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What to Expect at Dreamforce 16
September 30, 2016
Something tells me that if Salesforce already leaked news about its new AI product, Einstein, that it might not be the biggest news that will emerge from Dreamforce next week. However, I also think Einstein will be involved in whatever is the big takeaway. Salesforce has become rather large, with $8 billion-plus in revenue. A member of the Fortune 500, it still tries to be nimble.
Oracle OpenWorld
September 29, 2016
Larry Ellison was having too much fun. In his second keynote of this year's Oracle OpenWorld user conference, he was talking about his company's database, Oracle 12c, and comparing it highly favorably to Amazon's competing databases. It seems Ellison always has fun, which is one likely reason that the 72 year-old CTO and executive chairman of the board, looks 52, sounds 42, and probably feels 32.
The Growing Customer Trust Gap
September 28, 2016
Like most of you, I'm a bank customer -- and I expect that like me, most of you are getting sick and tired of all the stories about how banks abuse customers. Recent news about bad behavior in the banking industry, as well as my own personal experiences, shows that banks don't care about their customers. It's just the opposite: Banks seem to be trying to squeeze every dime out of every customer.
Abuse of Trust, Lack of Transparency: HP Shows How to Kill the IoT
September 26, 2016
There's been a lot of virtual ink spilled about the glorious future promised by the Internet of Things: just-in-time service, data-assisted performance optimization for devices, automatic software upgrades, and a host of other hands-off solutions that make life easier for customers and results better for businesses. Over the last 18 months, many have come to see the IoT as an inevitability.
HPE and Apple: The Speed of Image Transformation
September 26, 2016
HPE and Apple are very different companies this decade, having shifted their models from a strategic customer/innovation focus to one that's more tactical -- and tied far more closely to quarterly profit. They are hardly alone, and this unfortunate trend is not tied to any one industry or any one country. Firms increasingly are defined not by creative products but by complaining customers.
Gadget Ogling: Driving Partner, Hydration Station, and Flying Grabbers
September 24, 2016
After a bad experience when I was first behind the wheel as a teenager, I'm only just now learning to drive, more than a decade later. My partner and I are going through the school together, and when asked about our dream vehicles in class, she replied that she'd love a self-driving RV. Her wish eventually might turn true with a device that grants vehicles more autonomy.
Work in a New Automation Era
September 22, 2016
Automation has a habit of killing jobs, which has been true since the Industrial Revolution. However, it seems that we're discovering this truth all over again. We easily forget when we focus only on the job-creation aspects of automation, and that usually gets us in trouble. Since the IR, there have been five distinct economic waves lasting between 50 and 60 years.
Incentives-Driven Disaster: Wells Fargo's Ethical Implosion
September 21, 2016
Anyone who works with sales people knows that their ultimate incentive is their commission check. Since the first time that "sales" was identified as a profession, we've been paying the people who sell based primarily on their results. This has worked well -- but things are starting to change. The drive for results at the expense of all other considerations is running smack dab into new realities.
Why Russian Hackers Are Doing the US a Favor
September 19, 2016
Colin Powell's hacked email once again showcases that what people in office tell us and what they actually think are two very different things. Politicians work for us -- we are supposedly their employers. Yet we seem to know far less about what they do and think than what we need to know in order to vote intelligently. Powell's comments are actually far more damaging to Clinton than Trump.
Business Agility and the Platform
September 14, 2016
A common perception of business agility is that it revolves around quickness, especially quickness in the service of accelerating a deal or transaction. That's a good starting point, but agility actually goes deeper -- especially now that so many structural changes, like cloud computing and subscriptions, have turned up the dial on everyday business.
Sales Tech's Forgotten Byproduct: Employee Happiness
September 13, 2016
Why do companies invest in CRM, sales performance management software, business intelligence, and every other component of the customer-facing technology stack? The obvious response is ROI. CRM paid back $8.71 for every dollar invested in it, Nucleus Research reported way back in 2014. Business analytics applications were delivering $13.01 in value for every buck spent on them.
How China Could Take Over the World's Tech and Automotive Markets
September 12, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu recently made an announcement with regard to self-driving cars that deserves closer attention. China currently is behind the U.S. in automotive technology, but it has passed the U.S. and Japan in automobile production -- I actually thought Japan was still ahead. China is producing twice the number of cars the U.S. is producing right now.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Deconstructing the Software Business
September 9, 2016
The disruption of the IT and software industry by the rapid rise of cloud and SaaS continues to take a toll on the biggest players in the business. In their latest round of desperate moves to reposition themselves in the radically changing marketplace, the major companies of the past have been willing to relinquish many of their software assets to refocus their efforts on new market opportunities.
It's Time for Comcast to Get Off the Wireless Fence
September 8, 2016
Comcast tried to give wireless a go several years ago. It failed. It pulled out of wireless, sold its spectrum and was done. Now, wireless has expanded and changed, and competitors like AT&T's U-verse and DirecTV are using wireless to deliver television programming. I'll bet Comcast now wishes it never sold off its wireless spectrum. So, what can we expect from the company going forward?
Gadget Ogling: Smart Desks, New-Wave Gaming, and Roaming Routers
September 7, 2016
After a long, laborious process and a lot of scraping paint splotches from the floor, the office space in my new apartment is ready for me, and I will soon no longer need to write this column from my kitchen table. So, I'm in the market for a desk. With my nascent interest in standing desks, the Gaze Desk seems a decent option. It switches between standing and seated modes with a button press.
Harlequin Romances Customers
September 6, 2016
I recently read a user story about how Harlequin -- a publisher of romance novels -- keeps its customers loyal. It has embraced several ideas that work really well, including emphasizing a consciousness of customer loyalty, keeping things simple, and focusing on personalizing relationships and engagement. Consciousness is relatively easy, but someone high on the org chart has to promote it.
Dell + EMC: History Is Made
September 5, 2016
I've been involved in mergers and acquisitions for decades, and I used to run an acquisition cleanup team while at IBM. I've seen so many bad acquisitions that it is generally far easier to point out the good ones. What is somewhat ironic, given my background, is that the best largely have been executed by Dell, using a process initially developed by IBM.
Dark Days Ahead for Companies That Fail Customers
August 29, 2016
It's 2016, and there are more ways to connect than ever before. You would think customer service and customer care would be at an all-time high. Why, then, do so many customers feel they are at an all-time low? Customers are frustrated. Companies are using social networks to provide customer service, but they are failing. Companies don't seem able to put the pieces together.
Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots
August 25, 2016
Call it a gimmick, but I'm very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.
In a Political Season
August 24, 2016
Many, if not most, people I know don't want to talk about it -- the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don't want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody's mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Enterprise Software's Future
August 19, 2016
What's the direction of the software industry? I'm not indulging in idle curiosity -- things are changing, and today's events are signaling a significant shift. The rollout of Software as a Service and the emergence of relatively good platforms -- which will only get better -- suggest to me that the software industry of 2000, in which cloud and SaaS began to emerge, is now well in the past.
The Big Tech Election Stories No One Else Is Covering
August 15, 2016
Most analysts earn their daily bread by focusing on a particular subject area and following that direction. However, I rebelled against that established pattern. I tend to look between the lines more than many of my peers do. That means when major news media outlets focus on a story, I'm more likely to see what they missed. What interests me isn't what's been covered but what hasn't been covered.
Is This the Beginning of the End for the Set-Top Box?
August 12, 2016
C Spire started out as a privately owned wireless competitor in Mississippi. Since then, it has expanded in several directions. Its focus last year was on installing high-speed Internet in a few Mississippi cities. Now it is partnering with MobiTV to offer a new television service for the home. The service will not use the set-top boxes common with cable TV.
The 4 Fundamental Attributes of Customer Loyalty, Part 4
August 10, 2016
If you want to succeed at engaging customers, or anyone else for that matter, it helps to have a model of what success looks like. This idea isn't new. Elite athletes train themselves to see a perfect race in their mind's eye, or to imagine the arc of a ball to its flawless conclusion. Scientists model physical and chemical reactions that occur at a scale too small to view directly.
Time Warner Cable Really Doesn't Like Me
August 9, 2016
After surviving well over a year as a cord-cutter, I recently returned to the cable fold -- and after less than a month, I'm having major regrets. The problem isn't with the service itself or even with the pricing. The problem is with the lies. I wasn't entirely happy with my cord-cutting solution, but I wasn't eager to go back to a high-priced cable service either.
Is the Internet Turning Donald Trump - and You - Into an Idiot?
August 8, 2016
President Obama was viewed as the first techie presidential candidate when he launched his campaign, and he has been connected at the hip with Google for a large part of both terms. However, the brilliance his teams displayed with using analytics never seemed to carry over into running the country, which was disappointing. Most of the U.S. government still has systems that are decades out of date.
The Maturation of the Cloud ERP Market
August 5, 2016
Oracle's acquisition of NetSuite is a clear indication that the rapid adoption of cloud alternatives to traditional on-premises applications is shifting from front-office customer relationship management to back-office enterprise resource planning solutions. Now, the question will be whether Oracle can buy its way into a leadership position in this emerging marketplace.
Heating Up the Platform Wars
August 4, 2016
We've seen a rapid progression from conventional licensed software to cloud-based solutions that sell for a song -- and in theory could sell through barter at some point. I am not a big fan of zero marginal cost economics, in which prices drop to zip because buyers take into account only the cost of the good and not the time, effort, and other resources that went into making it No. 1.
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What do you think of digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa?
They're part of my daily life -- very helpful.
I use them, but they're not all that smart.
They're like lurking spies -- I don't like them.
It's annoying that all the assistants are predominantly "female."
I've never used one.