirect channel is vitally important to any vendor trying to extend its reach without incurring the high costs of building a sales team and all that supports it. Many vendors figure it's more economical to pay partners for performance than to endure the corporate buildout.
Dish Network to Automate TV Ad Sales
October 26, 2015
Dish Network on Monday launched Dish Media Sales, an automated marketplace that will let advertisers buy TV spots the same way they can buy ads online. With the initiative, Dish will give advertisers the ability to purchase targeted, linear TV ads, impression by impression, using real-time bidding technology -- similar to the way online ads are purchased.
SAP's New Jam Communities Promise Stickier Customer Experience
October 23, 2015
SAP this week released SAP Jam Communities edition for Hybris, which delivers real-time product and service information to customers on company websites. The software can display personally relevant recommendations and reviews directly to customers in e-commerce stores. In essence, it lets companies embed access to relevant material and include a buy button in online customer community pages.
Are Your Sales Tools Turning A-Performers Into B-Performers?
October 19, 2015
Some things in business are clear and binary: A company succeeds or fails. A customer buys from you or from someone else. A customer returns for additional sales or leaves for a competitor. Other things are indeed relative: Sales numbers may be double the previous quarter but still fall below expectations. A customer returns for additional sales but resists buying more due to satisfaction issues.
Processing Customer Loyalty
October 12, 2015
I've had to do a lot of thinking about customer loyalty lately, both for my book and more recently for client engagements. What's interesting is how chaotic this market is and how many people are writing about it with very little data. There isn't even strong agreement on the similarities and differences between rewards programs and loyalty. Are they the same? How?
Customer Engagement in the Age of the Silent Traveler
October 9, 2015
The rise of social media has given customers a new platform for interacting with travel and hospitality companies, from airlines to car rental agencies. Today's travel customers primarily use these digital technologies to coordinate logistics and log complaints; gone are the days of calling a reservation specialist to book flights or running through seating options at the check-in counter.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.